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How to use an infrared port on a laptop

Updated February 21, 2017

Infrared is a wireless technology that enabled devices can use to communicate with one another and exchange data. Laptops and notebooks with infrared support can connect with a wide range of peripheral devices, such as smartphones, digital cameras and handheld computers, using the infrared port. Infrared enabled devices have a small translucent red window--the transceiver--located on the surface of the device's casing. The standards and protocols that all enabled devices use to communicate are laid down by the IrDA (Infrared Data Association). Before you can use your laptop's infrared connection, you will have to enable the feature.

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  1. Verify that your laptop has an infrared transceiver. The small red window may be located to a side, or the back of the laptop, near the ports. You may also refer to your product documentation for information on your laptop's wireless features.

  2. Go to "Device Manager." In Windows XP, click "Start," then "Control Panel" and double-click on the "System" icon. Click to open the "Hardware" tab in the subsequent dialogue box titled "System Properties." Click "Device Manager" to open the window. In Vista and Windows 7, select the icon labelled "Device Manager" from the "Control Panel" screen.

  3. Scroll down and double-click "Infrared device" to view a list of installed devices. Right-click on the device you want to use and select "Enable." If your laptop has an infrared transceiver and you do not see any listed devices under "Infrared device," refer to your product documentation for instructions on installing an infrared device.

  4. Set infrared communications preferences. This will allow you to temporarily receive files or restrict data exchange. Go to "Wireless Link" under "Control Panel" and check the box adjacent to the text "Allow others to send files to your computer using infrared communications." This will open the infrared port for communications. For security reasons, disable the feature when you are not near your laptop, or when you are in a public zone.

  5. Test the infrared connection. Align your computer to an infrared enabled device, such as a mobile phone, and establish a connection. Make sure the transceivers are facing each other and no more than three feet apart from one another. Place both devices on a level surface. When the devices can "see" each other, you will see an infrared icon appear on the laptop's System Tray (in the bottom right of the desktop screen). This means the devices have been paired.

  6. Send a small file from the mobile phone to the laptop. Navigate to the appropriate file and choose to transfer it via infrared transceiver. You will see a dialogue box appear on the laptop, stating that the paired device is attempting to send a file. Click "Yes" to confirm. When the file is transferred, you will see another notification. Click on the confirmation message and navigate to the file to verify infrared connection is established successfully.

  7. Tip

    For best results, place your infrared enabled device inches from the laptop's transceiver.


    Do not allow unauthorised data exchange through your laptop's infrared port. Only activate the feature temporarily, and then disable it.

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About the Author

Shoaib Khan began writing in 2006, while working as an advertising professional. His work has appeared in marketing and business communication materials, including print advertisements, billboards and product brochures. Khan completed his Master of Accounting degree at the University of New Mexico.

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