Some Harmony Remote
Setup Faq's for the Newbie Users
(...which would have helped
souls like me)
Howard, Austin, Tx, 2008
Content may be "linked" with permission but
(updated Sept 4, 2009)
First, credit where
credit is due...
Using the Logitech
Harmony Users' Forum over the last years has been
essential in my learning how to maximize my Harmonys'
capabilities. This user forum is an excellent
anyone trying to
understand everything from basic setup to maximizing their remote's
My assumption (my personal opinion based on two years of
participation on this user forum) is that the Harmony division must be
in such serious trouble that logitech management has dictated that no
posts critical in any way of logitech's longstanding support problems
be allowed on the Harmony peer to peer user support forum.
Today (11/8/09) I posted the following message on that forum as there
has been no logitech response to numerous requests and complaints
following a major revision to that forum which has rendered it much
harder to use as well as creating serious vision problems for some of
...the post and thread was deleted minutes later after another long
time serious forum helper posted the fact that he was in full agreement
with my post.
subject; Responsibility for these forums? Anyone?
after absence to see if the problems with the new forum format had been
addressed but posting this with the headache that the page continues to
In addition reading and responding to
messages now takes several
times longer for the threads to finish rendering....
...this is progress???
logitech accept responsibility for logitech user needs?
...or, is all the available revenue gone
to TV advertising to bring
in more users to face the same problems
...and, moderator, this post is
to effectively using harmony products.
and HHAtkins response;
I agree - and there
is no progress on resolution of
the absurd situation that Logitech's agents have forced upon us.
Bottom line? (in my opinion)
Buyer beware... even though the Harmony remotes are well built and an
excellent hardware design concept, they are founded on a server based
closed support system that is completely out of the reach of any
logitech owner and, therefore, use of the remote can be terminated by
poor user support.
So... you got a Harmony and need
more help... read on... I hope the information here will be useful in
retaining the power of this remote control concept.
Taking the Time to
Understand the Harmony
will help you setup this remote
and exploit it's
While the Harmony Remotes vary
design and cost, they work on the
same principals and use the same databases and device data, so they
essentially identically. Some
models do offer additional capabilities, so, check for the differences
using the Harmony
The Harmony Design uses internet
software to setup "define" your remote's jobs and keys.
Nothing is stored on your computer and there is no way to edit the
existing commands database, but the database is extensive plus all
offer the ability to "learn" commands which might be missing or wrong.
Again, device information is collected
software and stored on Logitech servers and cannot be modified or
edited by anything other than the Logitech software. If you do
not have an internet connection, you cannot setup, modify your setup or
update your remote.
Further, your specific Harmony setup, layout and programming is stored
on the same servers and can be edited only using the Harmony Software.
vital concept to know and understand... the Harmony design is
Where most "Universal Remotes" allow you
to toggle the remote's key layout to
control multiple devices or set up a "combo remote" where the keys are
assigned commands in order to control a number of devices (after you
learn which key
is what,) the Harmony divides the remote into two different job
The primary task is "Activities"
consist of multiple parts;
When an activity is started, commands embedded
in each activity do the following;
- Power up every device used in the activity... i.e. DVD
player, a Display such as a TV or projector, an Audio Amplifier, etc
- Set each device for the job... i.e. select DVD vs VCR,
the TV or Projector input, set the Audio Amplifier's Audion and Video
- Reconfigure the Harmony's keys for the commands it
be used during that activity such as channel section keys, Audio
Amplifier volume control, etc. (The active
key layout for each activity is user editable.)
- Populate and Label the Harmony's "Soft Keys" programmed
- Activate the "Sequences" (Macros) programmed for that
activity and assign them to hardware or software keys.
- Issue additonal commands you may include in the
i.e. send home
automation lighting commands to turn lights on/off when you select an
- When you are finished, pressing the Harmony's "power
(by default) power down the devices used in the activity.
*if the Harmony Model Supports
Set Inputs on
(such as Lighting)
Exit to Issue
Return to Current
(such as Lighting)
|Mix of Keys from
All Devices Included
in the Activity
|Same as Above
With Editable Labels
|User Macros* Specific
to Current Activity
If needed, the user can manually set
which devices are powered on/off
when entering or leaving any activity.
