What to do if you lose your Apple TV remote

You have three options as I see it.

Apple TV remote
Sarah Tew/CNET

I'm surprised it took this long. The remote is tiny, and I have two kids.

My Apple TV has gone missing, and unlike when I misplace my iPhone, I can't call the remote to find it. A thorough search of the family room, including a deep dive into the couch, has turned up some loose change, many Legos, and more crumbs than I care to admit, but not the tiny, silver remote.

Should your Apple TV remote go missing, you have three options for replacing it, and two of them won't cost you a dime.

1. Use the Remote app

If you have an Apple TV, then I'd wager you also have an iOS device in your house. Install the free Remote app and you can use your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to control your Apple TV as long as everything is connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

After installing the app, tap the Set Up Home Sharing button and then enter your Apple ID and password. Click OK and you should see your Apple TV listed. If you don't see it, make sure your home entertainment system is powered on and also check to see if Home Sharing is turned on in iTunes. Open iTunes and choose File > Home Sharing > Turn On Home Sharing.

Tap the Apple TV icon to connect your iOS device to it. Home Sharing lets you share your iTunes library with you Apple TV, so the Remote app will open to a screen that shows some of the contents of your iTunes library. In my case, it showed the Albums view of my music collection.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

To use your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to control the cursor on your TV, tap the small button in the upper-right corner with the four arrows, which opens up a screen with the familiar Menu and play/pause buttons from the Apple TV remote. Instead of the four arrow buttons, it provides an area where you can swipe to move the cursor, and you can tap the screen to select an item.

2. Reprogram an old TV or DVD remote

There's a bit of a catch-22 for this one. To set up an old remote to act as an Apple TV remote, you will need a working remote to begin the setup procedure. I suggest you use the Remote app to set things up.

Grab an old remote and on your Apple TV use the Remote app to head to Settings > General > Remotes > Learn Remote. Hit the Start button and press and hold buttons to assign each a function. You will first get walked through the basic buttons: Up, Down, Left, Right, Select, and Menu.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Next, Apple TV will ask you to give your new remote a name. This way, you can find it from your list of remotes and change how you have the buttons mapped or disconnect it.

After giving it a name, you will then be asked if you want to set up Playback buttons, which include Play, Pause, Fast Forward, Rewind, and 30-second skip backwards and forward buttons, which gives you greater functionality than the minimalistic Apple TV remote offers itself. Plus, a clunky old DVD remote is harder to lose.

3. Buy a new Apple TV remote

If neither of the above options are feasible or attractive, then you will need to buy a new Apple TV remote. At the time of this writing, Apple will sell you a remote for $19, £15, or AU$25 (plus shipping). A quick scan of online retailers can probably reveal slightly cheaper options, though.

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