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What is TiVoToGo and what is this web page?
How do I get shows off my TiVo?
How long does it take to download a
I downloaded shows to my PC, now what?
How do I watch shows on my PC?
How come my shows look crappy when I view
How can I free the raw MPEG from this .tivo
How do I make DVDs?
How can I get shows onto my PDA or other portable
How can I get shows onto my Sony PSP?
How do I send shows
to my TiVo?
How do I get shows at work, school, or the
What if I have a Mac?
This is a pain in the ass, what other options
do I have?
is TiVoToGo and what is this web page?
Chances are, if you made it to this site you know what TiVoToGo is.
Just in case you need a refresher TTG is a service which allows you
to extract television recordings from your networked stand-alone TiVo
device to your Windows PC for personal, noncommercial use. This web
page isn't intended as a hard-core geek guide, just a place get the
average TiVo subscriber pointed in the right direction by exposing some
of options that have worked for me. None of the products or methods
listed on this page involve breaking TiVo's encryption nor do they describe
the illegal distribution of video. This guide is intended to facilitate
the personal, noncommercial viewing and archiving of television files
that TiVo has recorded at your request.
do I get shows off my TiVo?
Your TiVo device needs to have downloaded 7.x to provide TiVoToGo functionality.
met that requirement, you have a few options:
1. Use the provided TiVo Desktop software for Windows.
For most folks, the free TiVo Desktop software is sufficient to manage
the download of shows from your TiVo. Galleon
is an example of a custom app, using TiVo's published specifications
which requires no modification of your TiVo device.
2. Directly connect to the web service your TiVo is running as described
3. Use a custom app to connect to the web server your TiVo is running.
long does it take to download a show?
Download times vary widely. Most people report shows transferring
a little quicker or a little slower than real time, meaning if you
have a one hour show it will take about an hour to transfer wirelessly.
Many factors impact your throughput including file size based on recording
quality and your network design. For example a show recorded in high
quality will take longer to transfer than a show recorded in basic
quality. Encryption on a wireless network will also impact transfer
times. Wirelessly networked TiVo units will transfer slower than hard-wired
units, unless using TiVo's
new wireless adapter. Transfer times will not improve drastically
anytime in the near future due to TiVo's technical design.
downloaded shows to my PC, now what?
TiVoToGo files, having the .tivo extension, are essentially encrypted
and fingerprinted mpeg files. MPEG is a common video format. Your unique
Media Access Key
(MAK) is appended to all shows as text, and perhaps embedded as a watermark
in other ways. The TiVo Desktop software includes a .dll that is used
to decrypt, or unlock, your show using your MAK. TiVo files can be viewed,
converted, edited, transferred, and/or burned.
do I watch shows on my PC?
In order to view the original .tivo files, you need at a bare minimum
three pieces of software:
1. TiVo Desktop
2. MPEG Codec
3. DirectShow-capable Media Player
TiVo Desktop software installs software (a DirectShow DLL) which
is needed to unlock your .tivo file.
A codec capable of handling the MPEG file format, associated with
DVD media, needs to be installed on your system. A codec is basically
an AV translator that understands how to present (decode) the audio
and video. If your PC came with a DVD drive, chances are good you
have the proper codecs already installed. TiVo has a list of codecs
that they have successfully tested here,
though many others will work including the very fine and free DScaler
MPEG filter. I get fine results using the codec bundled with WinDVD.
A DirectShow media player, such as the suggested Windows Media Player
(WMP) uses the codec to display your television show, with DVD-like
You can initiate playback directly through the TiVo Desktop software
or by double-clicking the .tivo file located in My Documents\My TiVo
Recordings. Additional software media players, such as the free ZoomPlayer
will also open and play your TiVo-recorded show in lieu of WMP.
come my shows look crappy when I view them full-screen?
The resolution on computer monitors is higher than that of TV. Additionally,
Non-HD television shows are broadcast in low quality and therefore displayed
in low quality. Combine that with TiVo's compression, which varies depending
on your recording quality and the picture quality degrades further.
