Philips Hue alternative for “Lamp Stealer” using telnet

When you buy two Philips Hue light start kits, you have the problem that the lights are already paired with the bridge in each starter pack. When you search you will find a lot of people whining about how unfair this is and people talking about the “Lampstealer” OSX app that Philips released to fix it. I tried using the lamp stealer app but it would never find my bridge. I could also not use QuickHue which supposedly supported the lamp stealer function because it was compiled for OSX 10.8 and I still run 10.7.x. And compiling it from source with xcode didn’t work, likely due missing libraries and other mistakes I made since I’m not too familiar with Xcode.

I found out that the solution was really really simple, and requires no OSX, java or advanced rocket science. Place a bulb of the second starter kit into a socket within 30cm of the bridge from the first starterpack. Telnet to port 30000 of the bridge and type:


The light should blink a few times to acknowledge the hostile takeover. Now you can use your iphone hue app. Go into the app settings, select the bridge, then run “find new lights”, or us your own python code (I like Change bulbs and repeat this process for the other two lights.

35 thoughts on “Philips Hue alternative for “Lamp Stealer” using telnet

  1. So… we can “steal” a Hue bulb over from one base station to another. OK.

    What is apparently still impossible, though, is to simply “wipe” a bulb. That is, we can’t take a bulb and erase all of its memories about any hub it’s ever been paired with.

    Therefore, if I want to re-sell a bulb, what I’m not able to do is reset it to “factory defaults” like it was when it was new, so that the new owner would discover/pair it the typical way. Rather, its new owner has to go through this lamp-stealing procedure himself.

    Do you agree? Have I got this right?

    • You can “steal” it whether it is paired with a bridge or not. So it does not matter in what mode the lamp is when you re-sell it. The new owner just brings the lamp near to the bridge and you can instruct the bridge to “steal” it. There is no information extractable on the lamp that would reveal your home network secrets (as far I know)

  2. Hi.
    Is there a layman’s way of doing what you did. I did a quick search of telnet and realised that I probably don’t have the working knowledge to simply do what you described.
    I have the exact same Hue set up as you described and Lamstealer can’t locate my bridge….
    Feel like I’ve bought a $200+ paperweight!
    Would appreciate the help. No support from Philips whatsoever on this one!

    • you should be able to download “putty” for windows to use as telnet client. Add a new “connection” of type telnet, use the IP address of your bridge and use port 30000. When using OSX, you can start the and type “telnet” to get the telnet client. Than you just type in “telnet ipofyourbridge 30000”.

      Once connected, just type on your keyboard: [Link,Touchlink]
      and hit return. That should be it.

      If you do not know the IP address of your bridge, check and see if one of your Hue apps will list it or check your DSL/cable router web interface and look for “DHCP” and you should find some status menu with “dhcp leases” that will show the IP of your bridge.

      Good luck!

  3. Just separately purchased a used base-station and a lightbulb off ebay. I have been unable to connect the lightbulb to the bridge despite attempting to use several apps, and attempting the [Link,Touchlink] command several times.

    Any advice?

    • It is possible that the external bulb is configured to use a different ZigBee radio channel, and thus, can see the bridge. Use the Phillips Hue app (for your cell phone) to rotate the bridge through all ZigBee channels, and then see if the new bulb eventually gets picked up.

      Be sure all your other lights are on when you do this, so they get all the channel change messages…

  4. Fantastic. Works for the bulbs of my second starter kit. Glad i found this “works as designed”-workaround that, as it seems, philips is not willing to share.
    Great work. THX.

  5. FINALLY!!! This worked great I was able to steal the living colors bloom lights from another starter kit and now use them all on one hub! YAY!!! Philips really shoud publish this or come up with an official method.

  6. Gee I wish I found this site last night instead of following the supplier directions wich resulted in 2 wasted hours and still no linked Living Colours Iris.

    Used the Mac instruction as above and the Iris was found in the Hue app within 30 seconds.

    Thanks for the tip

  7. Pingback: Thank goodness for the hackers |

  8. Thanks for this! I messed up initially by typing a space next to the comma. Once I eliminated that it worked like a charm. Thank you again.

