How to set up a universal remote

A universal remote can make watching TV, listening to music and playing video games more manageable by combining multiple remotes into one. Learn the top three ways to program a universal remote:


  1. Auto-program
  2. Direct code entry
  3. Brand code search
A smiling woman points her remote control at the TV

How do you program a universal remote?

Programming a universal remote doesn’t need to be a daunting task. There are three common programming options that make setting up your universal remote simple.


For all programming options below, the first step is turn on the device you want to connect to and to be sure your universal remote has working batteries.


Auto-programming, also called auto code search, allows you to program your remote without needing any additional information, like remote codes. To auto-program your remote,  follow these steps:


  1. Point the universal remote at the device.

  2. Press and release the correct device button on your remote for the device you’re connecting. For example, if you’re connecting to a TV, press the TV button.

  3. Now press the power button and the device button simultaneously. Hold until the power light on the device turns off and then back on.

  4. Press and release the play button and wait five seconds to see if the device you’re connecting to turns off. If so, you found the correct code. If not, repeat the process. The remote will try a new batch of codes every time you hit the play button, so be sure to give it a moment to cycle through them all.

  5. Press and release the reverse/rewind button. This should turn the device back on. If not, repeat the process until it finds the correct code.

  6. Press the stop button to save the code.

  7. Test out several functions to make sure they are working correctly and then start using your remote.

Direct code entry

Direct code entry is another way to connect to your TV or other devices. Unlike auto-programming, this option requires the correct code to be entered for each device. Some devices might have a code sheet on them that you can reference, or you can find device codes by searching online.


  1. Press and hold the appropriate device button (TV, for example). The power light on the remote should light up. Continue to hold the device button.

  2. Enter the correct code for your device while continuing to hold the device button. Continue holding the device button even when the power light turns off.

  3. Once the power button lights up again, you can release the device button. You’ve entered the correct code and can start using your remote for that device.

  4. Repeat the process for each device you want to control with your universal remote.

Brand code search

If you don’t have access to the specific codes for your devices, brand code search is another option to program your remote. Like auto-programming, brand code search allows you to look for a specific device code using your remote. The difference here is you will need to know the brand code of your device or look it up online.


  1. Press and hold the appropriate device button (TV, for example).

  2. While continuing to hold the device button, press and hold the power button on the remote. The power button should light up.

  3. Release the power and device buttons at the same time. The device should remain on. If not, repeat the previous steps.

  4. Using the universal remote's number pad, enter the brand code.

  5. Press and release the power button on the remote a few times until the device turns off.

  6. Once the device turns off, press the stop button to save the code. If the device you’re connecting to does not turn off, you’ll need to try another programming method or verify that you’re using the correct brand code.

How a universal remote works

A universal remote imitates the signals sent by your original remotes, allowing you to control multiple devices at once. It can turn your devices on and off, scroll through menus and access most of the features found on your original remotes. 

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