What To Do When You Can’t Find the Vizio TV Buttons

Posted by Robert Hayes on September 9, 2019

Year after year, TVs have become cheaper, larger, and of higher quality. As of May 2019, it’s possible to find a 43″ 4K HDTV for as little as $230 from big box stores, and while that price point may not go down very far (~$200 has been the bottom end price for good TVs for years), it’s safe to bet that the screens will get larger and the feature sets richer on an ongoing basis. One of the most popular and successful makers of smart TVs is Vizio. Vizio is a US-based private company that does its design and engineering work in the United States, then contracts with manufacturers in Mexico and China to actually produce the devices. The model has proven highly successful, and the company reached $3.5 billion in annual revenue as of 2016.

One of Vizio’s design choices, however, causes confusion for some users. Many Vizio owners think their TV doesn’t have physical buttons, because the buttons are generally located in an unconventional spot, and are not readily visible. Since most people these days use remote controls to control their TV sets, Vizio apparently feels that hiding the buttons is a better choice. Regardless of whether they are right or not, finding the buttons when you need them can be a bit of a trial. In this article, I will show you how to find the buttons on your Vizio TV, and I’ll also explain some other options for controlling your set if you’ve lost track of your remote.

Where Are the Buttons?

Regardless of what it looks like, your Vizio TV has at least one button. You may have to do some looking in order to find it, however. There are basically three locations where Vizio puts their buttons: a single button on the lower left backside of the TV, a set of touch buttons on one side of the TV, or a set of capacitative touch “buttons” on the lower front of the TV. The capacitative buttons are like on-screen buttons on your smartphone; they don’t stick out or have a feel to them and you really have to know that they are there.

Depending on the model, you’ll see different button types and button sets. All button sets include the power button, which is necessary not only for turning your TV on and off, but also for power cycling it in case it won’t turn on for some reason. Most models have other buttons for channel, volume, and input modes; some models have a small joystick for maneuvering through on-screen menus.

You will probably find controlling your TV with the buttons inconvenient, however. There is a reason that all TVs come with remote controls now! So I will also show you several different options for controlling your Vizio TV even if you’re lost or broken the original remote.

SmartCast Mobile

If you want to control your Vizio using your smartphone, the easiest way to do it is by installing Vizio’s SmartCast Mobile. This is a very powerful app, created by Vizio (so you know it’s going to be compatible with your device) and it offers a wide variety of options that can make controlling your Vizio intuitive and convenient. It has all the options you need such as play/pause, volume up/down, and the option to turn on/off your Vizio TV, as well as the devices connected to it. You can also change the aspect ratio, select input, and use all other features that you would need a remote for.

It lets you browse movies, TV shows, music, and other kinds of content you usually stream on your TV. It lets you go through the library in an easy way and supports many features such as voice control that will make browsing easier. The SmartCast app is available on both iOS and Android.

The only downside to the SmartCast app is that it only works on SmartCast-enabled TVs, which means that Vizio TVs from before 2015 don’t support it.

Use an IR-based Smartphone App

Another option that will work on any Vizio TV is an infrared (IR)-based smartphone app. Many Android smartphones today come equipped with what’s called an “IR blaster”, a module that lets the phone send out infrared light pulses just like a regular TV remote control does. Sorry, iPhone users – Apple has never installed an IR blaster on any of its phones and so your iPhone cannot emulate an IR-based remote control.

You can find out whether your Android phone is so equipped by checking the manufacturer’s website for the phone specs. You can also do a simple visual check: the IR blaster will be a little black area on the top edge of your phone, possibly as small as a pin head. If the visual check doesn’t definitively answer the question, you can install the Phone Tester app, a free utility that gives you a wealth of technical data on your Android phone. Just run Phone Tester and look in the “Communication peripherals” section – if it says that IR is supported, you’re good to go.

There are any number of IR remote apps; one of the best specifically for Vizio TVs is VizRemote.


VizRemote is an application that is built to recreate the feeling of traditional Vizio remote controls. This app is a bit older, which means it’s modeled after older Vizio remotes from around 2011 or 2012, and doesn’t feature shortcuts of any kind at the top of the remote. It does, however include nearly every other button you could ask for on a Vizio remote, including the ability to open the applications available on your television without any difficulty.

The application doesn’t quite feel as good in the hand as standard remote controls; the lack of shortcuts is unfortunate and the design is a bit less modern than newer Vizio sets. If you have an older set, though, you’ll probably appreciate the 3D setting built into the application, allowing you to toggle 3D on your set without diving into your settings. 3D isn’t an option available on most newer televisions, having fallen out of favor with TV manufacturers and consumers alike, but if you really enjoy watching 3D movies on your older Vizio set, you’ll be happy it’s here.


Chromecast/Google Home

If you own Google’s Chromecast and Google Home, you probably already know how easy it is to control your TV. If you don’t, let’s go over how it works. When you connect your TV to Google Home, the only thing you need to control your TV is your voice.

There’s pretty much nothing on your TV that you won’t be able to control using just your voice. All the commands, browsing, and streaming content are in one place. Plus, it interacts with other smart home appliances like lights and speakers. This all makes it without a doubt one of the most convenient ways of controlling your TV.

If you don’t own Google Home and need a more affordable solution, here’s a free app that will let you take control of your TV.

Vizio Universal Remote

Lastly, you can always purchase a Vizio universal remote that will work on any model. After you’ve done this, all you have to do is set it up. The process is fairly simple and doesn’t take much time. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Turn on your TV.
  2. Press the TV button and hold it until the LED flashes (around 5 seconds).
  3. Find the programming code in the code list available on Vizio’s website.
  4. Enter the code, then press the power button.

If you don’t manage to get it right the first time, check if you’ve entered the right code. Once the TV starts responding, you’re good to go.

The Final Word

Now that you know where the buttons on your Vizio TV are, you know what to do in case your remote dies on you.

It would also be a good idea to consider some of the solutions that we showed you here, as they offer a very convenient way of controlling your TV. Choose the one that works best for you and enjoy streaming your favorite content on your Vizio.

Any other tips or suggestions for using your Vizio TV? Share them with us in the comments!

2 thoughts on “What To Do When You Can’t Find the Vizio TV Buttons”

Brenda Browne says:
No visual on D39hn-DO tv just audio. Any suggestions?
Brenda says:
We have an old vizio and the IR remote sensor has gone out. Do you know of a work around other than buying and replacing the sensor? One if those IR extenders that plug into the usb or anything?

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