Hit or Miss

TiVo to DVD (or VCD) via Mac OSX

Because I’m relatively new to the Mac world, I had a lot of trouble finding both instructions and (free) software to extract video from my Series 1 TiVo and burn it to DVD or VCD/SCVD. The following is a write-up of the steps I’ve worked out.

  1. You must have an ethernet card and telnet access to your TiVo.
    1. Series 1 TiVos (which I have) are the easiest to hack. I ordered my TurboNet card from 9th Tee, but PTVUpgrade apprently sells them as well, along with replacement TiVo hard drives that already have all the modifications made on them.
    2. I don’t know much about Series 2 TiVos because I don’t have one (and Jeff hasn’t let me hack his yet). You don’t have to install a network card because you can use a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, but enabling telnet & installing your own applications is trickier. Check out the TivoCommunity or Deal Database forums or this short tutorial I found. Or you can order a replacement hard drive from PTVUpgrade that already has all the modifications made.
  2. Download and install TYServer on your TiVo (if you have a Series 2 TiVo, you will need to install a specially compiled version of TYServer, which I don’t have any links handy for right now). Follow these instructions (ignore the part about the TYTools “client” software, which is for the PC). You will need to let it run for a while to index all the recordings on your TiVo.
  3. Download and install X11 for OSX.
  4. Download and install TYStudio for OSX. To use it, launch X11 and use the terminal to locate and execute “tyeditor.”
  5. Use TYEditor (instructions) to edit and save TiVo programs to MPG files on your hard drive.
  6. Download and install ffmpegX for OSX.
  7. Use ffmpegX to convert your the MPG files into files that can be edited in iMovie.
    1. Drag and drop the MPG file on ffmpegX.
    2. Select “MP4 mpeg-4” as the target video format.
    3. On the “video” tab, select 4:3 as the aspect ratio (under “Auto-Size”). The video size should be 640×480.
    4. On the “audio” tab, make sure the Audio codec is set to AAC.
    5. Click “encode” and sit back while the MPG file is converted to MPEG-4.
  8. Open iMovie and create a new project (choose MPEG-4 as the video format). Import the MP4 file(s). Now you can edit and arrange the clips.
  9. From iMovie, you can “share” your project to iDVD and then burn it to DVD.

Creating a 2-hour DVD was an unbearably lengthy process (lots of waiting while files were encoded from one format to another) on my Mac Mini and used tons of space on my hard drive. And in the end, the DVD+R disc I burned wouldn’t play in my DVD player (I think I need to use DVD-R discs instead).

I’ve also encoded some video to SVCD, which uses regular CDRs and will play on my DVD player.

  1. Drag and drop the MPG file (saved from the TiVo) to ffmpegX.
  2. You should select “SVCD” as the target video format. Resolution should be 480 by 480.
  3. If you want to convert footage you’ve edited in iMovie, you should export the reference Quicktime file (click on your iMovie file and select “show package contents.” The file will be under “Shared Movies/iDVD”). Drag and drop this on ffmpegX and follow the same step as above.
  4. After encoding the file, use the “Tools” tab to author the file into a format that can be burned to CDR.
  5. Download and install Missing Media Encoder to burn the files to CDR.
  6. You can also use MMT-EZ to go from iMovie to VCD/SVCD.

26 responses so far (Respond)


will any of this process work for series 2 machines? since we’re lacking Tivo To Go componants, it would be nice to kick start it by any means we can.

R$ | 9 Mar 2005

You might find that buying Toast would sort out your problems and make it a much simpler process.

