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Record Live TV with Windows Media Center

One of the cool things about Windows Media Center (WMC) is the ability to watch Live and Streaming channels. You can also record live Cable, Satellite and over the air TV shows — turning your PC into a Digital Video Recorder (DVR).

Note: This process works the same in Windows 7 and 8. You just need to install Windows Media Center on Windows 8 first.

First, make sure you have Windows Media Center set up. Then you’ll need an internal or external TV Tuner card installed in your computer. You’ll also need Satellite, Cable or an over the air antenna.

TV Tuner Card

Configure Windows Media Center for Live TV

Launch WMC and scroll down to TV then Live TV Setup.
Setup live TV

On the TV Setup screen, verify the Region is correct and click Next.


Enter in your Zip Code where you live.


Agree to the Program Guide Terms of Service.

3Terms of Service

Now wait while the TV lineup and information is downloaded. It will take several minutes to complete.

4Downloading TV Setup

Windows Media Center finds your TV tuner card. Select Yes, Configure TV with These Results and click Next.

5Detect Tuner Card

Continue through a couple more screens on the wizard, then click Finish.


You’re brought back to the main menu. Under TV you’ll now see Guide, Recorded TV and Search.

Main Menu Recorded TV

Record Live TV

Now that you’re live TV channels are set up, you can start recording them. Open the Program Guide and right click any show you want to record. Then select Record from the menu that comes up.

Set to Record

A red dot appears next to each show you want to record. You can set shows to be recorded in advance just like with a DVR.

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program guide

The Live TV Recordings are saved as WTV files that you can open with WMC, Windows Media Player or set a default program that supports .wtv playback. The files will be quite large, so make sure you have adequate storage space.

recorded tv media center

Keep the default program as Windows 7 Media Center if you want to use your Xbox 360 to stream your digital recorded TV files.

Recorded TV Files

I set my favorite Media Player program VLC as the default player for watching the recorded TV files on my Windows 7 System.

Playing in VLC

Another cool thing is Windows 7 Media Center lets you watch Streaming Internet TV programing as well – but no recording.

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5 Responses to Record Live TV with Windows Media Center

  1. Kam June 29, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Can Windows Media Center be configured to record live TV programs in conjunction with SlingBox PRO that I am already accessing on my PC?

    • Brian June 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

      That’s a good question. I haven’t played with a SlingBox yet. Our Mike Rothman is really into HTPC equipment. He might know. I will find out.

  2. Brian June 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    @Kam I talked with Mike Rothman and he says “the slingbox pro has
    its own built in tuner, so when you stream from the slingbox, it is using that
    tuner. Assuming you have a tuner on your home pc or network you can at
    the same time record TV off that tuner. So yes, you can do both at the
    same time. “

  3. Kam July 1, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    Thank you, Brian, for your rapid response! I’m glad to finally found out how this can be done. ~Kam

  4. Full Hd Televizyon March 5, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It truly helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to give something back and help others like you aided me.

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