Some Harmony Remote Control
Setup Faq's for the Newbie Users
(...which would have helped souls like me)

© Beverly Howard, Austin, Tx, 2008
Content may be "linked" with permission but not reposted
(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 resource for anyone trying to understand everything from basic setup to maximizing their remote's potential.


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 us...

...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.

my post
subject; Responsibility for these forums? Anyone?

Back 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 produce.

In addition reading and responding to messages now takes several times longer for the threads to finish rendering....

...this is progress???

Does anyone at 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 

Very sincerely,

Beverly Howard

...and, moderator, this post is relevent to effectively using harmony products.

Beverly Howard

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.

Quick Jumps

Taking the Time to
Understand the Harmony
"Design Philosophy"
will help you setup this remote
and exploit it's capabilities.

While the Harmony Remotes vary widely in design and cost, they work on the same principals and use the same databases and device data, so they perform essentially identically.  Some models do offer additional capabilities, so, check for the differences using the Harmony Comparison Page. 

The Harmony Design uses internet based 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 Harmonys offer the ability to "learn" commands which might be missing or wrong.

Again, device information is collected by Logitech's 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.

Now...a vital concept to know and understand... the Harmony design is

"Activity Centric" Rather than "Device Centric"

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 assignments.

The primary task is "Activities" which consist of multiple parts;

When an activity is started, commands embedded in each activity do the following;

Devices ON
(user configurable)

Set Inputs on
Used Devices

Issue Additional
(such as Lighting)

Exit to Issue
Other Devices'
Commands and
Return to Current
Devices OFF
(user configurable)

Issue Additional
(such as Lighting)

Hard Keys
Mix of Keys from
All Devices Included
in the Activity
plus Macros*
(user configurable)
Soft Keys
Same as Above
With Editable Labels
User Macros* Specific
to Current Activity
*if the Harmony Model Supports Macros

If needed, the user can manually set which devices are powered on/off when entering or leaving any activity.

The secondary task is "Device" control which allow you to control a single device.

For example, you are in the "Watch a DVD" Activity and want to control a fan... pressing "Devices" toggles the remote to a single purpose... controlling that device, while the activity in process continues.

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 actions.

Selecting a "Device" should be seen as simply an option to execute needed commands which are not included in the current activity.

Only User's
Hard Keys
Only Keys
for the
Single Selected

Soft Keys
Only Keys
for the
Single Selected
but offering
Editable Labels


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 is run.

One caution, pressing the Harmony "power" button still terminates the current Activity rather than controlling the power on the device you selected.

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 after 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 "Power Button"

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;
"End 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!, 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 things worse!

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 Web Setup Interface?


After 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 entered changes.

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;
Just a note to say that the 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.,en?prodcrid=410

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.

It may not be supported, but, imho, it's currently a better interface for  advanced setups.

Q: Can I run the 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 Harmony Database?

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 in the LCD screen (soft keys) which display following an activity selection?

A: Activities/<Activity>/CustomizeButtons/SoftButtons

"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 keep them 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 seldom 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 power 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 commands for different devices (such as on/off) assigned to the same screen and button position.

HOT TIP!  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 device (such as a lighting controller) to an existing activity to make it's commands available within an activity?

A: Activity/<activityname>/settings/review

The answer; "Yes, but I want to add more control..."

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 activity.

Q: How Do I create a new "activity" using a device I have 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" and "Generic"

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 later.

Q: Can you add a button press startup event to an existing activity?

A: Yes, related to the above, but getting to the necessary screen is a real pita...

Q: There is an incorrect command in an existing activity created by the wizard and the questions for that device do not relate to that command.  How 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"

A: 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 control?

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 the Harmony Remotes.

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 "Macro" ...they use the term "Sequence" which helps make macros a problem right off 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.)

You can 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.

Macro execution is significantly (~33%) slower than I have experienced on other remotes.

HOT TIP! Make the macro names very descriptive and very specific and keep the names common if you use the same ones in multiple activities. 

HOT TIP! 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 in 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 "Raw" format.

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.

Q: What happens when I am in one activity and want to switch to another (such as switching from watching a DVD to watching TV?)

A: 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 between two 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 setup software.

....also, ask on the
Logitech Harmony Users' Forum

Q: Is there a limit to the number of possible "Activities?"

A: There is, but it's high and should not be a factor.  Once the activity count passes the number of activity buttons available for your remote, additional activities will show up on additional screens selectable by the 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 slideshow scenes?

A: There seems to be no way to turn this OFF, but you can add custom slides.

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 Show" 

You can add any small jpg or other common format, but the aspect 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.

Don't want anything to display?  Create a slideshow using single blank image to defeat the slideshow... here's a downloadable 1k pure black 128x160 pixel image to do this...   HarmonyBlack.jpg

Set the slide show interval to 1 so the backlight will turn off as quickly as possible when you place it in the cradle

Sound and Picture Buttons

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 the 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 720 and 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 activity!!!

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 button 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 is 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" button 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 activity's volume.

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?

A: The Microsoft Windows EHome Remote commands are common to most media edition computers, however, while the Harmony software wizards and setups 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 variants, 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 Device Definiton!

Update! (8/28/09)
Full 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 controller.

Use the Harmony Software "Add Device Steps" with one of the following
  Media Center PC/Mfg:Microsoft/Model:MCE  Keyboard
(Older, but contains commands below that are not yet in the "SE" database)

  Media Center PC/Mfg:Microsoft/Model:Windows Media Center SE
(Newest and contains mouse actions, but, important keyboard commands are missing and cursor pad may not be available for mouse use)

The first MCE Keyboard command set include;

<START> (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 bar)
<PageUp> & <PageDn>
<Home> & <End>
<BackSpace> & <Delete> 

Tip!!! use 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.

These 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.

While 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 <Alt-Tab>

MCE EHome 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 like 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 and but these sites no longer have them in stock.

Note that the above remote and the Harmony remotes will only function via an "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 different varients are at this MyHDTV page.

If your computer is not running the Windows Media Center OS or the advanced Vista/Windows 7 versions which support the media center commands, you 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 or 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 interesting "Human Interface 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 "" 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.

Beverly Howard

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