Advice from a veteran to a newbie (consolidated)

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by DMHinCO, Aug 10, 2002.

  1. Aug 10, 2002 #1 of 233

    DMHinCO Blithering Idiot

    Dec 14, 2000
    Denver, CO


    If you have two shows that are on simultaneously that you want to record, try to figure out whether one of them is on a cable channel that reruns their shows multiple times during the day. If so, put that show LOWER in your season pass manager. This usually happens in the evening with Prime time shows. The prime-time episodes will conflict, so it will record the one that is on only once during the primetime hours. Then, while you are asleep, it will find a rerun of the repeated show.

    For the nightly news, set your recording options as follows: Keep At Most=1 Episode. That way, each day it will delete yesterday's news and record today's. You might also try watching the news with closed captioning turned on and one fast-forward.

    For shows that you don't care WHICH episode you have, but you always want one available (e.g., Jeopardy), set your recording options as follows: Keep at Most = 1 Episode and Save Until I Delete. That way, when you watch the episode and delete it, you'll get a new one the next time the show is on. I am using this more and more. Cooking shows, home improvement shows, just about any kid's show that our three-year-old likes, etc.

    Experiment with auto-recording wishlists. Two things about them that I'd like to highlight.
    a) A regular season pass is channel-dependent. For shows you love that are on multiple networks, don't create a season pass, use an auto-recording wishlist. For example, if you love Law and Order and want to get not only the new episodes but also the reruns on cable, an autorecording wishlist will do it. (However, with this particular show being ubiquitous, you'll have more L&O than anyone could watch.)
    b) Create autorecording wishlists for each of the following words: Premiere, Pilot, Finale, and set it to record first run only. That way, when a new show comes out, your TiVo will often catch it. Not always, but often. You can leave it there for a few days and see if any of your friends say "hey that new show x was really good." Then you can watch it. This is particularly effective during the times of the year when new shows are being introduced. Remember if you find one you like, create a season pass for it.

    The View Upcoming Episodes is really effective for cooking shows, home improvement shows, shows that have a different musical performer each episode like Sessions at West 54th, etc. For example, if you like Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay, you probably won't bother recording it when he is cooking calfbrains, but when he's got a vegetarian quesadilla with your favorite vegetable, you can grab it. Similarly, when Megadeth is on Sessions at West 54th, you can give them the swerve but you'll notice that [insert your favorite performer here] is coming up next week and you can set TiVo to record just that episode.

    If you see an ad for a show coming up in the future but it isn't in your program guide since it is more than 12 days in the future, create an autorecording wishlist.

    Shortcut keys I find the most convenient: TiVo + 2 takes you to the To Do List. TiVo + 4 takes you to Pick Programs By Title. TiVo + 8 takes you to suggestions. Northrk created a nice cheat sheet at

    If TiVo keeps telling you that it needs to change the channel to record something, you're watching too much live TV. :) I suggest you adopt my habit of hitting the TiVo button twice before you turn the TV on. That way, you're looking at the list of things you want to watch, not what the network happens to be (in the middle of) showing at the time. It also dramatically reduces your advertisement intake.

    If you have a good, clear signal coming into the TV, you can probably record almost everything except sports on Basic quality.

    Try a season pass for Sports Night on Comedy Central. They are all reruns since it was on for only two seasons. I think it is one of the best shows on TV. If you don't like the style (regardless of the politics) of West Wing, you probably won't like Sports Night, which by the way is not about sports. Or politics.

    Don't feel compelled to watch everything on your TiVo before it gets deleted. For awhile, I did. It didn't really subside until I upgraded my space and now I have about 100 hours. Before that, I felt like I had to hurry to watch something before it went away. Sometimes things will get deleted without you watching them. Hey, big deal. At least when you were watching TV, it was something you wanted to see rather than whatever drivel was on at the time. Also, just because it says it CAN be deleted doesn’t mean it WILL be deleted. It stays until TiVo needs the space for another show (not a suggestion).

    Be careful in setting an autorecord wishlist for popular directors like Alfred Hitchcock. Those movies are on quite a bit and will overwhelm you. Make sure you set “Keep At Most” wisely. One shortcoming in the TiVo is that you can't include the restriction "only record if it is 3.5 or 4 stars." Same advice for actors who have a large body of work.

    The Keep At Most setting is really your friend when some station decides to run a dozen episodes of the same show back to back in a marathon. Keeping this set to 3 or 4 episodes for most shows keeps these marathons from consuming too much of your precious hard drive space. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it can be infuriating.

    The Channel Up / Down button is quite useful when you are in the TiVo menus. If you are looking at a list, the channel down button acts as a page down button. If you are looking at a single episode description, the channel down takes you to the next show.

    The eight second rewind button is excellent for those of us with bad hearing.

