How to Connect Cable TV to a Computer With USB

Written by mike howdyshell
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How to Connect Cable TV to a Computer With USB
You can watch cable television on your computer. (zapp image by djul from

At one point, your television was the only window for cable content, but today it's easy to watch cable TV on your computer. With all the choices out there for connecting cable TV to your computer, one of the most popular is the USB connected tuner. The reasons are simple. USB tuners are portable. They are smaller than their PCI counterparts. With the quick plug-and-play capabilities of USB tuners, most users find them easy to operate.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Computer with USB
  • Compatible USB TV tuner
  • Cable service

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  1. 1

    Install any software that is included with the USB tuner. This is usually done by placing the provided CD into your computer and following a step-by-step process provided on the screen. If there is no software with the tuner, check the manufacturer’s website for any installation tips or driver updates.

  2. 2

    Connect a coaxial cable to a cable outlet in your home. The cable should be long enough to safely reach the computer you wish to connect. Make sure not to run any cable under rugs or carpet. Avoid placing cable in high-traffic walkways.

  3. 3

    Connect the USB tuner to your coaxial cable. Most tuners have the same type of coaxial connection you find on a TV. Screw the nut of the coaxial cable to the bolt of your tuner. You do not need to tighten this connection with a tool; hand pressure should be sufficient.

  4. 4

    Insert the USB connection end of the tuner into the USB slot on your computer. Be careful when inserting USB connections. When inserted correctly, the connection end of the tuner should slide easily into the USB slot. If it does not, try turning the connection upside down before reinserting.

  5. 5

    Wait for a dialogue box to appear from your computer indicating that the USB tuner was detected. Plug-and-play USB tuners are often automatically detected when inserted. Check your computer’s documentation for clarification.

  1. 1

    Choose a video player to use on your computer. Some USB tuners have a pre-installed video player. If not, you may use Windows Media Center for PCs or EyeTV for Macs.

  2. 2

    Search to detect the TV tuner using the video player you chose. Many video players have a first-start option to detect any tuners that are connected via USB. Follow the directions that the video player software displays on screen. Some computers will automatically take this step.

  3. 3

    Scan the cable signal for channels. This type of scan is usually found in the settings of your video player. Depending on your video player, you must click on a tab or button that indicates scanning for channels. Once your player has detected the tuner signal and scanned for channels, you are free to watch any channel accessible through your cable provider. Choose the channel you wish to watch by clicking on the list provided from the channel scan.

Tips and warnings

  • Often, video players are equipped with recording capabilities. Check your video player’s documentation for more details.
  • Your cable provider may limit your access to premium content through a USB tuner. You may have to purchase an additional cable box for your computer if you want full access.

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