How To Program a Garage Door Opener

Updated: Jan. 02, 2024

Whether your garage door opener remote is new, a reset or a universal adaptor, we've got you covered.

Most people don’t spend much time thinking about their garage door opener remote. But when an old remote stops working or you lose it completely, you’ll need to know how to reset it and connect it to a new remote.

Here’s the good news: Programming your garage door opener remote is extremely easy, and only takes a few minutes.

The not-so-good news: Describing the specifics of programming a garage door opener is surprisingly difficult.

The basics of modern garage opener synching is about as simple as it gets: Just press two buttons. But any given model can have slightly different requirements. You might need to hold one of those buttons for a number of seconds, or press a button more than once. None of that is difficult, but can be tricky to explain.

But don’t let that scare you off! Here, I’ll give you all the info you need to tackle the vast majority of openers. And if you do run into issues, we’ve included links for information from specific manufacturers.

Check Garage Door Opener and Compatibility

First and foremost, determine the type and brand of your garage door opener. This is usually easy, since it tends to be printed in large letters on the side of the opener.

Of course, use a remote that’s compatible with your opener. Keep in mind some manufacturers produce more than one line of openers. Chamberlain also makes LiftMaster and Craftsman openers, and many Chamberlain remotes are compatible with all three brands. There are also secondary-market “universal remotes” that work with most major opener brands. We’ll touch on those later.

Let’s get started!

Prepare the Garage Door Opener and Remote

Begin by running a couple of tests to make sure you’re not missing something simple.

  • Change the remote batteries. If this fixes the issue, you’re all set!
  • Try opening the garage door using the wired wall button. If the door still won’t open, there’s a bigger issue beyond the remote. You’ll have to find another fix or call a pro.

Locate the Garage Door Opener’s Program Button

Most garage door openers have a button that puts it into programming mode. You’ll probably need a ladder, so use appropriate caution.

  • Look for a prominent button on the rear of the opener or beneath a plastic shroud. Typically called a Learn or Program button, it’s usually bright red, yellow or green.
  • If you have an opener made before 1995, it may use a DIP switch instead. Around the size of your thumb, a DIP switch features eight to 12 tiny switches along its length.

How To Program a Remote

This is about as easy as it gets!

  • Press the Learn button.
    • Typically, a single push is all that’s needed, although some manufacturers require you hold it down a specific length of time.
    • There will be some acknowledgement that it’s in Learning mode, like a blinking LED or clicking noise.
  • Press the Remote button.
    • If the remote and opener talk to each other, there will be another acknowledgement; usually the overhead light on the opener will blink.
    • If your opener doesn’t have an overhead light, it will usually signal completion with an audible click.
  • If you have a second remote to program, repeat the above steps.

What if you have a DIP switch? The steps are a little different. (Remember, this will only come into play with openers made before 1995.)

  • Locate the DIP switch on the opener.
  • Using a small screwdriver, paper clip or similar tool, set the DIP switch to any sequence you like.
  • Locate the DIP switch on the remote.
  • Using the same tool, set the switch to match the sequence on the opener.

How To Program a Universal Remote

A universal remote can work with many types of garage doors and openers. Check how universal your remote actually is. Many limit compatibility to a few major brands. Yours may be fine, but it’s worth double-checking.

  • Press the Learn/Program button on the opener, then press the button on the universal remote.
  • Consult the remote’s instructions for specifics.
  • You may need to press the remote button a set number of times, depending on which manufacturer/model of opener you have.

How To Program a Keypad

Typically, keypads are programmed the same way as remotes.

  • Press the Learn/Program button.
  • Within 30 seconds, enter the new code into the keypad and press Enter.
    • Enlist a helper. This way you don’t have to scramble down the ladder and rush to the keypad.

How To Reset a Garage Door Opener

If you’ve moved to a new home, you likely inherited an opener from the previous owner. Just as it’s a good idea to change the locks, it’s a good idea to reprogram the opener. Most modern openers have a reset function that works similar to this:

  • Locate the Learn/Program button.
  • Press and hold that button until the opener gives an indication; it could be a flashing LED or overhead light.
    • Different manufacturers/models have different hold times. Wait for the indicator before releasing the button.
  • Program your remote as described in the section above.

Security and Safety Considerations

Modern garage door openers come with a high level of built-in security. Older openers with DIP switches lock the opener and remote onto a single code. But modern openers use a more secure rolling code, meaning the code changes over time.

Tommy Mello, founder of A1 Garage Door Service, describes it like this, “Every time the opener button is pressed, rolling code technology changes the access code. Because there are billions of possible combinations, it is almost impossible for hackers to steal the code for a garage door opener and use it to get into a home.”

If you have an older opener and would like to boost your security, consider installing the Genie Girud-1T. This easy-to-install device upgrades your garage security to rolling codes without buying an entire opener. Learn how to fix a garage door keypad.

More Info for Your Specific Opener

You’ll set up the vast majority of openers with the instructions above, but it’s always a good idea to check the documentation for your specific opener. Here are some links to popular brands.

If your opener isn’t included on this list, a quick internet search should point you in the right direction.