It's hard to believe there was a time when TVs didn't have remote controls. Today, it's impossible to buy almost any electronic device without a remote control, and the Roku family of devices is no exception. A Roku isn't much use if you have to keep getting up to change channels or manually navigate the menu. It's true that you can use your smartphone to control your Roku, but it doesn't have the same one-button convenience as the standard remote. If your Roku remote has stopped working, this could be a real problem. In this article, I'll walk you through some troubleshooting steps to get your Roku remote back up and running.
There have been a number of Roku models since the platform launched in 2002, and several different models of remotes, but there are really only two basic types of Roku remotes. There are standard infrared remotes, which work like normal TV remotes by beaming coded pulses of infrared light at the receiver, and WiFi-enabled remotes (often called "Enhanced" remotes by Roku) that can be pointed at any what direction and still functional. , as they actually connect to the Roku device itself via the WiFi network. There are troubleshooting techniques that work on either type of remote, and some techniques specific to each type.
What type of remote control do I have?
Take your remote and look at the back panel. Remove the battery cover and see if there is a button inside or next to the compartment labeled "Pairing". If your remote has a "Pairing" button, then you have an upgraded remote. Otherwise, it's an infrared remote control.
Common Troubleshooting Techniques
These tips will help you narrow down the problem on either type of remote.
- Restart the Roku box or remove the streaming stick from your TV. Give it a minute, then connect it again. Retest.
- Remove the batteries from the remote, leave them for a second, then replace them. Retest.
- Change the batteries in the remote control. Retest.
- If your Roku model plugs directly into the HDMI port, try removing it from the port and replacing it. Retest.
- If your Roku model plugs directly into the HDMI port, try using an extension cable to connect it to the TV instead of connecting it directly.
Techniques for Standard Roku Infrared Remotes
The standard Roku remote uses an infrared beam to send signals to the device. If the above steps didn't work, try these:
- Point the remote at the Roku box and press the buttons. Watch the front of the box as you do this. If the status light flashes when the box sees the infrared commands, then your remote is working and the problem is with the box. If the status light does not flash, the problem is with the remote.
- Check your field of vision from the remote to the box. Infrared signals require a clear line of sight to operate.
- Place the Roku remote directly in front of the box and press a button. If the batteries are low but not empty, the strength of the beam may be sufficient to reach the box. Change the batteries if it works.
- Try the mobile app to make sure it's the remote that's not working, not the box.
If the box does not see the signal from the remote control and the mobile application works, you have a faulty remote control. If you can borrow a remote for now, go for it, but it'll be for the best if you replace the remote soon.
If the box sees the signal and flashes the status light, there is a problem with the box. If so, I would suggest a factory reset of the Roku device. This is a last resort process, but if you have proven that the remote works and the box does not act on the signal it receives, this may be your only option. This is especially true if the box does not respond to the mobile application either.
Techniques for Improved Roku Remotes
The improved Roku remote uses Wi-Fi instead of infrared, so it needs a few extra steps for troubleshooting. Try the steps above, then:
- Reconnect the remote by removing the batteries, turn off the Roku, leave it for a second or two, then turn on the Roku. Once the home screen appears, replace the batteries in the remote. Press and hold the pairing button under the remote control or in the battery compartment until the pairing light flashes. Wait about 30 seconds for everything to sync, then retest.
- Re-pair the device with the mobile app. Sometimes the Enhanced Roku remote will break the pairing and stop working. If this happens, use the Roku Controller app and navigate to the Roku Settings menu. Select to pair a new remote and repeat the re-pairing process above. This “frees” the box to work with the remote again.
If the box responds to the Roku Controller app and not the Enhanced Roku Remote and you've performed the troubleshooting steps in this guide, you may need a new remote. Try these troubleshooting steps a few more times first, just to make sure. If you have a friend with a Roku, try temporarily swapping out the remotes to test. This will undoubtedly prove which device is at fault.
Got any other Roku remote troubleshooting tips? Tell us about them below if you do!
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