Apple Remote

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This article is about the Apple IR remote control. For the iOS iTunes Wi-Fi app, see iTunes Remote. For the Mac OS remote desktop software, see Apple Remote Desktop.
Apple Remote
Apple Remote 2009.jpg
The second generation Apple Remote, released in October 2009
Developer Apple Inc.
Type A remote used to control the Apple TV, iPods and iPhones (with dock), and Macs with infrared ports
Release date October 2005 (Original)
October 2009 (Current)
Website Apple — iMac — Front Row

The Apple Remote is a remote control device released in or after October 2005 by Apple Inc. for use with a number of its products which use infrared capabilities. The device was originally designed to interact with the Front Row media program on the iSight iMac G5 and is compatible with some later desktop and portable Macintosh computers. Apple TV ships with and uses the Apple Remote as its primary control mechanism.


Original Apple Remote

The original Apple Remote was designed with six buttons and made of white plastic. Its shape and layout resembled the first-generation iPod Shuffle. A circular Play/Pause/Select button sat in the center of a larger four-button circle of (clockwise): Volume Up, Next/Fast-forward, Volume Down and Previous/Rewind. A separate Menu button was positioned below. The price was set at US$29.00.[1]

In October 2009, the remote was redesigned as a thinner and longer aluminum version. The new remote was released along with the 27 inch aluminum iMacs and multi-touch Magic Mouse. The Play/Pause button was moved out of the center of the directional buttons and put beside the Menu button (under the directional buttons). The symbols for the Volume Up/Down and Next/Fast-forward buttons were replaced with small dots, to make it clear that the buttons were also used to move up, down, left, and right within menus. All of the buttons became black and embossed within aluminum. Along with the new design, the price was dropped to US$19.99. The newer design also underwent a slight revision with the navigation ring. In a small percentage of older remotes, this ring was flush with the curvature of the remote's aluminum body. The more-common revision is bulged slightly; presumably so users can find the ring more easily by touch.

The original remote's battery is accessed by pushing a small, blunt object, such as a paper clip or a 3.5 mm headphone plug, into a tiny indent at the bottom right edge of the remote, revealing the compartment which houses the CR2032 lithium 3.0 V button cell. For the newer remote, a coin can be used to access the battery on the back of the remote[2]


The Apple Remote's original function was to enable navigation in Front Row, which allows users to browse and play music, view videos (DVDs and downloaded files) and browse photos. Although Front Row was removed from OS X 10.7 and later, some Apple software still works with the remote. It can still be used to control presentations in Apple Keynote (on both Intel Macs & PowerPC Macs), picture slide shows in iPhoto and Aperture, DVD films via DVD Player, and to play video and audio in iTunes and QuickTime. Other software that is still compatible includes Elgato's EyeTV 3.5, and VLC media player. The remote can also be used to run presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint 2008 or in Impress.

Other functions controlled by the remote can include putting a device into sleep mode, selecting a partition to boot from on startup, and ejecting optical disks.[3] A device can be configured to respond only to a particular remote.[4]


An iPod placed in a dock featuring an IR sensor can be used with the remote for music and media control.[5] The remote's menu functionality does not work on the iPod. The Apple Remote can also be used to control the iPod Hi-Fi or third party devices tailored to it.[6]

Boot Camp[edit]

Starting with Boot Camp 1.2, the remote has had some functionality when a user is running Windows. If iTunes is installed on the Windows partition, pressing the Menu button on the remote will load the program. The remote's media controls also support Windows Media Player, as well as system volume control.[7] Other third party programs may also utilize the remote's capabilities; media applications such a foobar2000 and Media Player Classic allow users to control their functions via the remote. Applications must be in focus for the remote to control them. Boot Camp 5, the latest version of the software, also includes drivers for the remote control.[8]

iOS App[edit]

Main article: iTunes Remote

Apple offers a free 'Remote' app for iOS devices (available in the iTunes App Store) which allows for wireless control of iTunes on Mac/Windows computers or the Apple TV.


Macintosh compatibility
Model Compatibility
MacBook Original - Mid 2009 (Except White Unibody)
MacBook Air Original - Mid 2009
MacBook Pro Original - Mid 2012 (Except Retina)
iMac[9] G5 iSight - September 2012
Mac mini Early 2006 - Late 2014 (Current)
Mac Pro None

Earlier models of the iMac (Polycarbonate iMac) featured a magnetic rest for the remote,[10] which was later removed. The remote can be held instead from magnets in the bezel.