The secondary task is "Device"
which allow you to control a single device.
For example, you are in the "Watch a DVD" Activity and want
control a fan... pressing "Devices" toggles the remote to a single
purpose... controlling that device, while the activity in process
For those who have worked with other universal remotes, this division
and difference is critical to understand... "device control" is a minor
part of the harmony concept. When you press the "Devices" button
and select a device, the harmony does nothing other than emulate the
OEM's dumb remote... all of the features contained in "activities" are
gone... no inclusion of other remote's commands, no macros, no
Selecting a "Device" should be seen as simply an option to execute
which are not included in the current activity.
You can, and should, take time to incorporate any and all device
commands that you would expect to use in any activity in the activity
itself even if those commands may not be used every time the activity
One caution, pressing the Harmony "power" button still terminates
current Activity rather than controlling the power on the
When you are finished and press "Activities" the remote returns to the
key layout and setup for that activity.
Tip: To Return to an Activity
pressing the "Devices Button"
Most users, especially when they first start using a
Harmony, will find the need to go to the devices selection when they
are in an "Activity" in order to issue specific device commands.
Once the commands have been issued, it's not obvious how to return to
the activity they just left... for example, pressing that activity's
button results in most of the startup commands being re-issued.
To return to the activity, Press
the "Device" Button Twice.
Tip: Watch out for the Harmony
On most universal remotes, the "power button" equates to the "power
button" of a single device.
However, on the Harmony, the "power button" is related to the current
(or last) "Activity"
not the current device!
IMHO, the Harmony "power"
button should have been labled;
Current Activity" or "ALL OFF"
If you select a device and press the Harmony Power Button, depending on
your setup this may power down all devices used in the
"current" activity... for example, powering down a projector
or DLP TV and negatively impacting it's bulb life or
preventing you from watching a program for several "cool down" minutes.
Tip: Power "Toggle" can be a major headache!
That "power button" on most OEM remotes is not a "power on" or
"power off" button... it's a "power toggle" i.e. if the remote is off,
it turns the device on and vice versa... works when you know if the
device is on or off, but, the Harmony has no way of knowing if a device
is actually on or off.
Since powering up devices is a normal part of each activity, devices
which only have a "toggle" (virtually all media devices) must be "off"
since they will be turned "off" by the Harmony if they are on when the
activity is started. In the media automation arena, when
one device is off when it should be on, it feels like
everything is broken!
...so, for smooth sailing, power everything "off,"
start from there and don't power anything down manually to avoid
confusing the remote...
Tip: The "Help" button can make
While I am sure there were good intentions behind the
remote's "Help" button, since there is no way for the Harmony to know,
for sure, what each device's power status is, pressing it can make
things worse since the remote immediately sends out power commands, then,
it goes through a step by step question, answer, power-command
process. Since the goal of the "help" process is to get all of
the devices powered on (or off) and set to the current activity's input
settings, it's often better for you to do this manually rather than
letting the remote take a stab at it.
Q: What is the url for the Harmony
you have installed the PC software and registered your login,
this web based setup
page can be run from any computer with internet access, changes and
additions are saved to your login. You can then login to your
remote on your home
computer using either the PC software or the web interface with your
Harmony connected via USB and update your remote with the previously
Note that when you go to the above link you will be presented with an
"Updated Software Available" message which is confusing, but, it is
Logitech's way of telling you they don't support the web interface any
more... just click through it.
Related to this, Logitech's SeanR responded;
However, the web interface provides the ability to work with
setting up your remote
away from home using any available computer, plus it seems to provide
more useful information such as the model#'s of your devices which are
not visible in the PC interface.
Just a note
to say that the http://members.harmonyremote.com/EasyZapper/UserHome.asp
version of the Harmony remote software is no longer supported, and will
not have all the feature available within the Harmony client software.
We recommend that users use the Harmony Remote software client
available from the download section of Logitech’s website.
It may not be supported, but, imho, it's currently a better interface
for advanced setups.
Q: Can I
Harmony software before
purchasing a remote to learn what's involved in setting a device and if
my devices are supported?
No, users did have that option at one time, but the only option at
this writing is to lookup components to see if they are included in the
Harmony Device Database.
