5 Quick Remote Control Hacks to Save You Time and Money

By Paul Michael on 8 September 2009 (Updated 31 May 2010) 6 comments
Photo: Sarchi

If time is money, and I sincerely believe it is, then these five remote control hacks will save you a little of both. I discovered them when I was searching for a way to increase the range of my remote control (I just can't change channels all that well from the kitchen) and found not one but five great hacks. Some are time savers, others money savers, and some do both. They're all quick, easy and require very little, if any, extra materials.

Skip Ads Easily with a Standard Cable Remote Control

This first hack should take you about five minutes.The basic premise is this: your average Motorola-made DVR, the one that your cable-TV provider gives you, should come with the ability to skip ads in 30-second increments. And yet, in most cases, it doesn't. I'm not going to go into the reasons for that here, but it's obviously related to money and advertiser pressure. Anyway, some clever dude has figured out a way to remap your remote control to enable this feature. I tried it on my Comcast remote and it worked like a charm. Here's what to do:

1. Press the Cable button at the top of the remote.

2. Hold the Setup button until the Cable button flashes twice.

3. Enter 994 on the keypad. The Cable button will flash twice again.

4. Push the Setup button once.

5. Enter 00173.

6. Finally, push the button that you want to use as the 30-second skip; I chose the A button since I don't use it for anything else. The Cable button will flash twice.

To restore the original functionality to that key, follow the first steps described above, but after entering 994, push the remapped key twice. The Cable button will blink twice if your input has been accepted.

Operate Your Remote Control with Only One Battery

If you have kids, the following scenario will be all too familiar. You pick up your TV's remote control, ready to change the channel from SpongeBob to something a little more grown up, and voila -- nothing happens. And so you turn over the remote to see the battery cover missing and just one lonely battery occupying the two-battery compartment. At this point, the frantic search is on to find a battery that will replace the one now residing in some kind of loud, flashing toy. And if you're like me, you don't have an enormous supply of back-up batteries. But, you probably do have paperclips. And by following this simple hack, you can get your remote working again until your next trip to the store. It's not a permanent fix, but it does work.

Boost the Range of Your Remote Control

So, on to the inspiration for this article. I often like to make dinner while watching a TV show or listening to music. And despite fresh batteries and the long reach of my arm, I often have trouble getting the remote control to change the channels or volume. Well, here's Kipkay to the rescue. As some of you may know, I rely on Kipkay for a lot of my technology hacks, and once again he did not disappoint. All this remote hack takesis just a few minutes of your time and some aluminum foil.

Fix a Broken Button on Your Remote Control

How many times have you almost thrown the remote control through the window because the #9 button needs to be pressed with the same kind of pressure that The Hulk has in reserve? When one or two buttons on your remote control begin to show signs of wear and tear, you can make them work again with this simple hack. All it takes is a little glue, some foil and a pin. That's just a few minutes of work for a fully-functioning remote control, and the restoration of your sanity.

And if all else fails...

Make Your Own Remote Control

To be honest, it would probably be easier to go and buy a new remote for $10. But if you have a few spare parts lying around and relish a challenge, or the remote stops working at 3am and you desperately need to change channels without moving, well, this one's for you. OK, it's impractical, but it's a fun little experiment to round off the group. It requires a mini maglite, an old floppy disc, a small magnifying lens, and a generous helping of patience. Have fun.

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Guest's picture
Ellen

I especially like #1. Now we can devote more time to more important things. Time is money, and money these day is scarce!

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Khaled

JUST AWESOME ,,, I like all of them ,, Thanks a lot

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Guest

I tried this, but my remote doesn't have a button labeled "setup" - any other options?

Guest's picture

Very interesting! Thanks!

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Wayne

awesome quick tips...

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Guest

"I'm so freakin impressed" your instructions were simple and easy on extending the range, I did it and now I can be clear across the room and my cable box works! Thank you