Top 5 TiVo Hacks (for non-hackers)

1. 30 Second Skip

tivo-skip.jpgReplayTV offered the consumer friendly Commercial Advance feature, which probably contributed to their court woes and ultimate demise. Fortunately, TiVo provides a “secret” (shh, don’t tell) code for enabling a 30 second skip. Press the ->| button 4-5 times to quickly bypass most commercial interludes. It’s not quite as cool as Replay’s feature, but hey TiVo is still selling hardware.

TiVo Platforms:

  • Series1, Series2, Series3/HD, DirecTV


  • Play a TiVo recording
  • On your remote hit Select, Play, Select, 3, 0, Select
  • Live life commercial free

2. Expand Storage

drive.jpgOne of the easiest ways to increase the value of your TiVo is to enlarge your recording capacity by upgrading your internal hard drive with something a bit more roomy. You could do it yourself, but most folks will be most comfortable buying a prepped drive. You won’t find any bargains, but you’ll save yourself some time and energy.

TiVo Platforms:

  • Series1, Series2, Series3/HD, DirecTV


  • Visit DVRUpgrade
  • Find your TiVo model, select your capacity, enter your credit card info
  • Record every episode of Stargate and Stargate Atlantis

3. Transfer Video To TiVo

ttg.jpgTiVo hasn’t done a great job of publicizing this feature, but for at least a year and a half they’ve supported moving video from a home computer onto your TiVo for playback. This may require a little more elbow grease than the first two hacks, but if you’d like to store and view your home movies and ripped DVDs on your TiVo it’s worth the effort. For a newly introduced and friendlier process (at a cost), check out One True Media.

TiVo Platforms:

  • Series2, Series3/HD

Easy Directions for PC:

  • Download TiVo Desktop 2.6 and purchase the Plus Key ($25)
  • Transcode and transfer WMV, QuickTime, and MPEG 2/4 video

Powerful Directions for PC:

Mac owners:

4. Remove TiVoToGo DRM

ttg2.jpgIn early 2005 TiVo introduced TiVoToGo, a nifty feature to transfer recorded shows off the TiVo and onto your computer. Unfortunately that video in encumbered with DRM, limiting playback and transfer options. Fortunately, some clever folks have solved that problem.

TiVo Platforms:

  • Series2, Series3/HD

Directions for PC:

  • Transfer shows using TiVo Desktop
  • Download DirectShow Dump
  • Free your recordings

Directions for Mac:

5. Stream Music

tivo-music.jpgTiVo Desktop, both Mac and PC versions, allow you to stream MP3s from to your TiVo. That’s a good start, but what about folks with AAC, WMA, and OGG Vorbis files? While this hack won’t let you play protected content (like iTunes purchases), it will handle just about everything else you might want to throw at it.

TiVo Platforms:

  • Series2, Series3/HD

Directions for PC:

46 thoughts on “Top 5 TiVo Hacks (for non-hackers)”

  1. Great list! It would be nice if none of these required hacks. I mean seriously, why bother building a 30-second skip code into your remote controls and then not publishing that code in the user manual?

  2. Nice summary.

    Another great one (not a hack, but a very eye-opening, much wished feature) is to be able to view live TV on channel OTHER THAN the one Tivo is currently recording.

    Here’s a blog post about how to set it up.

  3. There is actually a real 30 sec skip feature on TiVo. Hit these buttons in this sequence to program it:


    Now the small button below the FF >> button will jump 30 seconds each time it is hit.

  4. I think what threw Howard was the first line in the directions for setting up the 30 second skip. You don’t have to be ‘playing’ a Tivo recording to set it up, just press the remote keys as listed and you’re done.

  5. If you are expanding your storage on a Series1 unit, you can also network it with a TurboNet card, or network AND speed it up with a CacheCard. Networking it means eliminating the need for a telephone line for that daily call, and even accessing the unit via the Web for scheduling. You can also do this with almost all of the Series2 DirecTV TiVo units, even the HDTV one.

    Also, for the non-hackers using TiVoToGo, check out VideoRedo which you can use to edit your videos. It even includes a feature which automatically detects and marks commercials.

