How to launch 3rd Party MCE add-in with a Logitech Harmony remote

How to launch 3rd Party MCE add-in with a Logitech Harmony remote

Update2: I’ve just tried this setup on a Harmony 670 and for some unknown reason the below does not work on this Harmony model. I’ve tried this on Harmony 550, 1000 and 1100 with no problems however.

Update: Ensure you also read the comments at the end, as we
found an issue with using windows shortcuts and switched to using
Autohotkey instead.

Following up on my recent post entitled How to launch Media Center directly in to a 3rd party app, I’ve been looking at how to launch My Movies and RadioTime MCE using a Logitech Harmony 550 universal remote control.

Searching on the internet it seems some people on Vista Media Center were using macros to move the cursor up / down, left /right on the MCE menu to click on the My Movies icon, which is not ideal and wouldn’t work on 7mc anyways.

Others were using software such as Intelliremote or ControlRemote however I did not want any additional software installed and running in order to achieve this.

So I have used a keyboard shortcut method, however there is one issue with this, you need a Microsoft MCE 2005 IR keyboard to teach the Harmony the IR codes of the keyboard shortcuts. Luckily for me I had one of these MCE keyboards kicking about the place.

First thing I did was to create two new shortcuts for Windows Media Center one to launch My Movies and the other to launch RadioTimeMCE. I used the method I described in my last post here to create these shortcuts. I didn’t want them on the desktop so I created a folder in my Start Menu called MCE Custom Shortcuts.

In this folder are my two Media Center shortcuts:

Windows Media Center – My Movies

Target: %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{8984aed5-7c9d-42f0-b2ad-c39bbcf04a25}\{810d7b87-1300-4aed-a700-1c6179f8f14b}

Windows Media Center – RadioTime MCE

Target: %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{4c36cf23-bf48-4f93-86c5-78009734d21a}\{4c36cf23-bf48-4f93-86c5-78009734d21b}

Windows Media Center – HeatWave

Target: %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{07bb2735-4d20-4404-bc1a-aa13761f3e9e}\{574a685e-fc95-4f8d-9c37-500d772e526a}

 

image

Now we need to assign some keyboard shortcuts to these Windows Media Center shortcut icons.

Note: Important, only create your keyboard shortcut key after you have moved the custom shortcuts to the start menu. As the first time I created the icons on the desktop, then set the keyboard shortcut keys and then moved them from the desktop to the start menu, however I found the keyboard shortcuts then did not work so I had to remove them and add them again.

Creating the keyboard shortcut keys:

Right click on the first Windows Media Center shortcut from the start menu as shown above in this case the My Movies one. Select properties from the menu.

Click in to the Shortcut key field with your mouse and then enter a key combination on the keyboard. You can probably use any thing you like here I used Ctrl + Alt + M

Click Apply and then OK.

image

Now repeat this process for any other icons you are setting up, in this case the RadioTime MCE one.

For this one I used Ctrl + Alt + R

image

Test that they work by entering the newly created Keyboard shortcut keys and ensure Media Center is launched into the correct 3rd party add-in.

Ok now our Media Center PC is configured we need to use the MCE 2005 IR keyboard and the Harmony software.

I am presuming your have already added your Media Center PC so just click the Learn IR button under the Media Center PC device.

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Harmony1

Scroll down to the bottom of the list and in the Learn a New Command type “My Movies” and then click the Learn New Command button.

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Harmony2

Now this is where the MCE 2005 IR keyboard comes in to play, line it up with the Harmony remote control and then enter the keyboard shortcut key you setup earlier on the Media Center PC. In this case it was Ctrl + Alt + M

It should then say Key Detected, the Harmony software will ask you to confirm this key again and hopefully after that it has learnt the new IR code.

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Harmony3

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Harmony4

Once you have successfully learnt the IR code repeat the process for any other shortcuts you are setting up, in my case I got the Harmony to learn another command called RadioTime using the Ctrl + Alt + R keyboard shortcut key.

