How To Program Your Garage Doors (& Their Dip Switch)

We have two garage doors. I know, I know – cool story, bro. But I promise this gets better. Well, it does if you’re a tech nerd or just enjoy life’s little conveniences. Sherry’s eyes glaze over when I try to tell her this stuff, so I’m talking to the remote-control-loving convenience enthusiasts out there. Anyone?

Each door came with its own remote, which we inherited from the previous owners. This guy barely worked at first, but with a quick battery replacement it works almost too well – occasionally opening or closing the door when the remote shifts in my cup holder. Did I mention it didn’t come with a visor clip? Yeah, that’s why it lives in the cup holder.

The other remote wasn’t much better. It worked more consistently, but required a duck tape wrap to keep it functioning. Classy, no? Not to mention its monstrous size meant it didn’t really fit anywhere conveniently in our car.

Improving our garage door remote situation was not high on our to-do list, but then I passed a display at Home Depot for a Clicker Universal Remote. It was $34, but the lure of simplifying to one, small, tape-free remote was too great for me to resist.

You only live once, right?

Sidenote: this YOLO skit gets quoted a lot in our house.

I didn’t really pause to think about actually programming the darn thing. And I know nothing about garage doors. What is this “dip switch” the instructions speak of? Well, a little bird (aka Google) told me it was a series of a 9 or 12 tiny switches that live in the garage door opener whose sequence of ups and downs creates a fingerprint. Match that sequence in your remote and you’ve got a match. Here’s the partially-obscured-so-you-can’t-get-into-our-garage dip switch in one of our existing remotes.

So all I had to do was replicate that switch in the new clicker.

To do so, I used the tip of a screw driver to move each switch into the correct up or down position. Note: the last 5 dip switches hadn’t been moved to reflect our code in this photo yet.

Once the dip switch was coded correctly, I just clicked the button I wanted to assign to that particular door until the door responded.

It was craaaaaazy easy to program this little thing. I got both doors programmed within 10 minutes or so. Doing the second door was the same as the first (and it didn’t undo the first door’s programming by changing the dip switches to a different sequence) so within no time I was the proud owner of one, single, double-door-operatin’ remote. Hallelujah.

And I just had to spread the word, so there you have it: a post about an easy tech update that might sound intimidating, but you can do it. Heck, I think Burger might be able to do it.

In summary: I think I might just be a remote addict (remember these?). The icing on the cake? Since it came with a clip, I was finally able to hang my garage door opener in a convenient spot on my visor. Yup, you can call me big poppa.

Okay, who else is way too excited about a little technological upgrade? Sherry couldn’t believe my enthusiasm for my new remote when I first told her about it (or when I brought it up again and again). But seriously, I’m so happy to be rid of those big ugly duct-tape-covered cup-holder-hogging remotes of the past.

Welcome to the future, guys. It’s nice here.


  1. says

    Haha. Sometimes it’s the small, random posts that I like the most. Probably because your humor really flies in them to juice em up. Or maybe because it really is the sweet things in life that makes it better.

    • says

      Thanks Megan. I thought I might hear crickets, but I just had to talk about my garage door coup. In the words of Jessie Spano, I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it.


    • says

      I know right? I got a good one. Although John is obsessed with Buzzfeed so I’m pretty sure he just watched a SBTB gif that gave him that line…


  2. Rae says

    The motor burnt out in one of our garage doors and my hubby upgraded it. I have no idea how complicated it was to do, but he programed it so I just push a button in my car to open the door.

    I’m not very techy, so it blows my mind that a button hanging out exciting all on it own already now has a purpose that makes life easier. As long as I don’t accidently hit the onstar button.

    • says

      That’s what I thought – we have two manual garage doors, too! But hope that some time in the future we can upgrade them to automatic door and then I definitely want ONE remote control for both of them. (Although I only use the right one for my car… but you never know.)

    • Emily says

      I am inspired by this, seriously :D Here’s how this is gonna go down:

      Step 1. Get a garage door opener controller thingie.

