With the right setup, you can use Windows Media Center to watch and record live TV on your computer. For more information, see Record TV in Windows Media Center.

If you're having trouble recording TV shows, see Why didn't my TV show record in Windows Media Center?

Here are answers to some common questions about managing recorded TV shows in Media Center.

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How do I change the settings for recording TV shows?

You can change various settings for recording TV shows in Media Center, such as the quality at which shows are recorded and the drive where they are stored.

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Center.
  2. On the Windows Media Center start screen, scroll to Tasks, click Settings, click TV, click Recorder, click Recorder Storage, and then do one of the following:

    • To set the drive that you want Media Center to record your TV shows to, under Record on drive, click the PlusPicture of the Plus button or MinusPicture of the Minus button button to select a drive. You can record TV shows to a hard drive on your computer, or directly to an external hard drive. If only one storage location is available, the PlusPicture of the Plus button and MinusPicture of the Minus button buttons will be unavailable.
    • To set the maximum amount of drive space for recorded TV, under Maximum TV limit, click the PlusPicture of the Plus button or MinusPicture of the Minus button button to change the amount. The available space range depends on the size of the hard drive that you select under Record on drive.
    • To set the recording quality at which all future recordings will record, under Recording quality, click the PlusPicture of the Plus button or MinusPicture of the Minus button button to choose a setting. The quality setting affects the total recording time available on the selected hard drive. For example, if you select Good quality, you'll be able to record a lot more TV programs than if you select Best quality.
    Picture of the Recorder Storage screen
    A visual representation of your hard drive space will change each time you change one of these three settings.

Note

  • High-definition TV programs in Windows Media Center can only be recorded at the highest quality settings so that they retain the picture and audio quality. Therefore, the file size of a high-definition show is larger than the file size of a standard-definition show at Best quality.

What's the best way to delete recorded TV shows?

It depends on how much available hard drive space you have. By default, Media Center will automatically delete shows to make space on your hard drive for new recordings. You can change the settings for automatically deleting shows, or you can delete TV shows manually.

To change general settings for automatically deleting recorded TV shows

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Center.
  2. On the Windows Media Center start screen, scroll to Tasks, click Settings, click TV, click Recorder, and then click Recording Defaults.

  3. Under Keep, click the PlusPicture of the Plus button or MinusPicture of the Minus button button to choose one of the following options:
    • Choose Until space needed to automatically delete shows once the limit for hard disk space has been reached. To increase this limit, see "How do I change the storage settings for my recorded TV shows?" above.

    • Choose For 1 week to automatically delete shows one week after they were recorded.

    • Choose Until I watch to automatically delete shows after you finish watching them.

    • Choose Until I delete to never automatically delete shows.

  4. Click Save.

Note

  • Until space needed is the default setting. If you change this setting and then run out of space on your hard drive, scheduled shows won't be recorded.

To override the general settings for a specific show

You can override the general settings for a specific show. For example, if you want Media Center to delete most shows when space is needed, but there's one show that you never want to delete, you can change the options for that specific show.

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Center.
  2. On the Windows Media Center start screen, scroll to TV, and then click Recorded TV.

  3. Click the recorded TV show that you want to change, scroll to Actions (on the top of the screen), click Keep Until, and then choose a setting to override the general settings for this show only.

To delete a TV show manually

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Center.
  2. On the Windows Media Center start screen, scroll to TV, and then click Recorded TV.

  3. Click the show you want to delete, click Delete, and then click Yes.

What happens to shows that are recorded as part of a TV series?

It depends on the general settings for automatically deleting recorded TV shows (see "What's the best way to delete recorded TV shows" above), as well as the settings for a specific series.

To change the recording settings for a series

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Center.
  2. On the Windows Media Center start screen, scroll to TV, click Recorded TV, click View scheduled, and then click Series.

  3. Click a series from the list on the right, and then click Series Settings. (If you don't have any series recordings scheduled, the list will be empty.)

  4. Under Keep, click the PlusPicture of the Plus button or MinusPicture of the Minus button button to choose a general setting for automatically deleting shows in this series.
  5. Under Keep up to, click the PlusPicture of the Plus button or MinusPicture of the Minus button button to choose a maximum number of shows you'd like to keep at one time.
  6. Click Save.

Note

  • When you change the settings for a specific series, Media Center will use these settings in conjunction with your general settings to determine when a show is automatically deleted.

How do I cancel recording a series?

To cancel recording a series

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Center.
  2. On the Windows Media Center start screen, scroll to TV, click Recorded TV, click View scheduled, and then click Series.

  3. Click a series from the list on the right, click Cancel Series, and then click Yes. (If you don't have any series recordings scheduled, the list will be empty.)

What is copy protection and how does it affect me?

To prevent unauthorized distribution, some digital media files are protected with media usage rights. The rights specify how you can use the file—for example, whether you can sync the file to a portable device or play it on another computer. The terms of the rights are specified by the person or company that provided the file or the TV broadcaster that provided the content. Media Center can't play protected files unless you download rights for that content.

There are different ways to acquire media usage rights, but the most common way is to download them from content providers. The content provider might issue rights when you download the file. Otherwise, when you play a file that you do not have the rights for, Media Center attempts to acquire them automatically or prompts you to acquire them.

Additionally, some TV content might be marked as protected by the TV content owner, broadcaster, or originator. The terms of the content protection are specified by the content provider and transmitted with the TV show. If you record the show, the content protection terms are stored with the recorded TV file and enforced upon playback.

Some shows or portions of a recorded show might be restricted to play on the computer that they were recorded on. If you attempt to play the recorded TV file on another computer, you are notified that it is restricted content and you can't play it.

In addition, some protected media files or portions of files might have media usage rights that expire after a specified amount of time. If you try to access the media file after the rights expire, you are notified that the media file is no longer available.