  6. Kenny,
    While you are correct, I think most Tivoers will get the wrong impression. Those are instructions to watch regular TV while Tivo is recording. I would have thought that kind of setup would be obvious, but maybe not.

    The “live-tv” you would watch in that case will not provide any of the features Tivoers love like searching the guide and going to the channel with one button, pause, FF, and RW.

    This is one of the reasons I love MythTV. I can add as many tuner cards as I want, record different channels at the same time as watching live TV with all the usual Tivo type features, limited only by the number of tuners I have in my Myth box.

  7. Colinnwn,

    Check out the HDHomeRun from SiliconDust; you can add as many tuners to your Myth environment as you want, without even opening your box (and cheaper, too). But… this is not a TiVo hack, its something entirely different.

  8. For editing TiVoToGo video (and removing commercials) I agree with Lou that folks should check out VideoReDo.

    As far as HDHomeRun, BeyondTV (PC) now supports it as well. Record from dual, networked HD tuners. Sweeet!

    Lou, you may want to ask SiliconDust why they haven’t responded to my request to review one. ;)

  9. For the first hack, it looks like you lose the ability to skip in 15 minute increments. This should be mentioned in the article. Also, how do you undo it if you don’t want it. That would eb helpful too

  10. Milch: You do not lose the ability to skip in 15 minute increments. Hit the fast forward buton, then hit ->| to “skip to tick.”

    To disable the 30-second skip, repeat the sequence of remote codes above or just reboot your TiVo.

  11. You know what hack I want? I want to be able to display the name/# of the channel I’m currently watching on the front of my Series 3, dang it. Who cares about the time? I’ve got 5 clocks in eye shot.

    Someone figure this out and you will be king.

  12. TB: Agreed… And the funny thing is, in some of the early Series3 displays/literature/information it was implied the display would display the show name. Wonder what happened?

  13. Dave, I reviewed one in its infancy at DVRplayground. However, many new features have been added as well as more compatibility, so I may have to do an “HDHomeRun – Revisited” article. :)

  14. Questions:
    1. Is there anyway to watch a tivo show that is currently being recorded onto a PC? We use the Tivo Desktop, but it requires the show to be completely recorded before transfering.

    2. Is there anyway to upgrade a Tivo Series 2 with one tuner to 2 tuners?


  15. have a series 2 and Tivo Desktop installed on PC, shows transfer and play flawlessly, if you lack the right codec, go to and download the GOM player, if that doesn’t solve the issue with the codec, the ‘Find It’ tool in the game player window will always get you the right one. Done this on several pc’s for friends, works every time

  16. cliff, tivo desktop does support playback before completion on every computer I run it on, not sure why it doesn’t on yours, as far as two tuners on a series 2, haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere, probably outta luck

  17. Tivo Series 2 80HR ST (160-0211) only $9.97 at Radio Shack !!!

    A cheap way for all to grab abother box or spare box to “play with” :))

    Only your RS clerk as of 3/2/08 will now have to ring up the Tivo unit as “Other Store Income” as their POS will not allow sales of NTSC / analog tuners after 3/1/08.
    Just try suggesting to your befuttled RS clerk that he
    sell you this for the last know price of $9.97 or say $10 bucks … if not they have to just “scrap them in the POS and then they go to the dumpster … Since RS originally sold these for $219 … I would think some oney is better than no money …. and get a cheap WI-FI USB adapter or even the official Tivo USB adapter at RS ( 160-0209 ) for $59.99 …… :))


    ps ~ Anybody know how to view my storage space status on my Tivo Series 2 ST ? There must be some way of going to sys-info or see some bar graph right ?

    btw ~ I was a VERY happy Moviebeam set-top movie rental customer up until 12/15/08 upon which their filing bankruptcy re-organization and MovieGallery pulled the plug on Disney’s former Moviebeam project. To bad for all us 1,800 Moviebeam customers … Ha NEtflix is having LG build them a set-top Movie Rental box for get theis a whoping $799 … yeah right ! I think that will NOT fly with the public … So I am warming up to Tivo/Amazon/UnBox to rent movies :))

