How to watch and record TV on your Mac


Did you know you can get a tuner for your Macintosh computer, plug a TV antenna into it, and watch TV on your macintosh computer. Once you’ve got it connected, you can set it up to record any shows you want, and watch them anytime. Here’s how to get it going.

To watch digital TV on you mac you need 2 things.  Firstly, some hardware to get the TV signal into your computer, and  secondly, you need  some software to control the recordings and display the TV programs on your screen.

1. The Hardware: a USB TV tuner stick.

One end plugs into your USB port, the other end has an antenna socket where you plug the lead coming out of your TV antenna. So the antenna lead coming from your roof now plugs into your computer as if it was your TV.

A TV USB tuner stick looks like this:

EyeTV tuner

You need to get one suitable for your area, for example in Australia, Asia and Europe the standard is DVB-T (also called DTT). In the USA cable TV is popular, while Japan and South America have ISDB.

2. The Software.

You then need to load up software. The EyeTV software is great, it has a setup assistant that will automatically tune the channels in for you, guiding you along the way like this:

setup assistant


Now you can Watch TV!

I found EyeTV to be a good solution for both the hardware and software. It records shows, you can watch them later and skip the adds. It comes with it’s own remote, but also works with the apple remote. It has different versions for the USA, Australia, UK and so on.

It has some nice tweaks too, so you can set the forward skip to be 30 seconds, so each press of the remote skips exactly 1 30 second advertisement, and then set the back skip to be 2 or 3 seconds to jump just that little bit back if you miss the start of the show again.

Not too hard to set up. When I did have problems, I emailed EyeTV support and they helped me within a day with my questions.

The macintosh will automatically wake up if it is asleep, record the program, then go back to sleep when it is finished. It can even power on from powered down to record a show if you want it to. This preference (start EyeTV when the device is plugged in) is the one that allows EyeTV to automatically wake up from sleep to record – it took me a while to work out!) wake up

For $99 per year you can subscribe to IceTV, which allows you to have more detailed and up-to-date program information, and an iphone app that will allow you to tell your computer to record shows. I just used it for the 3 months for free and didn’t sign up as I found the recording not as reliable as directly from EyeTV.

Here’s a screenshot of the iphone program:


17 responses to “How to watch and record TV on your Mac”

  1. Emma

    Can you tell me, Can you set it up to record a set of shows when your not there, … or do you need to hit record each time??



    1. John

      Now a day’s many companies will offer you the ability to watch what live TV on some sort of a player on their website, in the UK here we have access to such things as BBC iPlayer and 4oD. You can also watch previous episodes. Majority of times people want to watch premium content for next to nothing, I have found two AMAZING websites where you can! For a GREAT selection of movies I recommend this if you wish to watch live TV in HD I would recommend

      I give both of these services 5/5!

  2. Tom

    @ Emma
    You can set it to record at certain times. For example, 7:30 to 8:30 on Channel 9 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays without having to click every time. However you can’t single out shows, just the time slots.

  3. kelley

    Can you hook up a Macbook Pro using these instructions and watch tv?

  4. Craig

    Did you attempt to stream it thru a home network & if so how did it perform? How about streaming to a PC?

    1. Yep it streams fine – you can watch recorded shows on other computers or live shows, but the web interface is not real stable, so a second copy of eyeTV running is better.

  5. Owen

    Can you burn recorded programs to a DVD?

    1. jeff card

      Of course, you can burn the programs to DVD as burning data disc.

  6. Craig

    Can I record to my MacBook, and then play back on my Flatscreen TV, or does it only work for playback on my computer?

    1. Pretty sure you should be able to playback on a flat screen TV. Do you mean plug your MacBook into the flatscreen TV and use the TV as an external monitor, or do you mean for your flatscreen TV to play video files off a network hard drive? I’m guessing either should work, but for the 2nd option you’ll need to share the files from your MacBook and then from the TV navigate into the folder that eyeTV puts the movies into, where you will find the video files have very strange names!

  7. Gabriella

    Is there a way to record multiple shows at once? And what does the menu look like to choose recorded shows to watch? Does the menu show up on the TV or the computer?

    1. yes if you have a dual tuner stick.

  8. What if you already have a Sky or Digital TV subscription and an ariel lead etc, can you not just plug in and go somehow? Like with a regular tv?

  9. i-tuned

    does anybody know if i can use eyetv hybrid in surinam/paramaribo that’s in south america

  10. Henry

    Can you record to your Mac, then burn a DVD, then play the DVD in a DVD player?

  11. Will this work on my 5 year old Mac book Pro ? If it will how & we’re can I get one “uk” please

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