How to Connect Your Roku Device to WiFi When You’ve Lost the Remote

So you finally decided to ditch cable and embrace streaming. You ordered a slick new Roku device, it arrived today, and you eagerly unpacked it ready to dive into all your favorite shows and movies.

But then – disaster strikes! You realize the remote is missing from the box or the batteries are dead.

Don’t panic my friend – I’m here to help you get connected. Without a remote, you can’t exactly click through the WiFi setup menus on your TV. But have no fear – the free Roku mobile app can save the day!

I’ll walk you through exactly how to connect both existing and brand new Roku devices to your home WiFi, using just your phone as a remote control. We’ll also troubleshoot some common issues that may be preventing connection and answer some frequently asked questions.

Let’s get you streaming your Netflix queue in no time!

Why WiFi Matters for Roku Devices

Roku streaming players and Roku TVs rely entirely on an internet connection to access any content. Whether your box plugs into the wall or sticks directly into a TV HDMI port, without WiFi it has no way to stream media from apps like Hulu, Disney+, Spotify and literally thousands of others.

Now the good news – Roku devices DON’T necessarily need WiFi specifically. Many models come equipped with an Ethernet port allowing you to connect directly to your router with a cable instead of wirelessly. So if you have an extra long cord and want faster, more stable streaming, Ethernet is a great option.

However, for most homes today WiFi makes the most sense for convenience and flexibility. But what do you do if your router’s too far from your TV, or you connected fine months ago but your remote stopped working?

That’s what this guide aims to solve! By enabling WiFi connections on Roku devices – with or without the included physical remote – you can get back to streaming smoothly.

No matter which common pitfall caused you to lose your Roku remote (toddlers love to hide them!), using your smartphone as a remote gives you back control.

Step 1: Download the Official Roku Mobile App

Roku wisely developed free iOS and Android apps that fully mirror physical Roku remotes. Over 27 million active users have downloaded a Roku mobile app, recognizing it as a handy backup for situations just like this.

The Roku app earns consistently high ratings across platforms:

iOS App Store4.8 out of 5 stars
Google Play Store4 out of 5 stars

With well-designed interfaces across phones, voice search capability, text entry keyboards and more, the app delivers on the promise of easy streaming control.

To get started connecting your WiFi-deprived Roku box, download the free Roku app for iPhone and iPad or Android devices.

Supported Roku Devices

Not every Roku product is compatible with the mobile apps, so refer to this table:

Roku PlayerApp Compatible?
Roku Express / Express+Yes
Roku Premiere / Premiere+Yes
Roku Streaming Stick / Stick+Yes
Roku Ultra / Ultra LTYes
Roku Smart SoundbarYes
Roku TVsYes

Practically all of their current lineup works – so you should be good to go software-wise!

Step 2: Connect Your Phone to the Same WiFi (For Existing Devices)

Here’s where the instructions diverge slightly depending on your situation. Let’s first talk about getting an already connected Roku onto a new WiFi network when lacking a remote.

If your Roku stick, box or smart TV has been connected wirelessly before but you need to switch WiFi networks, your device’s still got the credentials to your old network. This becomes the key!

For the Roku mobile app to function properly as a remote, your phone needs internet access too.

So connect your smartphone to the same WiFi network that your wayward Roku device is still clinging onto. Check your old router or modem for the WiFi name (SSID) and password if needed.

Toggling on the mobile hotspot via your phone instead of directly connecting to WiFi unfortunately won’t work here. But don’t worry – in a bit I’ll explain how hotspots can connect brand new Roku gear.

For now, join the same WiFi that your existing Roku box is connected to. This bridges the communication between devices nicely.

With your smartphone on the same network, open up the Roku app and it should auto-detect your device. Choose which Roku model gets the honor of your viewership! The mobile app essentially becomes a fully functional remote now.

Step 3: Use the App to Change WiFi Networks

Here’s a nifty trick – since connecting a mobile device to the old WiFi gives you a make-shift Roku remote again, use this to…switch its WiFi to the NEW network!

Navigate on your mobile Roku remote app to Settings > Network > Set up new connection and select your new WiFi’s name. Type in the proper WiFi password when prompted and voila.

Now both your phone AND Roku device will be connected to the same WPA2 home wireless so you can stream media properly. Rejoice in your unified WiFi harmony!

From here feel free to disable the old WiFi network on your router admin interface since no devices need it anymore.

And if you stumble into remote dilemmas again down the road, at least you know the trusty Roku mobile app is there to save the day once more.