    Quick! Give three thumbs down to Paid Programming. Also, remove HSN and other shopping channels from your Channels You Receive list. There, I just saved you much more than the TiVo service fee. :^)

    If you remember an old episode of a show that you saw once that you'd like to see again or someone tells you of a movie they liked, create an autorecord wishlist that is specific enough to catch it.

    If you're halfway through watching a recorded program, hit left-arrow or TiVo before you turn off the tube. That way, TiVo will know where you left off. Otherwise it will just play to the end of the show and lose your spot.

    Put your TiVo on a surge supressor or UPS. Make sure it protects the telephone line as well. Also, if you are using plain cable or antenna, put that through the surge suppressor as well. Search the forum for recommendations. They aren’t very expensive.

    Add Wishlists for your favorite performers. That’s my excuse for having “BARENAKED” in my wishlists. Honestly.

    Select Play Select 3 0 Select while you are watching a recording toggles on and off the 30-second skip. It replaces the normal function of the skip to end button. ->| It resets each time you reboot or the power fails.

    Especially if you have subscriptions to HBO/Showtime/Stars/Encore/Cinemax or whatever, go WILD with creating wishlists by using these fabulous resources: and and

    Don't forget the wildcard character when creating a wishlist. It is the SLOW button. Example, a wishlist for Muppet* catches the Muppet Movie and the Muppet Show since they are singular. It also catches Muppets Take Manhattan since Muppets is plural.

    If space is at a premium, consider using manual recordings to catch just the portion that you like of a particular show. Some examples:
    o If you only watch the monologue (Dave, Jay, Craig, whoever), consider recording just the first 20 minutes or so.
    o If you only want the weather, figure out what time your local news slots their weather into. Record a short block that includes that time. Don't forget KAM=1. Seeing yesterday's weather forecast would just reduce your faith in today's.
    o If you only want the top stories without the human-interest fluff, pick a good time each day and grab the first 10 minutes of Headline News or one of the other news programs. Again, KAM=1.
    o Some shows save the best for last, or recap the whole episode at the end. A couple examples might be America's Funniest Home Videos (with the top three repeated at the end) or some of the home improvement DIY shows where they recap the project at the end. Consider recording just the last ten minutes.
    o Some home improvement shows have a segment at the end with how to use a particular tool. Other shows have specific segments like this. If you find yourself FFing to get to those spots and you never watch the other parts of the show, consider recording just the good parts.

    If space is at a premium on your recorder (as it is on most unhacked standalones), consider instructing TiVo to make a 5-minute manual recording at 7:00 AM on, say, your NBC local affiliate. That way, when you awaken, TiVo will have stored in its buffer up-to 30 minutes of your favorite morning show, without having to record the entire 2 or 3 hours of the show.

    Even if you live alone, you should set a parental controls password. If you don't care to prevent anything from being accessible, then set it to allow all ratings. This is important when you have a guest who picks up your remote and accidentally gets into parental controls. If that guest sets your password and forgets it, you will need to jump through some hoops with the customer service reps. So set your password yourself, or someone else may.

    If you want to *keep* a particular segment on the Today show, you can watch live until the part you want comes up and then hit record. TiVo saves the 30-minute segment in the buffer. Stop recording right after your segment is over. This saves the interesting part in a 30 minute block rather than the whole length of the show.

    Be careful with "padding." That is, setting your TiVo to start recording a bit early and/or end recording a bit late. This is less of a problem with the DirecTiVo with dual tuners, but it can still happen. If you ask for a 7:00 half-hour show to end 1 minute late, it will not be able to schedule another show starting at 7:30. The dual-tuner DirecTiVo runs into this same problem only if the other tuner is busy at that time also. Having said that, if you do choose to pad (NBC on Wednesdays and Thursdays is notoriously bad about starting early) because you don't want to miss any of your favorite show, two minutes padding (or for that matter, 15 minutes) is usually no more of a problem than one minute padding in the above case.

    Friends don’t let friends watch Live TV! Become an evangelist by running to any local retailer with a 30-day return policy. Take a brand new TiVo over to your friend's house and set it up for her. Better yet, set it up at your house and then take it over and install it. Pay the first month's service. Tell her it is your "loaner machine" and she can keep it for three weeks. Call a couple days later to see if there are any tips you can give. Then call two weeks later and announce you are going to pick it back up. In my experience, if you have set it up for your friend, she'll want to keep it because she loves it. If she doesn't want it, the retailer will still take it back until 30 days has passed. And you can get your TiVo subscription fee for the first month refunded. But again, I think she's keeping it. The times my friends have chosen NOT to keep it were times when I didn't hook it up to their TV and therefore they just let it sit in the box for two weeks.

