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We love the Roku here at MakeUseOf. The company’s series of digital media players Chromecast Vs Apple TV Vs Roku: Which Media Streamer Suits You? Chromecast Vs Apple TV Vs Roku: Which Media Streamer Suits You? Media streaming devices are simply awesome. Those little boxes that connect to your TV can add a wealth of entertainment options to your living room. But which device is best for you? Read More are currently revolutionizing how we access, watch, and interact with video content on our televisions.

Whether you want to stream the latest news, keep abreast of the weather forecast, or watch music videos 10 YouTube Music Videos Guaranteed to Annoy Your Friends 10 YouTube Music Videos Guaranteed to Annoy Your Friends Annoying your friends is fun. And as people care a lot about music, one of the best ways to get to them is to force them to sit through a song they hate. Et voila. Read More from your favorite bands, Roku devices will let you do it.

They’re incredibly easy to set up and use, but you may not know that there are lots of little tips and tricks that will vastly improve your experience. Here are 10 of the best.

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1. Private Channels

We have covered private Roku channels extensively in the past. There are lots to choose from 20 Private Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now 20 Private Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now In this article we explain how to add private channels to your Roku, and recommend 20 of the best that we think you should install immediately. Read More , providing you with everything from 24-hour rolling news to classic films.

Adding them is easy: just grab the necessary code from the channel’s homepage, Reddit, or an aggregator site, navigate to your Roku online portal, and click Add Channel. It will become available on your device within 24 hours, and often a lot sooner.

roku-channel

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It’s important to realize that these channels are maintained by hobbyists and enthusiasts – and, as such, they are liable to be buggy or stop functioning altogether. Nonetheless, they are a fantastic way of expanding the content available to you and helping you cut the cord in order to save money.

2. Secret Menus

The secret menus are probably the biggest “secret” on this entire list.

They are primarily used for accessing the system’s root settings and altering them to your liking. For example, you can force an update of your device’s software, cycle through the various channel stores, optimize your Wi-Fi settings, or enable the developer mode.

Interestingly, they also allow you to side-load one channel (yes, you can only have one installed at a time). This is great if a mainstream channel, such as Netflix, isn’t available in your region.

Here is a list of currently-working secret menus, though new ones are discovered often:

Home x 5 + FF x 3 + RW x 2: Secret screen one (factory reset, USB test, cycle channel store, update server/software, enable debug)
Home x 5 + U + R + D + L + U: Secret screen two (cycle screenshot, cycle ad-banner, remote auto-pair, log theme info)
Home x 5 + U + D + U + D + U: Wi-Fi secret screen
Home x 5 + FF + PP + RW + PP + FF: Platform secret screen
Home x 5 + FF + D + RW + D + FF: Antenna secret screen
Home x 5 + RW x 3 + FF x 2: Bitrate override
Home x 3 + U x 2 + R + L + R + L + R: Developer settings
Home x 3 + U x 2 + L + R + L + R + L: Channel info
Home x 5 + R + L + R + L + R: Network info
Home x 5 + U + RW x 2 + FF x 2: Reboot Device

Warning One: Messing with these settings could have adverse effects on your device – proceed with caution.

Warning Two: These could stop working with future software updates.

3. Use Your Phone as a Keyboard

The Roku remote is perfect for navigating between channels and playing/pausing videos – but it’s really annoying to use when you need to type anything.

That’s a problem when you need to add login details for Netflix or Spotify, enter your Wi-Fi password, or otherwise engage with your device. Thankfully, Roku makes a great smartphone app for Android and iOS, as well as an app for Windows.

roku-app

These apps let you use your phone as a keyboard, use Roku Search to find content, and control video playback.

4. Use a USB Stick

The Roku 3 and Roku 4 come equipped with a USB port. This means that if your TV doesn’t have a USB port, or it does have one but it’s awkward to reach, you can still enjoy media that’s saved on portable devices 3 Great Ways To Enjoy Your Own Media On The Roku 3 3 Great Ways To Enjoy Your Own Media On The Roku 3 Regular television sets are a thing of the past. These days, if you set out to get a new TV, it'll likely be a smart TV. That TV will be 'smart' the same way your... Read More (only MKV, MP4, and MOV video files are supported How To Prep Your Videos For Playback On The Roku 3 How To Prep Your Videos For Playback On The Roku 3 Although I've had the pleasure of using an Apple TV these past few months, I was immediately sold on the Roku 3. You can read more about the product (and whet your appetite) in Danny's... Read More ).

To use it, you’ll need to install the Roku Media Player channel from the Channel Store. Once that’s done, plug in your USB stick, fire up the channel, and use the remote to navigate to the content you want.

