Apple Remote

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Apple Remote
The second-generation Apple Remote, released in October 2009
DeveloperApple Inc.
TypeInfrared remote
Release dateOctober 12, 2005 (Original)
October 20, 2009 (Current, second generation)
SuccessorSiri Remote

The Apple Remote is a remote control introduced in October 2005 by Apple Inc. for use with a number of its products with infrared capability. It was originally designed to control the Front Row media center program on the iMac G5 and is compatible with many subsequent 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]


Plastic (2005)[edit]

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 (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]

Aluminum (2009)[edit]

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. Along with the new design, the price was dropped to US$19.99. In earlier aluminum remotes, the navigation ring was flush with the curvature of the remote's aluminum body. In the later revision, the ring is slightly raised to make it easier to locate the ring 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, 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 discs.[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 iPod's menus cannot be operated with the remote. 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 some functionality when a user is running Windows. If iTunes is installed on the Windows partition, pressing the Menu button on the remote will start 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 as 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, released on March 14, 2013, 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.

Siri Remote[edit]

First-generation Siri Remote (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 trackpad, dual microphones, 5 buttons for Menu, Home, Siri and Play/Pause, and a Volume up/down rocker button.[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 a lightning port at the bottom of the remote.[14] In regions where Siri is not supported, the Siri Remote is known as the Apple TV Remote.[15]

On September 12, 2017, together with the Apple TV 4K, Apple announced an updated Siri Remote, with a raised white border around the menu button and additional motion input for apps.


Macintosh compatibility (devices with suitable IR receivers)
Model Compatibility
MacBook Original – Mid 2009 (Except White Unibody)
MacBook Air Original – Mid 2009
MacBook Pro Original – Mid 2012 (Except Retina)[16]
iMac[17] G5 – September 2012
Mac mini Early 2006 – Late 2014
Mac Pro None

Earlier models of the iMac with polycarbonate enclosures featured a magnetic rest for the remote,[18] which was later removed.

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

Using the Apple Remote with newer MacBook Air, Retina MacBook, or other Mac models 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 (USBA or USBC versions), the SmartGUS,[19] which allows to give back 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, the same as with the legacy 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.[20]

Technical details[edit]

Apple Remote 2nd generation with lit infrared LED

The Apple Remote uses a modified NEC IR protocol[21] 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:[22]

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

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 Play/Pause, Select Play/Pause, Select (On the white model this is the combined Play/Pause and Select button; on the aluminum model, this code is sent by both the Play/Pause and Select buttons together with a prefix.)
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 prefix, on aluminum model only
0x2f Play/Pause Play/Pause prefix, on aluminum model only

To maintain backward compatibility with older devices such as the iPod Hi-Fi, the aluminum Apple Remote does not replace the existing IR code for Play/Pause/Select. Instead, to allow newer devices to distinguish between the separate Select and Play/Pause buttons, it sends two IR codes for each press of those: a prefix code (0x2e and 0x2f, respectively), followed by the original Play/Pause code (0x02). Older devices ignore the prefix code and thus interpret either button as Play/Pause, while newer devices interpret both codes and use them to determine which button is being pressed.

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 Installation & 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. ^ "What Remotes Are Compatible with a MacBook?".
  17. ^ "Remote Buddy Supported Hardware". IOspirit. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  18. ^ iMac (Mid 2007): No Remote rest for Apple Remote, Apple Inc., August 13, 2007, retrieved June 21, 2010
  19. ^[dead link]
  20. ^ Apple TV: IR interference can prevent your remote from working, Apple Inc., March 22, 2007, retrieved June 21, 2010
  21. ^ "Search | Online Documentation for Altium Products".
  22. ^ Callendrello, Casey (October 11, 2008), Apple Remote library for Arduinio,, archived from the original on December 8, 2015, retrieved November 27, 2015

External links[edit]