Baby Max discovers the “secret menu” for closed captions on a Shaw remote

(Cutting to the chase, here’s how to do it: Turn your TV on but your cable box off. Aim at the cable box and hit the Settings button. The ‘secret menu’ appears. Use the arrow keys to navigate and turn on captions.)

I sometimes have wished I could turn on closed captioning on my TV – for example when I’ve had visitors (like Christy’s Mom and Dad) whose hearing isn’t 100% and could have benefited from it. Years ago, on my trusty old tube TV and cable box, I simply hit a “caption” button on the TV remote and voila, there it was. My new “improved” setup of an HD set and a digital cable box meant of course that it was now an arcane procedure. In fact, I couldn’t figure it out at all. I pored over every menu I could find on the Shaw cable box, but captions were simply nowhere to be found.

I called Shaw tech support and reached a friendly woman who explained that it was a tricky combination of hitting the “power” and “cable” buttons in rapid succession to bring up a sort of “secret menu”. She warned me that it wasn’t easy to get it right.

I gave it a try, several times over the next day or so, but it never worked. Pressing “power” first simply turned off the cable box, no matter how quickly I hit the next button.

Then, this morning, Max was playing with the remote. At a year and two months, he doesn’t really use it in a very sophisticated manner. But suddenly on the TV I saw what looked like a service menu. It looked totally different from the slick Shaw digital menu, just black text in a computer font on a white screen. I actually watched for a moment to confirm it wasn’t just something on a TV station. Then it disappeared.

Max had discovered the secret menu! But… how’d he do it?

He wouldn’t tell me so I had to try myself. But I had new hope. I still reached a dead end though.

Finally I trawled the Web looking for the answer – though I’d done this before unsuccessfully. And – among several wrong versions of the instructions – I found it.

Turns out I had to turn OFF the cable box first… making sure the TV was on… and THEN, aiming at the cable box, hit the “Settings” (aka “Menu”) button. And there it was! The simple, geeky-looking menu. The arrow keys worked to navigate up and down it, and there was a Captions option which I was able to turn on. Then I turned on the cable box with the Power button… and captions flowed down my screen!

I think a couple of things threw me off track. As you can see in the image above, the Settings button is also labeled “Menu” just above it, but to me that seemed like a label for that entire section of three buttons; of course that’s wrong, it is indeed an alternate label for the Settings button. And more to the point, the idea that you would send any command to the cable box while it was off was counterintuitive. Yet that’s how this function works!

Not only was I given inaccurate (or badly communicated) information by tech support, but even out on the Web there are multiple versions of how to do this. If you’re on Shaw Cable, this is The Way. I don’t know if this method works on all other cable systems that use the pictured remote (my Mom in Oakland has Comcast cable with the same unit), but it’s sure worth a try. If this tip can prevent even one person from going through the frustration that I experienced, it’ll be worth it!

Ultimately I have to thank Max. Looks like he’s a chip off the old block, even besting his Dad at tech support!

5 thoughts on “Baby Max discovers the “secret menu” for closed captions on a Shaw remote

  1. Somehow my technically challenged wife was having problems with the TV and just started pressing buttons. I was not watching, but she managed to turn on CC. I found your article here after a few Google searches. Shaw had nothing. Thanks for documenting this hudden menu. It saved me from a lot of frustration. I remember using this menu when I first set up my PVR/Cable box but I forgot all about it until I read your article. It might have been described in the cable box doc. I used it to set the HDMI output to 1080i. It defaulted to 720P.
    Thanks again.

  2. Thanks a million! I actually stumbled onto this secret menu and turned on CC. But because the texts are actually too big and obstructing the view, I needed to have it turned off! I tried virtually everything and yet couldn’t bring up this menu again. I then did a search on google and saw your article.
    Initially I couldn’t bring up the menu even after executing the sequence you recommended. I switched off the TV and turned it on again while the cable box was still off. Then, boom! the secret menu appeared.
    Thank you again for sharing this piece of information.

Leave a Reply

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

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>