How to disconnect an Apple TV remote from a MacBook

If you find your Apple TV remote was paired out of the box with your MacBook, there is a way to sever that connection.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
2 min read

There are gaps in my TV consumption history. Of the big TV dramas in recent memory, for example, I have watched "Lost" and "The Sopranos" in their entirety, but I have caught only a half a season of "Mad Men," only three-plus seasons of "The Wire," and nary an episode of "Breaking Bad."


For the singular purpose of watching Walter White's meth adventures on a big screen, this week I purchased an Apple TV. From what I've heard about this show, it merits being Netflixed on an HDTV rather than a laptop or a tablet.

So, last night I got to setting up my Apple TV and quickly discovered that its remote was communicating with my MacBook Pro. Specifically, the play/pause button would begin playing music in iTunes, while the up and down buttons would adjust volume.

Thankfully, there is an easy way to sever this connection. For this tutorial, I should note my MacBook Pro is running Mac OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2).

Step 1: Open System Preferences via the Apple menu.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Step 2: Click on Security & Privacy.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Step 3: Click the lock in the lower-left corner in order to make the Advanced button active; then enter your system password, and click Unlock.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Step 4: Click the Advanced button in the lower-right corner, check the box for Disable remote control infrared receiver, and click OK.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

That's it. Now your Apple TV remote will talk to your Apple TV while ignoring your MacBook. Do note, however, that no Apple remote will work with your MacBook, including the remote that shipped with it. Luckily, this process is just as easy to reverse should you later wish to control your Mac via remote.