Additionally, different codecs provide different results. Many software
media players have filters which can appropriately deinterlace and scale,
however by default these features are not available in Windows Media
Player. For example, I use WinDVD
which improves picture quality automatically and adds playback controls.
can I free the raw MPEG from this .tivo file?
By freeing the MPEG from the .tivo wrapper, you are able to do much
more with your television recordings. Again, let me remind you that
these recordings are for your personal, noncommercial use. Piracy is
a crime and you are responsible for your actions. TiVo may or may not
watermark video with your unique Media Access Key in ways we haven't
discovered yet. Be aware that the unmodified DirectShow DLL included
with TiVo Desktop 2.1+ prevents several programs from performing file
conversions. I suggest reviewing your TiVo service agreement before
Some folks want to free their MPEG files so they can edit and burn
them using the software of their choice, rather than using the software
of TiVo's partner Sonic. Another reason you may want to free your
MPEG is to get your video onto a PDA or other portable device in a
supported format with a smaller file size. Personally, I free the
MPEGs so I can watch shows directly through WinDVD
or transfer them to my Dell Axim PDA.
The author of EtiVo has released DirectShow
Dump, a free utility to extract the content of .tivo files as
unprotected MPEGs. Depending on the recording quality (file size)
and your computer specs, conversion only takes a few minutes.
Another quick and inexpensive way to free your MPEG is by using GraphEdit.
You'll need to download a few legitimate pieces of video software
and follow a couple of steps, but if you can figure it out it's pretty
quick. The original site has been taken down, but the process is fairly
well explained and archived here.
Other DirectShow-aware programs, both commercial and freeware, can
also extract the MPEG files and/or convert .tivo files to a variety
ofuseful formats such as AVI and DivX.
do I make DVDs?
As with everything else I've mentioned, there are multiple ways to skin
this cat. TiVo has established a business relationship with Sonic, so
their software is the official method to create discs playable in DVD
devices. Sonic and Roxio have merged - MyDVD
appears to be superceded by Media
Creator 8 Suite
You are not limited to Sonic though... If you have set your MPEG
free using one of the methods above, etc you have complete freedom
to use any DVD editing/burning software suite you choose. Those resultant
video files are supported by default by all major software vendors,
such as Nero.
These packages allow you to import your video, edit out commercials,
put in cool menus, etc.
many folks, that may be too much work to download, transcode, and
then edit to burn. The good news is that .tivo files imported into
any DirectShow "aware" software products, assuming you have
the proper codecs installed, will be unlocked by the TiVo software
for editing in a similar manner as the Sonic MyDVD solution. For example,
(Vision Express) has demonstrated the ability to load, edit, and create
DVDs from the original .tivo files under certain circumstances: the
cache is cleared, TiVo Desktop remains open, etc. as described on
Check out my demo here for step by step guidance
using Nero and Sonic software.
can I get shows onto my PDA or other portable device?
you set your MPEG free, as described above, the resultant file can be
played in many applications. However, the resolution and file size are
not optimized for small devices and not all software supports mpeg files.
Various programs transcode and resize the mpeg file through such as
the free TMPGEnc
or the commercial Pocket
If you've upgraded to TiVo Desktop
2.1, Windows Media Player 10 enables the conversion of .tivo files
to .wmv and then synchronization with Microsoft
Portable Media Centers (PMC)
and other mobile devices that run WMP. To enable this feature first
launch WMP10, then go into the "Library" and add your TiVo
folder of recordings. Once WMP10 knows where to find those .tivo files,
you can go to the Sync tab at anytime, choose "All Video Clips"
from the left drop down menu and choose your destination from the
right drop down menu, such as memory card, PDA, or PMC. Check the
shows you want to convert and transfer, then click "Sync"
at the top.
can I get shows onto my Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable)?
Basically, you need to unlock your .tivo file and convert it
from MPEG2 to MPEG4. To do this, download two free programs: 3GP
Converter and AviSynth
2.55. Install AviSynth and then launch 3GP. The first time you run
it, configure 3GP for English and set output to PSP, Direct, Renamed.
You'll also need to edit the 3GP .ini file so that it recognizes TiVo
files by adding this line in the [Avisynth] section: Ext3=TIVO:\cores\AVS_Skelton.avs.
