How to Use an Infrared Controller With a Laptop

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How to Use an Infrared Controller With a Laptop
You can control media playback on your computer with an IR remote, similar to a television. (remote control image by Christopher Hall from

If you regularly enjoy audio and video media on your laptop computer, you may wish to control it remotely so that you don't have to stay near the computer to change songs or videos or adjust the volume. Whether your computer has an integrated infrared receiver or you purchase separate hardware, you can use an infrared controller to operate popular programs such as iTunes or Windows Media Center on many brands of laptop.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Laptop with infrared port
  • Infrared USB dongle and remote
  • Infrared remote control

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  1. 1

    Purchase a compatible remote from your laptop's manufacturer or a universal infrared remote. If your computer does not have an integrated infrared receiver, you can purchase a remote and receiver kit. These kits require you to insert an IR receiver dongle into an empty USB port on your laptop computer.

  2. 2

    Insert the installation disc that comes with your IR remote, if needed, and follow the prompts to install the proprietary software. Restart your laptop if prompted to do so.

  3. 3

    Point the IR controller at the infrared port, either on your laptop or on the USB dongle, and press the power button to turn on the laptop. If your remote control has an LED indicator light, this will light up briefly when you press the button. Your laptop will boot up as normal.

  4. 4

    Launch a compatible program such as Windows Media Player or iTunes -- check the manual to verify which programs your remote or receiver/remote combination support -- and point the IR remote control at the computer. Press the appropriate button to page songs, pause music or adjust volume.

  1. 1

    Turn on your MacBook (or Apple laptop) and log in as an administrator.

  2. 2

    Hold your infrared remote within four inches of the computer and simultaneously press and hold the "Menu" and "Next" button for five seconds.

  3. 3

    Look for the chain-link lock that appears in the centre of your computer screen to confirm that the remote and computer have been paired.

  4. 4

    Open iTunes, hold the remote several inches from the computer -- see the manufacturer's instruction booklet for the range of the remote -- and press the music buttons to control the software.

Tips and warnings

  • An IR controller may interfere with other infrared devices. For example, your television or video game remote may trigger the power on your laptop. You can block the IR ports on devices that interfere with your hand or a piece of tape. Alternatively, you can move portable computers out of range of the remote (for example, to another room) while you are using the remote.
  • Apple has released an application for iPods that allows the user to control iTunes on a laptop via the iPod and Infrared port, rather than using the Apple remote control.

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