Use a remote control with Windows Media Center

You can use a mouse and keyboard to get around Windows Media Center, but the best way to experience Media Center is with a remote control. There are many types of Media Center remote controls available to buy, with a variety of options. If you purchased a Media Center PC or a TV tuner, a remote control might have even been included with it.

You'll also need a receiver for the Media Center remote control to work properly. Most Media Center remote control receivers are separate infrared (IR) devices that connect to your computer's USB port, but some use Bluetooth or radio frequencies instead.

If your computer came with a remote, the infrared receiver might be built in to the computer. If you purchased your Media Center remote control separately, it probably came with an infrared receiver that you can connect to your computer's USB jack.

Open Media Center with a Media Center remote control

  • To open Media Center, press the green Start button Picture of the green Start button on the remote control.

In Media Center, just about everything you can do with a mouse and keyboard you can also do with a Media Center remote control. Here are a few things you can do:

Most tasks are self-explanatory when looking at the labels on your Media Center remote control, but some might need further explanation. These tasks are discussed under the following sections.

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Fast scrolling in the Guide and libraries

If you're browsing the Guide or a library (such as the Music library) that has a lot of content, you can scroll very quickly by pressing and holding the LEFT ARROW button or the RIGHT ARROW button on your remote control. After holding the button for about three seconds, you'll enter a mode that lets you skip ahead as you scroll through items.

Picture of the Guide in Media Center
Fast scrolling in the Guide allows you to jump ahead days or even weeks to see what's on TV.


  • Some older remote controls automatically time out after you hold a button for too long. These remotes won't work very well for fast scrolling.

Changing channels

While watching live TV in Media Center, you can change channels by pressing the CH + and CH - buttons, or by entering the channel number on the numbered buttons your remote control. For channels that have a decimal point (such as some digital TV channels), you can enter the decimal in the channel number by pressing the * button.

Entering text with the numbered buttons

Occasionally, you might need to enter text using your Media Center remote—for example, when searching for a TV show or naming a picture slide show.

Entering text with a Media Center remote is similar to typing a text message on a cell phone. To enter text using the remote control, press a number repeatedly to scroll through the choices that are available for that number. With each repeated press of a number, a different character appears. When you find the character that you want, press a different number, or wait for a few seconds until the blinking cursor moves to the next space.

You can also do the following:

  • To switch between character sets such as uppercase, lowercase, and symbol modes, press the CH+ or CH- button.

  • To backspace, press the CLEAR button.

  • To enter a space between words, press the 0 button.

Using the MORE and BACK buttons

When you press the MORE button on the remote control, you'll see additional options depending on which screen you're on in Media Center. For example, if you select a picture, and then press the MORE button on the remote, you'll see options to rotate the picture or assign a star rating to it.

You can access the Settings screen from anywhere in Media Center by pressing the MORE button, and then pressing Settings.

To dismiss the list of options without making a selection, or to go back to the previous screen, press the BACK button on the remote control.

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