The trackpad on the Apple TV’s Siri Remote is frustrating to use at best, but there are several ways around it if you’d rather have a traditional D-pad.
The Problem with the Siri Remote’s Trackpad
Don’t get me wrong; the Siri Remote is a huge improvement over the previous generation. The addition of a Siri button and volume controls alone makes the Apple TV so much more useful and easy to use. However, the trackpad makes navigating menus extremely frustrating.
The biggest problem is that I always seem to swipe too much or not enough, which isn’t a big issue when I’m just scrubbing through a video or need to scroll through a long list. But if I want to slowly scroll through a list and see each item one by one, the trackpad makes it difficult to do that.
While you can change the sensitivity of the trackpad in the settings, I can never find a perfect setting in the available sensitivity options (Slow, Medium, and Fast). Maybe it’s just me and my sloppy finger coordination, but it’s frustrating to say the least.
If you have similar problems with the Siri Remote’s trackpad, there are a fews ways around it.
The Easiest Fix: Use the Trackpad as a D-Pad
What most Apple TV users don’t know is that you can use the remote’s trackpad as a traditional D-pad.
All you have to do is tap in a specific area on the trackpad that relates to the direction you want to go. So for example, if you want to scroll down, you would tap the bottom part of the trackpad. Scrolling up would require tapping on the top portion of trackpad, and so on.
This is a little hidden gem of a feature that can make navigating menus a bit easier for those who don’t like swiping on the trackpad.
Use the Previous-Gen Apple TV Remote
It’s probably not the most ideal option, but if you want to use a D-pad remote that’s 100% compatible with the Apple TV, then the Apple TV 3 remote is the only way to go.
It works with the Apple TV 4 and 4K models, and it’s still available to purchase directly from Apple. However, it’s missing the Siri button and the volume controls, so if you’re okay going without those, then you’re good to go.
Plus, at just $19 (compared to $59 for the Siri Remote), the original Apple TV remote makes for a super cheap replacement option if your Siri Remote breaks or gets lost and you can’t afford a brand new one.
Use a Universal Remote
If the original Apple TV remote won’t cut it for you, you can instead use a universal remote—one that includes a real D-pad, as well as a bunch of added functionality and features.
Universal remotes are great for home entertainment systems because it provides you with one interface for everything, rather than having to use separate remotes for each individual device. So not only do you get your D-pad to control your Apple TV, but you also step up your home theater game in the process.
I use the Logitech Harmony 650 with my Apple TV and it works pretty well. Of course, you do lose some functionality with your Apple TV, like being able to easily scrub through video or tapping on the trackpad to get a quick peak at how much time is left in a movie. However, most of the functionality that you’d want is still there.
Of course, don’t forget that you can use your television’s own remote to control your Apple TV as well. This isn’t the most popular option, as most remotes that come with the television aren’t that great, but it’s an option if you don’t feel like splurging on a universal remote.