      Step 2. Figure it out.

      Step 3. Use Google to figure it out.

      Step 4. Realize that there’s too much stuff in the garage to park in there anyway.

      Oh well, it was nice while it lasted!

  3. Erin says

    I installed the little garage opener keypad all by myself just like this. I know how gratifying it is haha

  4. Kate says

    Awesome to get a new remote that works on both doors!

    Nerdy engineer moment here though: You might want to redo your pictures with the dip switches blurred out. In the first pic of the old remote, you blurred switches 7-12. In the second pic of the new remote, 1-5 are blurred. Which means your code is still figure-out-able. :(

  5. says

    It’s all good, John. This is the kind of thing that gets me all excited too. Good to know that these exist in case I ever have the luxury of two garage doors in the future. ;)

  6. Liz E. says

    It’s the little things, John! Enjoy it! :)

    I had a trip down memory lane with this post: my parents’ original garage door opener was a Genie identical to yours. I can still remember how the button felt (is that weird) and it made me smile to see it. Theirs had the clip on it, though. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the much smaller version instead of two (!) cumbersome remotes!

  7. Sarah A says

    I totally understand – it’s the mastering of technology, combined with the simplification of everyday life that is so incredibly satisfying. It’s like you won, right?
    I am about to tackle replacing the broken electronic thingy that controls the flow of water into the toilet – it’s scary to try (water! mess! oh no!) but I will feel so victorious if I can successfully remove and then install the new thingy and water once again fills the tank so we can return to flushing the toilet with the handle, instead of by pouring a pitcher of water into the tank…

  8. LIzzy says

    We just purchased one of those remote keypads that you put outside your garage door and then you put in your chosen number and voila, the garage door opens (we have 3 kids coming home from school everyday who managed to lose about 6 house keys between them and this seemed like a much better way to get them in the house) For SEVERAL weeks now I like to just out and and punch in the code… just because I can. I can totally understand your garage-opener-geekery.

  9. says

    You’ve never used dip switches before? That seems surprising, since I’ve used them in many other electronics before, not just garage doors – but I can’t think of an example, so maybe I’m in a minority!

    • Lydia says

      We have a wireless doorbell that can play a million different tunes.. it has dip switches too! The combo you choose determines the tune it plays.

    • says

      Haha, I definitely have heard of dip switches but can’t recall a use either. First thing that came to mind was dot matrix printers, though but nothing specific!

      We got 2 new (to us) cars in our house and I thought I was the shizz for figuring out how to program their built in garage door button (on the roof console). It involved a ladder and pushing a button on the opener itself and then making it learn from the 1 remote we had (something like that), but everyone thought I was a genius!

    • Melissa R says

      I’ve seen them mostly in remote control cars and their remotes, the OLD OLD cordless phones and in older walkie talkies. But not used that much anymore with newer technology and smaller circuit boards/components.

    • Laura C says

      I have one in the remote for the ceiling fan in my bedroom. The ceiling fan doesn’t work, of course, but that’s a story for another day. Maybe I should get on that this weekend…

    • Janey says

      I have the same kind of doorbell Lydia does. We like to make it play “Happy Birthday” on each of our birthdays and a few days before (to build excitement) and after (’cause I’m a bit lazy about switching back). The rest of the time it usually plays the theme from “The Magnificent Seven” since that’s my hubby’s favorite of the zillion (aka 60) songs the doorbell comes with.

      Someday I’d like to find a doorbell that can play our own programmed tunes and not just the built-in ones. Can you imagine the possibilities?

  10. Allen says

    Sometimes the tiniest things are the biggest game changers. Growing up, our kitchen had two overhead lights with two switches. One of them was located behind the fridge and the other was *inside* the pantry. We lived like that for years and when my mom finally fixed it we felt like kings in the lap of luxury!

  11. jennifer says

    So did you make Sherry one, too?! Even if she’s not excited, I bet she’d appreciate it :) (Longtime reader, but I realize I may be mistaken in assuming you have two vehicles…)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *