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How-to Install TiVO Desktop for On-the-go TV Viewing


How-to Install TiVO Desktop for On-the-go TV Viewing

Main interface of TiVo Desktop

Adam Thursby

If you’ve ever wanted to take your TiVo recordings with you, you’re in luck.  The company provides the software you need to move those shows off of your TiVo device and over to your PC.  In order to use this feature however, you’ll first need to install TiVo Desktop for PC, which is available over at TiVo’s website.

For basic functionality, the free version that TiVo provides should be enough.  If you think you want more features however, such as video conversion for use on portable devices, you may want to look at upgrading to the “Plus” version.  Either way, our walkthrough here will help you get started with moving your shows over to a laptop for TV on the go!

For anyone who has previously installed TiVo Desktop, the first thing you’ll want to do is check your version number.  If you have version 2.6 or earlier installed, be sure to uninstall the program using your Windows Control Panel and then download and run the TiVo Desktop Cleaner utility in order to completely remove the application.  As well, if you’ve installed any third-party plugins related to TiVo Desktop, these will have to be removed.

Once the housekeeping is done, it’s time to get started.  As with most software today the first step is to download the TiVo Desktop application.  You can go here to do so.  Be sure and look for the latest version.

This is a typical software installation so to get started, simply double-click the downloaded program to get started.  The first screen you’ll see is a welcome screen.  You can simply click “Next.”

Next up is the obligatory license agreement.  Most of us don’t read these but take time to do so if you want.  Once you’re finished, simply click the “I accept the license agreement” button and you’re all set.

Next you’ll pick the location where TiVo Desktop should be installed.  The default location is fine so there aren’t really any reasons to make changes here until you maintain your applications on a separate hard drive.

For the next step you’ll need what is called your “Media Access Key.  This can be found in one of two locations:

  1. In TiVo Central on your TiVo Device.  Head into Messages & Settings –> Account & System Information –> Media Access Key.
  2. Head online and log in to your “My TiVo Account”.  There is a link for the Media Access Key on the right hand side of the screen.

If for some reason you don’t want to enter you key at this time, the installer will allow you to skip the step with a warning that you’ll be unable to transfer recordings until one is entered.  This can be done at a later time within the TiVo Desktop software.

On the next screen you can select from several installation options.  Simply check or uncheck the boxes according to how you’d like the installation to proceed. 

That’s it.  Simply click “finish” once the installation is done and you’re finished.


Things to Know

There are some things that people should be aware of when installing TiVo Desktop.  First, if you run a firewall on your PC, you’ll need to allow certain applications to pass through it unimpeded.  The applications that need to have access through your firewall are:

  • TiVoNotify.exe
  • TiVoServer.exe
  • TiVoTransfer.exe
  • curl.ese
  • Bonjour.exe or TiVoBeacon.exe

As well, TiVo files transferred to your PC are MPEG-2 files.  As such, you’ll need software that will playback MPEG-2 content.  If you’re running Windows Vista or Windows 7 you’re all set as these OSs include the needed decoders.  If you’re on Windows XP, you may need to pay for software that will allow you to decode and playback the files.

One final note:  TiVo’s website recommends using Windows Media Player 11 for file playback.  They also provide a link.  Again however, if you’re running Windows Vista or Windows 7, Media Player should already be installed and no other software should be necessary for file playback


Being able to transfer your TiVO recordings to a PC for viewing on the go is excellent and a free way to expand your recorded TV viewing options.  The company does offer an upgraded version of their software that will allow you to convert shows for playback on portable devices.  The current cost for the upgraded version is $24.95.  You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the cost to use your recordings on other devices. 

If a visual reference would be helpful, we’ve provided a full image gallery that will walk you through step-by-step.  As well, if you want to learn how to transfer shows to your PC, we also have a full how-to which will walk you through the steps you need to take to get everything working smoothly.

If you have any further questions regarding installation of TiVo Desktop or other related TiVo questions, be sure to head to our TiVo Forums and ask!

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