5. PIN Protect Your Account

Roku boxes don’t have typical parental controls What You Need to Know About Parental Controls for PCs and Tablets What You Need to Know About Parental Controls for PCs and Tablets Your children are old enough to go online? Set up a family safety or parental control app to protect them from the dark side of the Internet. We show you what these tools can do. Read More , but there is still a way to protect your kids from adding unsavory content.

Login to your portal and click on Choose Your PIN Preferences at the top of the screen. You can choose to be presented with a PIN request either when you make purchases or any time a new channel is added (even free ones).

roku-pin

Unfortunately, it does not work when adding content directly from the Web portal, though as long as you have a strong password, that scenario is easy to defend against.

6. Rename Your Roku

Once you have a Roku in your home, it’s tempting to add another. And another. And another. This is especially true if you own several TVs and want the device’s functionality on all of them.

In this case, it’s really important to rename your devices to something logical (think “Kitchen,” “Lounge,” “Harry’s Bedroom,” etc.).

roku-rename

This makes things much easier to manage when adding new channels from a single portal, when using the app, or when you want to cast a video directly from your smartphone to a particular TV.

It’s also extremely easy to do. Just log in to your account, scroll down to the list of devices, and click Add a New Name.

7. Reorder Your Channels

It’s easy to get carried away with adding channels; you can quickly end up with a list that’s spiraling out of control.

Naturally, there will be some channels that you use more than others. It makes sense, therefore, to move these channels to the top of your list or to group together channels with a similar theme.

movechannel-roku

To move channels around, use the remote to highlight the one in question, press the star on the remote, and choose Move Channel.

8. Stream Your Computer Screen Over Miracast

Another seriously underused Roku feature is its ability to stream your desktop The 8 Best Devices for Streaming Movies to Your TV The 8 Best Devices for Streaming Movies to Your TV There are several ways to stream media to your TV, and deciding which way is right for you can be overwhelming. Let us help you explore what's currently available. Read More from your computer directly onto your TV. It removes the need for HDMI cables and functions flawlessly.

win10-project

This feature works using Miracast technology Stop Using HDMI: Miracast Is the Wireless Alternative You'll Love Stop Using HDMI: Miracast Is the Wireless Alternative You'll Love The next time you need to stream media between devices, remember the flaws of HDMI and consider using wireless Miracast instead. It's the technology we all need and deserve. Read More . Sadly, that means Mac users cannot take advantage. However, if you’re on Windows 10, search for Project to a Second Screen, click on Connect to a Wireless Display, and select your desired Roku device.

9. Add Extra Memory

Roku devices have a limited memory. Which, if you’re a channel junkie, means you’re eventually going to hit your storage limit and be unable to add more content.

However, if you own a set top box (rather than a streaming stick), you can add a MicroSD card. Just push it into the slot and follow the on-screen instructions.

roku

Note: MicroSD cards can only be used for storing extra channels – they do not offer a way to store personal media.

10. Add a Screensaver

The final tip on this list involves setting up a screensaver Screensavers in 2015: When You Need Them and When You Don't Screensavers in 2015: When You Need Them and When You Don't Screensavers may no longer be necessary, but there are some really cool ones that are still worth using today. Read More ; it’s much nicer than watching the Roku logo bounce around your TV screen whenever the device is idle.

There are hundreds to choose from; most are free, but some cost anything up to $2 apiece. You’ll definitely be able to find something to suit your tastes – whether you want to watch fish swimming around an aquarium, recreate the illusion of a roaring fireplace, or get live news updates from your favorite sites.

What Roku Tips Can You Share?

This article has hopefully given you some insight into the power of your Roku. It’s so much more than Netflix and YouTube, it really can become the hub of your home entertainment.

Of course, we’ve only listed 10 tips. Seasoned Roku users will undoubtedly have lots more tips and suggestions up their sleeves.

If you’ve got some tricks that we haven’t covered, we’d love to hear about them. You’ll be helping out both ourselves and your fellow readers. As always, you can leave your ideas, suggestions, and thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit: magician holding magic wand by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock

  1. Wm Brown
    May 21, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Great Article!! Some I knew, most I didn't. Loved the 'remote' Windows app! Works great.

  2. Vikki Johnson
    May 20, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Very interesting and informative article. I can't wait to try some new things on my Roku. Thanks!

  3. Sharon A.
    May 19, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    My Roku used to stay on the same screen when it went to sleep. Then when I turned the tv back on it was all ready for me to continue my binge watching by just pressing enter. Now it returns to the top level screen with all the channels on it and I have to navigate back to where I left off. How do I make it go back to the way it used to be.

    • alan
      May 20, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      This has happened to my Roku 2 also. I've always just left it on whatever channel I had been watching. Now, when I come back later it's always back on the home screen. It must have been part of the last upgrade. I don't know if there is any way to change it or not, but it is kind of annoying.

    • Unhappy1
      May 21, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      Same here. Must be another bug marketed as a feature. Very disappointing.

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