The Hue Dimmer Switch is a great way to add physical controls to your Hue lighting system but it’s a bit rudimentary. Thanks to a handy little app, however, you can teach the Hue Dimmer Switch a bunch of new tricks—like setting any scene with the click of a button.

RELATED: How to Set Up Your Philips Hue Lights

What You’ll Need

To follow along with this tutorial, you’ll need a handful of things, most of which you likely have already if you’re interested in doing something like this.

First and foremost, you’ll need the necessary Hue hardware. At minimum, you’ll need the Hue Dimmer Switch and the Hue system (bulbs + bridge). If you’re just getting started with the Hue system and you need the Dimmer Switch, Philips sells them for $25 each, or you can get it in a kit ($35) that includes a single Hue White bulb. This kit saves you $5 over buying the switch and the bulb separately, so we highly recommend going that route. If you need help setting up your Dimmer Switch, check out our guide here.

While you can customize the Hue Dimmer Switch from within the Hue app (which we’ll show you how to do), it’s fairly limited compared to a third-party app called iConnectHue ($4.99). iConnectHue lets you do a whole bunch of cool things with your Hue lights, including customizing your Hue Dimmer Switch.

It’s currently iOS only and requires iOS 7.1 or higher, and while five bucks is a reasonable price to reprogram your Dimmer Switch to do exactly as you wish, iConnectHue is way more than just a switch programming tool—you can check out the full feature list on their site.

Using the Hue App

Your Hue Dimmer Switch can be configured and customized from within the Hue app itself by first tapping on the settings gear icon in the top-left corner of the screen.

From there, select “Accessory setup”.

Then select the Hue Dimmer Switch that you want to customize.

You’ll then see a layout of your Hue Dimmer Switch and you can tap on each of the four buttons on the switch to see what it does. Unfortunately, only the “On” button is customizable.

Select the “On” button if it isn’t already, scroll down, and then tap on “Where?”.

Select the room that you want your Hue Dimmer Switch to control. You can select up to two rooms to control at once. After your selection, hit the back button in the top-left corner to go back.

Scroll further down and you’ll see that you can set certain scenes for the button’s first press, second press, and so on.

Tap on a button press that you want to change and select a scene or recipe from the list. The Hue Dimmer Switch supports up to five consecutive button presses per button.

Once you’ve set the scenes that you want, hit “Save” in the top-right corner and your Hue Dimmer Switch will immediately become configured and is ready to use.

Using iConnectHue

If you want more customization abilities, iConnectHue is the way to go, as it lets you customize any of the buttons on your Hue Dimmer Switch to do practically anything you want. Plus, there are a ton more features to check out, including creating your own animations.

RELATED: How to Create Animations with Your Philips Hue Lights

Although the process of configuring your Hue Dimmer Switch within iConnectHue isn’t difficult, it takes quite a few steps, and it’s a bit different than the normal Hue setup process by far.

First, you’ll need to link the new app to your Hue Bridge hub, and manually re-create all your scenes (unfortunately, you can’t import scenes from the Hue app). Then, if your Hue Dimmer Switch has been configured before, you’ll wipe it clean to start with a fresh state and re-assign its buttons.

Step One: Link the Hue Bridge

Launch the iConnectHue app and it will immediately start searching your home network for your Hue Bridge. When prompted, press the physical button in the center of the hub, then select “OK, I’m done” when you’ve done so.

You’ll be prompted to take a tour of the apps features—given that the features are numerous and you want to get your five bucks worth, we recommend checking it out. After the tour, you’ll see the main control screen as pictured below.

It’s important to note that while the general user interface will look the same for everyone, the actual content of the control panel is dependent on your Hue light system. In our case, we’re running a simple three-bulb system where all three bulbs are located in the same room controlled by a Hue Dimmer Switch.

Although they are grouped correctly with the Dimmer Switch, “Dimmer 2” isn’t a terribly intuitive group name so we’ll change that immediately. You can rename any group by pressing and holding on its name.

Step Two: Manually Import Your Scenes

The next order of business is getting your scenes from the native Hue app into the iConnectHue app. While it sure would be nice if we could just click a button and import them all, the manual import process is actually pretty painless.

RELATED: How to Use Siri to Control Your Philips Hue Lights

You don’t need to recreate all your lighting scenes from scratch—you simply need to trigger them with the Hue app so the lights are on and in the correct brightness/color state, and then give that current configuration a name in iConnectHue.

For example, to copy our existing “Movie” scene we use for watching movies (wherein all the bedroom lights are off except for the bias light behind the TV), we would first open up the Hue app and trigger that scene. Confirm that the lights are in the state they should be in (as iConnectHue will simply copy whatever the Hue bridge reports is the current lighting state).