  18. Michael,

    There is no way to directly view the amount of storage space available on your Series2 TiVo, however, here is a trick you may find useful:

    Turn on “TiVo Suggestions” in your settings. What will happen is that your TiVo will record shows it thinks you’ll be interested in and they will be tagged, accordingly. TiVo Suggestions will never take precedence over anything you’ve planned to record, so it really shouldn’t get in your way. When you view your “Now Playing” list, your TiVo suggestions will show up on the bottom; or if you have the ‘folder view’ enabled, you’ll see the number of suggestions in the folder. It will take some time, but eventually, your hard drive will fill up. The fewer number of suggestions, the less space you have. If you run out of suggestions, it probably means some of your recordings will get ‘bumped off’ if you aren’t careful.


    PS If you liked MovieBeam, check out VUDU…

  19. You guys mentioned the wireless usb receiver available from Radio Shack for $59.99 made by Tivo. Do you know if any wireless usb adapter will work or is there something special about theres? You can grab a Linksys USB Wireless-g off Ebay for $15. Will this work too?

  20. Does anyone know how to make your TV shows in the now playing list go in to file folders? Mine went automatically, but my parents aren’t having the same luck.

  21. I’m not at my TiVo at the moment, but in the Now Playing list it tells you at the bottom of the screen which button to hit to bring up the menu options (maybe ‘enter’). Once you have the options up, you can choose to group things via folders.

  22. Is there any other converter that will make a .tivo file into a .mpg file?? I have had trouble getting DirectShowDump to work (it MUST be on the same box as TiVo Desktop).

  23. I did… I was looking for a no-cost method that was easier to understand.

    But, thanks, I will try that.

  24. It would be awesome if my TIVO would let me create playlists of programs or even the looping of programs…

  25. I’ve got a Series 1 Tivo with 2 hard drives. The original 60gb and a 120gb drive. The 60gb is starting to fail. Is there a way to go back to a one drive setup?

  26. Easiest way is to use a product called Cakewalk I think. Its cheap ($20) and allows you to toss all your backup drives and image files. Stick any hard drive (or two) in a computer and run the bootable CD-ROM to make a Tivo drive (or pair).

  27. I have one Tivo unit that has a lot of freezes and snow, but my wife has 60 shows recorded she would kill me if she lost them. I have another unit (identical). Can I swap the hard drive and the access card into the other NEW unit. In other words, is the access card married to the hard drive or mother board? Any help would be appreciated.
    James Todd

  28. DirectTV older Tivo, don’t know the series, but it has credit card size card that slides in front of unit.

  29. I bought a Tivo for our gym club and set it up with a camera so that athletes can review their skills (while the tivo still records). The system works fine except that it will only record 30 minutes at a time because the service is not activated….And it will only store about 7-8 recordings on the device….

    Is there any way to Bypass this???? (without purchasing a subscription!) I probably should have done my research a little better before buying it.

  30. I wonder if the value “3” and “0” in hack 1 makes the skip 30 seconds long? ie if we input “4” then “5” would it skip 45 seconds? Could be worth a try, because most ad breaks are several minutes long

  31. Dave,

    Thanks for the idea. I’ve been looking for a way to record my home security camera. Now if there was only a way to get the video off the networked TiVo without enabling the subscription.

  32. For the newer TIVO with remotes (HD XL), the 30 sec hack must be input slowly (over a second per push and a over a second inbetween).

  33. Is there a way to edit recorded TiVo programs? I have a single-tuner early TiVo unit. I record travel, outdoor, fishing/hunting, camping/off-road, and cooking shows. I would love to be able to cut segments out of these shows, save them using my filenames, and toss the rest of the memory-hogging BS. Also, my TiVo box has begun to screw up w/channel changing to record, on any channels over like 70. Serial cable connect to Charter Cable digital cable box. Probably impending death notice for TiVo, right? Thanx for anything you can suggest, your site is great, I had no idea TiVo was so open and accessible. rwl

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