Guest Post: The TiVo® Remote – It does more than you knew it could

 In Announcements, Remote control

Guest writer, MegaZone (his real name), has been a TiVo user since 2002 and has used nearly every model of TiVo DVR since the Series1.  He maintains the TiVoCentral Yahoo Group, TiVo Lovers LJ Community, and Gizmo Lovers Blog.  We hope you enjoy his TiVo remote advice!

Recently, TiVo posted to the Facebook fan page asking what button users would add to the TiVo remote. This ‘button’ question received a lot of comments!

After reading through all of the requests, I noticed a great deal of them were for features already available through the TiVo remote! It is a shame that people have what they want right now and don’t even know it, so I thought I’d compile them into a single post. I hope you find these helpful.

First of all, the TiVo service has a number of shortcuts in TiVo Central – the first ‘TiVo’ button press brings you to TiVo Central, the next press jumps to the shortcut:
TiVo+TiVo = Now Playing List
TiVo+0 = Plays the boot up animation
TiVo+1 = Season Pass Manager (#1 Priority)
TiVo+2 = To Do List (2 Do List)
TiVo+3 = WishList Search (3 Wishes)
TiVo+4 = Search by Title (Search 4 Titles)
TiVo+5 = Browse by Channel (no more clever mnemonics)
TiVo+6 = Browse by Time
TiVo+7 = Record Time/Channel
TiVo+8 = TiVo Suggestions
TiVo+9 = Showcases
TiVo+Slow = Messages & Settings

Note the mnemonics for easily remembering 1-4.  On the new TiVo Premiere box with HD Menus enabled only TiVo+TiVo through TiVo+5 exist – TiVo+4 is Search and TiVo+5 is Browse TV & Movies, the others are the same.

Also, in most of the menu screens Channel Up or Down is also Page Up or Down (and is labeled as such on some remotes). Lesser known, the Advance key (looks like ->|) will jump to the end of the menu on the first press, then the top on the next. These really speed up moving around the menus.

In the Now Playing list ‘1’ toggles the sort between name and date, and ‘2’ turns grouping on and off – or hit ‘Enter’ for a menu. When groups are on you can highlight a group and hit ‘Play’ to play the entire group bottom to top, and ‘Clear’ will delete the entire group (These work on TiVo Series3 DVRs & up).

There were many votes for a 30-second skip function – and it’s in there! While watching a recording enter Select-Play-Select-3-0-Select on the remote (SPS30S) and the Advance button becomes a 30-second skip button. The TiVo Premiere remote has a new 30-second scan feature which fast-forwards instead, but the skip backdoor is still there.

There’s another hidden feature – Select-Play-Select-9-Select (SPS9S) turns on a clock and elapsed time indicator (when playing recordings) in the lower right. With both of these entering the code again turns the feature off (it is a toggle).

There are others that vary depending on the box and software, but those two are the really useful ones.

Want a way to stop recording Suggestions? Go to: Messages & Settings -> Settings -> Recording -> TiVo Suggestions -> No, don’t record TiVo Suggestions

Want one-button to delete – use the Clear button. Highlight a program and hit Clear. This also works in the program description screen, To Do List, etc. Most everywhere you can delete, the Clear button works.

Clear is also good for getting rid of on-screen displays like the progress bar if it is blocking something in the picture.

Several people wanted to jump from the SD to the HD version of a channel or to make it record the HD channel.  I suggest removing the SD channels completely, then it will always use the HD version: Messages & Settings -> Settings -> Channels -> Channel List

This is also useful for removing channels you never use.  Channels removed from the Channel List just don’t exist for the TiVo service, so they’ll never be used for Suggestions, match a Wish List search, show up in the Guide, etc.  Just because you receive a channel doesn’t mean it has to be in your list, you decide.