    This applies to DirecTiVos primarily since lineup changes are forced on us with DirecTiVo. Set your Channels You Receive exactly the way you want it. Then go into favorite channel setup and "Add ALL." Then in the live guide select to display favorites only. From that point on, if DTV adds channels, you will not see them in the live guide. Favorites only update when you tell them to. Of course this does not prevent TiVo from trying to use those channels to record suggestions or wishlists from or remove them from Search By Title. Nonetheless, for most of the channels that get added, like MLB, most people do not have auto-record wishlists that would find shows there.

    Before you go out to buy an A/V sound system or a TV, do a search through this forum to make sure you don't buy one of the (few) receivers or TVs that can't be controlled by a TiVo remote. I believe this is less of a problem with the Sony units. I have a cheap AIWA receiver and my Philips remote won't talk to it.

    If you have a standalone TiVo, there are occasionally problems with your cable company changing its lineup or Tribune thinking it did. This will result in your TiVo deleting all of your season passes. It hasn't happened to me, but if it happens to you, it will be painful. So take a spare VCR tape, start recording, and then go into your Season Pass Manager and scroll through the entire list, nice and slow. Then do the same thing for your list of WishLists (Tivo+3). You may even want to take the time to go into the recording details of some or all of your season passes and auto-record wishlists."

    Use Standby to record a show and still watch live tv on another station. Put TiVo in standby, hide the remote, and use your old TV remote to watch what ever you want. You might also use this with babysitters or house sitters so they can just use the standard clicker and not mess up your TIVO recordings. This is dependent on how you have wired up your TiVo. Do a search in the forum for advice.

    Two viewers in your house? My wife and I have a system so we don't delete shows that the other may still want to watch. We got this idea from someone smart on this forum, but I forgot whom. After I watch something, I start back at the beginning and FF to 5 minutes into the show (and hit Pause to avoid the autocorrect). I leave it there. When my wife scrolls through and sees the show says "resume playing," she knows if it is at the 5 minute mark, she can safely watch it and delete it (or delete it if she isn't interested). If it is anywhere else in the show, she knows I am still watching it and not to delete it. It works the same with the shows she watches first.

    Tivolution Magazine and Showcases are fine, but if you want to see what movies are upcoming on YOUR channels, go to "record by title" and select the category "movies" and select a subcategory (such as action, comedy, etc.) if you want to. Then when it asks for a title enter a numeral zero to start at the beginning and you will get an alphabetical list of all movies (or all movies in that subcategory) that are scheduled on your channel lineup. It may be a lot of movies (esp. if you do have pay movie channels or you don't use a subcategory), but it's not too hard to skim the 8 or so titles per screen, and page through the list with "channel down."

    Special thanks to contributions from Gfb107, Philosofy, Joey303, murgatroyd, OldDog, BrettStah, budgetcomputers, and Doh
  2. Aug 11, 2002 #2 of 233

    friendlyghost New Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    Nice post. Very helpful.
  3. Aug 11, 2002 #3 of 233

    justapixel Domestic Extremist Staff Member

    Sep 27, 2001
    The Nanny State
    Making this a sticky since it's valuable info that keeps dropping down, but then everybody searches for or refers to later.

    Thanks David. :)
  4. Aug 11, 2002 #4 of 233

    jamesbobo with a grain of salt

    Jun 18, 2000
    I'll add this: sometimes you will want to record all shows during a marathon. If so, set your "Keep at most" setting to "All Episodes".
  5. Aug 14, 2002 #5 of 233

    TheSimpsons Posts: 140,518

    Sep 16, 2001
    New York


    I'm glad to see this was finally made as a note. Hunter Green had a good one about new features in 3.0 which should certainly be considered as a sticky. (in this thread or another) :)

    -The Simpsons :) :D :cool: :eek: :p
  6. Aug 14, 2002 #6 of 233
    Hunter Green

    Hunter Green Curmudgeon

    Feb 22, 2002
    I think the time for that has passed... very few inquiries about "what's new in v3.0" anymore.
  7. Aug 14, 2002 #7 of 233

    grecorj Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    I would add:

    If you have small children in the house (or visiting), HIDE THE REMOTE. While it is cute that my 3.5 yr old and 1.5 yr old can pause & play tv by themselves, finding that they've given some random show 3 Thumbs Down (I guess they like the red button better than the green one) makes me wonder what other "enhancements" they've made by pressing the buttons w/o the tv even being on...
  8. Aug 14, 2002 #8 of 233

    gleffler This one goes to 11

    Dec 28, 2000
    Might wanna link to the broadband setup threads for people that don't have free local calls or don't have a local POP. ;)

  9. Aug 15, 2002 #9 of 233
    mayberry roger

    mayberry roger New Member

    Dec 29, 2001
    I'm not a newbie, but I still learned a few things from this excellent post. The only thing I would disagree with is this statement: "If you have a good, clear signal coming into the TV, you can probably record almost everything except sports on Basic quality." I have discovered that even with a good signal, most "Scifi" shows don't handle special effects very well at the basic setting.
  10. Aug 15, 2002 #10 of 233

    tivojoego New Member

    Dec 26, 2001
    Couldn't agree more mayberry - I do alot of archiving off TiVo and for those purposes I would disagree completely with the newbie post. I state that Best quality is required as even though there seems to be little visual difference off the TiVo, the end result from the capture card [S-Video] is markedly different.