Q: Are My Components In the
A: Logitech has set up a site to see if
your current devices are already included in the harmony database
before you buy.
Note... if your device is too new to be in the database, the commands
for older models of the same device will probably work without any
problems as OEM's use the same IR commands for the new models.
The most frequent problem with this is that while most commands work,
one or two related to new functions may not... simply have the harmony
"learn" these and add them to the current device commands.
Q: How do you add or edit commands
the LCD screen
(soft keys) which display following an activity selection?
"Devices" also have a soft button option... to set these
Tip: All of the device button options are "Dumped" into each device's
soft buttons... sometimes 15-20 screens of buttons. Moving them
is futile... delete all of the device's soft buttons and start over...
all of the available commands are on the "pull downs"
Tip: Plan and "Group"
these soft button screens to
consistant across different activities.
For example, if you use the Harmony to control lighting, layout one or
more lighting control soft key screens and keep them identical for all
activities where you might use them. Keep notes or use screen
captures as reference when setting up multiple activities.
Tip: If you have
used (read "forgettable") "hard keys" mapped, create an equivalent soft
key with a lable like Microsoft does.
For example a descriptive label plus a hint to the hard
key that's also mapped... i.e. "Fan Off (red)"
Tip: Setup the default screen soft buttons for device
buttons and input selections.
Having the ability to toggle the power of any device within the
activity on the first soft screen comes up often, but, more
importantly, having the power buttons for each device clearly labled on
the default screen can help non tech users assure that the devices are
powered on. This is also a good place to use macros... for
example, to assure that each device's input is correct after the power
is turned on.
HOT TIP! When
adding buttons to soft screens (additonal buttons,) keep common
for different devices (such as on/off) assigned to the same screen and
You can (and should) rename any activity
or device so the name makes
sense to you (and yours ;-)
Q: How do you add an additional
(such as a lighting
controller) to an existing activity to make it's commands available
within an activity?
The answer; "Yes, but I want to add
You can then add any device you had previously
installed to that activity. After the device is added to the
activity and "saved" you can then assign hard and soft keys to that
Q: How Do I create a new "activity" using a device I
added to the device list?
A: This happens when Logitech can't anticipate how the device will
be used... for example, home lighting controllers.
Select "Add an Activity"
Select "manual setup," "Utility"
Include the additional device in the activity.
The reason I
suggest "Utility" as the resulting activity is generated
completely blank giving the
user both full control over the actions which will be exectuted plus
the ability to edit them if needed.
If you set up any of the other activities which automatically generate
actions, know that these automatically generated activities cannot be
edited or deleted
Q: Can you add a
press startup event to an
Yes, related to the above, but getting to the necessary screen is a
- Activity/<activityname>/Troubleshoot/No, I want...
- Then step through the entire setup, and ...
- when finished, answer, "Yes,
but I want to add more..."
- You will be asked for "additional devices" (above)
device you want to add commands for (such as a lighting
controller) is not included in activity, add it now...
- Then you will
then be asked to go through the setup steps AGAIN to
get to the "Custom
- You can then select a device already included in the
activity and add commands one by one.
is an incorrect command in an existing activity created by the wizard
and the questions for that device do not relate to that command.
do I change or remove that command?
A: You can't. The only
current option is to add an additional command to correct the wrong
command issued during the activity startup.
Q: How much memory is available for "learned commands"
Don't have a clue... however, Logitech has managed to keep their device
list very updated and most devices are supported where they are often
not available for other programmable remotes. Further, after two
years on the forum, do not think I have ever seen a post related to
"out of memory" problems.
Q: How many devices can you
A: Varies with model. The
Harmony Compaprison Page lists the limits for each Harmony.
Cheaper models will have
less. In a severe "pinch" you could delete a limited device such
as a fan controller, then "learn" those commands into a commonly used
device in order to open up an additional device slot. Note...
from experience the 5-6 device limit will crimp setting up any but the
most minimal media setups.
Q: Can "Macros" be programmed on
A: Yes and No... the newer Harmony models do not support "user"
macros... see the Harmony
Comparison Page to determine which models support them.
Logitech doesn't use the term
...they use the term "Sequence" which helps make macros a problem right
the bat ;-)
There are several options to create "user macros."