Okay, hopefully that workflow makes sense logistically for getting a previously working Roku back online with a tiny remote replica on your iPhone or Android. Good stuff!

But what if you just unpacked a brand new Roku and NEVER connected it before? There’s an easy path for that scenario too…

Step 4: Use Ethernet to Establish Connectivity (For New Devices)

Remember how I mentioned earlier that all Roku boxes connect to the internet either via WiFi or a wired Ethernet connection?

When setting up a fresh Roku TV or streamer out of the box, WiFi is the eventual goal…butEthernet becomes the hero!

Since brand new devices can’t connect wirelessly without going through setup, here’s where an Ethernet cable saves you.

First directly plug one end of an Ethernet cord into your home router (where the WiFi originates) and the other end into your dormant Roku product.

Voila – you’ve now given your streamer temporary access to the internet and activated the option for the mobile app to see the device!

Pro Ethernet Connection Tip: Always run cables directly from Roku players to the router for fastest speeds, rather than chaining through other devices.

Now follow Step 1 earlier and get the Roku app on your mobile device. Once downloaded, the app scans and detects Ethernet-connected players on the network!

Continue to Step 2 by connecting your phone to the desired WiFi network that you want the new Roku to eventually use.

Finally in Step 3, utilize the Roku mobile app remote to run through wireless setup on the Roku itself:

Settings > Network > Set up new WiFi connection

Select your home’s WiFi name, input the WPA2 password when asked, and click connect. This migrates your wired Roku box over to sweet, sweet wireless – which was the goal all along!

Pro Wireless Placement Tip: Position your Roku device less than 15-20 ft from the WiFi router with minimal objects obstructing the signal path. Wall mounting is ideal.

Nice work – now that fancy new Roku hardware is configured just the way it should be using wired Ethernet to establish that crucial early link!

Troubleshooting Tricky Roku Remote Issues

Hopefully at this point your Roku equipment new or old is connected to WiFi and working properly without a remote. But technology can still be finicky, so let’s discuss a few tricky troubleshooting topics:

  • Remote responds inconsistently / intermittent button presses – This is typically fixed by replacing old batteries if applicable, otherwise distance / obstruction issues may be reducing connectivity. Bring remote closer to streamer.

  • Remote paired / connected but cursor freezes – Attempt restarting the Roku device, plus any connected TVs and the router itself. Power cycling refreshes system processes.

  • Can’t find WiFi password – If your router underside didn’t have credentials, Android users can view saved WiFi passwords under Settings -> Network & Internet -> WiFi -> [Your Network]. iPhone is similar through Settings -> WiFi -> [Your Network] -> Show Password.

  • Errors adding WiFi network – Double check spellings or special characters recorded correctly in WiFi name/password. Also try rebooting the Roku and router if settings don’t save properly.

For additional remote troubleshooting beyond these basics, Roku’s support website contains every detailed fix across all branded remotes – well worth bookmarking!

Stuck connecting your Roku box? Feel free to describe your own troubleshooting saga in the comments below and I’ll try my best to help get your streaming back on track!

Frequently Asked Roku Remote Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions around using Roku players without a remote or WiFi connectivity:

Can I use the Roku mobile app as a permanent remote replacement?

Absolutely! As long as your phone stays connected to the same WiFi network as the Roku, the mobile app serves as a full functioning (and free!) remote substitute with plenty of extras like voice search.

What if I don’t know my WiFi network name or password?

If your WiFi name is hidden, checking the router admin interface accessed through a web browser would reveal it. Default passwords are also commonly listed there, otherwise resetting the router typically restores it to defaults.

Can I use a mobile hotspot instead of home WiFi?

Yes! When going through Roku setup you can choose your phone’s hosted mobile hotspot as the WiFi network. This uses your cellular data but avoids spotty home WiFi.

What can I do with a Roku device without any internet connectivity?

Unfortunately Rokus rely entirely on internet access to stream any content. But you CAN connect a USB drive or external hard disk to view personal media like movies, music and photos offline.

Where is the best spot to place my Roku device for good WiFi reception?

Ideally within 15 feet of your wireless router, with minimal objects obstructing the path between the devices. Wall mounting the streaming box or stick clears obstacles, or adjustable antennas can further optimize reception.

Well I sure hope this troubleshooting advice and connectivity tips help you get streaming smoothly. Don’t abandon that new Roku just because the remote went missing! Reach out in the comments if you have any other questions.

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