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What to do if you lose your Apple TV remote

You have three options as I see it.

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Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
2 min read
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Jason Cipriani/CNET

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

My Apple TV remote 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, an armory's worth Nerf bullets, and more crumbs than I care to admit, but not the tiny 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 Add Apple TV button to pair the app with your Apple TV. If you don't see it, make sure your Apple TV and iOS device are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and running the latest version of their respective software. Also check to see if Home Sharing is turned on in iTunes. Open iTunes on your computer and choose File > Home Sharing > Turn On Home Sharing.

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

2. Reprogram an old TV or DVD remote

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

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

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Matt Elliott/CNET

After setting up the basic buttons, you can then program additional buttons for play, pause, fast forward, rewind and 30-second skips backwards and forward. This gives you more 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'll need to buy a new Apple TV remote. At the time of writing, Apple will sell you the older, Siri-less silver remote for $19 (£15, AU$25). Or you can get the newer Siri Remote for $79 (£79, AU$129). You'll get free two-day shipping if you buy it in the US.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on September 4, 2014 and has since been updated to include new information. Also, roughly a year after this story was originally published, I found my Apple TV remote. It turned up in a Monopoly box, a game it turns out my family doesn't play all that frequently.