Skip to Content
© Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime
Tech tips

8 Roku pro tips you need to try right now

If you own an older Roku, you know it can no longer support the Netflix app. It’s finally time to upgrade, and there are newer generations waiting to wow you with upgraded features.

A lot has changed since the Roku was first introduced in 2008, renowned as the first Netflix streaming box. Tap or click here for a Netflix hack you’ll wish you knew sooner.

Whether you have a brand new Roku or one that’s a little older, we’ve got a few tips and tricks to help you get even more out of your streamer. Let’s start with a workaround for spotty Wi-Fi.

1. It’s got a backup

For those who struggle with inconsistent Wi-Fi strength at home, Roku has you covered. The Roku Ultra offers dual-band wireless capabilities and an Ethernet port.

So if the room you stream in doesn’t have the best Wi-Fi connection, no worries. Just connect directly via Ethernet and enjoy all your favorite shows and movies without that annoying lag.

2. Say goodbye to sound issues

Don’t you hate it when you’re really into a movie but the audio is drowned out by the background sounds? Roku offers a feature called Speech Clarity that allows you to hear dialogue without having to adjust the volume.

It works by boosting dialogue separately from background content. To use Speech Clarity, you’ll need a Roku Smart Soundbar or Roku TV Wireless Speakers.

Make sure your device is running Roku OS 8.2.2 or higher and, when you’re ready, start streaming content. Press the Star button on the Roku remote, then select Sound settings. Go to Speech Clarity and choose between the following:

  • Off: Speech Clarity will not engage and dialogue will not modify.
  • Low: Dialogue will be slightly louder than the rest of the noisy scene.
  • High: Dialogue is considerably louder than the rest of the scene.

Note: For some streaming channels, the Star button serves a different purpose, so you will need to adjust the sound settings from The Roku Channel.

3. Parental Controls

No Roku devices offer a single parental control to restrict access across all content and channels, but there are access limits for popular streaming channels, “over-the-air” broadcast television and Roku’s streaming channel for free and premium TV and movies.

Control what your kids can watch on The Roku Channel through a PIN. Content is dependent on four rating levels you can select when you configure the PIN settings, as described below:

Movies and TV show restrictions with PIN are not hidden or filtered when browsing, but the content can’t be played unless the viewer enters the correct PIN. This is also only applicable for content within The Roku Channel.

To learn more about parental control on other channels, visit the Roku help page.

RELATED: This streaming mistake can cost you hundreds of dollars. Tap or click to find out what setting you need to change.

4. Guest Mode

If you rent out your home, or if you often entertain guests, put your Roku in Guest Mode. Your guests can sign into their accounts and set a schedule so they’re automatically logged out when they leave.

This setting also keeps guests from accidentally making purchases on your account. To set up Guest Mode, simply go to Settings, then System. Look for Guest Mode and click it.

Note: This feature is also called Auto Sign Out Mode on older Roku devices.

There are several options for guests, including signing in to individual subscriptions, removing sign-in details, moving or removing channels and more. To view the options, visit Roku’s support page.

5. No more blur

Did you know you can reduce the motion blur during fast scenes? For those who feel a little queasy during these fast-paced moments, there’s a feature called Action Smoothing.

While you’re watching the show or movie, press the Star button on the Roku TV remote. This opens the Options menu. Scroll to Advanced picture settings, then modify Action Smoothing to your speed of choice.

6. Customize your screensaver

Roku devices have their own screensavers that are updated from time to time, but if you want to personalize your screensaver, simply do the following:

Press the Home button on the Roku remote and go to Settings. Select Screensaver, then Change Screensaver. You can browse available screensavers or install a new one by selecting Add channel.

You can also adjust the time before your Roku launches the screensaver. From the Screensaver menu page, select Change Wait time. Choose the amount of time to wait, or you can choose to disable the screensaver. Press OK to save your new settings.

7. Add non-certified channels

You’re not stuck with just what’s available in Roku’s official content store. If you’re excited about a new channel that isn’t yet certified or want to watch niche programming, you can add private or “non-certified” channels to your account.

Note: These are channels Roku hasn’t tested or verified for compliance with its terms and conditions. If Roku removes a channel for a violation, users that added it can be blocked from adding future non-certified channels.

Before you add a private channel to your device, make sure it doesn’t violate copyright laws or contain illegal content. Find a list of private channels codes here.

If you’re confident the channel you want to add doesn’t violate Roku’s rules, here’s how to do it:

Go to my.roku.com on your computer or smartphone and, if prompted, sign in to your Roku account. Under the Manage account section, select Add channel with a code. Enter the channel code from the channel’s provider, then select Add Channel.

Your Roku checks for new channels every 24 to 36 hours, so your new channel may not appear right away. To learn more about non-certified channels, such as how to determine whether your channel meets the legal limits, visit the Roku help page.

RELATED: Confused by the sea of streaming services out there? Tap or click for a comparison chart of options like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix, Hulu and more.

8. Organize your content

Once you start adding channels to your Roku, it’s difficult to stop. Before you know it, your screen is full of icons, with the newest channels on the bottom of the grid.

To remove the clutter and organize things to your liking, you can customize where each channel appears. Just press the Home button on your Roku remote, then the OK button.

Highlight the channel tile you want to move and press the Star button to open the options menu. From here, select Move channel, then use the directional pad to select the location you want and press the OK button to confirm.

Note: Customized channel locations will not sync to other Roku devices on your account. Each device will need to be manually set.

BONUS: Find free movies and TV shows

Sometimes you want to watch something new, but you don’t really want to pay for that new content. Good thing there’s a way to find lots of free movies and TV shows.

Just press the Home button on the Roku remote, then select Streaming Channels and Top Free. This will show you the most popular free channels you can choose from.

Once you download the free channels, they’re added to the list of channels under Home on the main screen of your Roku device.

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community!

Get even more digital know-how and entertainment with the ad-free Komando Community! Watch or listen to The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, and get answers in the tech forums.

Join Now