How to Record TV Shows on Your Computer

by James Clark
laptop image by Angie Lingnau from

Recording shows directly to your PC can eliminate the need for a digital video recorder. Newer computers may be equipped with video recording software, such as Windows Media Center, so only a TV tuner is needed to capture a signal that can be recorded. External TV tuners are also available with simple USB connections so there is no need to open the computer tower or laptop to install special cards.

Step 1

Connect the external TV tuner to the computer by plugging the USB cable from the tuner into any available USB port on the PC.

Step 2

Attach the cable from the signal source, such as cable, satellite or antenna service, to the external TV tuner. The most common connection involves a coaxial cable with a coupler on the end. The cable connects to the tuner by turning the coupler clockwise around the threaded jack.

Step 3

Program the available channels into the tuner by pressing the "Auto-Tune" or "Scan" button on the tuner.

Step 4

Open the video recording software on the computer by double-clicking the program name, such as Windows Media Center, InterVideo, SnapStream or other software.

Step 5

Set the tuner to the desired channel for recording, using the control buttons on the tuner or the remote control that typically comes with most external TV tuners.

Step 6

Click the "Record" button on the video recording software to begin capturing the show. Click "Stop" when finished.

Click the "File" tab and select "Save" to open a box for typing a name for the recorded show. Click "Save" to store the show on the computer.


  • With one external tuner, one TV show can be viewed and recorded at a time. A dual tuner is needed to record and watch different shows simultaneously, or to record different programs at the same time.


  • In addition to preinstalled video recording programs on some computers, such as Windows Media Center, there are a variety of software packages available for turning a PC into a personal video recorder, including CyberLink Power VCR, InterVideo WinDVR, ShowShifter, and SnapStream. The software must be installed on the PC before it can be used to record TV from the external tuner.
  • Use a cable splitter and a second coaxial cable to connect with a TV in order to use the computer for recording while watching TV. The signal source connects to the IN jack on the splitter; two cables are needed for the OUT jacks on the other side, one for the external tuner attached to the computer and the other for the TV.


Photo Credits

About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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