How to Hook Up a VCR to a Computer

By James Clark

Updated February 10, 2017

Connecting a VCR to a computer will allow you to watch old videotapes on your computer, digitize the tapes to a format for editing, and burn the finished program to a DVD or upload it to a portable device. To do all this, you will need conversion hardware that will transform the analog signals off a videotape into digital signals that a computer can understand. A variety of hardware packages are available online and at electronics retailers for less than $100, although more sophisticated transfer and editing suites can cost much more.

Power down the computer and turn off the VCR before making connections.

Plug the RCA right (red) audio cable into the right-channel (red) audio output jack on the back of the VCR, and the left (white) audio cable into the VCR's left-channel (white) audio output jack.

Plug the yellow RCA video cable into the yellow video output jack on the back of the VCR.

Plug the other end of the RCA audio/video cable into the input jacks for the video conversion hardware using the red plug for the right audio channel, the white plug for the left audio channel, and the yellow plug for the video jack.

Connect the USB cable from the video conversion hardware to a USB port on your computer.

Turn on the equipment and follow the prompts when the computer posts a "new hardware detected" message.

Items you will need

  • VCR

  • RCA-type audio/video cables

  • Computer or laptop with an open USB port

  • Video conversion hardware


Use the video editing software that comes with most digital converters to clean up the audio and video off the source VCR tape. It won't be digital quality, but it will look and sound better than the original videotape.