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How to Disable Apple TV Remote Support on Your MacBook Pro



If you have an Apple TV, the included remote can also be used to control various things on non-Retina MacBook Pros, like iTunes. However, if you’re trying to navigate through menus on your Apple TV and you have your MacBook Pro in front of you, then most likely the remote is also messing with your MacBook Pro. Here’s how to disable that.

The older non-Retina MacBook Pro comes with a built-in infrared sensor so that users can control iTunes and other media players using an Apple TV remote from afar. This can be a handy feature for a lot of reasons, but if you’re not one that’s using the remote for such purposes, it’s a good idea to disable the sensor on your MacBook Pro to prevent any accidental confusion.

Apple TV remote

I recently noticed that my wife’s MacBook Pro would randomly start playing music in iTunes. It took me a couple of times before I realized that it would only happen when I was messing around with the Apple TV, and then discovered that the Apple TV remote was also messing with my wife’s MacBook Pro. Luckily, there’s a way you can disable your MacBook Pro’s infrared sensor so that an Apple TV remote won’t accidentally control it.


The steps to disable the sensor are very easy to do and only takes around 15 seconds, but I’ll guide you through every step so that you don’t get lost on the way, as you have to dig a little deep into the system preferences in order to find the settings that we want.

Also, it’s important to note that only older non-Retina MacBook Pros have an infrared sensor, so if you have a newer Retina-equipped MacBook Pro, there’s no need to follow this tutorial since those models do not include a sensor.

  • First, open up System Preferences. It’s a small gray square icon with gears inside and it should be located in your dock (if not, you can find it in the Launchpad or the Applications folder.


  • Next, click on Security & Privacy up towards to the top-right of the System Preferences window.


  • Click on the Privacy tab if it isn’t already selected.


  • More than likely, you’ll need to click on the padlock in the lower-left corner before you can proceed, so go ahead and click on it and enter in your admin password. If you don’t have an admin password set up, you can just hit Enter on the keyboard.


  • Next, click on Advanced… and a pop-up window will appear.


  • In that pop-up window, there will be an option that says Disable remote control infrared receiver. It will have checkbox to the left of it. Simply put a checkmark in the check box and click OK.


That’s all there is to it! You’ll now be able to use your Apple TV remote without worrying about it accidentally opening up iTunes on your MacBook Pro. Of course, an even quicker fix is to just cover up the infrared sensor on your MacBook Pro with some tape, but it doesn’t look that great and it takes away from the good looks of your laptop. Save the tape, and disable it in System Preferences instead.

Options for Retina MacBook Pros

Since the newer Retina-equipped MacBook Pros don’t have an infrared sensor built in, you don’t have to worry about disabling it if you want to use your Apple TV remote on your Apple TV and nothing else, but what if you do want to use a remote with your newer MacBook Pro?

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There’s still options available, though. The easiest solution is to use Apple’s Remote app that works with the iPhone and iPad. It can control your MacBook Pro with a WiFi connection, provided that both devices are connected to the same WiFi network. However, if you absolutely need to have physical buttons for a remote (and it’s totally understandable), then you’re not completely out of options.

You can still use an Apple TV remote on your Retina MacBook Pro, but it’ll take some extra gear and a bit of experimenting. One user was able to successfully control (with some bugs) his Retina MacBook Pro with an Apple remote using a USB infrared receiver from his Microsoft Windows Media Center Remote, and then using a piece of software called Mira to get his MacBook and the receiver to play nicely with each other.

Of course, your mileage will vary when using third-party hardware, but it’s a fix that you can try out if you have a newer MacBook Pro.

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