A universal remote control, which includes a display screen and a user input mechanism. The universal remote control also includes a processing unit that is configured to display information on the display screen and to accept selection data from the user input mechanism. The universal remote control additionally includes a wireless communication mechanism that is configured to provide communications between the processing unit and an appliance or computer program running on a computer system. The appliance provides information to be displayed on the display screen, and information entered through the user input mechanism is communicated to the appliance. Since the appliance provides the information to be displayed on the display screen and also interprets the entries on the input mechanism, the universal remote control needs no special knowledge about the appliance.