The first is to
include additional device commands in an "Activity" (which is
essentially a macro) where they will
always be executed when an activity is launched. All Harmony
models support activity start and end sequences.
(If you use these, remember that the commands will be
re-executed every time you return to that activity from another... if
it involves something such as turning out lights which would not be on
anyway, there should not be a problem.)
Macro execution is significantly (~33%) slower than I have
on other remotes.
create an activity which contains only a startup macro... for
example, I have one that presets the house lights to use when we go out
for the evening. Of course, it's best to go ahead and program the
remote and screen buttons to give additional control after it
runs. One note, if you create an activity such as this to set
lighting when you sit down for another activity which is already
started, the switch could result in devices being powered down... i.e.
a projector which won't power back up until it cools down.
Note, while it is also possible to create "end activity" actions, the
above cautions also apply.
Most, but not
all, Harmony Remotes have the option to add up to 5 IR commands
to one or more "sequences" which can be
assigned to any hardware or soft button. Note that macros are
only associated with a single "Activity" and cannot be
transferred or copied to a different activity. Macros which may
be needed in multiple activities (such as changing the screen aspect
ratio) must be created for each activity.
Macros CANNOT be used in any "Device" layout.
5 Commands is a significant limit! For example, it takes a
minimum of seven commands to toggle the aspect ratio on our DLP
projector. Longer commands are not possible according to Logitech
and multiple macros cannot be "chained" together.
HOT TIP! Make the macro names
very descriptive and very
specific and keep the names common if you use the same ones in multiple
Make screenshots of the macro commands for reference when duplicating
macros in other activities.
HOT TIP! "Edit Macro" is not a
selection option, but, it is possible to edit macros.
Click "Add Sequence" which
will then allow you to edit already existing macros.
Learning Multiple Commands
It is possible to learn multiple commands as a single command
order to increase the number of commands issued by a macro. Doing
so is not an obvious process, as you have to "trick" the Harmony into
accepting multiple commands as a single IR sequence.
Start by creating and naming a "learned command" and learn a
command capturing only a single press of a remote in "analyzed format"
(the default learning mode)
Once that command is captured, go the learning area
for that remote and select "custom." When you do so, the
options for each command will have a button option for learning in
Find the command you just created and "learn" a sequence of
multiple button presses in "Raw" format. Tip, keep the number of
button presses under 3 using multiple new commands if you need more...
i.e. using multiple 3 button "learned" commands potentially increases
the Harmony macro limit to 15 commands.
The success of the above will vary with OEM remotes as some
manufacturers use complex IR protocols which may prevent the Harmony
from learning multiple commands.
What happens when I am in one activity and want to switch to another
(such as switching from watching a DVD to watching TV?)
The Harmony does a good job of remembering "device power states" and
switching between them. You do not have to "end" an activity,
just press the "Activity" button and select another activity.
For example, If you use an audio amplifier to
control the sound as well as video sources, moving back and forth
activities should seamlessly switch the amplifier's audio/video port
selections as well as reprogramming
the remote keys to control what's currently on the screen.
However, remember that switching activities will re-execute the startup
commands the selected activity each
time you return to the activity... one example, don't include an
"eject" in the startup sequence if you might be switching from DVD to
TV and back.
By the same token, realize that switching activities may (and will)
power down devices you may want to remain in order to return to that
activity... there are, however, options to control this within the
....also, ask on the Logitech
Harmony Users' Forum
Q: Is there a limit to the number of possible
There is, but it's high and should not be a factor. Once the
count passes the number of activity buttons available for your remote,
additional activities will show up on additional screens selectable by
arrows under the screen.
HOT TIP! Spend
time grouping and sequencing activities... there's a "move" option
which makes it fairly easy but, remember that the order is
left/right/wrap rather than down/down/down/wrap. Doing so
will pay off in the dark.
Q: How can I get rid of the cute
Harmony family user
There seems to be no way to turn this OFF, but you can add custom
Adding a single image slide show will turn off the "default"
images plus it will turn off the backlight after the display time for a
single image passes.