TiVo has a QWERTY remote coming out soon, for those of you that want to type in the TiVo menus and not use the ‘Ouija Board’ input. But right now the software on the TiVo Premiere box (14.x) and the latest on the TiVo Series3/TiVo HD DVRs (11.0h – rolling out now) supports USB HID. HID is Human Interface Device – geek speak for keyboards and mice. Yes, if you have the newer software you can plug a standard USB keyboard into the TiVo, including those with wireless dongles, as long as they don’t need special software.  In addition to the standard alpha-numeric text entry, other remote functions are available – a list has been compiled.  There are some limitations; at this point alpha input doesn’t work in any HME screens – which includes Netflix, Amazon, Swivel Search, etc.  But it works in the native screens like Title Search and WishList Search.

There are also third party apps which let you type into your TiVo DVR over the network from a PC or smartphone, if you enable the Network Remote Control: Messages & Settings -> Settings -> Remote, CableCARD, & Devices -> Network Remote Control -> Enabled.  Once enabled you can use applications such as TiVoRemote on your PC/Mac or TiVoRemote (no relation) for Android.

People also seemed to be confused about what the remote controls can do. Start with Messages & Settings -> Settings -> Remote, CableCARD, & Devices -> Remote Control. The TiVo remote can control the power on BOTH your TV and receiver. Program the TV power like normal, then do the procedure again – only this time enter the IR code number for your receiver (maybe it’s receiver first than TV, but the point is it can do both). One press sends both signals.  I’ve been using this feature for many years now, it is very convenient. Also, the TiVo Series3, Glo, TiVo HD XL, and Premiere XL remotes are all learning remotes – so even if it doesn’t have the IR code you need, several buttons can be programmed by ‘learning’ from your existing remote.

Some people asked for a ‘Stop’ button – but there is no need. If you hit ‘Left’ on the directional pad you Stop where you are in a recording and return to the menu. In fact, the DVD/TiVo combo units did have a Stop button – and it did pretty much the same thing as Left in all the TiVo functions.

People asked for a ‘Last’ button to go back to the last channel from the one you’re on now – the ‘Enter’ button does that, and on some remotes it is labeled Enter/Last.  And ‘Live TV’ will change the tuner when you’re already in Live TV, each press will toggle back and forth between the two tuners.

Turning off the remote backlight (on those that have it) was asked for – and is also already there.

Toggling video output modes was requested – 480i/480p/720p/1080i – and the TiVo Premiere remote has this, just press ‘Down’ on the directional pad while watching video.

I covered a lot here, and I’m sure there are still suggestions. Note that the TiVo Web site has a page where you can submit your requests directly to them:

I hope this helps you use your TiVo remote more effectively.  If you have any tips & tricks that I left out, or any other questions, just comment below.

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Showing 20 comments
  • Ron Williams

    I am a new TiVo user, and have a series 4 Tivo Premier XL.

    If I am watching one of my recordings, then I hit the TiVo button to get into the TiVo screen, is there an “exit” function to immediately get back to the recording that I was watching??

  • MegaZone

    Oh – another useful tip I just had to (re-)learn the hard way. I was setting up my new TiVo Slide Remote today and wanted to program it to power on/off both my Samsung TV and my Onkyo receiver. As I said in the post you can do both – unless the built in IR code for you receiver doesn’t do power. For me code 0305 controls my TV, and 1113 controls my receiver’s volume and mute – but not power (no Onkyo code worked).

    Now, I could do a code search and step through hundreds of codes to try to find one that works. But tedious only begins to describe that process. I knew it could be done – my Series3 remote has been doing it for years; but damned if I could remember how I got it working. Wait, the Slide is a learning remote! But if you learn a code it steps on any programmed codes. Then I was reminded that the learning remotes can learn up to *three* codes for each button, and that was the solution. It is documented in support:

  • MegaZone


    Unfortunately, no, when you exit playback of a recording there isn’t a quick way to jump right back in. However, TiVo does remember the highlight location in the Now Playing List. So if you highlighted a program in there to start playback, which you pretty much had to do, hitting ‘TiVo’ again to jump into the NPL should leave you with the highlight on the program you had been watching, then you can just hit Play to resume. If the program is in a group, then select to go into the group and the highlight should be on the program in there – hit Play. The one exception to this working I can think of offhand is if you hit Play on a group the first time, the group will be highlighted but I believe hitting play will start playing the group from the first recording again.

