How to Fix a Universal Remote

Introduction

Your universal remote is supposed to control not only your television but your speakers, sound bar, and your media players. When your remote doesn't work it feels like none of your technology is working right.

This guide will walk you through fixing your universal remote.
Logitech remote

1 Troubleshoot Remote

Your Home Theater system may or may not include a universal remote control that requires specific programming. Depending on what components your system has, these next steps may not apply to you.

Common universal remotes.

Most Cable TV providers will provide a universal remote control like the ones shown above, or you may choose to purchase an aftermarket universal remote control that can be programmed to control your TV and other components. This allows you to cut down on the total number of remote controls you need to keep handy. Unfortunately, this also means that if things are not programmed properly, your universal remote's buttons may not control your TV or other devices the way it should.

Some things you can try if your remote control is not controlling things properly:

  • Make sure there are no obstructions between the device you wish to control and the remote itself. Most remote controls use infrared (IR) technology, which means they need to be aimed directly at the device you want to control. If something is blocking the remote, your commands will not work.
  • Always check the batteries in your remote control. There are no indicators that will let you know when battery life is running low. Low battery power can cause the remote to intermittently function, or not function at all.
  • You may need to contact your Cable TV provider for specific instructions on how to ensure your universal remote control is programmed properly to control the specific equipment within your setup.
  • In a pinch, you can always use the original remote that came with the device you wish to control. The remote controls that come with each device generally do not have to be programmed and should always function properly.

2 Battery Check

For Remotes with Standard Batteries

  1. Lift the back cover up and away from the remote.
  2. Remove and re-insert the 2 batteries.
  3. Replace the back cover on the remote, and slide down to click it into place.
    Inserting batteries into a remote control. Illustration.
  4. If the remote fails to respond properly after this, replace the existing set of batteries with new ones.

For Remotes with Rechargeable Batteries

  1. Place the remote onto its charging cradle, or connect its charging cable to begin charging the remote. This may vary depending on the model of remote you are working with. For example:
    • Logitech Harmony Elite cradle:
      Logitech remote in its cradle
    • Logitech Harmony Touch cradle:
      Logitech Harmony Touch charging cradle.
    • Logitech Harmony 1100 cradle:
      Logitech Harmony 1100 charging cradle.
    • Logitech Harmony 900 cradle:
      Logitech Harmony remote being placed onto its charging cradle.
    • Logitech Harmony 700 charging via micro USB cable:
      Logitech Harmony 700 charging via USB cable.

? Test your remote - is it functioning properly now?

  1. Yes
  2. No

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Your universal remote is supposed to control not only your television but your speakers, sound bar, and your media players. When your remote doesn't work it feels like none of your technology is working right.

This guide will walk you through fixing your universal remote.
Logitech remote

Your Home Theater system may or may not include a universal remote control that requires specific programming. Depending on what components your system has, these next steps may not apply to you.

Common universal remotes.

Most Cable TV providers will provide a universal remote control like the ones shown above, or you may choose to purchase an aftermarket universal remote control that can be programmed to control your TV and other components. This allows you to cut down on the total number of remote controls you need to keep handy. Unfortunately, this also means that if things are not programmed properly, your universal remote's buttons may not control your TV or other devices the way it should.

Some things you can try if your remote control is not controlling things properly:

  • Make sure there are no obstructions between the device you wish to control and the remote itself. Most remote controls use infrared (IR) technology, which means they need to be aimed directly at the device you want to control. If something is blocking the remote, your commands will not work.
  • Always check the batteries in your remote control. There are no indicators that will let you know when battery life is running low. Low battery power can cause the remote to intermittently function, or not function at all.
  • You may need to contact your Cable TV provider for specific instructions on how to ensure your universal remote control is programmed properly to control the specific equipment within your setup.
  • In a pinch, you can always use the original remote that came with the device you wish to control. The remote controls that come with each device generally do not have to be programmed and should always function properly.

For Remotes with Standard Batteries

  1. Lift the back cover up and away from the remote.
  2. Remove and re-insert the 2 batteries.
  3. Replace the back cover on the remote, and slide down to click it into place.
    Inserting batteries into a remote control. Illustration.
  4. If the remote fails to respond properly after this, replace the existing set of batteries with new ones.

For Remotes with Rechargeable Batteries

  1. Place the remote onto its charging cradle, or connect its charging cable to begin charging the remote. This may vary depending on the model of remote you are working with. For example:
    • Logitech Harmony Elite cradle:
      Logitech remote in its cradle
    • Logitech Harmony Touch cradle:
      Logitech Harmony Touch charging cradle.
    • Logitech Harmony 1100 cradle:
      Logitech Harmony 1100 charging cradle.
    • Logitech Harmony 900 cradle:
      Logitech Harmony remote being placed onto its charging cradle.
    • Logitech Harmony 700 charging via micro USB cable:
      Logitech Harmony 700 charging via USB cable.

To further assist you we need to know what kind of remote you're using.

Universal Remotes usually require a combination of buttons to be pressed or held to enter pairing mode. Depending on the model of your remote the following steps may change.

  1. Turn on the device you'd like to control with the remote. For example, your television.
  2. Look in the Universal Remote Device Codes book included with your device, and find your device.
  3. Using the remote buttons, input the code listed in the book to place your remote into programming mode.
  4. Depending on your manufacturer you may be able to push and hold the button you'd like to program on your remote. 
    Diagram of remote device buttons
  5. Try pressing Menu, Guide, Left, or Right to verify it programmed properly.
    Navigation section on remote.
  6. If it works, push Exit to save your settings.

Most Logitech Harmony universal remotes come equipped with a built-in help system that can assist when an activity does not execute properly. The help function can be accessed by pressing the physical "Help" button on your remote or via the touch screen. The help function will ask you questions about the current state of your equipment to help automatically resolve your issue.

Activities should start, stop, and change properly the majority of the time. The Harmony help feature is intended to fix the occasional problem. If you find you’re using it frequently, your remote may need to be reprogrammed or have its programming altered to resolve the issue.

To Use the Help Function

Because obstacles or distance can interfere with the signals your Harmony remote sends, be sure you’ve addressed the cause of the problem, such as removing any obstacles from the line of sight.

Logitech remote showing connection interruption
  1. On your remote, locate and press the Help button.
    Logitech Harmony remote help button locations.

    The location of the "Help" button will vary depending on the model of Harmony remote you are using.

  2. Answer the questions on the Harmony remote’s screen by selecting Yes or No. Be sure to keep your remote control pointed in the direction of your equipment during this time.
  3. Based on your answers, your Harmony remote will re-send any necessary commands to your devices to get them "re-synchronized" to the state the remote thinks they should be in.
If any of your Harmony remote's activities do not start properly and the help function is not able to assist with resolving the problem, manually re-synchronizing your Harmony remote with your home theater devices may be necessary.
  1. Point your remote away from your devices, or cover the IR sensor with your hand.
    Covering the IR sensor of a remote with your hand. Illustration.
  2. Then press the Power Off button on your Harmony remote. Wait 10-15 seconds for your remote to finish sending commands, then remove your hand from the remote.
    Logitech Harmony remote highlighting the off button.
  3. Manually power off all of your Home Theater equipment. Ensure that all the devices your remote would normally control are powered down.
  4. Once all of your devices are powered off, aim your remote back at your Home Theater devices.
  5. Attempt to launch the activity you were trying to use again.
    Logitech Harmony launching an activity. Illustration.
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