Finish the wizard and click Done

Now you need to assign your new commands, in the Harmony software go back to the Device tab and click the Settings button on the Media Center PC device. Then select Adjust Inputs from the list and click Next.

On this screen I chose to delete the My DVDs and Radio inputs as these are for the inbuilt DVD / Movie Library and Radio area’s of Media Center which I won’t be using.

I then added two new inputs one called “My Movies” and one called RadioTime”

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Harmony5

On this next screen you assign the new inputs to your newly created commands that will now appear in the drop down list.

Assigning My Movies input to the My Movies command

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Harmony6

Assigning RadioTime input to the RadioTime command

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Harmony7

Finish the wizard and click Done.

Now save the changes to the remote control.

On my model the Harmony 550, I click the Devices button on the remote control, select Media Center and I can then scroll through the pages on the screen and see the new options My Movies and Radio time, when I press either one Media Center is launched in to the correct 3rd party application. Job done!

In addition you could assign your new commands to a custom button such as A or B for example.

Summary

I think this wasn’t such a bad way to set this up as you don’t need to install any additional software, the only downside is you need an MCE 2005 IR keyboard which you might not currently have.

Next I need to figure out how to change the page layout and item order that shows up on the remote controls LCD screen and bring my new entries to the first page.

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24 thoughts on “How to launch 3rd Party MCE add-in with a Logitech Harmony remote

  1. HI, the option to change what appears in the remote control is fairly staright forward.

    It depends on if you wish to change the order of you activites or the option that appear for the device once you in the activity.

    I going to assume you are in an activity, so you will need to go into the device menu on the logitech software and then choose the option, which I think is additional buttons and you can move them up and down in there.

    (why do I know this, because i like all my device power options to appear on my LCD and they never do by standard setup:-) )

  2. I tried what you suggested but my LCD on the remote was still not as I want it. Its the device options I want to change not the activity.

    I press the device button, then select Media Center and then I see the options and pages, it’s this I need to change.

  3. Just an update on a couples of things, first I managed to sort out my LCD display and re-order the items as I required.

    Secondly I’ve noticed that when pressing these new commands I’ve created on the remote control when Media Center is in full screen mode they don’t work / do anything. I guess it’s because Media Center is already open and effectively our keyboard shortcuts are trying to launch Media Center (ehshell.exe) again in to a certain entrypoint.

    However if Windows Media Center is in windowed mode I’am able to press the new commands on the remote control and Media Center will jump into My Movies and RadioTime and vice-versa.

    I’ve also added a new command to launch the Heatwave weather add-in.

    So I guess my summary is if you just want a button(s) on your Logitech remote control that will launch Media Center in to a certain add-in then this works great.

    But if you wanted to use the same buttons to jump around in Media Center once it’s launched in to full screen mode it then kinda doesn’t work unless you are in windowed mode.

    If anyone has any ideas or comments please feel free.

  4. I have also noticed that the shortcuts keys don’t fire when in media center full screen mode.

    I wanted to use a key to run a script in the background but the script wouldn’t fire unless media center is not in full screen mode.

    Any info on fixing this would be great!!!

  5. Mike,

    thanks for the tip, I’ve started using AutoHotKey and I have deleted the desktop shortcuts I created in as above.

    My AutoHotKey script can launch the following:

    My Movies – Ctrl + Alt + M
    HeatWave – Ctrl + Alt + H
    RadioTime – Ctrl + Alt + R

    You can download my AutoHotKey script from this link
    http://cid-3c26ff3a8c4b8643.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/File%20Dump/AutoHotkey.ahk?ccr=7494

    This does work and I can now press these buttons on the Harmony remote control (When MCE is in full screen mode) and the 3rd party add-ins load up ok.

    However I have one issue with RadioTime when this loads it does not load properly into full screen and looks like this screen shot:
    http://cid-3c26ff3a8c4b8643.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Photo%20Dump/RadioTime.jpg

    I’ve tried this on two PC’s and it does the same on both.