  • idl3mind

    Great post. Very informative. Thank you.

  • Phil F

    Wow–great post! We’ve been a 3 TiVo house (between the two of us) since ’07 and knew some, but not many of these–big help!

    Ok, my question is: My TV has about 8 inputs and the selection process is to hit a button on the tv remote that brings up a menu and then use up/down arrows to go up or down one input at a time, and then when the correct input is selected hit the “enter” button. Is there a sensible way to do this with some of these exotic TiVo remote capabilities?

  • MegaZone

    Phil – Unfortunately, no, I don’t believe so. Since it requires multiple presses you’d have to map each button and the TiVo remote doesn’t have enough mappable buttons – and that presumes you have one of the TiVo learning remotes (the ‘Glo’ remotes or the TiVo Slide). I’m pretty sure it doesn’t do macro programming either – where you program one button to send multiple codes. You could try it if you have a learning model – but that’d only work in the first place if there is a specific pattern to send, of course.

  • XanyMom

    I have known for several years how to program the 30 second skip (SPS30S) and the counter/clock (SPS9S), and with the new menus (Jan, 2012), suddenly this capability is gone. If I hit the Select button while playing a recording, it brings up some stupid tv guide menu (why would I want to look at this while playing something?), and I can’t program either of the above capabilities. Is there a new way to do the clock and 30 s skip? My 30 s skip is still working, thank goodness, but I really liked the clock and counter, and can’t reprogram this. Any hints?

  • Java

    When I program the clock (SPS9S) on my TiVo premier, the clock appears in the center of the screen and it’s font size is tiny. I hope that there’s a fix soon. 🙁

  • XanyMom

    Well, I just heard from Tivo to my question about the back-door shortcuts available to Tivo users, and this is what they said:

    I would be happy to answer all of your questions. With the newest software update we have disabled all backdoor remote commands so unfortunately that will no longer work for you. You can press the Info button on the Select button to pull up a menu with the date displayed on it. Unfortunately there are no workarounds for this.

    So, that means that the 30 second skip will be disabled too. I still seem to have this option, even after power blackouts last week (here in Seattle area), but next time I have to reset my Tivo (which happens from time to time) I don’t see how to get it back. Advertisers finally got to Tivo to make sure users can’t skip through commercials? Wouldn’t surprise me. I’m very very disappointed in Tivo. This should still be available in older versions of Tivo (pre-Premiere). I won’t by another Premiere until this has been undone.

  • Turkoise

    @XanyMom….thank you for posting re the response you got from Tivo. I was using the 30-second scan on my Premiere (vs the skip) and it stopped working several days ago, been driving me nuts. I agree, very disappointed in Tivo. From a user perspective, scan vs skip was a step backwards but I accepted it because I could understand it as a nod to advertisers who’d like watchers to see enough to stop if there’s an ad that catches their interest. Whick I occasionally did. But to remove the functionality completely? Tivo has just put me to the inconvenience of using fast forward. No added benefit to the advertisers, huge step backward in my satisfaction with the product. I’m a 4 Tivo early adopter, very unhappy with this takeaway not just of a backdoor, but of an advertised feature that I paid for.

  • MegaZone

    XanyMom & Turkoise – Actually the shortcuts are still there, support is wrong.

    Yes, hitting ‘Select’ now brings up a menu in the new HD UI, interfering with the codes, but they’re still there. I’ve tested them on my Premiere Elite. Note however that while the clock is still there, it really isn’t usable in the new software. It is now in the middle of the screen in a smaller font. I have a suspicion on why this is (short version, new canvas is larger, X,Y the same) but TiVo is aware of this and said they’ll try to fix it for the next update. The 30-second skip is still there and works fine.

