How to use the Roku remote and all its features

Roku and its products provide a great solution for streaming your favorite over-the-top (OTT) services. Whether you’ve got a subscription with fuboTV, Hulu, Netflix, or any other popular streaming service out there, you’ll be able to download and start watching immediately. Roku offers 7 different devices, and its interface is embedded in several smart TV brands like TCL. 

There are plenty of Roku models to choose from — Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, Roku Streaming Stick+ HE, Roku Ultra LT, and Roku Ultra. 

Every Roku device comes with its own remote and design. Some features are available with every Roku remote, whereas others, like voice controls, are only obtainable with higher-end models. Let’s take a closer look at how to get the most out of your Roku remote. 

Traditional remote functionality

If you own one of the more robust Roku remotes, like the one that comes with Roku Ultra, you’ll notice a difference in size. It’s heftier than previous models, making it harder to lose and more satisfying to hold onto. Not only does this particular model resemble your traditional TV remote, but you can also use it to power your TV on and off. You’ll also have the ability to toggle your sound higher or lower. 

Although the back button is overlooked, it’s one of the most used buttons on any remote. It’s on the left-hand side of your remote and comfortably positioned. 

Some Roku remotes come with a Sleep Timer function. This particular button is marked by a crescent moon icon and typically comes with remotes that don’t have voice command functionality. 

Roku Home Screen

Channel shortcuts 

All of Roku’s remotes come with channel shortcut buttons to help you jump right into your favorite subscriptions. One-click, and you’re there. Some ‘quick’ buttons differ depending on the model of your remote, but Netflix is a constant. Other channel shortcuts may include CBS All Access, Hulu, and Sling TV

Unfortunately, there’s no way to reprogram buttons with specified channels imprinted on them. So, for example, if you have an Amazon Prime Video button but don’t have a subscription, you won’t be able to program it to another service. 

Voice commands 

Roku’s voice command feature is a direct way to get what you want. Simply hold down the ‘microphone’ button (sometimes a magnifying glass icon) and speak. Your TV screen will tell you when. Commands range from navigating to specific genres, movies, shows, and subscription services to playback controls like pause, play, and rewind. 

This means if you want to watch episodes of The Wire, all you need to do is hold the button down and say, “Find The Wire.” Or maybe you want to discover films by a certain filmmaker. Just say, “Search Lynne Ramsay films.” While navigating between titles, you can confirm or reject by stating “okay” or “cancel.” 

The Roku devices that offer voice controls are Roku Premiere+, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Streaming Stick+, and Roku Ultra. If you’re using the Roku mobile app, voice commands are also available to you. 

Private listening

Select Roku remotes newer than Roku’s third-generation Roku 2, provide a jack to plug in your earbuds. This feature is perfect for night time use when you don’t want to be too loud. Earbuds come with remotes, or you can use any other headphones that are compatible. When you plug your headphones in, your TV’s speakers will stop playing, and sound will generate solely from your remote. When you unplug your headphones, the sound will once again come from your TV.

Devices that offer a remote with a headset jack include Roku Streaming Stick+ HE, Roku Ultra LT, and Roku Ultra. 

Roku mobile app

Roku’s mobile app is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones. That way, you can control your Roku device from your phone. This is useful if you constantly misplace your remote. The app is free and available at the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

Since Roku’s mobile app lets you use voice commands and enjoy private listening, it’s a great alternative if your remote doesn’t have them. Roku’s mobile design mimics a regular remote. It has big, easy-to-see buttons and controls. Plus, if you want to add channel apps to your Roku device, you can do so directly through the mobile app. 


The order in which your apps are displayed on your Roku’s interface can be arranged by your remote. To move a specific channel, navigate to the channel, click on the button with the * icon. Select ‘Move Channel’ and press the arrow keys on your remote to relocate the channel to where you want. 

Also, via the * button, you can open your settings. This is where you can make detailed adjustments to your audio and video.

You can also label your TV’s inputs with your remote. That way, you’ll know your Roku device is plugged into HDMI 1 while your PlayStation 4 is hooked up through HDMI 3. To create labels, open your settings, click on ‘TV Inputs,’ highlight the input you want to rename, select ‘Rename,’ and choose from the available list of names. 

Replacing your Roku remote

If your Roku remote suddenly stops working, you have a few different options. You can first try rebooting the device on your own by repairing the remote and restarting your actual Roku device. If this doesn’t work, you can download the Roku mobile app and use the ‘Remote’ function there. This feature allows you to use your mobile device as a remote with all the same features as your hand-held controller.

If neither of those work for you, it’s time to call customer service at Roku and see if your device is still covered under a warranty which would allow you to receive a new remote for free. Without the warranty you’ll be left with needing to purchase a new remote entirely.

The final cut 

Each Roku device comes with a unique remote. For instance, Roku Express has a smaller remote with fewer features than the one that you get with Roku Ultra. If you’d rather use your phone instead of a remote, Roku has an option for you. Roku provides a mobile remote app that lets you use voice controls and listen privately, absolutely free. 

Are you interested in learning more about Roku’s devices? These Cord Cutters News reviews Roku Express, Roku Streaming Stick Plus, and Roku Ultra can help you choose the best device for your needs. 

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