About Remote Learning on Apple TV

  • Last Modified: November 20, 2008
  • Article: HT3296


Apple TV software 2.3 or later includes a feature whereby Apple TV can learn how to be controlled by third-party infrared remotes. This allows you to use a remote that you came with your TV, cable box or DVD player to also control Apple TV. It is important to note that this feature is different from what is offered by programmable remotes. The Learn Remote feature of Apple TV allows Apple TV itself to learn how to be controlled by various remotes as opposed to a programmable remote that has to learn how to control various devices. To setup a third-party remote with Apple TV, follow the steps below:

Products Affected

Apple TV

  1. Choose Settings > General > Remotes.
  2. Choose Learn Remote.
  3. Set your remote to a device setting that doesn't control any other devices in the area or identify other buttons that do not already control a function on your TV or other device. Many third-party remotes have an option to control different devices such as a VCR or DVD player or have an auxiliary option for an unspecified device. 
  4. Select Start (using the Apple Remote included with Apple TV).
  5. Apple TV will display icons that represent the six buttons on the Apple Remote with the "Up" or "+" button highlighted first.
  6. Using your third-party remote, press and hold the button you would like to use to control the "up" function until the blue progress bar is full as shown below.
  7. Apple TV will then select the next button function. Repeat step 6 using a different button
  8. After you have programmed all six button functions, you can now use your third-party remote to control Apple TV. You can optionally setup specific playback buttons for Fast-forward, Rewind, Next chapter, and more. 

You can always program additional remotes to control Apple TV by repeating steps 1-8. At anytime you can rename, delete or revise your button choices for a selected third-party remote by choosing Settings > General > Remotes and selecting a third-party remote that Apple TV has already learned.

Additional Information

When performing the steps above you may experience an issue where Apple TV indicates "No Signal Received. Check Remote" as shown below. This will occur if Apple TV does not detect any infrared signal coming from your third-party remote within 20 seconds. In some cases, the button you are trying to program may not be enabled.  Consult the user's manual for your remote to learn how to enable the desired button. 


If you see the "Button Already Learned" error message, this means one of the following:

  • A different, previously learned remote, has a learned button with the same IR code as the current button that you are trying to program.
  • A previously learned button of the current remote has the same IR code as the current button that you are trying to program.

Either use a different button or delete the previously learned remote if it is not being used.

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