    The easiest way to do the codes is to switch to the SD UI, enter them, then go back to the HD UI. You can do it in the HD UI but you need to do something like Select Select Play Select 30 Select – get past that first ‘Select’ menu.

    30 Second Scan is still there too. Settings & Messages -> Settings -> Remote, CableCARD, & Devices -> Remote Control Setup -> Part 4: ADVANCE and REPLAY buttons.

  • MegaZone

    One thing to note, the clock & 30 second skip, and any other SPS codes, are not and have never been officially features. They’re back doors, Easter Eggs, or whatever you want to call them. And there is always a risk that they will be removed or simply break with any update. Since they are not official features they aren’t part of product testing and even if they do break it wouldn’t be an official regression, so it wouldn’t hold up the new release. There are other codes from TiVo’s distant past that have long since vanished – Any other old timers remember backdoor mode?

    As I said in the last comment, 30 second skip is still there and is still working, it is just a bit harder to do in the HD UI. The clock is still there but isn’t really usable. I suspect it is positioned relative to the upper left and with the new HD UI has a larger canvas, but the X,Y wasn’t updated – so now it is in the middle and smaller. TiVo knows and says they’ll try to fix it.

  • Bill

    All the select-play-select codes can be entered on Premier Tivos. The just nedd to be entered with SD menus enabled. The switch back to HD menus.

  • Eric

    What about Netflix controls on the TiVo remote? Is there a list of how to operate Netflix streaming on Tivo anywhere?

  • Elizabeth Holmes

    I’m commenting on the area where you said for the ‘stop’ button all you have to do is hit left on directional pad and it stops the recording and take you to the menu. When I hit ‘left’ it does take me to the menu but the recording doesn’t ‘stop’ it continues playing. I either have to start a different recording or hit live tv to get it to stop. Is there a reason for this or is there another way to stop a recording?

  • MegaZone

    Are you using a TiVo Premiere with the HD UI? And do you mean the recording continues to play in the small window in the upper right? I’m guessing this is the case.

    This is new behavior on the Premiere in the HD UI – older units, and the SD UI, don’t have the video window so going ‘left’ does stop playback. But with the window it just continues to play in there.

    My solution is simple – I dislike the video window so I disable it. With it disabled the behavior is the same as in the SD UI. But if you keep the video window you’ll have to manually stop playback by hitting ‘pause’, or start playback of another recording or LiveTV.

  • MegaZone

    Bill – That’s one way to do it. You can also do it in the HD UI but it is a little more hit & miss. I’ve found that going to Live TV, making sure there are no UI elements on the screen, then entering Select-Select-Play-Select-9-Select works. Note the extra ‘Select’. It just bring the menu up, and allows the second ‘Select’ to be the first in the SPS9S sequence.

  • kel

    “If I am watching one of my recordings, then I hit the TiVo button to get into the TiVo screen, is there an “exit” function to immediately get back to the recording that I was watching??”
    Hit zoom.

    On another note. Is there a quick way to search for future arings of a show while I’m watching it without typing in a search?

  • Tom Ward

    You can always get back to the video you were watching by pressing the “Guide” button twice.

  • Michael Bueno

    My wish for future TiVo remotes is to make the ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’ buttons (on premiere remotes and perhaps others) PROGRAMMABLE/LEARNING (for those of us who prefer the faster SD-menus and don’t otherwise use these buttons).

    If this were possible, one could program one of these buttons to power up EITHER the television OR audio amplifier (on those occasions when ONLY 1 of them turns on when pressing the power button on the TiVo remote).

    This would solve the problem when the TiVo remote is programmed to power up both the television and audio amplifier and only one of them actually powers on. This problem can be encountered quite frequently for certain televisions or audio amplifiers when the respective unit’s IR photodetector is not sensitive enough or is incorrectly matched to the TiVo remote’s IR emitter in terms of wavelength, etc.)

    Some televisions/audio amps are just difficult to power on no matter what remote you use (including the original that came with it). Having the ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’ buttons programmable would give us a fix…

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