How to Record a Television Show With a VCR

By Giselle Diamond

Updated February 10, 2017

The ability to record TV shows onto VCR tapes has been around for many years. Almost since the VCR player has been out, it was possible to record TV shows. However, not everyone knows how to use their recorder. Some people are now so used to their DV-R recorders that they have forgotten how to use the old VCR method. It is actually very easy to record a television show with a VCR. Figuring out how to use the recorder takes less than 10 minutes. Once everything is set up you can enjoy old-fashioned recorded tapes as soon as the show's over.

Make sure that your VCR player is connected to your TV. Take the three colored RCA plugs and connect them to the coordinating spots on the TV. Usually these plugs are located in the back or on the front of the TV. Connect the red plug to the red hole, the white plug to the white, and the yellow plug to the yellow hole. It is important that everything is connected or the show will not record. Make sure that your VCR player is capable of recording shows. The manual that came with your VCR player should tell you if you can record shows or not.

Decide which show to record. A VCR player can only record one show at a time, so it is important that you choose your favorite show to record. Most VCR players enable you to watch one show while recording another. This is done by setting the VCR to record on one channel at a specific time and then changing the channel to another station. Each VCR is a little different; check your manual for specific instructions.

Change the channel on the TV until you reach the one that you want to record. Hit the TV/VCR button on your remote or TV. This shows which channel will be recorded. Change the channel to the default for your TV (usually this is channel 3). The show will not record unless the right default channel is selected.

Conduct a test run of your recording power before your show starts. Press the record button on the VCR player. Allow it to run for several minutes. Press stop and then rewind the tape. Press play and allow the tape to play what it recorded. If nothing plays, then you didn't set the recording process up correctly. Go back and see if you can figure out what the problem is. Usually it is a channel issue. Make sure you can record properly before your show starts. That way you don't miss any of the action.

Switch the recording speed of the tape to the settings that you want. The SP setting records 2 hours of tape at the highest quality. The EP setting records 4 hours of tape at a reduced setting. However, most new VCR players only record at the SP speed. Put the tape in the VCR and hit the record button to start recording your show.

Items you will need

  • TV

  • VCR player

  • Blank VHS tapes


Some VCR players can be set to record at a specific time. Check your VCR's manual to see if yours is capable of doing this. If you choose to use this feature, make sure the clock on your VCR is set to the right time. If the VCR clock is wrong, the tape will start recording at the wrong time.


It is important that you leave yourself enough time to figure out how to use the recorder before the start of your show.