In the iConnectHue app, tap on the little circle labeled “Presets” in the top-right corner. Note that the light indicators on the control panel, seen below, reflect the light configuration we just described (the nightstand lamps are off and the TV bias light is on).

In the Preset menu, tap on “Add as new preset” under the group you wish to add the preset to.

Repeat the process as many times as you need to for your scenes. Remember you don’t need to import every lighting scene you’ve created—only the ones that you want your Hue Dimmer Switch to invoke.

Step Three: Wipe the Switch Clean

Once we’ve imported our lighting scenes, the next order of business is to wipe our Dimmer Switch presets clean. To be clear, you don’t have to perform this step. However, if you do not wipe the previous presets from the switch then they will show up in the iConnectHue app as “Unknown presets”. They’ll still work just the way they did before you started this project, but it’s annoying in two ways: First, you don’t really know what the preset is. Secondly, you can’t adjust them. It’s much better to wipe the switch completely clean and then if you want the old presets to exist alongside your new fancy button configurations, you can easily add them back in.

To wipe the switch’s existing presets we just need to hop into the Settings menu. To do so, tap on the menu icon in the upper-left corner and select “Settings”.

Select “Bridges & Devices” at the top of the list.

Select your switch from the device list, as seen below.

Here is the interface where all the magic happens, and where we’ll be spending the remainder of the tutorial.

To reset your switch, tap on the “Wizard” icon in the upper left corner and then select “Clear switch settings”.

Step Four: Reassign the Buttons

Now that we’ve cleared the way for our fresh configurations, it’s time to start assigning buttons.

Before we dive into configuring the Dimmer Switch to perform new tricks, let’s first highlight how to make it do all its old tricks. By default, the Switch turns the lights on with the top button, brights and dims the lights with the middle buttons, and turns off the lights with the bottom button.

If you wish to restore that default functionality and then build on it with additional tricks, simply activate the setup wizard as we did in the previous step and select “Set up new” instead of “Clear switch settings” in the wizard.

This will automatically configure all four buttons to function exactly as they did before we reset them, but with an added bonus: they are now properly labeled and you can edit their configuration.

In the screenshot above you can see how what was “Unknown preset” when the setting was inherited from the original setup of the Dimmer Switch is now labeled “All groups on” with an assigned fade time.

Now let’s take a look at how to add a new and unique function to the Dimmer Switch. Because there are so many potential combinations, we’re simply going so show you how to do one (which teaches you how to access the menus) and then share a little worksheet you can use to keep track of populating all your other buttons.

To add an action simply select the button you wish to edit on the interface like so:

Select the button function want “Initial Press” for a light click, and “Hold” for a press-and-hold push.

Then, select “Add new action” under “Button # Actions” to associate an action with that button press. You can also add in a secondary function in the “Button should do more on another push” section. In this fashion you can assign one function to the first press and one function to the second press.

When you select the “Add a new action” entry, you are presented with the following options:

You can load a preset, switch which group of lights the Dimmer Switch is controlling, turn lights off, change the group to a different color, adjust the group brightness, or force the group to blink.

Select “Load preset” and then pick which preset you wish to associate with the button press you previously selected.

And there you have it: a new function (in this case pressing and holding button 1 to trigger the “Movies” scene in the bedroom) is associated with your Dimmer Switch button:

To really maximize the button magic, you’ll want to associate different button presses with different scenes, colors, or whatever else your heart desires. While entering all the button combinations is pretty easy, keeping track of all of them while you’re working in the app can be a hassle (we’ll admit that midway through working on our configuration we outright forgot one of the combos we intended to include). With that in mind, we’d recommend printing this handy little fill-in-the-blank list to help you brainstorm what buttons you want to assign to what.

We’ve labeled the buttons by the name used in iConnectHue as well as the symbol/function represented on the physical buttons.

  • Button 1 (On): 
    • First Press:
    • Second Press:
    • First Hold:
    • Second Hold:
  • Button 2 (Brighten): 
    • First Press:
    • Second Press:
    • First Hold:
    • Second Hold:
  • Button 3 (Dim): 
    • First Press:
    • Second Press:
    • First Hold:
    • Second Hold:
  • Button 4 (Off): 
    • First Press:
    • Second Press:
    • First Hold:
    • Second Hold:

You certainly don’t need to use all 16 potential options, but the above list will certainly help you decide and plan out what each button should do (and how many functions you wish to assign to it).

With the help of a handy little app, a handy little switch, and a little bit of planning you can supercharge your Philips Dimmer Switch to handle all your lighting scenes and functions.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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Profile Photo for Craig Lloyd Craig Lloyd
Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile.
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