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How to Fix Remote Controls Not Working

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path® by rating it at the end.

Introduction

Ever since they were introduced in the 1950s, remote controls have begun being packaged with the majority of home entertainment devices that are on the market today. While the average number of remote controls in the living room has grown worldwide year after year, there is no doubt that their presence in commanding our technology from one location is a necessity.

Of course, the most common issue that remote controls face is their inability to control the devices they are meant to control. Sometimes this can simply be a matter of using the correct remote control. However, for some users, the issue might be a bit more complex. If you're working with a universal remote control, making sure it is sending the correct commands to the correct devices at the correct times can be a bit tricky.

While this guide will focus on common fixes for any manufacturer-supplied remote control (for a TV, A/V receiver, cable box, blu-ray or DVD player, etc.), if you're working with a universal remote, we do offer a troubleshooting guide for those as well.

Before You Begin:
  • Be sure the remote you're using is the remote control that was supplied with the device you are trying to control.
If you're working with a universal remote control, we offer a separate guide.
Remotes next to a television

1 Check the Batteries of the Supplied Remote

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.
  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.

2 Tips for Troubleshooting a Remote Control

If the batteries in the remote aren't the issue, there's clearly something else going on. There are some additional things that could be causing problems.

Remotes Supplied by Television Providers

Most remote controls that Cable TV providers will supply are universal remote controls that allow for the programming of multiple home theater devices. For many users, this allows these remotes to control both their television and cable box at the same time, which saves the user from having to have a minimum of two remote controls just to enjoy their monthly cable TV service.

Unfortunately, this also means that if things are not programmed properly, or if programming has been lost, your remote may not operate your TV or any other device it was programmed to control properly.

Various remotes

  • Some remotes, like the DirecTV one above, come with switches. Make sure the switch is moved to your desired input.
  • Some remotes have only buttons to select the input, push the button corresponding to the input you want and see if it works.
  • If the remote is set properly, but is still unable to control things, it should be re-programmed. Sometimes replacing batteries is enough for your remote to lose custom programming. Follow your cable provider's remote programming instructions to teach the remote how to control each desired device.

Original Manufacturer-Provided Remotes

Most home entertainment devices come packaged with some sort of remote control. These remotes are designed to issue commands to the specific device they came with. As a general rule of thumb, they will not be able to control other home entertainment devices. Certain manufacturers can make their remote offerings look very similar, so always make sure the correct remote is being used. For example: You have a Samsung TV and a Samsung Blu-ray player. While both of these remotes look very similar in shape and size, one remote cannot control both devices.

Common Troubleshooting Tips for Remote Controls

  • 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 there is an obstruction between the remote and the device you're trying to control, your commands will not work.
  • You may need to contact your Cable TV provider for specific instructions on how to ensure your remote control is programmed properly to control the specific equipment within your setup.
  • If nothing seems to be working, it could be possible that the remote is damaged or defective. Replacing the remote with a simple universal remote may solve the issue, or you may need to contact the manufacturer of the device in question for a replacement remote.

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Ever since they were introduced in the 1950s, remote controls have begun being packaged with the majority of home entertainment devices that are on the market today. While the average number of remote controls in the living room has grown worldwide year after year, there is no doubt that their presence in commanding our technology from one location is a necessity.

Of course, the most common issue that remote controls face is their inability to control the devices they are meant to control. Sometimes this can simply be a matter of using the correct remote control. However, for some users, the issue might be a bit more complex. If you're working with a universal remote control, making sure it is sending the correct commands to the correct devices at the correct times can be a bit tricky.

While this guide will focus on common fixes for any manufacturer-supplied remote control (for a TV, A/V receiver, cable box, blu-ray or DVD player, etc.), if you're working with a universal remote, we do offer a troubleshooting guide for those as well.

Before You Begin:
  • Be sure the remote you're using is the remote control that was supplied with the device you are trying to control.
If you're working with a universal remote control, we offer a separate guide.
Remotes next to a television
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.
  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.
If the batteries in the remote aren't the issue, there's clearly something else going on. There are some additional things that could be causing problems.

Remotes Supplied by Television Providers

Most remote controls that Cable TV providers will supply are universal remote controls that allow for the programming of multiple home theater devices. For many users, this allows these remotes to control both their television and cable box at the same time, which saves the user from having to have a minimum of two remote controls just to enjoy their monthly cable TV service.

Unfortunately, this also means that if things are not programmed properly, or if programming has been lost, your remote may not operate your TV or any other device it was programmed to control properly.

Various remotes

  • Some remotes, like the DirecTV one above, come with switches. Make sure the switch is moved to your desired input.
  • Some remotes have only buttons to select the input, push the button corresponding to the input you want and see if it works.
  • If the remote is set properly, but is still unable to control things, it should be re-programmed. Sometimes replacing batteries is enough for your remote to lose custom programming. Follow your cable provider's remote programming instructions to teach the remote how to control each desired device.

Original Manufacturer-Provided Remotes

Most home entertainment devices come packaged with some sort of remote control. These remotes are designed to issue commands to the specific device they came with. As a general rule of thumb, they will not be able to control other home entertainment devices. Certain manufacturers can make their remote offerings look very similar, so always make sure the correct remote is being used. For example: You have a Samsung TV and a Samsung Blu-ray player. While both of these remotes look very similar in shape and size, one remote cannot control both devices.

Common Troubleshooting Tips for Remote Controls

  • 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 there is an obstruction between the remote and the device you're trying to control, your commands will not work.
  • You may need to contact your Cable TV provider for specific instructions on how to ensure your remote control is programmed properly to control the specific equipment within your setup.
  • If nothing seems to be working, it could be possible that the remote is damaged or defective. Replacing the remote with a simple universal remote may solve the issue, or you may need to contact the manufacturer of the device in question for a replacement remote.