    Aside from that I found the post quite informative!
  11. Aug 15, 2002 #11 of 233

    RocketGuy TivoJunkie Wannabe

    Jul 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Great consolidation.

    A tip for recording just a portion of a show showed up in another forum and will fit right in here.

    + Watch the show until you get to the point you want to start recording
    + Change channels (this clears the 30-minute buffer)
    + Change back to the original channel
    + Start recording

    This captures just the portion you want without wasting disk space on the preceding X minutes that you don't want to record.
  12. Aug 15, 2002 #12 of 233

    mammoth New Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    San Jose, CA
    I'm not sure I get the point of this but am interested. I use closed captioning a lot due to my bad hearing but, as I recal, the closed captioning goes off when in fast forward. Is there a trick I have missed?
    By the way, one feature which TiVo has over a VCR is that the closed captioning can be toggled on/off on the recording. This is a great feature in my family since I use the closed captioning when viewing alone but turn it off otherwise since it drives my wife and kids crazy.
  13. Aug 15, 2002 #13 of 233

    johnh123 Member

    Dec 7, 2000
    Over there
    To view CC while fast forwarding, just use one level of ff- it won't work with 2 ff or 3 ff.
  14. Aug 17, 2002 #14 of 233

    dd9 Member

    Aug 10, 2000
    Boston, MA, USA
    I think a big factor on using basic quality is the size of the viewing TV. For example, on my RPTV, I couldn't handle anything below High most of the time - Best for anything with lots of motion.

    On the other hand, on my little 13" set, I can watch virtually anything in basic.
  15. Aug 21, 2002 #15 of 233

    jlb Go Pats!

    Dec 13, 2001
    Burlington, VT
    on my 27, medium works fine.....

    But one word of caution regarding the use of Auto-record wish lists....You may get tons of stuff you don't want. For instance, I have a Jonathan Frakes wishlist to catch shows that he appeared on (I don't have TNN, so I don't get the TNG episodes). However, I had neglected to realize that he hosted "Beyond Belief". I don't want those all the time. And 3 Thumbs down won't stop it since I had auto-record set. So now what I do is I don't autorecord and every week or so I do a search using the wishlist and see if there is anything coming up I want, then I record that particular well.
  16. Aug 23, 2002 #16 of 233

    DancnDude Thrice as nice TCF Club

    Feb 7, 2001
    Madison, WI
    Another tip about Closed Captioning that I use...
    If I can't understand what was said by someone on TV, turn on CC on your TV and then do an instant replay. Often times it will be typed out so you can read was was said :) I have my TV set to CC on Mute, so I just hit the mute button and then instant replay to read what was said.
  17. Aug 29, 2002 #17 of 233

    mschwab Antique TiVo User

    Feb 20, 2000
    That's exactly what I do (except I usually have to IR 3-4 times to give the CC enough time to process the section I want). I also use Mute on the TV to turn CC on/off, and I was confused by the previous poster that said TiVo made it easier to turn CC on/off. How so?
  18. Sep 3, 2002 #18 of 233

    r@fink New Member

    Feb 15, 2002
    North Dakota
    Major newbie tip!
    If you live in an area where the daily phone update is a long distance all means pick a number out of state. I reduced monthly long distance from $16.00+ down to $4.95 by doing so.
  19. Sep 8, 2002 #19 of 233

    SeattleBrad Pusher of Buttons

    Jul 19, 2002
    Great post. I have one more tip to add.

    Do you have one favorite channel above all others? Mine is the Discovery Channel. They're great about repeating their prime time content over and over again thru the wee hours. So I setup four manual recordings, from 4am-5am, 5am-6am, 6am-7am, and 7am-8am. Make sure you set "Keep at Most" to just one episode. Then you always have four hours of your favorite channel.

    Note: you could use just one manual recording for four hours, but then you only get the first episode description. With four separate ones, you get episode info for each hour.
  20. Sep 14, 2002 #20 of 233

    MaverickCoast New Member

    Sep 8, 2002
    DMHinCO -

    Could you please tell me where to find the cheat sheet that you put up a link for in your post? When I save the file from the link, it says it's a Brouderbund file. I have Print Shop, but, it's still says it unrecognizable when I open Print Shop.



    (Any other places you know of to go to to find out shortcuts and cheats for using the TIVO?)

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