March 9, 2021
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Got a new Roku this holiday season? Here’s how to set it up

Roku Streaming Ultra

Time to set up that new Roku. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you got a new Roku over the holidays you probably weren’t alone. The streamers and TVs powered by Roku’s operating system are among the most popular home entertainment products, not to mention some of CNET’s favorites. Whether you received a Roku Express, a Streaming Stick Plus, an Ultra box or Roku TV, now that the gift is out of the box it’s time to set it up and start putting it to use. 

To help make sure you have no problems we took out a Streaming Stick Plus, our favorite overall streaming device, to walk you through the process — which should be basically the same no matter which Roku you’re using. Here’s how to set up your new Roku. 

Step 1: Plug it into HDMI and power


Connect your Roku into your TV’s HDMI port. 

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There are a few things you’ll have to connect whether you have a box or streaming stick. In our case, with the Streaming Stick Plus, you’ll need to plug in the included USB power cable into the Roku as well the Roku into your TV’s HDMI slot. 

For power, the Streaming Stick can use a USB input on your TV, but make sure it has at least 5 volts of power (some manufacturers list the voltage next to the USB designation) so your Stick is getting maximum performance. But if you can we recommend using the included wall adapter instead to ensure that the Roku stays powered-up and ready to go. Roku includes a USB extension cord with the Streaming Stick Plus to help. 

If your TV is wall-mounted and the HDMI port is hard to reach for your Streaming Stick, you can get a free HDMI extender from Roku

After everything is plugged in, turn on your TV and select the input into which you plugged your new Roku. 

Step 2: Pair the remote


Pressing down on a button below the battery slot can pair your Roku with its included remote.

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After connecting your Roku and navigating your TV to the proper input, you should see Roku’s interface ready to help take you through the next steps. You’ll probably need to pair the included remote with your Roku (although some devices may be paired already). 

To pair, insert the included batteries into the remote. It should connect automatically, but if not, hold down the button located by the battery slot for three seconds. 

Step 3: Going through the process

Now we can go through the setup process. After choosing your language, you’ll be prompted to connect to Wi-Fi. If you have a Roku Ultra box and have plugged in through wired Ethernet you may skip this step. For everyone else, click on your Wi-Fi network and enter your password. 


After confirming you’re connected to the internet, your Roku may need to update its software. Let it do this and go spend more time opening other presents. This shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes, but times will vary depending on your connection. 

Display (your TV)


Your Roku will analyze your TV to find the best settings.

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Once updated, your Roku will ask to autodetect the type of TV you have. Hit OK and let this run. It will pick the best settings for your TV for playing back content going forward. If there is an issue you can retry the test otherwise choose OK, go to automatic. If the screen looks good click OK at the next prompt. 

TV control setup

If you have a Roku with a remote that can control your TV, you’ll be prompted to set it up now. Your Roku will sync volume and power controls with your TV to allow you to control both with the Roku remote. Click OK and follow the prompt. Music will play, so keep your remote pointed at the TV. Follow the steps, if the music stops automatically you’re all set. 


The Roku Streaming Stick remote can be set up to control a TV. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Otherwise, click No and choose Enter TV brand. Enter your TV brand and repeat the process until your remote syncs with your TV. 

Link your Roku account and download apps

You’ll need a Roku account to be able to use your new Roku. Thankfully the accounts are free, but you will need to create one if you don’t have one already, and enter your email address on-screen to link your account.

Once you enter your email, the on-screen display will instruct you to check the email address you just entered. You find an email with the subject line “Activate your device.” Clicking the link there takes you to Roku’s web site, where you’ll either create a new account or, if you already have one, go straight to the next step.


Roku will ask what services you use to stream. 

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Next you assign your device to a room (or enter a custom name) and agree to the user agreement. Then you’ll be taken through a guide to help you determine what services you already subscribe to — like Netflix, Disney Plus, HuluPrime Video ($9 at Amazon) and HBO Max ($15 at HBO Max) — and your interests. You can also skip this part, but you’ll still get a page with even more channels to install, as well as an offer for free trials. 

Clicking “Continue” on these pages will (finally) cause your Roku to automatically begin downloading and installing the apps. You still, however, will need to log in to each app (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and so on) individually to watch. 


All done. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

That’s it. Your Roku should now be good to go. If you want more control you can download the Roku app on your iOS or Android device that allows your phone to serve as your Roku remote, or add the Roku skill to your Google Assistant or Alexa app for voice control from smart speakers like a Google Home or Amazon Echo ($120 at Amazon). Roku also offers a few instructional videos to get the most out of your device. Also, remember to check your privacy settings.

Happy streaming!

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