Getting Started with TiVo

Some tips for the new TiVo people joining the fold – or old timers who weren’t aware of these:

Backdoor Codes

30 second skip – There is a hidden 30 second skip feature on the TiVo. While watching a video enter Select-Play-Select-3-0-Select (SPS30S) on the remote. This toggles the Advance (looks like ‘->|’) button into a 30 second skip button. Each press will advance you 30 seconds. It is easiest to enter this while watching a recording.

On-screen clock and Elapsed Time Indicator – Similarly, Select-Play-Select-9-Select (SPS9S) turns on an on-screen clock in the lower right corner of the screen. While watching a recording it also shows the elapsed time of the playback.

Series3 and TiVo HD only – Select-Play-Select-Instant Replay-Select (SPSIRS) toggles an on-screen data display that shows different information along the bottom of the screen depending on if it is a recording or LiveTV. You can see which tuner is in use, the output resolution, etc.

There is one more code, Select-Play-Select-7-Select (SPS7S). On the Series3 and TiVo HD this overlays a kind of map over the video you’re watching. It seems to be designed to calibrate the overscan region of the display. But it isn’t documented and exactly how it is used is unclear. On other units SPS7S is a toggle which disables the display of the playback progress bar and the information banner at the top of the screen.

To disable any of these, simply enter the code again. You may need to exit the video and return to the menus (Hit ‘TiVo’) to clear the on-screen clock. Also, if the TiVo ever reboots, some of these may reset and need to be re-entered.

Navigation Shortcuts

There are navigation shortcuts that can make your life easier:

  • TiVo+TiVo = Now Playing List
  • TiVo+0 = Plays the boot animation
  • TiVo+1 = Season Pass Manager
  • TiVo+2 = To Do List
  • TiVo+3 = WishList Search
  • TiVo+4 = Search by Title
  • TiVo+5 = Browse by Channel
  • TiVo+6 = Browse by Time
  • TiVo+7 = Record Time/Channel
  • TiVo+8 = TiVo Suggestions
  • TiVo+9 = Showcases
  • TiVo+Slow = Messages & Settings

In most menu screens, Chan Up/Down will move you one screen up/down in the menu. And Advance (->|) will jump to the end on the first press, then to the beginning on the second press. This can really speed up navigating the menus.

In the Now Playing List, press ‘Enter’ to change the settings – or just press ’1′ to toggle the sort between name and date, or ’2′ to toggle groups on/off.

Using Broadband

If you’re planning to network the TiVo instead of using the phone line, and I do highly recommend doing so, see the list of compatible adapters before buying an adapter. And if you’re going to use WiFi, just get the TiVo branded 802.11g USB WiFi adapter and don’t even think of another one. Trust me, it is worth it for the lack of headaches and higher performance, plus it is the only adapter to support WPA/WPA2 encryption. All other USB WiFi adapters are limited to WEP encryption when used with TiVo, and WEP is almost worthless.

If you connect your TiVo to your home network, and you have broadband, you’ll find even more features available on your TiVo. In the ‘Find Programs’ screen you have three additional options: Download TV & Movies, Universal Swivel Search, and KidZone Recommendations & Guru Guides. Download TV & Movies is where you access the free TiVoCast downloadable content, as well as make purchases or rentals of Amazon Unbox content. Universal Swivel Search is a unique way of searching all of the content available on your TiVo, both via TV and broadband, and finding related content. And KidZone Recommendations & Guru Guides are guides to suggested content from a variety of sources.

When connected to broadband, there are also many options under Music, Photos, Products, & More. You can browse photos from Photobucket or Picasa, check movie listings and buy tickets from Fandango, check Yahoo! Weather and Traffic, listen to music from Live365 or Rhapsody, listen to podcasts, play some games, and more. You can also access your own digital music and photos from PCs on your home network. But, even more, you can also access third party Home Media Engine (HME) content. The simplest to access are hosted applications – check out and The former has a variety of different applications you can try, the latter has an assortment of simple games you can play on your TiVo.

More advanced users may want to download other HME applications such as Galleon or Audiofaucet. There are a number of HME applications out there, but I’d get comfortable using your TiVo before diving in too deep. Walk before running.

Additional Information

If you’re already thinking about upgrading your TiVo – such as with a bigger drive – you’ll want to see DVRupgrade, WeaKnees, or 9th Tee. For the do-it-yourself folks see the Interactive TiVo Upgrade Instructions.

Keep in mind that the Series3 and TiVo HD both have eSATA ports which allow for external expansion. While the TiVo HD is limited to approved drives (unless hacked), the Series3 will work with any eSATA drive. However, you want to make sure you use a drive and enclosure which is rated for 7×24 operation, and is quiet enough to use in your entertainment center.

Here are some more resources, including links to a number of other TiVo related blogs, forums, mailing lists, etc. Those lucky enough to get a new Series3 or TiVo HD may want to check out the Series3 Review, TiVo HD Review and the S3/HD FAQ.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact me.

I hope you found this guide helpful and that you enjoy your TiVo. Welcome to the Cult of TiVo.