  6. yo yo

    you could try starting using a batch file. something like this:

    start /max d:\MameUI32\MameUI32.exe

    that is what i do to start mame maximized.

  7. The directions you’ve created are great. I need to accomplish two things from my Harmony Remote…. 1. Open My Movies & 2. Close Media Center. I was hoping I could use short cut commands (create my own for My Movies (Ctrl + Alt +M) and use default Alt + F4 to close). I followed your step to create the shortcut commands. The commands work from my logitech keyboard but unfortunately I don’t have a mircrosoft IR keyboard. So now I need another solution. Now that I’m at the bottom of your post, it appears using AutoHotKey could be my work around for not having an IR keyboard… Is that correct?

    For the life of me I cannot figure out how to write & run the scripts for AutoHotKeys. Can you help me figure out how to do my two requests using autohotkeys & a logitech remote (keeping in mind that I do not have an IR keyboard available).

    I did read somewhere that a script can be written into an .exe file & that file then placed in the StartUp folder, so the .exe is automatcally running… is that correct?

  8. Hi

    If you use desktop shortcuts with keyboard shortcuts assigned as in the blog post or the autohotkey script I wrote after you still need an MS IR keyboard to teach the Harmony remote control what Ctrl+Alt+M is for example. You might be able to use other IR keyboards for this such as a logitech one but I’ve not tried it.

  9. I don’t really know Autohotkey either, all I did was select yes when it asked me if I wanted to create a sample script in my documents folder during the installation, I then edited that script and added my commands for My Movies, RadioTime and Heatwave. I then just selected reload script from the Autohotkey icon in the system tray and I added AutoHotkey to my startup folder. That was it, you can see the script on my skydrive there is a link somewhere above.

    But like I said you still need an IR keyboard to teach the Harmony remote the keyboard shortcuts.

    The reason I switched to using Autohotkey was so I could use the keyboard commands when media center had already launched and was in full screen mode.

  10. Ok thanks. Yes, I realize the keyboard shortcuts will not work. I didn’t read the update at the top of your page so it wasn’t until I got to the bottom that I noticed your update regarding the autohotkeys instead of keyboard shortcuts. I do have a non-microsoft IR keyboard that I was hoping would be recognized by my usb IR reciever that I could use to learn the shortcuts & sync with my remote but I cannot get this other IR keyboard to work so I’ll have to play around with autohotkeys.

    The part that I’m confused about with autohotkeys is creating the relationship between the remote & the hotkey. Do I have to assign the autohotkey to an unused button on my remote (ie the # button or something I don’t use) or can I create my own button. I think I can figure out how to get the script written, just not sure how to teach these scripts to the remote.

  11. Regarding creating the relationship between the remote and the autohotkey it’s the same as what’s covered in the blog post when using windows shortcuts.

    This is my commands in my Autohotkey script to launch My Movies

    ^!m::
    IfWinExist Untitled – My Movies
    WinActivate
    else
    Run %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /entrypoint:{8984aed5-7c9d-42f0-b2ad-c39bbcf04a25}\{810d7b87-1300-4aed-a700-1c6179f8f14b}
    return

    This part: ^!m:: means ctrl+alt+M

    So I still have to teach the Harmony the keyboard shortcut ctrl+alt+M as shown above.

  12. any luck fixing the radio time maximizing problem? I have the exact same issue. everything else works great. finally have a “Netflix” and “Media Center” Button on my Harmony One!

    1. @franklin,

      I just installed RadioTime on MC7 but it will not launch in full screen so I have to maximize the Media Center window everytime. Is there a fix for this?

      Thx!

  13. CW-kid: Thanks for replying to my post on the green button and leading me here.

    I used your AutoHotKey script, added another hotkey for Boxee and was able to launch MCE into MyMovies and then lused the hotkey to go to Boxee, works great. Tested it a few more times back and forth and then realized that each hotkey was launching a new instance of MCE. By the time I was done testing I had 8 instances open. Is there a way to launch 1 instance into say MyMovies and then move around using hotkeys without launching a new instance every time?

