How To Fix A Roku Remote That Isn't Working

For those of you who are too young to remember, in the olden days, TVs had big buttons and dials on the front that you had to push and turn to change the channel. Thankfully, nowadays we have streaming players like Roku, which are controlled exclusively from the comfort of your couch with a remote. However, that convenience does come with a single drawback: you can't control the player if your remote isn't feeling cooperative.

In the event that your Roku remote stops working properly, the player becomes harder to control. While you can still technically work a Roku player with the companion smartphone app, which can mimic a remote's functions, it's not quite as comfortable as a proper remote. Luckily, Roku remotes are designed with several ways to get them back in gear, so performing some troubleshooting and getting it properly connected again isn't too much of a chore.

Basic troubleshooting

The first thing you should do when your Roku doesn't seem to be responding to the remote is to ensure the remote's signal can actually reach it. Wireless though it may be, the remote needs to have line-of-sight with the Roku in order to send it commands. Try to adjust the positioning of the Roku itself next to your TV, or where you're sitting. If the Roku is behind the TV, for instance, put it on top or under the TV instead. 

If you're using a regular Roku remote, as opposed to the fancier Voice Remote or Voice Remote Pro, it likely still uses disposable batteries. Slide the battery cover on the back of the remote off and give the batteries a little roll to see if you can freshen them up. If that doesn't work, the batteries might just be dead, so slot in some new ones. If you are using a Voice Remote with a rechargeable battery, try plugging the remote in and leaving it for a little while to juice up. Assuming the remote isn't entirely bricked, the little indicator light should turn on when it's charging. Whether your remote is battery-powered or rechargeable, in the event the battery pack feels warm or hot to the touch, leave it on a cool surface for a while before inspecting it.

Re-pairing the remote

If the remote itself seems to be in normal working order, it's possible that it somehow lost its connection to the Roku player. In this case, the next best option would be to reboot and re-pair both devices to one another.

  1. Unplug your Roku device from its power cable.

  2. Wait 5 seconds.

  3. Plug the Roku back into its power cable.

  4. Wait for the Roku to finish booting up and load the Home screen.

  5. Press and hold the pairing button on the back of your remote for 20 seconds, then release the button to reboot it.

  6. Within 30 seconds of the Roku returning to the Home screen, press and hold the pairing button on the back of your remote for 5 seconds to put it in pairing mode.

  7. When in pairing mode, the remote's light will start flashing. Leave the remote near the Roku and wait for them to pair.

  8. When the devices are paired, a notification will appear on your TV screen.

Keep in mind that only rechargeable Roku remotes have a dedicated button for rebooting and pairing. If you're using a standard remote, just slide off the battery cover, remove the batteries, wait 5 seconds, and put them back to reboot it. To pair it, just hold the Home and Back buttons together for 5 seconds.

Time to replace?

If you can't move your Roku player to a more visible spot around your TV for whatever reason, you can connect it to an HDMI extension cord to give it a little more leeway. Roku actually offers a free service where they'll ship you an HDMI extender at no additional charge, so feel free to use it if you think it'll help.

If your Roku remote's indicator lights won't turn on or it won't pair no matter how much you charge it or replace the batteries, it may be dead. In this case, you'll need to cut your losses and purchase a new remote. You can buy standalone remotes from Roku's online accessories store, as well as certain electronics retailers. Just remember to check that the remote you're buying is compatible with your model Roku player before you buy it. Older or lower-end Roku models may not be compatible with the newer Voice Remotes, for instance.