It’s hard to believe that there was ever a time when TVs didn’t have remote controls. Today it’s impossible to buy almost any electronic device that doesn’t have a remote, and the Roku family of devices is no exception. A Roku isn’t a whole lot of good if you have to keep getting up to change the channel or manually navigate the menu. It is true that you can use your smartphone to control your Roku, but that doesn’t have the same one-button convenience of the standard remote. If your Roku remote has stopped working, it can be a real hassle. In this article, I will walk you through some troubleshooting steps to get your Roku remote back up and running.
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There have been a number of Roku models released since the platform first rolled out in 2002, and several different models of remote controls, but there are really only two different fundamental types of Roku remotes. There are standard infrared remotes, which work just like normal TV remotes by firing coded pulses of infrared light at the receiver, and WiFi-enabled remotes (often labeled as “Enhanced” remotes by Roku) that can be pointed in any direction and still work, because they actually connect to the Roku device itself via the WiFi network. There are some troubleshooting techniques that will work on either type of remote, and some techniques specific to each type.
Which kind of remote 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 adjacent to the compartment labeled “Pairing”. If your remote has a “Pairing” button, then you have an Enhanced remote. Otherwise, it is an infrared remote.
Common troubleshooting techniques
These tips will help you narrow down the issue on either type of remote.
- Reboot the Roku box or remove the streaming stick from your TV. Give it a minute and then connect it again. Retest.
- Remove the batteries from the remote, leave them out 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 extender cable to connect it to the TV instead of connecting it directly.
Techniques for standard infrared Roku 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 buttons. Watch the front of the box as you do so. If the status light flashes as the box sees the infrared commands, then your remote is functioning and the issue is with the box. If the status light does not flash, then the issue is with the remote.
- Check your line of sight from the remote to the box. Infrared signals require an unobstructed line of sight in order to function.
- 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 enough to reach the box. Change the batteries if it works.
- Try the mobile app to make sure it is the remote that’s not working, and not the box.
If the box does not see the remote signal and the mobile app works, you have a faulty remote. If you can borrow a remote for the time being, go ahead, but it will be for the best if you replace the remote quickly.
If the box sees the signal and flashes the status light, there is an issue with the box. If this is the case, I would suggest a factory reset of the Roku device. This is a process of last resort, but if you have proven the remote to work and the box is not acting on the signal its receiving, it may be your only option. This is especially true if the box will not respond to the mobile app, either.
Techniques for Enhanced Roku remotes
The Enhanced Roku remote uses Wi-Fi instead of infrared, so it needs a couple of extra steps for troubleshooting. Try the steps above and then:
- Re-pair the remote by removing the batteries, turn off the Roku, leave it a second or two, and then power on the Roku. Once the Home screen appears, replace the batteries in the remote. Press and hold the pairing button underneath the remote or in the battery compartment until you see the pairing light flash. Wait 30 seconds or so for everything to sync up and then retest.
- Re-pair the device with the mobile app. Occasionally, the Enhanced Roku remote will drop the pairing and stop working. If this happens, use the Roku Controller App and access the Roku Settings menu. Select to pair a new remote and repeat the re-pairing process above. This ‘frees up’ 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 have performed the troubleshooting steps in this guide, it is possible that you need a new remote. Retry these troubleshooting steps a couple of times first, just to make sure. If you have a buddy with a Roku, try swapping remotes temporarily to test. This will prove beyond doubt which device is at fault.
Got any other Roku remote troubleshooting tips? Tell us about them below if you do!
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