How to Play VCR Tapes on HDTV

By James Clark

Updated February 10, 2017

Watch VHS tapes by connecting a VCR to an HDTV.
i vhs tape image by Canoneer from

A VCR will play back VHS video tapes on an HDTV using the same connections as any other type of television. HDTV sets are equipped with composite-type RCA jack for hooking up older types of audio-video equipment. You may need to change the aspect ratio (height and width dimensions) on the HDTV to accommodate the recorded image from the VCR. The HDTV will only display standard definition video with this setup, since a VCR is only capable of producing standard definition video.

Turn off the HDTV and VCR, then unplug both components from the wall outlet.

Connect the three plugs on one end of the composite cable to the matching yellow, white and red playback jacks on the back of the VCR.

Insert the plugs on the other end into the jacks labeled "Composite IN" on the back of the HDTV.

Plug in the powr cords and turn on the equipment.

Press the video source button on the HDTV remote control until the VCR image appears on your set.

Press the "Aspect" or "Menu" button on the HDTV remote and use the down arrow key to scroll to "Setup." Highlight the setting for the aspect ration and press "Enter" or "OK," then select "4:3" or "1.33:3," depending on the HDTV model. This changes the display so you can see the video playback in the proper proportions.

Insert a VHS cassette into the front gate on the VCR. The tape is pulled in automatically and seated inside the component for playback.

Press the "Play" button on the VCR to start the tape.

Items you will need

  • Composite AV cable

  • Recorded VHS cassettes