How to Record TV Shows on a VHS Tape

By Norm Dickinson

Updated February 10, 2017

VHS tapes are easy to use and can hold several hours of video.
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Use a video cassette recorder to record television shows onto VHS video tape as they play, or program the VCR to record on a schedule. Fit two, four or six hours of video on a single tape by selecting the appropriate recording speed. Save the VHS tapes for later playback. You can reuse tapes multiple times by rewinding and recording over them, or you can write-protect important tapes by breaking off the appropriate plastic tab on the tape.

Connect the cable television line to the VCR directly from the incoming line or from a splitter box.

Connect an output from the VCR to the television.

Set the switch on the back of the VCR to channel "3." Optionally, use channel "4" if necessary.

Power on the television and the VCR. Tune the television to channel 3 (or channel 4 if it is being used by the VCR). If nothing shows up on the television, press the "Input Source" or "TV/VCR" button on the remote or the front panel of the VCR until the setup or default screen from the VCR is showing on the television.

Access the setup menu for the VCR and configure the settings to allow the VCR to search for all available settings. The steps for this will vary by brand and model.

Tune the VCR to the desired channel so that the show is visible on the television.

Press the "Speed" button to set the tape speed. The "SP," or standard speed, setting allows each standard tape to record two hours of programming, while the "LP" setting allows a standard tape to record slower, reducing quality and extending the recording time to four hours. Also available is the "SLP" setting, which allows the tape to record over six hours of programming, but at an inferior quality. There are different type of VHS tapes, so maximum recording times will vary.

Press the "Record" button just prior to the desired show coming on the television. Press the "Stop" button when the show is over, and press "Rewind" to rewind the tape. Alternately, allow the tape to continue recording until the tape has run out, at which point the VCR will automatically shut down the recording process and rewind the tape.

Refer to the owner's manual or the manufacturer's website for the details on how to set up scheduled recording, as this varies significantly by brand and model of VCR.

Items you will need

  • VHS video cassette recorder

  • Blank VHS video tape


Keep VHS tapes out of direct sunlight and away from magnets or strong electrical currents.