How to control an Apple TV with your iPhone

The Apple TV is one of the best media streamers around, and while it comes with the handy Apple Remote, but you can use your iPhone as a remote, too.

control apple tv with phone feature

The Apple TV media streamer comes with a tiny and sleek Apple TV Remote. But for some, it might be a little too tiny and difficult to use. And let’s face it: who hasn’t misplaced or downright lost the handy clicker? Whatever the case, there are other ways to control your Apple TV. One such way is using the Apple TV Remote that’s already built into the Control Center of the iPhone. Yes, it’s already there. All you need to do is connect the app on an iPhone to your Apple TV, including older models as well as new models like the iPhone 14 or iPad, and you’re off to the races.

How to control an Apple TV with your iPhone

  1. Open the Control Center on your iPhone or iPad by swiping down from the upper-right corner of the screen. (If you’re using an iPhone 8 or earlier with iOS 11 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen instead.)
  2. Select the Apple TV Remote icon, which looks like a tiny remote. Note that the Apple TV Remote is automatically added to Control Center in the latest iOS and iPadOS devices. If you are holding on to an older phone, you may need to add it manually. If you don’t see it in Control Center, go to Settings, Control Center, and select Add beside Apple TV Remote.
  3. If you have multiple Apple TVs in the home, each will show up. If you have only one, it should be automatically recognized. Select the one you want.
  4. You’ll see Connecting on the screen, after which you’ll be asked to enter a Passcode that shows up on your TV to approve using your iPhone as a remote. If it doesn’t show up, go to the Settings app on the Apple TV, then Remotes and Devices.
  5. Voilà! Now you can use your phone as an Apple TV remote.
  6. It’s a directional pad, so you can slide your finger up, down, left, and right on the oversized rectangular controller that appears in the middle of the phone screen to navigate the menu.
  7. Tap anywhere within the rectangle to open a menu item on the Apple TV.
  8. Press the left-facing arrow to go back to the previous screen.
  9. Press play/pause to play or pause a selected TV show, video, or game.
  10. Tap the channel up and down to go through channels in a compatible app.
  11. Press the TV icon to open the Apple TV+ streaming service and begin watching something there (a subscription is required).
  12. Note that the Volume button at the top left will only work when your Apple TV is connected to an Apple HomePod, soundbar, or other AirPlay-enabled speakers.

Even if you only use your iPhone as a remote for the Apple TV 4K sparingly, it’s a great backup option in the event that you have misplaced that Apple TV remote. For some, you might prefer the experience with the bigger screen on an iPhone or iPad anyway, especially if you have larger hands and thumbs.

Don’t fret if it doesn’t work right away: try the age-old rule of turning both the phone and Apple TV, one of the best streaming devices, on and off. Double-check that both are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and make sure both are updated to the latest OS. Once you have your iPhone set up to control Apple TV, you can simply swipe down to Control Center, open the virtual remote, and enjoy!

  • iPhone 14-1
    Apple iPhone 14

    The iPhone 14 is the base model of the 2022 iPhone series, offering a balanced set of features for the average user.

  • iPhone 14 pro
    Apple iPhone 14 Pro

    The iPhone 14 Pro brings a new front design, upgraded cameras, and a new all-powerful Apple silicon for the most premium iPhone yet.

  • Apple TV 3rd gen 2022 release with remote controller sitting next to it
    Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen., 2022)

    The Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen) is a feature-rich media streaming device that will provide access to all your favorite streaming services for movies and TV as well as music, fitness, gaming, photos, and more. It's simple to connect to a TV and operate via the included remote. But you can use your phone to control it, too.