If you’re trying to treat your XBMC install like a settop box there is no doubt that you’ll want to get a remote control working with it. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases it’s not as simple as just plugging in a USB IR receiver and using a remote that was made for the computer. There is a rather extensive wiki page that lists many of the remotes that have been tested and found working, but I wanted to focus on the two that I use.

Tip: Don’t Test Over Remote Desktop

One thing I wanted to point out right away is that you don’t want to test whether a remote control is working through a Remote Desktop (RDP) session. That may be tempting if you are trying to remotely configure a box, but the output of the remote won’t be reflected on the screen when using RDP.

This makes sense if you think about it. With RDP, any locally attached input devices (keyboard, mouse, etc…) are all rendered useless. A remote control is just considered another input device, and trying to troubleshoot through RDP may leave you frustrated and wondering why it’s not working.

IR Receiver:

I’m not going to go too in-depth about the receiver since I already covered it in my hardware guide, but the important thing is for you to have an RC6-compatible IR receiver to have the best chance of getting a remote control working in Windows. You can take a look at the HP IR Receiver I chose back in my hardware guide.

Quickly Get Remotes Working in XBMC:

Generally getting your remote to work can take quite a bit of time, but one developer has really tried to streamline the whole process. Jump on over to the XBMCCustomregis page to see what I’m talking about. From there you can grab the setup file which will make a specific change to the Registry, and will then copy over a lengthy pre-configured Keyboard.xml file to your XBMC profile.

If you don’t trust what the script is doing you can go ahead and run through the settings manually as well. It’s not that hard, but the setup utility is just there to try and eliminate any potential errors.

After you’ve run through the setup you’ll have to switch to XBMC and go to Settings -> System -> Input Devices and turn on the Remote Control Sends Keyboard Presses option.

Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote:

Xbox 360 universal media remoteSince I previously used my Xbox 360 as a Windows Media Center Extender I already had one of the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remotes. It is a pretty nice remote, and since I was trying to save some money I wanted to get by with that. There is just a couple of minor Registry changes that need to be made that aren’t covered by running the XBMCCustomregis mentioned above.

In the Windows Registry navigate to the following section:

>>> CurrentControlSet
>>>> Services
>>>>> HidIr
>>>>>> Remotes
>>>>>>> 745a17a0-74d3-11d0-b6fe-00a0c90f57da

And then make these changes:

  1. Change the value of CodeSetNum0 to 8
  2. Delete the CodeSetNum1, CodeSetNum2, and CodeSetNum3 values.

Just reboot your computer and you should be ready to go. Everything should work on the remote now, but the volume button will still be tied to the TV due to the way Microsoft designed the remote. Lucky for me that’s what I wanted anyway.

Logitech Harmony Remote:

Thanks to the XBMCCustomregis script, getting your Logitech Harmony Remote working with XBMC is pretty painless. All you have to do is add a new device from the Harmony Remote Software and select Computer for the type of device, Microsoft for the manufacturer, and type Media Center SE for the model.

Logitech harmony xbmc

From there you should be able to set this up and configure your activities to control the XBMC. You’ll be able to control all aspects of XBMC as well as sleeping/waking the PC.

Advanced Configuration:

Want to dig a little deeper? You can customize what happens when any keyboard shortcut is executed. The file you need to edit is the Keyboard.xml which is located in %appdata%\XBMC\userdata\keymaps\. If the file doesn’t exist you’ll want to create it, but if you ran through the XBMCCustomregis script that should have already added a very extensive keyboard configuration file.

CyberNet’s XBMC Guides:

There Are 2 Comments

  1. Great articles, Ryan. Exactly what I was looking for.

    Question: Using your Harmony remote and the HP infrared receiver (both of which I just purchased today), are you able to successfully Power ON the HTPC from a Power OFF state?

    Just wondering.

    I currently, manually power on my HTPC (Windows 7) every time I want to use XBMC and then use XBMC’s shutdown option when I am done. I do this to ensure that the library gets updated each time. But now that I see in the KEYBOARD.XML file, I can assign a button on my remote to update the library manually. If this works, then I’ll have the HTPC go into sleep mode instead thereby shorting the time for XBMC to be up and ready to use.



    • I don’t think that you’ll be able to power on the computer (from an off state) using a remote. You’d need to use something (like your phone) that is able to send a wake-on-lan signal to the box. I personally do not power off the machine though, and instead just have it go to sleep. Not only is it faster, but also looks nicer to non-geeky users who may not like to see a full computer boot sequence on their TV. :)

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