How to Adjust VCR Tracking Manually

Written by darrin meyer
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How to Adjust VCR Tracking Manually
Both video and audio can suffer when the tracking is off. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

One disadvantage of VCRs and VHS tapes is that the picture quality of recorded content can diminish and deteriorate over time, due to extended periods of usage and multiple recordings. Playback can also suffer when a tape recorded in one VCR is played in another. Many VCRs are designed with an automatic tracking feature to minimise the distortion that occurs and present the best possible picture, but many VCRs also allow you to make this adjustment manually.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Insert a VHS tape into the VCR and press "Play." Allow a small amount of time (10 seconds to 30 seconds) for the VCR to automatically adjust the tracking for the tape being played. If the picture remains snowy, jumpy, lacks colour or sound, or has lines running horizontally across the screen, manual tracking adjustment may fix the problem.

  2. 2

    Consult your VCR's user guide to learn which buttons (on the remote control, the front of the unit, or both) are used for manual tracking adjustment.

  3. 3

    Press and hold one of the designated buttons to adjust tracking. The lines on the screen may disappear and the picture may improve after a minor adjustment, or it may get worse before showing improvement as the VCR cycles through the tracking process.

  4. 4

    Continue to hold the button until the picture clears, or release it in favour of the other designated tracking button to reverse the direction of the adjustment.

  5. 5

    Repeat the process if necessary after stopping, rewinding or fast-forwarding the playback of the tape.

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