Roku Settings and Features

Roku Tips and Tricks: 15 Settings You Need to Know

If you have a Roku device, there are some features you probably don’t know about yet.

In this article and the featured video below, I share 15 settings to help new and existing Roku owners get the most out of their favorite streaming media player.

1. Program Personal Shortcuts

Unfortunately, you can’t reprogram the four shortcut buttons on your Roku remote.

But some of the more expensive players like the Roku Ultra have personal shortcuts — buttons labeled 1 and 2 above the branded shortcuts.

To program your shortcut buttons:

  • Press the microphone button and make a voice command such as “Launch YouTube TV”
  • Once the command is executed, press the shortcut button of your choice (1 or 2)

Going forward, you’ll be able to press the assigned shortcut button whenever you want to issue the command.

If your Roku doesn’t have the personal shortcuts and you really want this feature, pick up a Roku Voice Remote Pro.

It’s a rechargeable remote with hands-free voice controls, plus those personal shortcuts.

2. Add, Move and Delete Channels 

You probably already know how to add channels. There’s a shortcut from the home screen.

But to move a channel, hover over an app and click the star button on your remote. Then, use the up arrow and click Move channel. Reposition the app and click OK to save the change.

And if you don’t want an app on your home screen, click the star button and select the option to remove it. 

3. Limit Ad Tracking

From the navigation menu on the left side of the home screen, scroll down to Settings, Privacy and then Advertising.

Here you will see the option to limit ad tracking. 

To be clear, this doesn’t eliminate ads that you see on Roku. Selecting this option just means that you won’t get personalized ads from Roku. 

If you decide to limit ad tracking, you may also want to reset your advertising identifier.

4. Featured Free 

Roku’s Featured Free section is a great way to discover ad-supported movies, TV shows and live programming that’s available at no charge.

This is a hub for free content across various streaming apps, not just the Roku Channel. 

5. Live Zone

When you select Live Zone from the left navigation on the home screen, you’ll be taken to this area. The live TV channel guide features more than 200 free channels. 

But if it’s cable TV networks that you’re after, those require a subscription.

Live Zone has shortcuts to cable TV alternatives that I cover extensively on my website and YouTube channel. They include YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu Live and Philo.

Check out my favorites here.

6. Find Things Faster (Search)

Featured Free and Live Zone are great for browsing, but Search is much faster if you know what you’re looking for. 

Find this option from the home screen’s left navigation. You can type using the keyboard on your TV or the Roku app on your phone. 

And if your Roku supports voice search, even better.

If you search for a specific TV show or movie, Roku will provide a list of free and paid apps where you can stream the content.

7. Voice Commands 

Many newer Roku devices support voice commands. These are great for things like launching apps and turning on closed captioning.

Roku’s voice command feature also solves a problem for some YouTube TV users.

The YouTube TV app doesn’t display the time, but you can simply press the microphone button on your remote and ask for the time.

8. Adjust Menu Clicks 

Can’t stand the clicking sound when navigating with your Roku? You’re not alone.

Go to Settings, Audio and then Menu volume. From there, you can adjust the level of the clicking sound (low, medium, high) or turn off the sound altogether.

9. Sound Leveling 

While streaming content from any app, click the star button on your Roku remote and then Sound settings

When you turn volume leveling on, it will smooth out the audio. From my experience, this makes a big difference. I keep leveling turned on most of the time.

There’s also night mode, which reduces the volume for louder scenes and enhances it for quieter ones.

10. Roku Remote App 

If you lost your regular Roku remote or the batteries died, download the free Roku app and use the remote on your phone. 

For me, this is a backup only. But some people like the larger buttons on the phone remote.

11. Private Listening

Private listening is another great feature available from the Roku app. From the settings, you can toggle on this feature and plug in your headphones to listen privately.

That way, you can watch programming on your TV but listen through your phone. 

As an alternative, some Roku remotes (including the Voice Remote Pro) have headphone jacks built-in so that you can watch TV without disturbing people around you.

12. Instant Replay 

Did you miss something? Just want to see it again? There’s an instant replay button on your Roku remote located to the left of the microphone button. 

Click this button to repeat the last 10 seconds of video.

If you want to see captions for instant replays, there’s a way to do that with Roku. Go to Settings, Accessibility and Captions mode. From there, select On replay.

13. Declutter the Home Screen

From the left navigation on the home screen, you’ll notice shortcuts for things like Featured Free, Live TV, Movie Store and TV Store.

You can hide some of these shortcuts if you want to.

Go to Settings, Home screen and then you’ll see a list of the ones that you can hide. For example, I never use the My Offers section and was able to hide it with just a few clicks.

14. Change Your Screensaver

If you’re tired of the same old Roku theme, you can now personalize your screensaver with Photo Streams.

This feature was added with Roku OS 11. To set up your screensaver, upload photos from the Roku mobile app or visit photostreams.roku.com from a web browser.

See my step-by-step tutorial to get started with Photo Streams here.

If you ever want to change your screensaver back to Roku’s default option or another screensaver, go to Home, Settings, Theme and then select Screensavers to see your options.

15. Guest Mode

This is great if you have guests staying over at your house. Navigate to Settings, System and then select Guest Mode.

Once guest mode is activated, your visitors can log in to use their subscriptions on your device. You can also set a departure date to log out guests automatically.

For more streaming TV content, subscribe to my YouTube channel!


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