Universal remote controls, and those intended to operate peripheral devices, usually require some programming prior to use. Remote controls which come with a specific piece of electronic equipment are preset to function with device and generally will need no additional programming to function properly regardless of brand.
A Sony Blu Ray player remote, for example, comes pre-programmed to operate the player. If controlling the TV set, surround sound system or other device with the same remote is desired, additional programming is needed. Instructions for programming additional devices, as well as a list of codes for the equipment intended to be controlled, are usually in the manual provided by the manufacturer.
Some popular brands of universal remotes are RCA, Sony and Logitech. Universal remotes vary widely, depending on the functions desired, the ease of programming and the number of peripheral devices they can control. All universal remotes have at least three methods to program device codes. Direct code entry, which requires knowing the device code and entering it on the remote's keypad, code searching, which allows you to find a code you do not know, and code retrieval, which draws the appropriate code straight from the device. Some universal controllers even have the ability to program themselves to work with multiple pieces of equipment without intervention.