Once you've done that, launch 3GP, choose an output directory, drag
your .tivo file in, and conversion should begin. You can play around
with output settings, though 368x208/29.97fps/QB7 Stereo/96kbps seems
to have a decent balance of quality, file size, and time to convert.
Your output file (i.e.: M4V00007.MP4) needs to be located in \MP_ROOT\100MNV01\
on your memory
stick for the PSP to find it.
4/13/05 Update The
authors of PSP
Video 9 have incorporated the above .tivo file recognition and
AviSynth into their application. This means you can skip the above
steps and manipulate TiVo files directly through the free PSP Video
9, which also includes PSP synchronization features.
If you experience bad audio/video sync or crashes with your configuration,
unwrap .tivo files using GraphEdit or DirectShow Dump as described
above, and then run your .mpeg through PSP
do I get shows at work, school, or the Marriott?
So you're not at home, but want to access your TiVo shows... no problem!
Assuming you're comfortable with networking, this is pretty straight
forward using the undocumented web server living in your TiVo. You will
need to configure your router to forward requests to port 80 (HTTP)
and 443 (HTTPS) to the IP address assigned to your TiVo. Once
you've set that up, at your remote location point your web browser to
https://[WAN IP of your router]. To log in use tivo as
your username and your unique media access key (MAK) is the password.
Your TiVo box will serve up a pretty little web page listing your shows!
Download, watch, repeat. Like your home PC you'll need TiVo Desktop
software, a codec, and a media player to watch your shows.
For security reasons or if your ISP blocks port 80, you may choose
to obscure the location of your TiVo by using virtual WAN ports such
as xx.xx.xx.xx:2000 -> yy.yy.yy.yy:443. If you want to access your
TiVo web server within the home, you can browse directly to the TiVo
IP (remember, using https) without any router config.
if I have a Mac?
Trust me, I feel your pain. TiVo does not support TTG functionality
on the Mac at this time. The good news is a
pre-alpha version has been demo-ed and the software is expected
to be release mid-2006.The current difficulty is that the .tivo
decrypting function has only been written for the Windows platform using
DirectShow specifications. The best solution at the moment is to use
a PC (Virtual or otherwise) to free your .tivo files using DirectShow
Dump as described above. The resultant .mpeg can be burned to disc or
copied across your network and played on OSX using the free VLC
Media Player. QuickTime doesn't currently support these flavors
of files, so they can't be edited or played in the Apple iLife suite.
The Mac platform does offer a nice DVR option with ElGato's
5/3/06 Update Using
Desktop for Mac 1.9.3 client and a little hacking, you can now
transfer video files to your TiVo for playback.
is a pain in the ass, what other options do I have?
The quickest, easiest, and highest quality way to get TiVo recordings
on the DVD is to buy a
TiVo w/ DVD Burner - the only drawback is you won't be able to edit
out commercials. You have quite a few options to get TV and movie content
onto a computer... The most amazing recent innovation is the Slingbox
- this device will "sling" whatever is on your TV, TiVo, DVD player,
etc to any computer anywhere in the world and provide full remote control.
I highly recommend the Slingbox,
it will revolutionize TV the way TiVo did several years ago. There are
several PC programs which have PVR/DVR functionality and then some,
such as SnapStream's
Beyond TV for PC and the free MythTV
for Linux. Downloadable and streaming content is here - I've had good
luck with MovieLink.
ReplayTV, the TiVo competitor, has a nice software companion called
blows TiVo Desktop out of the water. Additionally, TiVo units can be
hacked to extract video as described at DealDatabase.
does TiVo Desktop 2.3 offer?
TiVo Desktop 2.3 has
been released with a few new tricks up it's sleeve. Enhancements include
scheduled series downloads and MPEG-4 to MPEG-2 video transcoding (at
a cost of $24.95) for a variety
of portable devices such as the video-capable iPod and PSP.
and screen shots of Desktop 2.3 enhancements.
interview of TiVo VP Jim Denney regarding Desktop 2.3.
Desktop 2.3 to transcode prior downloads.
to higher resolutions with Desktop 2.3.