Silencing a Chatty Roku: How to Turn Off Voice

Roku devices are popular streaming media players that allow you to access various streaming services and apps on your TV. Many Roku devices and remotes now come with voice capabilities that allow you to search for content and control playback using voice commands.

While voice control can be convenient, the voice features on Roku can sometimes feel a bit too “chatty”, constantly narrating everything you do. Fortunately, there are a few ways to turn off or limit the voice features on your Roku device.

Why Is My Roku Talking to Me?

There are two main voice features on Roku devices that could be causing the “chatty” behavior:

Screen Reader

The Screen Reader is an accessibility feature that reads aloud everything on the screen to assist visually impaired users. When enabled, it will narrate the Roku menu options, selections, etc. as you navigate around.

Descriptive Audio

Descriptive Audio is another accessibility feature that provides narration of scenes, actions, and other visual elements during video playback for visually impaired users. Some streaming apps have this feature enabled by default.

So if your Roku is talking over the shows you watch, it could be Descriptive Audio. But if it’s narrating the menus and remote presses, that is the Screen Reader.

How to Turn Off the Screen Reader on Roku

The Screen Reader is very easy to toggle on and off:

  • Using Remote Shortcut: Press the * button on your Roku remote four times in quick succession. You’ll hear a voice confirmation that Screen Reader has been disabled.
  • Using Settings Menu: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Screen Reader and select Off.

How to Turn Off Descriptive Audio

Since Descriptive Audio is controlled on a per-app basis, you need to change this setting within whichever streaming app is enabling the narration:

  • Netflix: Press UP on remote > Audio & Subtitles > pick a language without “(Audio Description)”.
  • Hulu: Press UP on remote > Settings > Audio > change language to original non-descriptive audio.
  • Prime Video: Press UP on remote > Audio & Subtitles > turn off Audio Description languages.
  • Disney+: Press DOWN on remote > Subtitles & Audio > Audio Description > Off.
  • HBO Max: Press STAR on remote > pick audio track without “Audio Description”.

Additional Ways to Limit Roku Voice Features

If you want to limit voice features more broadly:

  • Turn off Hands-Free Voice on your Roku Voice Remote. This prevents the remote from listening until you press the mic button.
  • Disable voice input altogether in Settings > Privacy > Voice.
  • Use a Roku remote without voice capabilities, such as an infrared (IR) remote.

Why Does My Roku Remote Have a Mic Button?

Many Roku remotes now come with a microphone button to enable voice search and commands. Here is a quick overview of how it works:

  • The microphone on the remote only listens when you press and hold the mic button. It does NOT passively listen by default.
  • When you speak a search or command, that audio is sent to Roku’s servers to be processed and your Roku carries out the request.
  • Voice recordings are retained temporarily by Roku to improve speech recognition, but can be automatically deleted in Privacy Settings.
  • The voice remote mic can be disabled completely in Privacy Settings if desired.

So in summary, the Roku voice remote requires you to actively press a button to “listen” to your voice. It does not listen or record audio otherwise without your knowledge. But the convenience of voice control does come with some privacy trade-offs.

Are Roku Devices Spying On Me?

This is a common concern with smart TVs and media streamers. In Roku’s case:

  • Roku devices collect viewing data, advertising IDs, and other usage analytics to serve personalized ads and improve recommendations. This is detailed in their privacy policy.
  • They state they do NOT use automatic content recognition (ACR) to scan and identify all video watched through the device via cable, antenna feeds, etc. But your streaming app usage is logged.
  • Voice data is only collected when you actively use Roku voice remotes/commands. But recordings may be retained temporarily or shared with third parties.

So in summary – Roku devices do collect a fair amount of analytics data about your viewing behavior and habits. However voice recording and ACR tracking appear limited compared to some other platforms.

As always, consumers need to weigh the convenience and features of smart TV devices against loss of privacy. Roku tries to make their data collection clear in privacy settings and policies, but ultimately you have to decide if the trade-offs are worth it.

How to Completely Disable Voice on Roku

If you want to eliminate all voice features and data collection on your Roku device:

  • Obtain a standard infrared (IR) remote without microphone capabilities. Using IR prevents any data from being transmitted back to Roku servers.
  • Disable Screen Reader and voice input in Settings > Accessibility > Screen Reader > Off.
  • Turn off Voice features altogether in Settings > Privacy > Voice > No.
  • Set Advertising ID to zero in Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking.

Following those steps will essentially disable any voice features, targeted advertising, or analytics collection on your Roku device. Just be aware that you lose out on some convenience and personalization capabilities as a result.


Roku devices provide excellent smart TV functionality and streaming options. But the voice features and data collection may be concerning for users highly value privacy.

Fortunately Roku provides good controls to limit or disable voice features and analytics collection based on your comfort level. Just be sure to carefully review the privacy settings and policies so you understand how your data is used.

There are also techniques like using IR remotes or limiting ad IDs that prevent Roku from collecting personal usage information. So with a bit of tweaking, you can enjoy all the benefits of Roku without quite so much talking back!