7 Awesome Roku Features You’re Probably Not Using

Dan Price 05-10-2017

Do you own a Roku device? If so, make sure to read our guide to getting more from your Roku Get More Out of Your Roku With These 10 Tips OK, so you've got your Roku up and running, but you're probably not maximising its usefulness. These 10 tips should help you get the most out of your Roku. Read More and our list of clever tricks for your Roku 10 Clever Tricks for Your Roku Roku boxes are incredibly easy to set up and use, but there are lots of little tips and tricks that will vastly improve your experience. Here are 10 of the best... Read More . Done? Good. Then it’s time for some more tips and tricks.


Because Roku devices are so feature-rich, we could write about them for years and still not cover everything. So, plug in your device, follow our Roku setup guide How to Set Up and Use Your Roku Streaming Stick So, you have bought a new Roku Streaming Stick and are wondering what to do next. We're here to help, with the complete guide to setting up your new Roku Streaming Stick. Read More , then absorb the information contained in this article to learn about seven awesome features you’re probably not using.

1. Create Your Own Screensaver

Roku devices come with three native screensavers. They are Roku Digital Clock, Roku Analogue Clock, and Bouncing Logo. None of them are particularly inspiring. To select one, go to Settings > Screensaver > Screensaver and make your choice.

Of course, you can also download new screensavers from the Channel Store. As we’ve explained previously, you can access the Channel Store from your Roku device Using Roku Channels: Everything You Need to Know If you're new to the world of Roku, the concept of Channels may be confusing you. But don't worry, as here's everything you need to know about using Roku channels! Read More and — if you live in the United States — via the web. On your Roku device, go to Streaming Channels > Screensavers to see what is available.

roku app

But did you know there’s a third option? If you own a 4K Roku device, you can also make your own screensaver using the photos on your smartphone.


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To set up the feature, you need to download the Roku app for your Android or iOS device. Within the app, go to Settings > Mobile Screensaver. You can choose up to 25 images to use. You also need to set the display style (High-Quality Stills or Pan and Zoom), and the speed (15, 20, or 30 seconds). Tap Set Screensaver when you’re ready.

Download: Roku (Android)
Download: Roku (iOS)

2. Private Listening

Roku devices can be addictive. A Netflix subscription is even more addictive. Put the two together, and you’ve got a recipe for all-night binges.


But all-night binges bring their own problems, and I’m not just talking about the lack of sleep. If you live with other people, they probably won’t appreciate being woken up at 4am by the sound of the TV blaring out loud.

Similarly, if your kids love binge-watching SpongeBob SquarePants (or whatever children are into these days), you might be somewhat fed up of hearing the same jokes on a neverending loop.

The solution is private listening. If you own a supported Roku model, the feature is available through the Android app, iOS app, and the point-anywhere remote. The supported models are Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Streaming Stick (model 3600 and higher), Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, Roku 4, Roku Ultra, and all Roku TVs such as the TCL 49S405 Smart LED TV.

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3. Live TV Pause

Live TV Pause is only available if you have a Roku TV (i.e. a smart TV with the Roku operating system built-in).

And even if you have a Roku TV, it’s only available if you have connected an over-the-air (OTA) antenna to your set (which everyone should do, you will be amazed at the content you can receive for free through an aerial What Can You Watch Using a TV Antenna? What if there was a cheap, legal way to gain access to many of the big networks? You'd probably lap it up. Well, it turns out there is! Step forward the trusty TV antenna. Read More ).

live television
Image Credit: SSilver/Depositphotos

Lastly, you need to connect a USB storage stick with at last 16GB of space to your TV. Live TV Pause uses the memory on the stick to save the footage.


Assuming your setup meets those three criteria, the feature will be available. You can pause live TV for up to 90 minutes, which is plenty of time to make a cup of tea or pop to the loo.

4. Hotel and Dorm Connect

You’ve always been able to throw your Roku Streaming Stick into your luggage whenever you’re leaving home for a few days. And doing so will put all your content at your fingertips wherever you are in the world.

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Indeed, I have previously argued that this “feature” is one of the main reasons you should buy a Roku device over a smart TV Don't Buy a Smart TV: Buy a Roku Instead! Stop! Don't buy that smart TV. Instead, read this article and find out why it would be better to buy a dumb TV plus a standalone streaming device to go with it. Read More .

But there was always a problem: using Wi-Fi networks that required you to sign into the network via a web browser. You know the type, you see them a lot in hotels and office buildings.

Well, if your Roku is running Roku OS 7.0 or higher, your life just got better thanks to the new Hotel and Dorm Connect feature. It lets you sign into browser-based Wi-Fi networks in seconds.

Just make sure you select I am at a hotel or college dorm when you connect to the network.

5. Plex News

Nobody who owns a Roku stick should be without Plex. It lets you watch all of your locally-saved videos anywhere in the world. You don’t even need a Plex Pass 5 Reasons Why You Don't Need a Plex Pass Do you actually need a Plex Pass? Is a Plex Pass worth it? Here are several reasons why you may not actually need the subscription. Read More . Of course, all the Plex Channels also give you access to legal on-demand TV 20 Unofficial Plex Channels and Plugins You Should Install Right Now Want to unlock more Plex plugins? We show you how to access 20 of the best Plex channels to watch via the Unsupported AppStore. Read More , and now you can even use Plex to watch local OTA broadcasts Plex Live TV: Everything You Need to Know Plex has added live TV channels to its service, but what exactly is Plex Live TV? We have everything you need to know about this exciting new option for cord-cutters. Read More .

