How to Record Cable TV to a PC

by Lori Spencer

In tough economic times, many consumers are cutting back on luxuries such as home electronics. Instead of spending extra money on VCRs, DVD Recorders, digital video records and TiVo, you could save a bundle by recording cable television programs directly to your PC. With a TV tuner capture device that plugs into your computer's USB port and some inexpensive (in some cases free) video editing software, you can easily record television programs onto your PC. Burning your favorite TV shows, movies and sporting events to DVD is also a snap--you can even edit out all those annoying commercials.

Purchase a USB digital TV capture device. This adapter will act as a TV tuner for your PC.

Plug the audio/video capture adapter's RCA or S-Video jacks into your TV, VCR or cable box, depending upon your personal preferences. (Check your TV/cable box's manual for detailed instructions on custom connections.)

Plug the other end of the adapter into your computer's USB port. (See Resources for helpful video tutorials on how to connect your TV to your PC.)

Open your video recording/editing software. Some popular programs are ULead Movie Maker and Windows Media Center. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be using Windows Media Center.

On the "Start" screen, scroll to "Tasks," then click "Settings."

Select "TV," then click "Set Up TV Signal." Follow the on-screen instructions to connect a TV signal. This will depend on the type of tuner your cable box has, as well as the programming package to which you subscribe.

Run Windows Media Setup; this is when you will download a schedule of broadcast TV program listings for your cable provider, as well as exclusive Internet TV content.

Search by keyword, title, actor, or director to find programs or movies you want to schedule for later recording. You can record an entire series every time an episode airs, or schedule recordings up to several weeks in advance.

Selecting "Record" will save your settings so you can set up recording for future broadcasts. The program or series is automatically scheduled to record unless you cancel the recording.

Press "Record" at any time to record a live TV broadcast you are watching, just like operating a VCR or DVR.

Press "Stop" to end recording.

Convert the DVR-MS file to an mpeg file using the video conversion software of your choice. Then you can work with the MPEG file in any video editing software program to edit out commercials, perform custom editing, and burn the file to DVD for viewing in any DVD player.


  • check Windows Media Center users can also visit to schedule programs for recording when away from home.


  • close DVR-MS files can only be viewed using Windows Media Center software. Before you can watch or edit your recorded TV programs on other video players, you'll first have to convert the DVR-MS files to another format, such as MPEG, MOV, or AVI.
  • close While it's permissible in most cases for users to make a personal copy of TV programming, mass duplication or distribution of copyrighted works is prohibited by law.

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About the Author

Lori Spencer has written professionally since 1986. She is the author of three nonfiction books, is writing her fourth and provides content for eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM. She also produces and hosts a weekly radio show. Her subjects of expertise include history, media, music, film and the performing arts.

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