Select "Remote Preferences" and "Setup Slide
You can add any small jpg or other common format, but the
ratio will be altered to fit the rectangle... it seems to be 128 x 160
Pixels, so, it's best to "preprepare" them to this size.
anything to display? Create a slideshow using single blank image
defeat the slideshow... here's a downloadable 1k pure black 128x160
pixel image to do this...
Set the slide show interval to 1 so the
backlight will turn off as quickly as possible when you place it in the
Discussions (and lack thereof) of
the "Sound & Picture" buttons available on a limited number of the
harmony models make it clear that this feature has not been well
documented and isn't really well understood. What do they
offer???? There is no obvious info on this, but, if you pull up
software and if your remote has these buttons, when you open any
activity and select
"Customize Buttons" you will see a nondescript "pulldown" above and to
the left of the button definitions which will show "Activity" by
default. (If your remote does not offer this option (such as my
1100) the pulldown does not exist.)
A little investigation shows that this feature is a very powerful
option which allows you to completely remap the remote within each
When you select "Sound" or "Picture" a caption indicating the button
state appears on screen. What has happened is that you are looking at a
separate and complete button layout where you can customize the entire
remote for different actions... for example, you are using a TV to view
and an AudioVideo receiver for the sound... you can map the "Activity"
to best serve the activity as a whole, then map "Sound" to give you
full control over the AV Receiver if you need to tweak the sound
experience with equalization, etc during the activity.
Similarly, if you are using a Projector, you can do the same with
"Picture" to give you instant access to the projector menu and controls
while remaining in the activity. One example would be the need to map
the cursor pad to control the TV source for use within the activity,
but, in the "Picture" mode, the choice would be to map the cursor pad
controls to manipulate the projector menu.
However, in the tradition of protecting the user from himself, the
mapping for these additional maps are restricted to only the devices
that logitech feels are appropriate... for example, only the audio
device(s) in the current activity that are principally audio related
will be offered for the "Sound" button's mapping.
These buttons also give you a completely different set of LCD
"softkeys" customizable for your needs. However, since the screen
displays the button state, buttons #1 and #2 are not available on the
remote although the software shows six button options, so, group in
"four's" rather than "six's"
On the 620, when you press either of these buttons, the remote remaps.
Press the same button again, and the original activity keys are mapped
and the name of the activity reappears on the LCD screen.
Note that one unusual aspect of this temporary "remapping" of the keys
that hard keys not used for the button remain the same as they were in
the activity. For example, if your primary use of the "Picture"
is to allow access to the projector's menu and cursor pad, assuming the
volume buttons are not used, they will continue to control the
This is a very powerful option for the serious user, but, keep in mind
that it has the potential to confuse low tech users if they
accidentally press one of these buttons within an activity... it
probably also explains a couple of confusing incidents when I
accidentally pressed them as well.
Windows Media Center Options
Q: How do I install a
Windows Media Center Remote for a computer which is not listed as
having the function of a Windows Media Center Computer?
The Microsoft Windows EHome Remote commands are common to most media
edition computers, however, while the Harmony software wizards and
refer to specific computer models, for a "generic"
setup, the device in the database is not a computer but is actually the
IR Remote Control manufactured by Microsoft.
Select Computer, Media Center Computer, then "Microsoft" as the
manufacturer and enter the model#1039
Again, this is not a
computer model, but the remote model# which will work with any computer
that responds to the Microsoft ir remote. While the Harmony software
shows selections for four 1039
it appears that these are simply different descriptions (including
misspellings) of the same remote. (Thanks and a tip
of the hat to RSargeant for clues to the
Harmony device location and model information .)
MCE IR Keyboard
IR Keyboard and Mouse device defintion released. This thread also
contails advanced commands added beyond the original MCE keyboard as
well as a suggested setup for using the harmony cursor as a mouse
Use the Harmony Software "Add Device Steps" with one of the following
Center PC/Mfg:Microsoft/Model:MCE Keyboard
(Older, but contains
commands below that are not yet in the "SE" database)
Center PC/Mfg:Microsoft/Model:Windows Media Center SE
and contains mouse actions, but, important keyboard commands are
missing and cursor pad may not be available for mouse use)
first MCE Keyboard command set
(the "Windows Start" as opposed to the green "Media Start" button)
<ESCAPE> (essential for exiting Flash, Hulu and other viewers in
"Full Screen Mode")
<Alt> (allows cursor access to and control of any program's menu
<PageUp> & <PageDn>
<Home> & <End>
<BackSpace> & <Delete>
the MCE Keyboard in place of any of the MCE
Remote devices. Stay tuned to the forum to see when these
important commands are added to the new "SE" device entry.
