Best Universal Remote For Apple TV (2019 Breakdown)

Written By Home Bar & Games

You just got your brand new Apple TV4 and you’re ready to do some serious binge-watching of your favorite streaming shows.

But that little Apple TV remote fell in-between the couch cushions again!

That is honestly what made me want to write this article. Because as much as I love the Apple TV, I hate having to track down that tiny remote every time I want to watch it.

If that sounds like your problem too…keep reading because we have 4 great solutions for you.

If you are in a hurry, the Logitech Harmony Elite is the way to go. It’s by far our favorite here and was at the top of our rankings for the Best Universal Remotes.

If you want to grab the Harmony Elite, CLICK HERE to check availability on Amazon.

Otherwise, keep reading to find out why we picked it and discover some alternatives.

Best Overall Remote For Apple TV

Ok, since we don’t want to bury the lead, the Logitech Harmony Elite is our top pick. You’d find this remote at the top of just about every “best remote” list on the internet.

Logitech is the King of universal remotes and this is their crown jewel.

We named it the Best Universal Remote in 2019.

Logitech Harmony Elite

Smart Home Connectivity
Can Control Bluetooth Devices
Can Be Too Complex For Some

So we’ve established that the Elite is a great remote, but why is it a great remote to use with the Apple TV?

With the Harmony Elite, you basically get the best of both worlds. You get the classic remote setup with dedicated buttons for the number pad, playback, etc. and you also get Bluetooth connectivity allowing for text and voice-based control of the Apple TV4.

If you choose not to pair the Elite with your Apple TV4 via Bluetooth, you can still have basic control of it using infrared (“IR”).

But every remote on this list will work just fine with the Apple TV4.

The reason the Elite is our choice is that it does everything else you could ever want a universal remote to do.

If you want to get all the details, check out our more in-depth Logitech Harmony Elite Review.

If you like the Elite, you can CLICK HERE to check availability on Amazon.

Bluetooth Keyboard Bug (Maybe) With Apple TV4 and 4K Models

As of the time of researching and publishing this article, there are reports online of an issue with Bluetooth keyboard support on the Apple TV 4th Gen (2015) and Apple TV 4K models. The Elite (and other Logitech models) default to IR because Apple TV4 and 4K don’t allow multiple keyboards to pair with the device.

I did not encounter any issues when I paired the Elite with an Apple TV4, but I also didn’t have other keyboards paired with it (unless the phone can count as one…but I don’t think it does).

The Logitech website made no mention of this issue…so I can’t confirm or deny that it still exists. At worst, it will unpair any other keyboards you might have connected to the Apple TV4, so it’s not that big of a deal for most users.

According to Logitech, here is the process for pairing the Logitech Elite and Apple TV4:

Harmony hub will send text commands to Apple TV using Bluetooth. To enable this you must first pair the two devices:

  1. Using the Harmony app
  2. Select ENABLE TEXT ENTRY and select your Watch Apple TV Activity. Harmony hub is now in pairing mode.
  3. Using your Apple TV remote, select Settings > General > Bluetooth. Apple TV is now in pairing mode.

Harmony and Apple TV should pair after several seconds. If you’re having problems pairing, try removing any existing keyboard pairings from Apple TV by selecting it, clicking OK, and selecting Forget this device.

If you want to read Logitech’s step-by-step instructions for setting up any Harmony device with your Apple TV, you can find that here.

Runner Up

The Logitech Harmony Express is a universal remote with Amazon’s Alexa built right into it. It’s also the closest in design to the actual Apple TV4 remote.

Logitech Harmony Express

Less Expensive Than Elite
Very Simple Interface
Voice Control Isn’t Always Best
Lack Of Buttons Can Be Frustrating

The Logitech Harmony Express definitely caught my attention when it first came out.

If you are all about having a Smarthome powered home theater setup and have all the related devices like lights, window shades, powered projection screen, and anything else that can be controlled with your voice…then the Harmony Express may be designed perfectly for you.

The Harmony Express takes some of the Apple design theory and turns it into a universal remote. It gives up a multitude of buttons in favor of close integration with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant controlling all of your home theater components.

I think the Express falls a little short when it comes to controlling more traditional home theater components but it works great with the Apple TV.

If you love the simplicity of the remote that comes with your Apple TV but want something that will work with all of your other components…then the Logitech Harmony Express is perfect for you.

On top of that, it is significantly less expensive than the Harmony Elite.

You can CLICK HERE to check availability on Amazon.

Best Budget Option

If you want to save some money, check out the Logitech Harmony 665. This option from the middle of the Logitech lineup is very competitively priced and will work with your Apple TV4 (just without some of the more advanced features).

Logitech Harmony 665

Easier To Use and Set-Up
No Smart Home Control
No Charging Cradle

The Logitech Harmony 665 is our go-to recommendation for budget-minded buyers.

Does Harmony 665 Work WIth Apple TV?

This remote will let you control the Apple TV4 through infrared communication. It does not have Bluetooth, so some of the more advanced features of the Apple TV4 may not be accessible through this remote.

For example, you can use the Apple remote that comes with the Apple TV to give voice commands. But you can’t do that with the Harmony 665.

Who Should Choose The Harmony 665?

If you want to save some money and want a remote that works with your Apple TV4 as well as your other home theater components, then the Harmony 665 will be a great choice for you.

However, if you like to use voice control often on the Apple TV4, then you may want to consider one of the more expensive options above (or just keep the regular Apple TV4 remote nearby for giving voice commands.

You can CLICK HERE to check availability on Amazon.

Best Free Option

To be fair, we wanted to include the remote that comes with the Apple TV4 in our comparison.

Apple TV4 Remote

Comes With The Apple TV4
Very Simple Interface
Small Enough To Lose
Very Limited Physical Buttons
Only Controls Apple TV4

The basic Apple TV remote is better than most remotes that come packaged with home theater components.

Despite limited buttons, it is well designed and also has a built-in mic that lets you use the Apple TV’s Siri for voice commands.

Of course the obvious negative here is that it can only control the Apple TV4, not your other components.

Interestingly, you can buy the Apple TV4 remote separately as well.

You can CLICK HERE to check availability on Amazon.

What We Looked At To Make These Picks

Apple TV Compatibility

This is a list of the best universal remotes for Apple TV, so the primary factor we looked at was compatibility with the Apple TV4 (the latest version from Apple).

Luckily Apple designed the Apple TV to be compatible with both Bluetooth control and IR remotes. IR control is somewhat limited compared to what you can do with Bluetooth, but it can still get the job done.


Next, we looked at the remote’s feature set.

In addition to being able to control your Apple TV, you want a remote that can do a great job with all of your other devices as well.

This includes more traditional components like your TV, BluRay player, or reciever…as well as secondary (but really cool) additions like dimmable different color lights, power window shades, and other ambiance features.

More features are almost always better of course. But if you like simplicity is also something to keep in mind depending on who will be using the remote.


The last major factor we looked at was the ergonomics of the remote.

Good ergonomics in a universal remote mean that the remote is easy and comfortable to hold in your hand and that the buttons are easily accessible without having to re-grip the remote or use a second hand.

Logitech does this better than any other universal remote company out there. They have been making remotes for years and have gone through dozens of designs.

You can rest assured that all of the picks on this list score very high in ergonomics.