The polycarbonate MacBook includes a magnet halfway down the left edge of the screen bezel to hold the remote. The remote may also be placed on the magnets at the top of the screen which are intended to hold the laptop shut, however in this position the remote will hang down and obscure part of the screen.

Use with new MacBook Airs, Retina MacBook Pros and older Macs[edit]

Using the Apple Remote with new MacBook Airs, Retina MacBooks or old Macs without a built-in IR Receiver requires a USB-based infrared receiver and additional software from a third party.

Using Remote Buddy (from IOSPIRIT GmbH) or mira (from Twisted Melon), it is possible to connect an external USB receiver such as the Windows Media Center Edition eHome receiver, and use the Apple Remote on these machines with full support for sleep, pairing, low battery detection and controlling a variety of Apple and third party software. In addition, Remote Buddy is able to emulate events of an Apple Remote on these systems, enabling users to use software written for the Apple Remote in exactly the same way as with Macs that have a built-in infrared receiver.

Infrared interference[edit]

Because many electrical appliances use infrared remote (IR) controls, concurrent use of the Apple Remote with other IR remotes may scramble communications and generate interference, preventing stable use. Remotes should be used individually to circumvent the problem.[11]

Technical details[edit]

Apple Remote 2nd generation with lit infrared LED.

The Apple Remote uses an NEC IR protocol[1] which consists of a differential PPM encoding on a 1:3 duty cycle 38 kHz 950 nm infrared carrier. There are 32 bits of encoded data between the AGC leader and the stop bit:[12]

Protocol on (µs) off (µs) total (µs)
leader 9000 4500 13500
0 bit 560 560 1120
1 bit 560 1690 2250
stop 560 N/A 560

The first two bytes sent are the Apple custom code ID (0xEE followed by 0x87), which are followed by one byte command and one byte remote ID (0-255) making a total of 32 bits of data. All bytes are sent least significant bit first. The least significant bit of the command byte is an odd parity bit over the command byte and the ID byte.[13] The commands consist of:

Value Button Command
0x02/0x03 Menu Menu
0x04/0x05 Center Play/Pause
0x07/0x06 Right Next/Fast-Forward
0x08/0x09 Left Previous/Rewind
0x0b/0x0a Up Volume Up
0x0d/0x0c Down Volume Down

The aluminium Apple remote control has 7 buttons, one more than the previous white plastic model; the extra button is a play/pause button that sends the same code as the center button. However, in order to distinguish these, both buttons prepend their code with another 32 bit sequence containing the commands 0x5f/0x5e and 0x5d/0x5c, respectively.

The remote ID consists of one byte and is used to distinguish codes sent by multiple remotes. The remote ID is changeable by holding the Next/Fast-Forward and Menu buttons for 5 seconds. The sequence of remote IDs is non-sequential but predictable following the hexadecimal digit ordering 0, 8, 4, C, 2, A, 6, E, 1, 9, 5, D, 3, B, 7, F. With the opposite bit-endianness, the order is sequential from 0 to F. The byte has least significant bit first so remote ID 04 would be followed by 84 and FA would be followed by 06 Note: this ordering only verified on older, white remote model.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Apple Computer Universal Dock and Apple Remote, October 21, 2005, retrieved January 31, 2014 
  2. ^ How to replace the Apple Remote battery, Apple Inc., June 6, 2008, retrieved June 21, 2010 
  3. ^ Startup Manager: How to select a startup volume, Apple Inc., March 23, 2009, retrieved June 21, 2010 
  4. ^ Pairing your Apple Remote with your computer, Apple Inc., November 24, 2009, retrieved June 21, 2010 
  5. ^ Pairing the Apple Remote with the iPod Universal Dock, Apple Inc., May 3, 2010, retrieved June 21, 2010 
  6. ^ Using the Apple Remote with iPod Hi-Fi, Apple Inc., April 14, 2008, retrieved June 21, 2010 
  7. ^ "Boot Camp Installstion & Setup Guide". Apple. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Boot Camp 5: Frequently asked questions". Apple. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Remote Buddy Supported Hardware". IOspirit. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  10. ^ iMac (Mid 2007): No Remote rest for Apple Remote, Apple Inc., August 13, 2007, retrieved June 21, 2010 
  11. ^ Apple TV: IR interference can prevent your remote from working, Apple Inc., March 22, 2007, retrieved June 21, 2010 
  12. ^ Callendrello, Casey (October 11, 2008), Apple Remote library for Arduinio,, retrieved June 23, 2010 
  13. ^ Apple Remote, {Hifiduino blog at wordpress}, May 17, 2012, retrieved July 23, 2012 (2012-07-23)  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]