Up until recently, every Apple computer came with a little white remote in the box, which many people promptly placed in a drawer to forget forever. Apple intended it to be used with iTunes and Front Row, but the feature wasn’t popular enough to keep around the product, because most current models now come sans remote.
But even those who do enjoy the use of a remote with their Mac can only use it for music and movie related functions. What if there was another way to use it?
Turns out there is, and it’s called Remote Buddy. It’s a program that allows you to program and control the functions of your Apple remote, and how it interacts with your Mac. You can even use your iPhone as the remote as well! So how does this magical program work? Luckily for you, we have the info.
How it Works
After installing Remote Buddy on your system in the usual way, the next thing to do is fire it up. The program lives both in the dock and in the menu bar, although those options are customizable as well.
Next you have to select your hardware in the Preferences section, and you have a few choices. There’s the old school white Apple remote, the new silver Apple Remote that comes with the AppleTV, the iPhone, hotkeys assigned to the keyboard, or another Bluetooth remote of your choosing. By the way, that means you can program a Nintendo Wii controller, Sony PS3 remote, or a number of other models.
Once everything is chosen, now it’s time for the fun part.
Select the Mapping button in Preferences, and now you can select what the behaviors are for each application. Pick the one you want from the preloaded list, and then map out each button to each command. For example, you can use the remote with Adobe Acrobat to increase and decrease magnification, advance pages, or even go full screen. There are multitudes of different options available, it’s just up to what you want to do.
Using the iPhone as a Remote
Using the iPhone as a remote is a completely different method then you’d expect. There’s no fancy app to download, but instead, you plug in a website address provided in the Preferences section under AJAX Remote. Just enter in the address and away you go.
Now this is where things get cool. If you want, hit the Camera button and it opens up the iChat camera on your computer for you to either take a picture or just watch and see who’s using your Mac.
You can also go through your music and movie library if you want, and change or play tracks. If you choose you can access the trackpad, giving you a tiny little screen that lets you navigate around on your desktop to open up apps. This makes it convenient to get at your computer if you’re in the same area as your desk, but also allows you to spy on it if necessary.
Imagine that you’re at an important meeting with a presentation to give. But instead of having everything ready in PowerPoint or Keynote, it’s on a PDF. You can still give the presentation now; just use your Apple Remote to flip through the pages in the PDF, all while standing feet away from your computer.
It works with iPhoto, Adobe Bridge, Safari, VLC, and many other apps as well, giving you a variety of different functions at your fingers.
Really, this software seems to be made for people who need to give presentations in one form or another, whether it’s discussing your iCal schedule with your coworkers, or playing around with Quicktime movies. The remote access is cool as well, but it is a bit slow to navigate since it’s all done over Wi-Fi.
The End Result
So is this the program for you? Well, it does give that little white remote more purpose than it had out of the box, that’s for sure. Setting up the app is a bit tedious and time consuming, but it’s worth the effort in the end.
Having Remote Buddy handy is a nice little trick to have when you need it, but this isn’t one of those programs that you’re going to find yourself using every day and relying on for important work. No, it’s more of a niche product that’s nice to have in certain situations, but not completely necessary.
Of course, if you’re a developer, then there are limitless possibilities here. Make your own software controllable with a remote of your choosing, or use the Wiimote to play your favorite game. Even if you’re not a developer, there are plenty of different options to choose from—it’s only limited to your imagination.
That said, if you do a lot of presentations, this thing is indispensable. It makes your remote – be it the Apple model or just your iPhone – into a truly functional tool that you’ll want to use every time you have to step in front of the CEO.
The crazy combination of things you can do with the program makes it very handy in those situations, or ones where you need to sit a few feet from your desk.