How to Change TV Source Input with an Apple TV Remote + 4 Other Ways

a hand holding the apple tv remote pointing at the tv screen showing input options

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What To Know

  • To change the TV input using the Apple TV remote: Activate the CEC feature on both the Apple TV & smart TV > Press the Power or TV button on the remote.
  • The Apple TV remote can switch to the Apple TV input from others but cannot switch back; however, it can control TV power and volume.
  • Explore alternatives like setting a default input, using a universal TV remote app, the TV’s own remote, or the TV’s control button for input switching.

Mastering your Apple TV remote just got easier!

In this guide, I’ll walk you through changing the TV input using your Apple TV remote, explaining its limitations, and also explore alternative methods for when you need a different solution.

3 Steps to Change TV Input with an Apple TV Remote

Step 1: Activate CEC on Your TV

Each TV brand has its own unique process for activating Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), and they often give this feature distinct names.

For instance, LG refers to it as Simplink, whereas Samsung names it Anynet+.

simplink aka hdmi cec feature is toggled on on an lg tv

In this step, I’ll walk you through the steps to activate CEC on several well-known TV brands.

TVs Instructions
LG TVs All Settings > General > Devices > HDMI Settings > Activate SIMPLINK (HDMI-CEC)
Samsung TVs Settings > General > External Device Manager > Activate Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC)
Sony TVs Settings > Channels & Inputs > External inputs > HDMI CEC Settings > Activate CEC
Roku TVs Settings > System > Control other devices (CEC) > 1-touch play

Step 2: Activate CEC on Your Apple TV

  1. Go to Settings.settings app on an apple tv is pointed at
  2. Select Remotes and Devices.Remotes and Devices option is highlighted on an apple tv
  3. Toggle Control TVs and Receivers On.Control TVs and Receivers option is toggled on

Step 3: Grab Your Apple TV Remote and Do the Magic

Now, all you need is press the Power or TV button of the Apple remote, and your TV will automatically switch to the Apple TV interface.

a hand holding an apple tv remote pointing at an lg tv

Some Drawbacks & Benefits

Unfortunately, no streaming device remote, including the Apple TV remote, can switch the TV input back and forth.

You can only switch from any other input to the Apple TV, but not the other way around.

(Fret not. In the following section, I’ll introduce you to four alternative methods for switching your TV input.)

While the Apple TV remote might not fully switch inputs, it can control your TV’s power and volume.

Let’s take a look at how to do just the above.

Step 1: Open the Settings app, and select Remotes and Devices.

Remotes and Devices option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 2: Toggle On Control TVs and Receivers.

Control TVs and Receivers option is toggled on

Step 3: Navigate to Volume Control, and choose Learn New Device….

learn new device... option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 4: Follow the on-screen instructions and you will be able to control your TV volume using the Apple TV remote.

set up apple tv remote to control tv

4 Alternative Ways to Change Input on Your TV

1. Set Default Input

Setting a default input on your TV ensures that it will display your chosen input every time you turn on the TV.

For instance, if you set HDMI 1, which is connected to your Apple TV, as the default input, the Apple TV interface will appear immediately upon turning on your TV, bypassing the TV’s interface.

default input feature on a roku tv

Next, let’s explore how to set the default input on various TV brands.

Note: The following table provides a brief guide for changing the default input on just one model per brand. For more comprehensive information, you can click on the hyperlink provided under each brand name.

TVs Instructions
LG TVs Long-press Settings button for 5 seconds > Press 1105 > Press OK > Enable Power On Default > Switch Input Source to your desired input
Samsung TVs Press Info > Menu > Mute > Power > Power On Source and switch the input to HDMI/DVI or your desired source. 
Sony TVs Home > Settings > External Inputs > Customize TV Key > Select your desired input
Roku TVs Settings > System > Power > Power On > Select your desired input

Now, with your default input set, every time you turn on your TV, it will automatically display your preferred input. There’s no need to press any additional buttons to switch input.

2. Use Mobile App

I highly recommend this universal TV remote app, available for both Android and iOS devices.

It’s incredibly versatile, offering not only all the standard functions of a regular TV remote but also a variety of additional buttons for extra convenience.

To give you a practical example, I’ll be using this app on my TCL Roku TV, whose remote notably lacks an input button, to showcase its effectiveness and ease of use.

Step 1: Download, and install a universal remote app (AndroidiOS), and launch it.

Step 2: Ensure your smartphone and TV are on the same Wi-Fi network.

Step 3: Turn on Bluetooth and let the app connect to your network (to find and connect to your TV).

Step 4: Connect the app to your TV.

samsung au7002 43 tv appears on the list of the remote app

Step 5: Your TV may require you to accept the connection (like my Samsung TV below).

allow the remote app on an iphone to connect to the samsung tv

Step 6: The app interface adapts to the specific TV model it’s connected to. I’ll guide you through the process using two TV models I’ve personally tested.

For the Samsung TV (model AU7002): 

  1. Start by clicking the Source button in the app. This action takes you directly to the input the source button on the remote app to show input list on the samsung tv
  2. Next, use the arrow and select buttons within the app to pick the preferred input choice.use the directional & select buttons on the remote app to choose the desired source on the samsung tv

Moving on to the TCL Roku TV (model 43S455):

  1. Instead of a Source button, go to the Apps section.apps option is highlighted on a remote app
  2. From here, choose the desired source from the list.choose the ps4 input in the remote app to switch input on a tcl roku tv

Note: It’s important to remember that Roku TVs require you to set up the input first before it appears in the app for selection. If you own a Roku TV and need help with this setup, I recommend reading a dedicated article on this topic.

3. Use the TV Remote

The most typical method for changing your TV’s input involves pressing the Input or Source button on the remote, followed by using the directional (arrow) buttons to select the input you want.

TV remotes with input buttons highlighted and pointed

However, the procedure for Roku TVs is distinct, as they usually don’t come with an input button on their remotes.

This makes the process of switching inputs on a Roku TV using the remote quite unique. For a detailed guide on how to do this, you might want to check out the linked article.

4. Use the TV Button

On most smart TVs, pressing the control button brings up a quick menu with various options, including one for changing the TV input.

I’ll illustrate this with my own LG TV model, the 43UP7550PTC, as an example.

Step 1: Press the Power button once to open the Quick Menu.

quick menu when clicking the tv control button

Step 2: Press the Power button again to highlight the Input option.

input option is highlighted on an lg tv

Step 3: Long-press the Power button to choose the Inputs option.

a hand pressing the tv button to change input

Step 4: Press the Power button again to initiate my LG TV to switch input. If the TV doesn’t display the preferred input, simply repeat the process from Step 1 until it does.

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One Comment

  1. Does appletv have a function like fire stick where you can program it to understand voice commands like “switch to PlayStation” and it switches to the correct tv input?

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