Have you ever lost the remote to your TV? Unless you’re some kind of wizard, the answer is likely a resounding “yes.” Everyone misplaces remotes, and that’s where universal remote controls come into play. These devices can be programmed to work with almost any type of TV, DVD player, cable box, or other home theater and restore the convenience you lost.

They are particularly helpful if you purchase a CRT. If you’re looking for suggestions for a universal remote, the Philips Universal Remote is one of the most affordable and easiest to use. Don’t panic at the thought of programming a universal remote, either – it only takes a few minutes to do and absolutely no technical skill. 

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    How to Setup and Program a Universal Remote image

    How to Setup and Program a Universal Remote Control

    There are multiple ways to program a universal remote, but the two most common are direct code entry and auto code search.

    Before you begin, make sure the remote has fresh batteries and that the TV is plugged in. The programming process can take several minutes to complete, but you want no interruptions during this time. If the signal between the TV and the remote is lost, you’ll have to start from the beginning.

    Something else to bear in mind is that not all universal remotes use the same programming methods. While this guide is a generalized article for how to program a remote, refer to the specific instructions that come with your brand of remote.

    A Note On Remote Types

    Every brand of universal remote is different. Some will have a series of buttons for specific devices like a DVR, while others will have more generalized buttons like TV, STR, and AUD. A little-known fact is that it doesn’t matter which button you use – any device can be linked to any button.

    If you want to control a Blu-Ray player but you don’t have the corresponding button on your remote, just pick a device button. Write it down so you don’t forget later on.

    How to Program a Universal Remote Through Direct Code Entry

    Direct Code Entry is the most recommended method for programming a universal remote. It relies on an included Code List for specific devices, although this same list can be found online based on the brand of your remote. 

    1. If you have the included documentation for your universal remote, look at the codes for your specific brand of TV or device. If you don’t have the documentation, look online for a code list.
    2. Press and hold the Setup button on your remote until the red light turns on.
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    1. Press the button on your remote for the type of device you want to control, whether a TV or a set-top box. The red light will turn on and remain on. 
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    1. Use the numbers on your remote to enter the first of the four-digit codes listed on your code list. The red light on your remote will turn off after you’ve entered the final digit.
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    1. After you’ve entered the final digit, point your remote at your device and test whether it controls the device like you expect. If it doesn’t, repeat steps two through four. After you find a code that works for one device, repeat all of the above steps as many times as needed for each device you want the remote to control.

    Not every code in the code list will control every aspect of your device. For example, one code might turn a TV on and off and change the channel, but it won’t control the volume. If you find a code that only controls part of a device, keep testing codes until you find one that works for every aspect – then write that code down for safekeeping.

    How to Program a Universal Remote Through Auto Code Search

    Auto code search is probably the easiest programming method, as it requires the least amount of input on your part. It searches an internal database and tries code after code until it finds one that works. The previously-mentioned Philips Universal Remote uses auto code search, and programming it goes like this:

    1. Turn on the TV or device you want to sync the remote with.
    2. Press the Setup button until the red light on the remote activates.
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    1. Press the button on the remote that corresponds to the device you’re trying to program; for the sake of the example, we’ll say TV. The red light will blink one time and remain on.
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    1. Point the remote at your TV and then press and release the Power button on the remote. The red light will blink several times and then remain on once it has finished transmitting codes.
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    1. If your TV turned off, manually press the power button on the TV itself. If not, repeat steps four and five.
    2. Point the remote at the TV and press the Volume Up button. This will resend the first ten codes from step four. If the TV turns off, it means you’ve found a code that works for it. If not, press the Volume Up button to test the other codes, allowing roughly three seconds between presses. Repeat this until you find the correct code.
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    1. Press the Power button on the remote to turn your TV back on, then test the other buttons on the remote to make sure everything works as it should. If a button doesn’t work, go back to step two.

    Note that auto code search will only work with a device that has an on/off button. If your TV doesn’t have manual control features (or they are broken), then you’ll need to use Direct Code Entry instead.

    What Are the Most Common Universal Remotes?

    If you begin to search for universal remotes, you’ll soon find that every brand from Magnavox to Sanyo produces them. Keep in mind that you do not need to match the brand of your universal remote to your TV.

    It doesn’t matter if you have a Sylvania TV and an Orion remote – as long as the remote is a programmable universal device, it will work with almost anything. However, the most common types of universal remotes are from the brands RCA, Philips, and – if you want to invest in a more expensive option – Logitech.

    RCA provides the Remote Code Finder website, a database that makes it easy to enter the revision model of your remote, the brand name, and the device type, and easily find a list of codes. 

    If you want to control more modern TVs (and even streaming services like Apple TV), consider the Logitech Harmony. This is a high-end universal remote that can control a vast number of devices.