How to fix Apple TV Remote not working, glitching, or losing connection

Is your Apple TV Remote or Siri Remote not working at all, or frequently drops the connection, making it harder for you to find, watch, and control the playback? In this troubleshooting guide, we’ve listed all the solutions to address this issue so you can get back to enjoying your movies, TV shows, and music in no time.

Holding Apple TV Siri Remote

The tips here apply to all Apple TV and remote models, including the latest Apple TV 4K with the Siri Remote.

Why your Apple TV Remote is not working

Your Siri Remote may fail to function or glitch because of four main reasons:

  • Wireless connection problems between the remote and your Apple TV setup box
  • Your Siri Remote is discharged
  • Software issues on Apple TV
  • Hardware problems

1. Press the power button on the Siri Remote

Sometimes, your Apple TV may go to sleep, and its tiny white LED may not be visible. Simply press the power button on your Apple TV remote to wake up the setup box, and after that, everything should work as intended.

2. Stay within 20 feet or 6 meters

Apple TV and its Siri Remote use Bluetooth to communicate, which has a limited range. So, make sure you’re within 20 feet or 6 meters of your Apple TV when using its remote.

3. Remove cases, covers, or other obstructions

Bluetooth connection can become unreliable if there are several obstructions between your Apple TV box and the remote. So, if you notice that the Siri Remote and your Apple TV frequently refuse to talk to each other, try removing the Apple TV from its glass or wooden cabinet and keep it somewhere without an enclosure.

Secondly, if you’re using a plastic or rubber case for your Apple TV or Siri Remote, please remove them, too.

Apple TV and Siri Remote in black cover
Image: Spigen & Amazon

4. Turn off and turn on your Apple TV

Your Apple TV may occasionally develop glitches that prevent it from functioning normally. You can fix this by unplugging the main Apple TV power code from the wall outlet and plugging it back in after about 15 seconds.

Once your Apple TV restarts, it should behave appropriately with its remote.

5. Charge your Siri Remote

We can’t rule out the possibility of Siri Remote running out of battery. So, before moving forward, plug in your Apple TV’s Siri Remote to charge for about 30 minutes. Once that’s done, it should let you control your TV.

6. Move cables around

Another thing you should do is move the cables around a bit. If some poorly shielded cables are in contact with each other, they may create interferences, which could jam the Bluetooth signal your remote relies on to talk to your Apple TV.

In my case, I had a modem, router, and Apple TV crammed on top of each other on a shelf hidden behind my TV set, and this could have definitely been the root of the issue.

7. Get a better HDMI cable

An HDMI cable is an HDMI cable, right? Wrong!

When you buy an Apple TV 4K from Apple, the company suggests upgrading your HDMI cable to one they carry in stock. Because I had many HDMI cables already lying around the house and some good 4K UltraHD ones, too, I figured I didn’t need to spend another $30 on an additional cable.

But after reading about dozens of people fixing their remote lag issue by simply upgrading their cable, I decided to take the plunge. So I purchased the Belkin UltraHD High Speed 4K HDMI Cable from Apple.

The result was pretty clear. Immediately after, everything became buttery smooth when scrolling and swiping on my remote.

As it turns out, and from what I understand, this cable has a higher bandwidth of up to 48 Gbps compared to most cables that can only take up to 18 Gbps. Don’t be fooled like I was by cables that say they are 4K UltraHD rated. They might be, but this is not enough to push all the pixels to your screen. You definitely need something 8K-rated. And don’t even try to cheap out by buying an inexpensive one at Best Buy or Amazon because Apple has the most affordable ones at just $30.

But why would a not-good-enough cable create that slowness on your Apple TV when using the remote? I don’t have a clear answer to this, but some claim the bottlenecked cable creates interferences that mess up your Bluetooth signal when scrolling. This explanation will suffice for me!

8. Update your Apple TV

Just like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, Apple also pushes updates for Apple TV. Quickly make sure it’s running on the latest version of tvOS.

Extra info: Apple also pushes updates for the TV Remote. However, there is no way to install this update manually as it happens automatically in the background.

9. Remove unnecessary paired Bluetooth earphones and speakers

In case the above solutions have not worked for you, go to Apple TV Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth. Select unnecessary accessories under the My Devices heading and forget them. After doing this, restart your Apple TV, and your problem should be fixed.

Forget this device in Apple TV Bluetooth settings

10. Restart or reset your Apple TV remote

If you tried the above steps with no luck, here’s how to restart or reset your Apple TV remote to fix the connection issues.

  1. Press & hold the TV icon button and the volume down button (-) together for about 5 seconds. Stop pressing them when the tiny status LED light on your Apple TV turns off and turns back on.
  2. Wait 5-10 seconds until the “Connection Lost” alert appears in the top right of your TV screen.
  3. Keep waiting, and in a short while, your Siri Remote will restart and connect automatically to your Apple TV. After that happens, you will see the “Connected” alert.
Siri Remote Connection Lost and Connected notification on Apple TV

11. Pair your Apple TV remote again

  1. Take your remote very near (about three inches) from your Apple TV.
  2. Now, press & hold the back button (<) on newer Siri Remote models or the MENU button on older models and the volume up button (+) together for five seconds.
  3. After this, your remote will pair again with your Apple TV. If not, place it on top of your Apple TV to pair it.
Pairing Remote Bring it closer to your Apple TV to continue pairing alert on Apple TV
You may see this alert if Siri Remote is not on top of the Apple TV.

12. Factory reset your Apple TV

This is a slightly time-consuming process that resets your Apple TV as if it were new. You will have to set it up all over again.

  1. Go to Apple TV Settings > System.
  2. Select Reset.
  3. From here, choose Reset or Reset and Update and follow the on-screen instructions.
  4. Once your Apple TV is factory restored, set it up again.
Reset Apple TV settings screen

13. If everything above fails…

Try the following tips if your Apple TV remote still doesn’t work.

Set Apple TV to never sleep

Your Apple TV sleeps automatically after a period of inactivity. After it goes to sleep, you may be unable to wake it with the Siri Remote and find yourself restarting the Apple TV using the main wall power switch. If you face this issue repeatedly and are annoyed by it, one workaround is to set your Apple TV to not go into sleep mode.

Use your iPhone or iPad as an Apple TV remote

Thanks to the power of Apple’s well-knit ecosystem, you can use your iPhone or iPad as your Apple TV remote.

Purchase a new Apple TV remote

Lastly, if nothing works, take your Apple TV and Siri Remote to an Apple Store for inspection. If your remote is unfixable, you may have to buy a new one for $59.

Check out next: Tips for using your Apple TV Siri Remote like a pro