WOPR | 9 Mar 2005

Hi, I don’t have TVIO, I have a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 HD from Adelphia Cable and would like to transfer programs from it to my Mac and burn them to DVD. I was hoping that you could give me a little guidance on where to start in this process. The unit has two 1394 ports on the back but I’m having trouble finding out if these are live and compatible with the Mac. If they were I would think it wouldn’t be too hard to transfer the program files to my Mac and use iDVD to convert and record them. Any help or direction would be really appreciated. Thanks, Jim Connerly

Jim Connerly | 9 Mar 2005

You could also use something like the Canopus ADVC-100 and iMovie to digitize you video from any TiVo or PVR. Sure it’s not “digital extraction”, but it’s much much easier. No hacking, no ethernet, nothing to download, and no networking skills required. The quality is fantastic and ease of use can’t be beat.

OSX | 9 Mar 2005

Matt –

You may (or may not) know that ffmpegX allows you to directly used .ty files. Which means that you only need to use TyStudio to retrieve the files from the TiVo, and let ffmpegX do the rest.

Thanks for the great post.

(PS: Jim – I’ve also got the 8000HD, and I’m pretty sure the FireWire (1394) ports aren’t enabled anywhere in the country. If you find out otherwise, let us know.)

JVA | 9 Mar 2005

If you have a series 2 Tivo open up a web browser and go to https://(the ip address of your tivo)/nowplaying/index.html and login as tivo with a password of your media access code (from the Tivo view settings screen) It will let you access a website where you can download the *.tivo files of your shows. Now I’m still working on the rest to see if I can at least play them on my G5.

jh | 10 Mar 2005

Thanks for posting this. It’s really handy to have it all in one place, and it’s much clearer than most of the sites I’ve seen about OS X TiVo hacking… I never got into it because my PowerBook was too slow/too limited in hard drive space but now that I’ve got a new one I’m going to pursue this with a vengeance!

brian w | 10 Mar 2005

I have been doing this with a directv PVR and a g4 flatscreen imac. I use a Canupus ADVC100 to Imovie and then IDVD via firewire. I use the record to vcr feature on the pvr for stored shows. I edit out the commericals if I want via Imovie and then burn the DVD in IDVD using the transfer feature in Imovie. The disks play fine. The only problems I have has are with disk space for the Idvd rendering. I have not had good luck using external firewire drives for video storage. If you don’t need to edit, I think the PVR to DVD recorder is the quickest and most straight forward for burning saved shows. The ADVC100 does a super job. No loss of audio/video sync, even with long recordings.

CKraidich | 10 Mar 2005

Oh another thing, Time Warner Digital Cable has a box available with a firewire port that streams mpeg2 of whatever you are watching, including premium channels, but not PPV. Recent versions of MythTv, a Linus based PVR that is used experementally under OS/X, handle this MPEG sream and can transcode it to MPEG4, etc. I’m not sure if the warner cable box is the same as the Adelphia box. I am not sure of the manufacturer and model. Is anyone in this formum using Myth under OSX as a back end? Does anyone know if Quicktime Pro has the ability to transcode Mpeg2 from Imovie to H.264 yet?

CKraidich | 10 Mar 2005

Search around on google for the firewire question… you can record from most any digital cable box with your mac using an apple app (a developer app)…

Jay | 11 Mar 2005

aaah. i need to decode the TivoToGo files from a Series 2 Tivo.

isn’t there ANY way to do this in OS X w/o using VirtualPC.

ming | 11 Mar 2005

Going through iDVD only makes sense if you want to put more than one file on DVD, create menus, etc…
If you’re only dealing with one DVD file, you can select DVD output in ffmpegX. It will automatically create an image file which you can then burn using Disk Utility (in Applications/Utilities): click the “Burn” icon, select image file, and your DVD will be ready a few minutes later.

LordJohnWhorfin | 12 Mar 2005

I used to spend a lot of time with my Series 1 TiVo and Mac making DVDs. Then I decided life was too short, and bought a TiVo from HUMAX with a built-in DVD recorder. Worth every cent. I can live with adverts in my DVDs, simply because the burning process is so painless.

john | 20 Mar 2005

Does anyone know anything about doing this with a DirecTivo unit (DSR7000)? I bought a hard drive upgrade last year but I did NOT buy one from one of the companies which enable telnet (didn’t know better at the time).