    In the MCE Controller command file there are a few hotlkeys to “livetv”, “mymusic”, “mypictures”, “mytv”, “myvideos”, and “recordedtv” without launching a new instance. Is there a way to create hotkeys in MCE controller to go to Boxee or Netflicks without launching a new instance each time?

  14. @jclamster

    Does it? I never actually noticed that! When you say a new instance of MCE what are you seeing in task manager, multiple ehshell.exe processes ? There might be some way to do it, I’ll have a little test later.

  15. When I was done I had to close MCE 8 times.

    Quick question re: your script (with apologies, I don’t do this for a living):

    IfWinExist Untitled – My Movies
    WinActivate
    else
    Run %windir%etcetc

    What does the IfwinExist part doing??? Is that testing to see if MCE is already open? Take me thru the logic if you don’t mind.

  16. I’ve never seen that before, I didnt even think it was possible to open more than one instance of MCE ! Using this method of launching MCE add-ins with AutoHotKey I only ever have one instance of MCE running. Not sure whats gone wrong for you? I’m not an AutoHotKey expert and I only modified the sample script that comes with it to be able to launch my MCE add-ins. I was planning on re-writing this blog post and updating it so if I do I might have more information to add.

  17. Gotcha. I’ll do some more debugging over the wkend to see if I can fig. To be clear, when you use autohotkey to launch MCE into say MyMovies and then use autohotkey to launch into radiotime or heatwave it just moves around inside 1 instance of MCE and doesn’t launch a new one with each autohotkey use?

  18. Yes if I am in MCE and I press My Movies on my Harmony remote it goes to My Movies, if I then press TunerFreeMCE on the remote it goes to the TunerFree MCE add-in. I only ever have one instance of MCE open / running. I have the following MCE add-ins programmed:

    My Movies
    TunerFree MCE
    Radio Time
    WHS Console
    WHS TV Archive
    mControl
    PowerController MCE

    I can switch back and fore between these add-ins within MCE, RadioTime is the only one that gives problems and doesn’t launch full screen properly.

  19. Looks I picked the wrong app to test. Both Boxee and Hulu integration with MCE is weird. Once you launch MCE both Boxee and Hulu run outside MCE and then come back int MCE when you exit. In my test I was launching Boxee first then toggling back and forth between MyMovies and Boxee and it kept opening more instances of MCE. If I open MCE and then use Autohotkey to toggle back and forth between Boxee and MyMovies it works fine.

    Thank you so much for the heads up on Autohotkey. By the end of the weekend I should have my iRule remote setup to let users easily navigate around MCE with simple button selections over wifi.

  20. jclamster,
    what I did for boxee was set up the script to close MCE if it was running, launch boxee with the wait command, then when you exit boxee the wait command runs the next command which is to launch MCE again. that way I never use the boxee extender in mce at all. Just be sure to close boxee properly or you will have both of them running at the same time + the script waiting for boxee to close and run mce again.

    Good luck

  21. This script does indeed open multiple instances of WMC. It will not open multiple windows that you can actually see, but if you look in your process list, you will see multiple instances of ehexthost.exe.

    In the script written by cw-kid the part that contains:
    IfWinExist Untitled – My Movies
    WinActivate

    IfWinExist checks to see if the specified window is open, and if so, it will activate that window, ie. bring it to the front. However, the title of the window for windows media center is, “Windows Media Center”. There will never be a window named “Untitled – My Movies”. So, in essence, this part of the code is useless.

    The only workaround that i have found so far is to have it check and see if Windows Media Center is running and if so, close it and reopen into MyMovies, thus eliminating the multiple instances of WMC. I also added in a bit so that the splash screen does not run again upon the reopening of the program so it doesnt take quite as long.

    If anyone can find a way to do this properly and just have it navigate to mymovies instead of running a whole new process, that would be awesome. The closing and reopening is livable, but i want it to work like any of the other buttons on my remote such as the guide, music, pictures, etc.

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