The Unpaired Remote

I learned an intersting tidbit about the Apple Remote. Initially I had an Intel iMac in my office, then I got the MacBook Pro. Both come with an Apple Remote. When I took the remote and pressed menu to activate FrontRow on my MacBook Pro, both my MacBook Pro and the iMac responded. Either remote would control both machines. This looked hilarious and I wondered, did Apple miss testing this scenario?

Nope, here’s what’s going on: 

Initially any of the FrontRow capable Macs are setup to respond to ANY Apple Remote. However, each remote has an ID and you can “pair” the machine with a specific remote ID. You do this by holding down the menu and fast forward buttons on the remote for 5 seconds. What you will see on the screen is a white picture of the remote and a chain link icon to indicate that the remote is now “chained” or “linked” to that machine. Once the remote and the Mac are paired, other remotes no longer are able to control that machine. To unpair simply go to the security control panel and click the “Unpair” button.

Simple and easy. How did I find this out? From a friend at work who actually reads the manuals! Here’s the part from the MacBook Pro Users Guide pages 36 and 37:

Pairing Your Apple Remote

If you have multiple computers or other devices with built-in IR receivers in a room (for example, more than one MacBook Pro or iMac in a home office or lab), you can “pair” your Apple Remote with a specific computer or device. Pairing sets up the receiving computer or device to be controlled by a specific Apple Remote.

To pair your Apple Remote with your MacBook Pro:

1 Position the Apple Remote 3 to 4 inches from the IR receiver on your MacBook Pro.
2 Press and hold the Menu and Next/Fast-forward buttons on the Apple Remote for 5 seconds.

When you successfully pair your Apple Remote with your MacBook Pro, you will see a chainlink symbol onscreen.

To delete a pairing between the Apple Remote and your MacBook Pro:

1 Choose Apple () > System Preferences from the menu bar.
2 Click Security and then click Unpair.

3 thoughts on “The Unpaired Remote

  1. Hi, DavidSo how do you control _which_ Mac the remote pairs to? Why didn’t it pair to the iMac instead?The Apple instructions you quote say “position the remote 3 to 4 inches away”? (You didn’t say anything about this in your own comments.) Is that it – the iMac was a lot further away? So this depends on some sort of field limit imposed when you press fast-forward? Does FF work OK normally from a greater distance? Strange…

  2. Good question. It was simple really. My MacBook has a very obvious IR port on the front of the laptop. I just covered the IR port on my MacBook with my thumb while I paired one remote with the iMac. Once the iMac only recognized its remote, I could pair the other with my MacBook.I could never find out where the IR port on the iMac was located. I thought it was in the iSight housing, but covering that didn’t keep the remote from working. If you know where the IR port is located on the iMac, I’d love to know. We have access to the service source pull-aparts here, and I couldn’t seem to find out from them where it was located.

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