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Ask the Experts: Universal Remotes Edition

Posted by Julia Mattera on May 29, 2019 at 5:15 PM. Filed under Q&A


Universal remotes can empower you to be the master of your entertainment universe by consolidating all your device remotes into one and placing ultimate control in the palm of your hand. So, whether you have a simple setup that includes a TV and one or two other devices, or a dedicated home theater room decked out with the latest audio/video equipment, our team of experts here at Jasco will address some of the top questions you may have about programming and troubleshooting universal remotes.

How many devices can my remote control?

A: Universal remotes typically control from two to eight devices, but other high-end models can accommodate more. To determine the number of devices your remote can control, simply locate and count the device buttons. They are usually located in one or two rows near the top of the remote and are labeled as: tv, dvd, strm, aux, aud, b-ray, cbl, sat, etc.


How do I program my universal remote?

A: There are two ways to program a universal remote: direct code entry and automatic code-search.



Direct Code Entry (Recommended)

Step 1: Locate the code list that was included with your remote. If you no longer have the code list, then open your remote’s battery cover door and look in the compartment for printed information. It will contain the model and version numbers, as well as a URL address for online help with finding your remote’s device codes. Versions will be noted as “CL3,” “CL4,” or “CL5.” Make a note of which version you have and then replace the battery cover.

Step 2: Click on the appropriate link below to find device codes and step-by-step programming information for direct code entry:
GE Universal Remotes
Philips Universal Remotes

Step 3: Follow either the instruction manual that came with your remote or the online step-by-step instructions found at the links noted in Step 2.

Automatic Code Search

Some universal remotes are equipped with an automatic code-search function that searches through all the codes stored in the remote and locates the best code for your device. It’s best to consult your remote’s instruction manual. If you no longer have your GE or Philips manual, visit Jasco online support to search for a downloadable copy.


What can I do if there are no codes for my device or the listed codes do not work?

A: Since each device is different, you’ll need to activate an automatic code search by following the instructions in your remote’s manual. The auto code-search function will try every code that’s built in to your remote.


I am trying to program my remote, but the red light is not doing what the instructions describe. How can I fix this?

A: This issue is most commonly caused by bad batteries. Even brand-new batteries can sometimes have issues, so try a different set of batteries and see if the light starts behaving correctly.


My remote is programmed, but not all of the buttons are working for a particular device. What should I do?

A: What you are experiencing is called partial code functionality. Simply stated, your remote is using a code that only controls some of your device’s functions. Device manufacturers will reuse portions of their codes with alternate models, so there’s most likely another code stored in your remote that will provide better functionality. To locate it, try reprogramming the device using each of the other codes from the code list or try using the automatic code-search method.


How do I run a channel scan?

A: Periodically scanning for channels through your TV or converter box is the best way to make sure you’re getting all of the over-the-air channels that are broadcast in your area—especially since your favorite local TV stations may be moving as the FCC implements changes to free up broadcasting bandwidth for new users through July 2020. Check out our Channel Change is Coming: Plan to Rescan Your TV Antenna! and Get the Most Out of Free TV | Plan to Rescan: Part Two blog posts for more details.

The process of scanning for channels varies between manufacturers but is fairly simple. Generally, you’ll want to:

  • Step 1: Select the menu button on your remote to access the settings for either your TV or converter box.
  • Step 2: Select one of the following options: scan, auto scan, auto tune or something similar.
  • Step 3: Sit back and let your TV handle the rest.

If your TV is not responding, or if you can’t find the channel scan menu option, consult your TV’s manual or contact customer service for your TV or converter box manufacturer.


My universal remote has ABCD buttons. What are they for?


A: These buttons, as seen on this Philips Elite 6-Device Backlit Universal Remote, perform various commands depending on the device being controlled. For GE and Philips remotes, these buttons can be used to control advanced DVR functions, as well as cable or satellite set-top boxes.


How do I access the apps on my smart TV?


A: Increasingly, universal remotes like this GE UltraPro 8-Device Universal Remote are equipped with one or more programmable app hotkeys to link directly to your favorite smart TV apps, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or SlingTV. If, for some reason, they’re not working, simply press the home button on your remote to bring up your TV’s “Smart Menu” and navigate to all your apps.


Will my universal remote work with my Amazon and Roku streaming devices?


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A: Most universal remotes use infrared (IR) sensors to control audio/video devices. However, when it comes to the Roku (streaming stick only) and Amazon devices, they use radio frequency (RF) rather than IR. GE and Philips remotes can only control a Roku that has an infrared (IR) sensor—typically any of the Roku boxes. Unfortunately, these remotes will not work with the Roku Streaming Stick or any of the Amazon streaming devices, as they use RF instead of IR.


How can I adjust my volume without first having to switch input to my selected audio device?

A: GE universal remotes come with a master volume control feature. The Philips’ version of that feature is called primary audio control. When programmed, this audio feature allows you to adjust your volume on the selected device no matter which connected device is in use. For example, if you’re watching TV, but your audio is through a different device, such as a soundbar or audio receiver, the master volume control feature allows you to simply use the volume buttons to adjust the audio level without first having to switch to your audio device.


My remote’s device buttons are tv, cbl/sat and dvd/vcr. If I don’t have cable or satellite, can I program the cbl/sat button to control another piece of equipment, such as a soundbar or streaming media player?

A: Absolutely! The device buttons can be programmed to control any compatible A/V device. Simply look up the corresponding code in the remote’s code list and assign it to whichever device button you choose. You can even program the dvd/vcr button to control your TV, but it’s not recommended.


Will I need to reprogram my remote when I change the batteries?

A: Thankfully, no. The built-in code saver retains programmed codes in your remote for up to 10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to change the batteries.




I can change the volume, but not the channels. What should I do?

A: If you have a cable, satellite or converter box, your channels are controlled through that device rather than your TV. Therefore, you’ll need to program the universal remote to control your cable, satellite or converter box.


I can’t get my menu to appear. What should I do?

A: Your remote may be using shift mode. Press and release the shift/setup button and then use your menu/information button while the red light is still blinking. If this doesn’t work or your remote does not have a shift function, try reprogramming your remote with a different device code. More information about shift mode can be found in your manual.


I can’t move around in my TV menu and/or my DVD menu. What should I do?

A: Your remote may be using shift mode. Press and release the shift/setup button and then use your arrow buttons while the red light is blinking. If this doesn’t work or your remote doesn’t have a shift function, try reprogramming your remote with a different device code.





About the Author | Julia Mattera

Julia serves as a marketing copywriter for Jasco. After years of working in higher education communications and marketing, she now enjoys developing consumer-focused product descriptions, easy-to-follow instructional guides, video scripts and blog posts to help educate others about the benefits of Jasco’s consumer electronics. During her off hours, Julia loves to spend time with her family and friends, photograph nature, stream her favorite shows – both old and new, and collect unique marbles. She is a mom of two wonderful kids and a loveable 130lb. St. Bernard/Shepherd mix who, despite his size, still likes to sit on her lap.

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