XBMC: Getting the MS remote working in XBMC 12.2

I recently set up my PC at home to use XBMC (XBox Media Center) instead of the built-in Windows Media Center that came with Windows 7. The process was pleasantly painless, with one exception: getting my remote working "all the way".

I have one of those Microsoft Media Center remotes that comes with the IR receiver. Mine is pretty old now, but it looked like this when it was new (before all those years of dust and fingers):

Microsoft Learning Remote

Out of the box, it mostly worked. The arrows moved around, back went back, Play played the video.  But there were two things I wanted it to do that it just didn't do:

  • No button on the remote would open the context (right-click) menus. I kept having to use a mouse to get to that stuff.

  • The green Windows button in the middle opened Windows Media Center - I wanted XBMC instead.

Each of these problems has a different solution.  Here, step-by-step, is what worked for me.

Setting the Info/More button to open the context menu

Once I had the right tool and figured out what to set the button to, this turned out to be pretty easy.

First, install the MCERemote add-on for XBMC

In theory, you should be able to install it from System > Add-ons, but I had no add-ons listed for my version of XBMC.

So I did some hunting around and eventually found the repository where they keep the .zip files for the add-ons for each version. Here's the repository

Here's the direct link for the MCERemote addon for version 12 (Frodo)

Unzip the file and copy the folder into the Addons directory in your XBMC folder in Program Files. For example, on my system it would be: C:\Program Files (x86)\XBMC\Addons\

Close and re-open XBMC.

Then, change the settings for the remote

  1. In XBMC, go to Home > Programs > MCERemote.
  2. Select "Configure MCE Remote Settings".
  3. Set the Info/More button to "c". ("c" is the keyboard shortcut for the context menu.)
  4. Press the back button.  It should prompt you to apply the changes. (Yes, you want to apply the changes)
  5. Restart the PC.

Getting the green button to open XBMC

In the MCERemote program, I could see that the Windows button was sending a keyboard shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+W.  This is the key to making the button do what I wanted it to do: open XBMC.

  1. In the Start menu, find XBMC.
  2. Right-click on XBMC and choose Properties.
  3. On the front tab of the properties, put your cursor in the Shortcut field and press CTRL+SHIFT+W.
  4. Apply and close the properties dialog.
  5. Restart the PC.

Ta da!