There’s a subset of TVs that come with locks, a parental or age-restricting feature that, when implemented, can lock the TV until you provide the code. But what happens when you don’t have the remote to unlock the TV? It can be a frustrating experience, and rightfully so. In your attempt to lock the TV for privacy or parental reasons, and then losing or breaking the remote, you’ve effectively kicked yourself.

So, how do you unlock a TV without a remote? Well, there’s very few options available, but options nonetheless.

Reset the TV

When you first bought your TV, it came off the assembly line with default settings, otherwise known as factory settings. If your computer has any issues—minor issues that don’t involve hardware failure—you can reset the TV back to factory settings and, hopefully fix the problem.

And on that same note, when a TV is reset, it also removes and reverts all settings back to their original position. In other words, the TV will then be unlocked.

Now, since every TV is different, these steps will be general:

1. Open the TV menu and pick Settings.

2. Look for a General page in your Settings.

3. Under General settings, you should see the option to either Reset or Factory Reset.

It should be noted that this option could lead you to a deadend. Many TVs, especially smart TVs, have a step that includes punching in a PIN. If you can’t do it without the remote, you won’t be able to reset it back to factory settings, unfortunately.

Use a Universal Remote

In the event that the TV remote broke, you might as well replace it with a universal remote or the same model. Since universal remotes can control a wide variety of devices, it can be used for more than just your television set.

When looking for a universal remote, be sure to buy one that works for your model of TV. Check the sticker in the back for a model number and use a search engine to pull the exact name and make of your TV. Write it down and have an employee at your nearby electronics store help narrow down the right universal remote for you.

Check the TV Manual

The user manual for your TV is such an overlooked piece of information. In fact, it just might save you in this situation.

Locate the user manual and look for an entry under “Parental Lock,” or “Privacy,” or other similar combinations. In doing so, you might discover an alternative method to unlocking your TV without the more or simply navigating it to, at the very least, reset it back to factory settings.

Bottom Line

As you may have realized by now, your options are quite limited. It really comes down to buying a new remote or resetting your TV, and who’s to say that option is available if you, again, have to provide the PIN.

The option with the least resistance is purchasing a new remote, specifically a universal remote if you can’t get a replacement for your TV. And if you do, double-check that the universal remote works on your model of TV. That would certainly be unfortunate.