How to Program an RCA Universal Remote Control

By Scott Shpak

Given the wide range of equipment makers, models and features, an RCA universal remote control has a complex job living up to its billing. RCA sells remotes capable of controlling up to eight devices so -- while programming may seem complex -- you're really just repeating the same process for each device. Many components of your home entertainment system can be discovered automatically by the universal remote. Even manual methods follow a simple pattern of steps to give your remote authoritative command of your home theater.

Auto Code Search

While "auto code search" is recommended by RCA as the easiest way to program your remote, it may also take the longest.

Turn On the Device to Program

Power up the device to program into your remote. No need to connect it to your system; the component needs only power at this stage.

Press and Hold the Device Key on the Remote

Press the key corresponding to the device you're programming. In some cases, such as a combined VCR/DVD key, you may need to select which device you're programming by using a number key while holding down the device key. VCRs use the number 2 for example, while DVD players use the number 3. Check your remote's instructions for these number key options. Release both keys once you've entered the correct number.


Device keys controlling a single device, such as a TV, don't require a number key.

Prepare for Auto Code Search

Press and hold the device key you're programming then press and hold the On/Off key until the key's light comes on and stays on; then release both keys.

Start the Auto Code Search

Point the remote at the device you're programming. Press the Play button on the remote to send a batch of 10 codes to the device. Wait five seconds and watch for the device to turn off. If it does not, press Play again and wait another five seconds. Continue this sequence until the device turns off.

Identify the Correct Code

Press the Reverse key on the remote to cycle through the last batch of 10 codes. Wait at least two seconds after pressing Reverse to see if the device turns on. If not, press reverse again until it does. When the device turns on, press the Stop key. The device is now programmed in the universal remote memory.

Direct Code Entry

When you know the manufacturer's code for the device you're programming, entering it directly can be much quicker than using the auto code search.

Select the Device to Program

With the device to be programmed turned on, press and hold the corresponding device button on the remote. With your other hand, enter the five-digit code for your device. The On/Off key goes out after entering the first number but will light up when you've entered a valid code.

Check for Proper Operation

Point the remote at the device and press the On/Off key. The device turns off if you've entered the correct code for the device. If it doesn't turn off, use the next code in the manufacturer's list of codes for that device type, and repeat Step 1.


You can find device codes in your universal remote instructions or look these up online at RCA's Remote Code Finder.

Brand Code Search

Some popular brands are stored in the remote's memory. Limiting your search to one of these brands may be your quickest programming option.

Look Up the Brand Code for Your Device

From the universal remote's instructions, locate and note the brand code for your device. This is the number you will enter into the remote.

Prepare the Remote for the Brand Code

With the device being programmed turned on, press and hold the corresponding device key, then press and hold the On/Off key. The On/Off key light will go out, but hold the buttons until it turns on again. Release both keys at this point.

Enter the Brand Code

Use the number pad to enter the brand code into the remote.

Cycle Through Brand Codes

Point the remote at the device and press the On/Off key, waiting at least two seconds. If the device shuts off, you've found the correct code. If not, press the On/Off key again and wait at least two seconds. Repeat this until the device shuts off. Then press Stop to set the code, and you're ready to use the device.


In extreme cases, you can cycle manually through all codes stored in the universal remote's memory. This is similar to the other methods, but due to the large number of equipment makers and models, it can be time-consuming.