Apple Remote

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Apple Remote
Apple TV Remote.jpg
The second generation Apple Remote, released in October 2009
DeveloperApple Inc.
TypeA remote used to control the Apple TV, iPods and iPhones (with dock), and Macs with infrared ports
Release dateOctober 2005 (Original)
October 2009 (Current)
WebsiteApple — 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. The first three generations of Apple TV used the Apple Remote as their primary control mechanism. It has now been replaced with the Siri Remote in the fourth generation. Prior to the Apple Remote, Apple produced several nameless IR remotes for products such as the Macintosh TV, TV tuner expansion boards, and the PowerCD drive.[1][2][3]


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.[4]

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.

Replacement of the CR2032 battery in the original remote is done with a small pointed object such as a paper clip at the bottom right edge of the device, where the battery slides out on a tray. The newer version has the battery located behind a compartment in the middle of the device which is accessed by turning a coin in the compartment door's indent.[5]


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.[6] A device can be configured to respond only to a particular remote.[7]


An iPod placed in a dock featuring an IR sensor can be used with the remote for music and media control.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

iOS App[edit]

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

The Fourth Generation Apple TV and the Siri Remote[edit]

Siri Remote on the Right

The Siri Remote was launched with the 4th Generation Apple TV in 2015. It uses both IR and Bluetooth to communicate with the Apple TV. The remote has a glass trackpad, dual microphones, 5 buttons for Menu, Home, Siri and Play/Pause, Volume up and down as 1 button and is the size of 2 buttons.[12] Additionally it has an accelerometer (IMU) and a gyroscope[13] which allows the remote to be used as a gaming controller for tvOS apps and games. The remote (unlike previous generations) uses a built-in rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery that is charged through the lightning port at the bottom of the remote.[14] The Siri Remote is known as the Apple TV Remote in places that don't support Siri.[15]


Apple remote imac.JPG
Macintosh compatibility
Model Compatibility
MacBook Original - Mid 2009 (Except White Unibody)
MacBook Air Original - Mid 2009
MacBook Pro Original - Mid 2012 (Except Retina)
iMac[16] G5 iSight - September 2012
Mac mini Early 2006 - Late 2014
Mac Pro None

Earlier models of the iMac (Polycarbonate iMac) featured a magnetic rest for the remote,[17] which was later removed.

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.

For the Apple computers without built-in infrared receiver, there is a miniature USB receiver, the SmartGUS, which allows to give to iMac, MacBook and Mac Pro, the infrared functionality. In this case, all compatible software (iTunes, Keynote, PowerPoint, OpenOffice Impress, QuickTime Player, iPhoto, VLC, Kodi, Remote Buddy, Mira ...) can use the features of the Apple Remote.

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.[18]

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:[19]

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

While the Apple Remote uses the NEC IR protocol for the timing, the 32-bit data package is in a different format. It consists of two 16 bit LSB words.

Bits Type Comment
11 Vendor This is always 0x43f and can be used to identify an Apple Remote
5 Command Page 0x0 for the pairing and other commands, 0xe for the different buttons
8 Device ID A unique device ID, used to allow pairing of a remote to a specific device. It can be changed with the pairing command
7 Command Actual command for the Command Page
1 Odd parity All 32 bits added together have to equal 1

This is the internal page table (command page 0x00):

Value Command Description
0x01 Pairing Menu + Select for 5s (pair & increment the Device ID) or Menu + Next for 5s (just pair)
0x02 Factory Defaults Menu + Previous for 5s
0x03 Low Battery Old (white) Apple Remote
0x07 Low Battery New Apple Remote

This is the command page table (command page 0x0e):

Value Button Command
0x01 Menu Menu
0x02 Center In the old remote this is the Play/Pause and Select button
0x03 Right Next/Fast-Forward
0x04 Left Previous/Rewind
0x05 Up Volume Up
0x06 Down Volume Down
0x07 Play+Up Play/Pause + Up pressed together
0x08 Play+Down Play/Pause + Down pressed together
0x09 Play+Next Play/Pause + Next pressed together
0x0a Play+Previous Play/Pause + Previous pressed together
0x0b Menu+Up Menu + Up pressed together
0x0c Menu+Down Menu + Down pressed together
0x0d Menu+Play/Pause Menu + Play/Pause pressed together
0x0e Menu+Next Menu + Next pressed together
0x0f Menu+Previous Menu + Previous pressed together
0x2e Select Select button on the new remote
0x2f Play/Pause Play/Pause on the new remote

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "VERY RARE - REMOTE for the Black Apple Computer Macintosh TV - RMC-A1 1993". eBay. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  2. ^ "Apple Macintosh Performa TV Tuner Board 820-0549-A Power Mac Video Capture Card". eBay. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  3. ^ "VINTAGE Apple RK6934/321 PowerCD CD Drive Player Remote Control w/ Batteries". eBay. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  4. ^ Apple Computer Universal Dock and Apple Remote, October 21, 2005, retrieved January 31, 2014
  5. ^ How to replace the Apple Remote battery, Apple Inc., June 6, 2008, retrieved June 21, 2010
  6. ^ Startup Manager: How to select a startup volume, Apple Inc., March 23, 2009, retrieved June 21, 2010
  7. ^ Pairing your Apple Remote with your computer, Apple Inc., November 24, 2009, retrieved June 21, 2010
  8. ^ Pairing the Apple Remote with the iPod Universal Dock, Apple Inc., May 3, 2010, retrieved June 21, 2010
  9. ^ Using the Apple Remote with iPod Hi-Fi, Apple Inc., April 14, 2008, retrieved June 21, 2010
  10. ^ "Boot Camp Installstion & Setup Guide" (PDF). Apple. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 29, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  11. ^ "Boot Camp 5: Frequently asked questions". Apple. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  12. ^ "Use your Siri Remote or Apple TV Remote with Apple TV (4th generation)". Apple Inc. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  13. ^ "Siri Remote and Game Controllers - tvOS Human Interface Guidelines". Apple Inc. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  14. ^ "Charge your Siri Remote or Apple TV Remote". Apple Inc. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  15. ^ "Use Siri on your Apple TV (4th generation)". Apple Inc. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  16. ^ "Remote Buddy Supported Hardware". IOspirit. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  17. ^ iMac (Mid 2007): No Remote rest for Apple Remote, Apple Inc., August 13, 2007, retrieved June 21, 2010
  18. ^ Apple TV: IR interference can prevent your remote from working, Apple Inc., March 22, 2007, retrieved June 21, 2010
  19. ^ Callendrello, Casey (October 11, 2008), Apple Remote library for Arduinio,, retrieved November 27, 2015

External links[edit]