How to Program a Remote Control Using the Code Search

By Jeff Grundy

Manufacturer codes for universal remote controls are by no means universal; they vary considerably.
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The television remote control may not be among the greatest inventions of the 20th century, but it certainly is one of the more convenient ones. Gone are the days when you had to stand in front of the television and surf channels by turning a dial or pressing buttons. However, remotes are not just for TVs anymore, and virtually all modern video devices come with a remote of some kind. Most TV remotes usually control only the television or sometimes a DVD player or VCR made by the same company. Conversely, many modern DVR and A/V receiver remote controls allow you to access and control nearly every A/V electronics device in your home theater system. Before you can use a remote control with most devices, though, you must program it using special manufacturer remote codes.

Try Auto-Pairing or Code Syncing First

Many remotes support auto-pairing or code sync, which allows you to pair a remote and device without entering component codes manually. With remotes that support the feature, auto-pairing is probably the easiest and fastest way to program the remote for devices you want to control. To program the remote using auto-paring or code sync, power on the component or device you want to control, then press the source button for the device on the remote. For example, if you want to control your DVD player with a universal remote control, press the "DVD" source or input button. If the remote has a "Program Search," "Code Search" or another similar button, press and hold it until one of the LEDs on the remote starts to flash. If the remote has no such button, press the source button for the device or the Power button repeatedly until the component or device powers off and its LED lights are no longer visible. Wait a second or two between button presses, so you do not pass the correct code by pressing the button too quickly. After the device powers off, simply press the "Program" or "Enter" button to finish programming the remote for the selected component.

Locating Manufacturer Remote Codes for Manual Entry

If you need to enter a remote code for a component or device manually, you'll need to locate a list of compatible manufacturer remote codes for the remote control. Start by referring to the user guide or owner's manual for the universal remote control or component with a remote that can control third-party devices. If the remote can control devices from other manufacturers, there should be a list of codes to use for devices made by the third-party companies. For each manufacturer and device type, the list probably contains multiple codes you can use to pair the remote with the component or device you want to control. You can also try the support website of the remote manufacturer for compatible codes or browse to sites such as, and (links in Resources.) These free websites have extensive lists of manufacturer codes for many universal and proprietary remote controls, which you can browse to find the codes you need to set up you remote to control components or devices.

Entering a Code Manually

After you locate a list of codes for the manufacturer of the component or device that you want to program, entering codes manually is a relatively straightforward process. Nevertheless, programming a remote with a code manually does usually require a bit of trial and error. To start, power on the component or device you want to control with the remote, then press the appropriate source button on the face of the remote for the device to program (i.e. DVD or VCR.) After selecting the appropriate source button for the component, press and hold the "Code," "P," "Program" or other similarly named button on the remote until one of the LED lights on the control flashes. Finally, start entering codes for the manufacturer of the device you want to control from the list in the remote's user guide or the website with remote codes for your specific model remote. Use the number keys on the remote to input the first code on the list and then press the "Power" button or source button to enter it into the remote's memory. Try to power off the component or device with the remote. If the remote turns off the device, you are finished. If the remote does not power off the device, the code is not compatible with the component and you must keep entering codes from the list until you find one that works.

Avoiding Duplicate Codes

If your home entertainment system is like most, you probably have several components or devices you want to control with a remote. For example, you may have not only a TV and DVD player but a home stereo amplifier or receiver, a CD player and a VCR as well. Most modern universal or multi-function remote controls can control all of these devices without issue. However, you must ensure that you avoid entering duplicate remote codes for the devices. When browsing a list of manufacturer remote codes, you will probably notice that certain code numbers are applicable to numerous manufacturers and devices. For instance, if a user guide or code website lists "021" as the correct code to use for your remote to control a SONY DVD player, the same list may also show "021" as being compatible with a SONY VCR. If your home entertainment system includes both a SONY VCR and DVD player, using the same "021" code could cause a conflict where you can control neither device with the remote control. To avoid this type of situation, choose alternate codes for devices made by the same manufacturer.