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VLC Won't Play TiVo Files, Solved


VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework (can run on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, etc.) that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. In fact, VLC 2.0 or later version supports the Blu-ray playback. More >>

However, it will meet its waterloo in Tivo files. And so many folks feedback they have no ideas when VLC won't play their .tivo recordings:

"I just installed Stinky’s MPEG-2 Codecs, and WMP 11 plays my .tivo files just fine. How can I get VLC to play them as well?"

"Does anyone know if you can play TIVO files on the VLC player?  It is ‘playing’… I can hear the sound, but the video is just all streaks.  What adjustments do I need to make?  Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me."

General Solution: Tivo only work in WMP because TiVo Desktop installs a thingamajig for them. VLC doesn’t use system codecs/filters/whatnot, so the .TiVo file won’t work. But if you convert it to MPEG, it should work fine. Also, you can add Tivo-VLC to play Tivo files on VLC.

Method 1. Play .tivo with TiVo-VLC installed

Method 2. Convert Tivo to MP4 for VLC Playback

Method 1. Play .tivo with TiVo-VLC installed

TiVo-VLC is a set of modules for the VLC Project that provide compatability with TiVo file formats and server.

With this modules and VLC, you can:

Play TiVo “TY” format files from any source VLC can access including files & many types of streaming.

Get "Now Showing" lists and play any program from your TiVo directly in VLC.
Note: You must have a “hacked” TiVo with vserver running on it for this to work.

Transcode TY files into almost any other media file format using different audio and video codecs. This includes everything VLC supports. See their webpage here for a current list.

Install modules and VLC

1. Download and install VLC. Make sure it works. Instructions and files can be found at the VLC website. Be aware that VLC will only load modules which have the exact same version as the main executable. Our pre-compiled binaries are for VLC version 0.8.1.

2. If you can use a pre-compiled binary, download one from the project’s downloads page.

3. If you can’t or don’t want to use a pre-compiled binary, you can get the source from the same place. Since the source for vstream hasn’t been officially released yet, you can get it from the CVS repository. Note that building the module from source requires the entire VLC source tree as well. There are further build notes within the source releases.

4. Put the modules (.dll or .so or .dylib or whatever) into your VLC modules directory. On Unix machines, this is usually something like /usr/lib/vlc/demux for the libty module and /usr/lib/vlc/accessfor the libvstream module. On windows, this is the “plugins” directory located wherever you unzipped the VLC package.

5. Run VLC. The modules should be loaded. You can now type things like this:

5.1 vlc tivo://my-tivo-address/plist and after a few seconds VLC’s playlist will be filled with all available shows on your TiVo. Double-click on an entry and it starts playing! (Requires vserver running on your TiVo.)

5.2 vlc tivo://my-tivo-address/12345 where 12345 is the FSID of a program on your TiVo. The FSID can be obtained through many methods, including looking at the “properties” of an entry in your VLC playlist after issuing the “plist” command above. (Requires vserver running on your TiVo.)

5.3 vlc some-ty-file.ty to play a TY file

5.4 vlc some-ty-file.ty ‘:sout=#transcode{vcodec=mp4v,vb=512,acodec=mp3,ab=192}: std{access=file,mux=ps,url=outfile.mpg}’ (all on one line) and your TY file will be transcoded into MPEG-4 video, MP3 audio, with the bitrates stated.
There are dozens of combinations and other options. Check out VLC’s documentation for more.

On Unix systems and cygwin, you can specify -vvv on the command line and when VLC starts, it will tell you which modules have been loaded.

Method 2. Convert Tivo to MP4 for VLC Playback

You can also transcode the TiVo files to MP4, MPEG, MKV or other VLC media player compatible format. For transcoding TiVo files, Brorsoft Video Converter Ultimate (for Windows) / Brorsoft iMedia Converter (for Mac) should take into your considerations.

In fact, this TiVo Converter is an all-in-one video convert app. It can help you quickly and easily convert TiVo to any format like MKV, AVI, WMV, MOV, MPG, M4V, MP4, etc with least quality loss. Besides TiVo, this video convert program can also help to convert between any popular video and audio formats as you need. You could get wonderful output files and never worry about out of audio/video sync. Plus, with the built-in video editing feature of the program, you can trim, crop, add watermark and more to your video files.

Guide: How to Convert TiVo TO MP4 for Playing with VLC

Transfer TiVo to PC

First, you need to transfer the TiVo recordings to PC. Make sure your TiVo and computer are in the same home network, and follow this guide to proceed TiVo file transfer:


1.On your PC, launch TiVo Desktop for PC (click to download), the freeware that transfers shows from your networked TiVo box to your computer.

2.Click “Pick Recordings to Transfer.” A window showing your TiVo box’s “Now Playing” or “My Shows” list appears.

3.Highlight any title in the list to see more information about the show. Check the box next to the title of the show (or shows) you want to transfer.

4.Click “Start Transfer.” Transfer times vary, but may take as long as the show’s duration to complete the transfer.

Convert TiVo to MP4 for VLC

Download the free trail version of Brorsoft Video Converter Ultimate / Brorsoft iMedia Converter, just keep in mind that you have download the right version, Mac OS .dmg files cannot be installed on Windows platform - and vice versa.

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Step 1: Download and install TiVo converter

Step 2: Load TiVo files

Launch TiVo Converter, press “Option” icon first and enter TiVo Media Access Key to “Tivo” tab. Then hit the “Load file(s)”icon to import TiVo recorded videos to this TiVo converter. Since the app supports batch conversion so you can import more than one TiVo recordings at a time.


Go to “TiVo Central” menu >> “Messages and Set Up” >> “Account and System Information”, and you will see your Media Access Key there.

Step 3: Set the output format

If you plan to re-encode Tivo to VLC with more compatible format like MP4, just navigate to “Format” > “HD Video” > “H.264 HD Video (*.mp4)” as output file format.


Tip: If you think the video size this not suitable for your devices, you can first choose any one of the provided type, then change the settings. Please remember the file size is based more on bitrate than resolution which means bitrate higher results in bigger file size, and lower visible quality loss.

Step 4: Start conversion

Just click “Convert” button to start to transcode Tivo to VLC supported format.

Once the conversion ends, you can locate the MP4 files in output folder. Then you can play Tivo with VLC without installing Tivo-VLC.

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