How to Use an Infrared Port on a Laptop

By Shoaib Khan

Some older laptops and notebooks use infrared wireless technology to connect with peripheral devices, including smartphones, digital cameras and handheld computers. Although infrared has been overtaken by Bluetooth wireless technology in recent years, some older devices include an infrared transceiver -- look for a small, red translucent window on the surface of the device's casing. The standards and protocols that all enabled devices use to communicate are laid down by the IrDA (Infrared Data Association). Before you can use your laptop's infrared connection, you will have to enable the feature.

Step 1

Verify that your laptop has an infrared transceiver. The small red window is typically located on the side or back of the laptop, near the ports. You can also refer to your product documentation for information on your laptop's wireless features.

Step 2

Go to the computer's "Device Manager." In Windows 7, select the icon labeled "Device Manager" from the "Control Panel" screen.

Step 3

Scroll down and double-click "Infrared device" to view a list of installed devices. Right-click on the device you want to use and select "Enable." If your laptop has an infrared transceiver and you don't see any listed devices under "Infrared device," refer to your product documentation for instructions on installing an infrared device.

Step 4

Set infrared communications preferences. This allows you to temporarily receive files or restrict data exchange. Go to "Wireless Link" under "Control Panel" and check the box next to "Allow others to send files to your computer using infrared communications." This will open the infrared port for communications. For security reasons, disable the feature when you're away from your laptop or in a public zone.

Step 5

Test the infrared connection. Align your computer to an infrared-enabled device, such as a mobile phone, and establish a connection. Make sure the transceivers are facing each other and no more than 3-feet apart. Place both devices on a level surface. When the devices "see" each other, you will see an infrared icon appear in the notification area on the laptop's task bar. This means the devices have been paired.

Step 6

Send a small file from the mobile phone to the laptop. Navigate to the appropriate file and choose to transfer it via infrared transceiver. You will see a dialog box appear on the laptop stating that the paired device is attempting to send a file. Click "Yes" to confirm. When the file is transferred, you will see another notification. Click the confirmation message and navigate to the file to verify that the infrared connection has established successfully.

Tips & Warnings

  • For best results, place your infrared enabled device inches from the laptop's transceiver.
  • Do not allow unauthorized data exchange through your laptop's infrared port. Only activate the feature temporarily and then disable it.