In September 2017, Plex announced another great new feature: Plex News.

plex news

If you’re a seasoned cordcutter, you’ll know news is one of the areas which is hardest to replicate without a cable TV subscription. We’ve tried to help in the past by introducing you to some news channels all cordcutters need The 8 Best Free Streaming News Channels to Watch Online If you've cancelled cable TV and missing your daily dose of news, check out these free streaming news channels instead! Read More . Plex News adds another solid option.

In case you missed the announcement, Plex News gives you access to more 190 global news outlets and uses an advanced algorithm to learn what news your care about.

6. The Roku Channel

There is no shortage of high-quality video-on-demand apps. Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, HBO Now, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV — the list goes on and on. In fact, we have argued that there may be too many streaming apps these days Are There Too Many Streaming TV Services? So, you've dumped cable and launched yourself into the world of cord cutting. But what now? Is it possible that there are just too many TV streaming services to choose from these days? Read More .

If you’re observant, you’ll have noticed all the apps I mentioned have one characteristic in common: they all cost money. The same is true for almost all the big-name services.

roku channel

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just install The Roku Channel from the Channel Store. It’s the official channel from the company and it provides hundreds of top movies for free. You don’t even need to make an account. The channel is available on any device released after June 2011.

The only catch? The channel is ad-supported. However, Roku is committed to showing fewer ads than regular TV. If you try watching the channel for any length of time, you’ll discover that the company is staying true to its word.

7. Enable Consumer Electronics Control

Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) is part of the HDMI standard. It can be used to sync volume between devices, coordinate separate audio and video inputs, and can allow one remote to control all of your devices.

Roku utilizes CEC’s one-touch play feature. If enabled, your TV will jump to the Roku’s input port as soon as you press the Power button on your Roku remote. It removes the need to use your TV remote if you want to jump from regular cable programming to Netflix, for example.

To turn on the feature, go to Settings > System > Control Other Devices > 1-Touch Play and mark the checkbox.

Do You Have Any Roku Tips to Share?

Using these seven tips along with the 20 tips we covered in the two articles we referenced in the introduction means you should be well on the way to becoming a Roku ninja.

But wait! Amazingly, there are even more tips and little-known features out there. So now it’s over to you. What are your favorite tips, tricks, and features that most Roku users don’t know about?

As always, you can leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Or share this article with fellow Roku users on your social media site of choice.

Related topics: Media Server, Media Streaming, Roku.

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  1. Basic Streaming
    February 20, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Wow, interesting. I didn't know all the features discussed in this blog. You wrote a great post with a valuable topic. This will help me to operate on my Roku TV. Thank you very much.

  2. wallace
    July 14, 2019 at 3:09 am

    Any adult channels for my ruku TV?

  3. Katherine Melinda
    January 9, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    This article helpful to knowing the awesome Roku featureswhich are not used by Roku users. Now i am using these features one by one.

  4. Dave
    October 8, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I'm using most of those features so I guess you are presumptuous and wrong.

  5. Carol
    October 8, 2017 at 5:06 am

    I got a screensaver off menu but it’s not in my screensaver settings? All that’s there is the clocks & city scene??? Help!

  6. Barbara Peterson
    October 7, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Need help with TLCGO, I want to watch it, but I don't have a TV service, what I have is Sling. I even tried going through my phone, help, thanks Barbara Peterson

  7. Bill R
    October 7, 2017 at 2:40 am

    This article is Crap if you have an early roku.

  8. William Frazier
    October 7, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Very hard well basically impossible to get customer support i own 3 Ruku devices and can't get anybody to help me without having to pay money. World's worst customer service!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kind of like a used car salesman they just want to sell you the TV and have a nice day

    • D light
      August 9, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      I had a question about my Roku /hooking it up to a certain service and I could not get it resolved so I went to Roku Facebook page and sent them a message. someone did respond, at first it was an automated response. They were all not relevant to my issue so I sent them a second message asking could I email them. They responded ; sent more information to help me Resolve my problem. that's what I suggest, go to the Facebook page and send them a message through Messenger

  9. Lloyd
    October 6, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Private listening is also available on the Roku app for Ruku devices that support it, I used it on my iPhone.

  10. Salena
    October 6, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Can I record on it like a dvr

  11. Salena
    October 6, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    How can I record say, General Hospital off of wpta, does roku have this capability to record like a dvr?

  12. Bill R
    October 6, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Most of these won't work on my Rokus.

  13. Tom Wills
    October 6, 2017 at 4:26 am

    You can connect your smart phone to your Roku and stream your phone's screen without having to have Wi-Fi. Android users can use the Smart View function. Apple users may be able to cast their screen as well.

  14. Antonia
    October 6, 2017 at 2:23 am

    The Roku Channel is not downloading.

  15. Susan
    October 6, 2017 at 1:20 am

    I use my roku app on my iPod touch to play my itunes music library on my Roku TV

  16. Bruce Mac Elrath
    October 6, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Being a new cord cutter I have one new tip. Every Roku owner should sign up for PLUTO T.V. channel cause all of the antenna channels are on the menu along with movies , news and documentaries. Excellent find.