I’ll also share an interesting new tool that some who are using the Canopus or similar solutions might find useful, the Lacie FastCoder http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?id=10125

TjL | 27 Mar 2005

Thanks for all this excellent info!! Makes me glad I have a series 1 tivo now!!



seth | 12 Apr 2005

I have a DirectTV HD DVR model HR-10-250. The hard drive is locking up and DirectTV is sending another unit. The problem is I’ll lose tons of movies I’ve saved for business purposed. DirectTV customer service said if I went on the web I could find hacks to copy these files off the existing drive and put them on the new machine when it comes in. However, I’m on Macintosh and can’t find out how to do this. Even the above says “Series 1,” and I suspect since my unit it pretty new, it’s not series 1 (but the truth is, I don’t know). Can anyone tell me how to get the information off the existing unit before the hard drive totally dies? Thanks.

warren | 1 Jul 2005

has anyone figured out how to convert the .tivo files into something ffmpegX will recognize?

jonathan | 15 Jul 2005

only thing I have come up with is to use direct show dump in VirtualPC to take a series 2 .tivo to plain mpeg. I own SONIC mydvd, used with Tivo2GO on a PC, the process to do this on a mac isn’t as easy, but you get a lot more control, and the speed is roughly the same, even though there are more steps.

don | 11 Aug 2005

I’ve converted the .tivo file with DirectShowDump on my PC and then I moved the files over to mac. The video freezes on the first frame and the audio continues.

I’ve tried converting it using VLAN and MPEG Streamclip, but quicktime will never play it. Any ideas?

aaron | 4 Sep 2005

I have had limited success using Virtual PC to connect to my series 2 TiVo, and then using Direct Show Dump to convert to mpg. I use VLC to view the mpgs, which works great, and the quality is excellent, when it does work.

I have noticed that longer shows (I’ve only seen this with recordings longer than 2 hours), that Direct Show Dump either dies (which I think may be a Windows/VPC error), or about 75% of the way through, I get an error that says the Media Key in WinXP is different from the one on the TiVo box that recorded the show, which is impossible since I’ve only set this up with one TiVo box.

andrew | 11 Sep 2005

I see the same issue that Aaron sees… the converted file freezes video on frame 1. Additionally, if I fast forward to the end, the audio only gets about halfway through the original recording. I’ve tried using virtualdub on the PC to recompress with a difference codec (and fix any errors), but haven’t had any luck to date. In virtualdub, though, I can watch the entire movie with no problems. Can’t get it to DVD, though.

emmett | 28 Sep 2005

You don’t need X11! Dig out TivoTool – I use it directly in Mac OS X, contains its own viewer and burns DVDs. Still a little rough round the edged, but recommended all the same!

Benet | 26 Dec 2005

why oh why can’t iMovie import mpeg2 and why oh why can’t iDvd either? 🙁
this process is the most annoying thing to me as a new Mac switcher. tytool on the PC is an elegant all in one Application.
Tivo to DVD with edits with only 1 Multiplex to dvd audio.
THIS is all I want on my Mac.

Gunny | 22 Jan 2006

As per Benet check out http://www.tivotool.com – Does it all in a clean OSX gui. pulls from vserver process running on tivo saves to various formats on Mac HD or will Burn DVD. You can also watch in real time.

fred gannett | 19 May 2006

It looks like http://sourceforge.net/projects/galleon and/or http://tdm.sourceforge.net/ and/or http://www.tivotool.com/ might be of use, along with TiVo’s Mac OS X desktop software at http://www.tivo.com/

Alternatively it looks like you can pay for the latest Toast to get this ability.

johann | 7 Mar 2007

A nice tool is available for those in need of ffmpegx assistance. Techspansion’s Visual Hub. Worth the 20 bucks

Mike | 23 Mar 2007