few commands add a huge amount of power to the MCE remote commands,
and, allow things such as starting programs on the start menu and using
any programs menu options by getting to the menu bar using <Alt>
and navigating to menus and commands using the cursor pad.
the entire windows keyboard is available, it's not practical to use all
the keys with a small remote, but, again, the above adds a great deal
of power to the Harmony. In addition, the current
definitions do not allow combining keystrokes such as <Ctrl-C> or
compatible USB IR dongle links (as of 5/09)
is an interesting unit which a user reports is fully compatible with
MCE, but it's marketed as an Apple compatible remote. That
indicates that Apple USB IR dongles might also work with MCE... if you
know or try this, let me know!
The StreamZap looks
it's an mce
remote but don't know anything about it.
Some specifics on the Microsoft 1039 Remote control and MicroSoft EHome
IR dongle are at http://www.directron.com/xpmediactrl.html#caption
but these sites no longer have them in stock.
Note that the above
and the Harmony remotes will only function
"EHome" ir interface (shown on the link above) The IRDA IR
ports found on most laptops cannot be used
as Consumer IR receivers for
MCE. Additionally, there are a number of other IR dongles for
other remotes and keyboards out there which do not support
the Media Center Edition (eHome) commands.
Tech details on the MCE/eHome remotes, including images of the
are at this MyHDTV
If your computer is not running the
Windows Media Center OS or the
advanced Vista/Windows 7 versions which support the media center
can download and install the media
center IR rollup on any XPPro
computer with an EHome USB IR "dongle" and the remote will be able to
control most media events such as stop/start/volume/mute etc, cursor
movements, the numbers 1-10 plus a few other commands... an additional
bonus is that it makes an excellent "presentation remote" especially if
you need to hand the controller to a presenter who is "non technical"
since it works the way almost anyone used to TV remotes expects.
The default EHome remote commands will give you numeric, cursor, enter,
volume, mute, transport, etc keys which will work in most XPPro
applications. Note than a number of computer media programs such
as Flash do not respond to the Windows "transport" controls and require
a mouse to control them.
The remote has several other keys such as the "Green" media menu and
four "activity" buttons but, afaik, they can't be reassigned,
and, as mentioned, there is no apparent way to use it to launch actions
or apps under XPPro.
If you want to control
are setting up a media center which includes any computer, I strongly
recommend that you invest in a Bluetooth
Keyboard and Mouse. Most wireless KB/Mice have very
limited (3') range, but the normal Bluetooth range of 50' feet or more
will allow control far beyond your ability to see even a projected
computer image. The battery life on my BT Keyboard and Mouse
exceeds six months and these devices cover control needs such as
viewing Flash and Hulu video that would be difficult to impossible to
effectively incorporate into any remote control.
Related, there is an
Programmer (HIP)" application which works with the eHome ir dongle
and in addition to the ability to capture and analyze ir commands, it
can be used to respond to specific ir commands and trigger pc actions.
Q: Are there any Alternatives to
using the Harmony Software?
A: Unfortunately, the Short Answer is NO,
and Logitech has also turned
a deaf ear to the huge number of complaints posted on their own Harmony
User Forum outlining major problems with the current software's design
and user interface.
There is an "Open Source" project, (which requires
programming skills to compile and use) apparently designed primarily to
handle the firmware HEX data uploads to the remotes. The README
file in the download is the only "overview" but it is still not clear
to me what advantage this software offers over the Logitech software.
This software uses the Harmony Web interface as it's kernel but I have
no way of knowing since there is no "build" posted, so, to obtain a
working version, you will have to use Visual Studio or Visual C++ and
the necessary skills to generate an executable (see the
"INSTALL.windows" file in the download for details.
Linux users would gain remote update options from this, as well as,
give users the ability to store remote
configurations for backup without needing the Harmony Software to
reload them if necessary.
Hope these ramblings have been of value to you! Feedback is always appreciated.
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