  9. Oh man, I bought some LivingWhites control plugs to be integrated into my hue-niverse. All over the net I read that it should be possible to pair them via Touchlink. But it seems that Philips closed that Port with one of the latest software updates. Whatever I’m doing, I’m getting following information: “Connection refused – telnet: Unable to connect to remote host”.
    QuickHue doens’t get the bridge into Touchlink as well.
    Any suggestions? What am I doing wrong.
    Reset doesn’t work either.

  10. I’m having the same problem as Christian, 30000 port no longer connects. If I connect with port 80 I get this message.

    telnet 80
    Connected to philips-hue.home.gateway.
    Escape character is ‘^]’.
    Connection closed by foreign host.

    Any ideas?

  11. Confirm, the telnet solution is no longer available.

    I was rearranging my Hue lights, bringing all to one bridge and more. Although a solution before was the ‘lampstealer’, that didn’t work now, but this time I had to change the bulbs and not a ‘bloom’ and got it done via the regular app, manually via the serial numbers. All but one, that bulb simply refused, very annoying.

    After spending most of the afternoon and evening trying everything, I found a commercial third party (iPhone) app which did it in seconds. Have to say I don’t like having to buy an app where I believe the official Philips app should just do it, but it worked and could have saved me a day of my life. The name of the app is iConnectHue. Available in the Dutch iTunes, dunno about other countries, it’s in English and the support page also say they answer in German, so it should.

    Hope it solves other peoples issues as well.

    • Bob,

      You are the man! I’ve got 2 days invested in connecting the one bulb that the bridge couldn’t find. I’ve tried everything except the IConnectHue app. Luckily, I already had the app and within 2 minutes it had located it. Thanks for the awesome tip.

  12. @Bob, Thanks for mentioning iConnectHue, I just tried it and it worked great for finding some old Living Whites!



  13. You can do light stealing from the Hue local API. In a web browser go to


    where x.x.x.x is your IP address of the hub. This should bring up a web page. Put the light you want to steal within 30cm’s of the hub

    You need to URL and/or message body

    Register a user
    URL: /api
    Message Body: {“devicetype”: “HueLights#API”}
    Press the Post Button

    This will give you a long user name in the response box

    URL: /api/YOUR_USERNAME/config
    example: /api/7773d8bf606360d23d968ff165e77293/config
    Message Body: {“touchlink”:true}
    Press the Put button

    URL: /api/YOUR_USERNAME/lights
    Clear the Message Body
    Press the Post Button

    On my setup this caused the living colours light to flash, I then immediately ran the Connect New lights in the Hue App. Sure enough the Bloom light showed up in the app.

    Hope that helps someone else in the future

    • Hi there,

      I did the action with the local api debug tool.

      I have a GU10 zigbee spot that i want to connect to the Hue Bridge.
      When i do all the commands in de local api, the GU10 spot also flashed…. but i still cant see the spot in the Hue app (android).

      Even when i trie to search the lamp true the app.

      Any suggestions?

    • when i click post I get:

      “error”: {
      “type”: 2,
      “address”: “”,
      “description”: “body contains invalid json”

      • I have the same error when I put the {“touchlink”:true} to my bridge.
        The error is “description”: “body contains invalid json”
        Is there a way to downgrade the bridge to an older version to use the telnet command?

      • Don’t copy the {“touchlink”:true} from this page, you’ll likely get a wrong ” character. Just type it by hand and you won’t get the error message.

      • I exchanged the quotemarks ” with those on my keyboard. Then next error message was then: “Button on bridge not pressed”. After doing so, a user was assigned as described.

  14. API method worked nicely. I now have all six bulbs from two starter kit controlled by one hub. Thanks Tim!
    Make sure you have light bulb turned on and near the hub.

  15. I’m confused why these hacks are needed. Isn’t adding by serial number working for you? I could add all my orphaned bulbs by serial number. Also three GU10 bulbs what came in a starter kit, linked to the bridge in starter kit.

  16. Thank for the help guys, I put 8 lights up initially, then an extra 8 with some discounted starter packs. Pretty miffed when they didn’t work as it’s a high vaulted ceiling and I had to hire scaffold to put them up, so taking the bulbs out to note down the serial numbers was not an option

    I used the touchlink feature with the iOS app ‘iConnectHue’ to get the lights synced to the hub. I ended up with the Phiilips hub taped to broom to get them near the bulbs and added them one by one, worked great!

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