How to Adjust the Tracking on a VCR

By Editorial Team

Updated September 28, 2017

When you put a video tape into a VCR, you might notice that the picture jumps or skips around. If this happens, you'll need to adjust the tracking to change the heads or spools on the tape and get it working properly. There are a few ways you can adjust the tracking on your VCR.

Place a video tape in your VCR and let it play for a few seconds before you start playing with the tracking. This gives you the chance to see if there's a problem.

Wait a few seconds after you see the picture jumping or skipping around to see if your VCR has an automatic tracking feature. This feature comes on newer VCR models, though it isn't always advertised. If you have automatic tracking, the VCR will make the changes for you.

Look at the bottom of your remote control to see if you have a tracking button on it. Many of the remotes that come with newer VCRs include these buttons, which are two small round buttons on the bottom.

Push the left tracking button on your remote several times to see if it has any effect on the video and then push the right hand button if you still have problems with tracking. You may need to push either button at least ten times before you see any difference in the picture.

Purchase a universal remote that's capable of controlling several electrical components at one time and program it for your VCR. Make sure the remote works on VCRs as some are now made for DVD players instead.

Program the universal remote for your VCR and press the VCR button to use it with your VCR. Press the volume up and down button several times or try pushing the channel up and down buttons. On most universal remotes, these control the tracking.


Even if you have automatic tracking on your VCR, you can still adjust the tracking yourself by using your remote control. Sometimes you'll need to move it slightly to perfect the image and picture.


Don't buy a universal remote unless you're sure that it will work on your make and model of VCR. If you open the remote and it doesn't work, most stores won't allow you to return it. Check the back of the box or package for the models it works with.