How to Hook Up VHS Recorder to Computer

by Jeff Grundy

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, before DVDs and recordable optical discs, most people watched their favorite movies or recorded video memories on VHS tapes. While VHS tapes generally provide acceptable playback quality, they are prone to damage from dust, exposure to heat or moisture and from even being eaten by a misaligned head in a VCR. If you have a collection of movies or home videos on VHS tape, or inherited one, you can protect the videos by transferring them to your computer. Transferring VHS tape videos to your computer allows you to watch them on the PC, burn them to a DVD or store them on an external flash drive or hard drive for safekeeping.

Install USB Video Capture Device

Log out of Windows and power off the computer. Connect the small end of the USB cable to the “USB” or “System” port on the video capture box. Connect the other end of the cable to an empty USB port on the computer. Connect the AC adapter cable to the capture box -- if it has one -- then plug the cord into an available electrical socket.

Power on the computer and log in to Windows with an administrator username and password if prompted. Wait a few seconds for Windows to recognize the attached USB video capture box and prompt you for the device’s software driver. When prompted, insert the installation disc for the USB video capture device into the CD/DVD drive, then click “OK.” Wait for Windows to install the driver from the disc and reboot the computer if prompted.

Open the CD/DVD drive tray and reinsert the installation disc for the USB video capture box if you removed it after installing the driver. After the installation wizard appears on the screen, click the “Setup Capture Software,” “Install Capture Software” or other similarly named button or link. Accept the End-User License Agreement if prompted, then follow the remaining prompts to install the capture utility for the video capture box on the computer. Reboot the PC after installing the capture program if prompted.

Connecting the VCR and Capturing Video

Connect the yellow connector on one end of the RCA A/V cable set to the “Video Out” or “RCA Video Out” port on the rear of the VCR. Connect the yellow plug on the other end of the cable to the “Video In” port on the USB video capture box.

Connect the red and white plugs on one end of the A/V cable to the matching-colored RCA ports on the rear of the VCR labeled “Audio Out” or “Amp Out.” Connect the red and white plugs on the other end of the A/V cable to the “Audio In” ports on the USB video capture device.

Plug the VCR into an electrical outlet and power it on. Insert a VHS tape into the VCR, then press “Play.” Play the video to a point just a couple of seconds before the opening scene of the movie begins and then press the “Pause” button.

Launch the capture utility program you installed from the installation disc for the USB video capture box. Wait a few seconds for the capture utility to detect the connected video capture box and configure it for initial use. If the application fails to detect the USB capture box automatically, click “Options” or “Tools” on the menu bar, then click “Scan” or “Search” in the “Capture Devices” or “Attached Capture Devices” area of the configuration settings.

Click the “Capture,” “Capture Now” or “Capture Video” on the capture utility toolbar. Wait a few seconds for the program to initiate the capture device and display a blue or green background Capture Preview window. When the preview screen turns blue or green, the application is ready to start capturing video from the VCR. Press the “Play” button on the VCR to begin streaming the video to the computer and capturing it with the capture application. While capturing the video from the VCR, the capture application saves recorded footage in a temporary folder.

Click “Stop” or “End Capture” on the capture program toolbar after the video or movie ends. After a couple of seconds the preview screen turns blue or green again to indicate the application is no longer capturing video from the VCR. Wait a few seconds until a pop-up window or message appears and confirms the capture was successful.

Convert Files for Computer Viewing or DVD Burning

Click “File” on the capture utility menu bar, then click “Save As” or “Export.”

Click the “Export As” or “Save As Type” drop-down box in the “Export” or “Save As” window. Select the “MPEG2” file format if you want to burn the videos to DVD or “AVI” or “WMV” if you only want to store and view them on your computer.

Click the “Browse” button in the “Export” or “Save As” window, then select the folder on the hard drive in which you want to save the captured video from the VCR.

Enter a new file name for the video in the “File Name” or “Video Name” field and then click the “OK,” “Export” or “Save.” The capture utility converts the raw captured footage from the VCR in the selected format and saves it in the selected folder.

Burn the video from the VCR to a disc or view using Windows Media Player or another media player application.

Items you will need

  • USB capture device
  • Capture software (usually included with the capture device)
  • RCA Audio/Video cable set
  • VCR
  • VHS media to convert

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

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