10 ways to get the most out of your Apple Remote

The Apple Remote has turned out to be one of my favorite things about my MacBook Pro. Aside from its obvious uses (Front Row, iTunes etc) you can use it to do a pretty wide variety of things. Here are 10 of the ways I’ve used the Apple Remote to make my life a bit easier.

ps. All of the software mentioned below is free (and/or open source).  

  1. iRed Lite – your Apple Remote on steroids
  2. iTheater – an open source Front Row alternative
  3. iAlertU – good luck stealing my MacBook from the inet cafe
  4. Aurora – never get out of bed to hit Snooze again
  5. Pandora Boy – Pandora + Apple Remote = bliss
  6. Using the Apple Remote in Linux – for the dual-booter in all of us
  7. Tip: Pair your Apple Remote w/ your Mac – avoid embarrassment during your Keynote presentation
  8. Tip: Put your Mac to sleep w/ the Apple Remote – one less reason to get out of bed
  9. Tip: How to listen to Internet Radio in Front Row – until you-know-who kills inet radio entirely
  10. Tip: How to play backup DVD’s (Video_TS) in Front Row – should have been included by default

  1. iRed Lite
  2. If you want to put your Apple Remote on steroids, iRed Lite is for you. Though a bit confusing at first, once you get the hang of it (read the manual) you’ll be able to control any app on your Mac using your Apple Remote. I’ve found it most useful to use when controlling "other" media players (like Cog) – but again, with this app, the sky’s the limit.

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  3. iTheater
  4. If you’re not a huge fan of Front Row, iTheater may be for you. Some of the iTheater features not included (by default) in Front Row are: Video_TS (backup DVD’s) playback, support for widgets and the Wii controller, and the ability to customize the background picture and sounds. The most recent release of iTheater is also very “developer-friendly”, which means we should see some very cool plugins and add-ons in the near future.

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    If your Mac didn’t include Front Row but you’ve purchased an Apple Remote, keep in mind you CAN install and use it by following the instructions in the great tutorial How to install Front Row using Enabler.

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  5. iAlertU
  6. From the iAlertU home page: iAlertU is the first of its kind alarm system for your Apple MacBook computer. Basically iAlertU is a car alarm for your Apple Mac. iAlertU uses the built in sudden motion sensor (SMS) device to detect movement of your Apple MacBook and triggers an audible and visual alarm. The alarm can also be triggered by keyboard and mouse/trackpad movement (and AC adapter changes or screen closings). The alarm is designed to continue sounding even after the Apple MacBook screen has been closed. iAlertU is activated and deactivated using the infrared remote control included with every Apple MacBook computer. User adjustable settings let you decide which type of alarm triggers you would like to use, the duration of the alarm, and motion sensor sensitivity. iAlertU also features functionality to utilize the built in iSight camera to photograph the would be thief and soon will be able to email the photo to a user specified email address.

    Adam Pash (of DailyDIY and Lifehacker fame) shows you how to take iAlertU even farther in his Hack Attack: Turn your MacBooks iSight into a FTP backed-up Security Camera. Side note: after I wrote How to use your PC and Webcam as a motion detecting and recording security camera I was going to write something similar for Mac folks. Not only did Adam beat me to it, he did a better job than I would have. So I didn’t bother :)

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  7. Aurora
  8. Aurora is a free Alarm Clock for your Mac that lets you wake up to your favorite iTunes playlist or any TV or radio channel from EyeTV. What makes it great is that you can use your Apple Remote to hit the “Snooze button” without having to get out of bed. Ahh the glory of Snooze.

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    Other features include a Sleep Timer and the ability to wake your Mac from sleep or from a powered-off state. Aurora is available in English, German, French, Italian, Japanese and Chinese. Download Aurora here and sleep later than you should.

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  9. Pandora Boy
  10. PandoraBoy is sheer genius if you’re a Pandora fan. Not only does it allow you to listen to Pandora.com without having to have a web browser open, but (you guessed it) you can control it with your Apple Remote. And if that wasn’t enough, it works with Growl.

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  11. Using the Apple Remote in Linux
  12. mwolson has the skinny on getting your Apple Remote to work in Linux. As mwolson mentions, if you’re a relatively up to date Ubuntu user, the 2.6.20 kernel package has included the driver into their kernel.

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  13. Tip: Pair your Apple Remote w/ your Mac
  14. This has actually happened to me. Some wiseass in my local coffee shop used his/her Apple Remote to skip songs in my iTunes playlist. I got so frustrated that I quit iTunes and listened to .flac files in Cog instead. Fortunately this person decided not to constantly launch Front Row, which might have driven me over the edge. The solution to this problem is to pair your Apple Remote with your Mac, so your Remote, and only your Remote, can control your Mac.

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  15. Tip: Put your Mac to sleep w/ the Apple Remote
  16. I’ll be the first to admit it – I went many, many months owning a MacBook Pro and had no idea I could put it to sleep with the Apple Remote. Just hold down the Play button. That’s right, just hold it down, and your Mac goes to sleep. Duh.

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  17. Tip: How to listen to Internet Radio in Front Row
  18. EntertainMac has the info on how to add Internet Radio stations to iTunes, thus allowing you to control/access them via Front Row. And while we’re on the topic of Internet Radio, you may want to visit Save Net Radio and do your part (however minimal) to help Internet Radio stations stay alive. ‘Cause they are going to die unless something changes.

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  19. Tip: How to play backup DVD’s (Video_TS) in Front Row
  20. DVD Assist is an Applescript that allows you to play your backup DVD’s (often referred to as Video_TS) in Front Row. It works exactly as described, and perfectly. If you were considering installing iTheater just to play backup DVD’s, this is a great way to save some hard drive space/have fewer installed apps.

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28 thoughts on “10 ways to get the most out of your Apple Remote”

  1. A simple way to get your favorite internet radio stations into Front Row is to just create an iTunes playlist and add radio stations to it. Then you can access it like a normal playlist in Front Row.

  2. A few things to know. I have tried many times to put my iMac to sleep with the remote and it did not work as discussed above. This may be due to the fact that I am using it with Joost, which is the other nice thing to know. If you are lucky enough to have a Joost account, the remote works great in it and gives it a much better DVR feel. The down side, don’t know if the menu works to put it to sleep…

  3. Alex (and others),

    Yeah please accept my apologies on that one – it’s the Play button, not menu. I’ve since fixed the article..

    Cheers, and thanks for catching that!


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  7. Since we’re talking about the Apple Remote and FrontRow, has anyone found a way (or developed a hack as those described here) to access the full contents of the iPod via FrontRow? I mean browse the iPod by artists, for example. Not what you can do with ‘Currently Playing’ and skip to the next song on the iPod playlist.

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  9. Thanks for the list – interesting.

    Re: Item #8 – you hold down the play/pause button, not the menu button, to put your mac to sleep.

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