Hand with remote pointing at a TV displaying Netflix logoHand with remote pointing at a TV displaying Netflix logo

Control a Roku Without a Remote

8/1/2020 | Technology

Recently I was on vacation, and my brother brought his Roku with him. One small mistake: we forgot the remote. The place we were staying in had Wi-Fi, but there was no way to control the Roku to connect it to that Wi-Fi network without a remote, right? Not quite! After a little searching we were able to work out a method that got us up and streaming fast, and without a remote!

I’ll go ahead and tell you the two caveats with this setup up front: if you don’t know the SSID and password of the last network this Roku was connected to, or you only have one mobile device handy, you’re out of luck. Sorry, folks.

Assuming you _do_ know that information and you _do_ have two mobile devices on hand, you’re _in_ luck and we can get going!

1. Set Up Your Hotspot

First thing’s first, we’re going to fake the last network your Roku was connected to. Simply put, your Roku remembers the SSID (network name) and password of that network so it can reconnect automatically. If you could set up a new network with the same SSID and password, the Roku will connect automatically, and you can use a mobile device on that same network to control the TV. Simple.

NOTE: If you’re not trying to connect the Roku to a Wi-Fi network, and just want to use your mobile data, steps 1 and 2 will get you all the way there!

First, we need to set the SSID and password of the new mobile hotspot to match your old network. On an iPhone, in order to set the network name, we need to temporarily change the name of your device. The Personal Hotspot SSID is always set to the device name.


  1. Head over to Settings › General › About › Name, and change that to the SSID (network name) of the network you last connected your Roku to.
  2. Go back to Settings › Personal Hotspot › Wi-Fi Password and change that to the password of the network you last connected to.
  3. You should be all set.


  1. Go to Settings › Mobile Hotspot › Set up Mobile Hotspot. Click okay if you get a data usage message.
  2. Enter the SSID and password of the network you last connected your Roku to.
  3. Save the new hotspot and tap Ok to activate the network.

2. Connect Your Remote

Now that we have a network that our Roku can connect to automatically, we need a second device on that network to act as the remote. You’ll need to download the Roku Remote app on the second device, if you haven’t already.

Connect the second device to the new hotspot network using the same network name and password.

3. Re-connect Your Roku

Turn on your Roku (or turn it off and back on again, if it’s already on). After it starts and gets going, it should connect automatically to your mobile hotspot. Start the Roku app on the second device, and you should see your Roku listed. Connect to it, go to the remote view, and you’re controlling your Roku, no remote required!

Lastly, if you want to connect to another available wireless network like we did, just hop over to Settings › Network and choose “Set up connection”. Find the network you want to connect to, enter your password, and you’re streaming all the Netflix/Hulu/whatever your heart desires!