Official homepage of Remote Buddy
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Macs nowadays are delivered with a remote control (Apple Remote) and the corresponding application FrontRow. It is supposed to turn your Mac into a media station where you can play movies, listen to iTunes and watch slide shows of your pictures. However, when I first used FrontRow and the Apple Remote I was a little disappointed (on Tiger) because I felt that it was slow and kind of limited in its functions. After searching the web I have found a few Apple Remote enhancing applications-one of them being Remote Buddy.
After testing Remote Buddy for a few days I realized that this application is just what I have been looking for. You can basically control every application out there (the list of applications that is supported by Remote Buddy is very impressive). Unlike other similar applications there is a button mapping for each application that is in most cases very intuitive and complete. If you however, feel like the button mapping for one application is not suited for your use, you can easily change the mapping in the preferences. Since the list of supported applications is very long I recommend deactivating those application behaviors you do not use on a regular basis; otherwise the list of applications you can control gets very long and it takes longer to switch between applications.
The user interface
The user interface is very Mac-like and integrates very well into OS X. When you activate Remote Buddy a bezel shows up with the currently activated behavior. A really nice aspect is the fact that in this window there is a picture with the remote which shows the functions that are associated with the buttons on the remote.
Remote Buddy and my experience
The behaviors and features that I really like about Remote Buddy are the following: since the VLC player is my favorite media application I really love the fact that this media player is supported. Besides VLC I have iTunes, RealPlayer, Quicktime, DVDPlayer, iPhoto and Awaken. The features that I like the most are: the integrated file browser (this is very useful when you have pictures stored on an external drive for example and not in the library of iPhoto), the virtual mouse and the features that are listed under "system". I have used the virtual keyboard and Safari and if you want to surf using the Apple Remote you can. You basically can control your whole Mac with this software. Another neat little feature is, if you have an external monitor connected to your Mac you can set on which screen the bezel shows up (external monitor without mirroring).
With Remote Buddy installed I use the Apple Remote on a daily basis. It turns my Macbook into a media station that I always wanted and it is a lot snappier than FrontRow. Also the possibilities with this software are limitless...if you are an iPhone owner you can even use your iPhone as a remote. Unfortunately, I couldn't test this feature but there are a few clips on youtube you can check out if you are interested. One thing that is a bit time consuming is the registration process of the software...you receive a certificate and have to create an account on the homepage to get to the license code that you have to use but it is doable. (Update: This registration process applies only to people who get a free license from the developers of Remote Buddy. For the ordinary customer this registration process does not apply. Upon payment (paypal, credit card) you will receive your license code without having to go through all this)
Bottom line: this application is how FrontRow should have looked from the beginning. If your Apple Remote is buried in dust because you haven't used it yet, download a trial version and play around a little...you will notice that the Apple Remote can be a very useful accessory with the appropriate application installed. I recommend this software to everyone that has a Mac mini or iMac for a media Mac set up in the living room and to everyone that uses the Mac to watch media on it.
Last note: According to the Remote Buddy site the application is 100% Leopard ready.