Introduction | Drivers (DVB/ATSC hardware) | iTele (viewer app) | Mpegitor | Forums


iTele is a Mac OS X application that allows you to watch and record Digital TV (including HDTV) on your Mac. It works with the hardware drivers found here. Note that iTele requires you to have access to one of those devices in order to watch TV! (This should be obvious but I get a surprising number of questions from people without any TV hardware.)

iTele can use MPlayer for Mac OS X to playback MPEG streams, but there are many more features available if you use the internal display code (however it doesn't work on some older Macs yet). Instructions for installing MPlayer are contained in the Read Me file, included below.

Download iTele v0.6.4

If you use iTele, or if you have problems getting it to work, then please email me! Also check out the forums for updates and help.

Using iTele

Running for the first time

If everything goes according to plan, when you run iTele it will initialise all the Digital TV input devices it finds, and then present you with the Channels window. If you haven't run iTele before then this window will be empty. So when you run iTele for the first time (or move cities), you need to scan for channels, just like with a TV. This function is found in the 'Tuner' menu.

Since iTele supports using multiple tuners in your Mac simultaneously, you must tell it which input device to scan on (even if there is only one). Do so by bringing up the Inputs window via the Window menu, and clicking on the input device you wish to scan. Then use the menu item or click the Scan button in the drawer which appears.

Satellite tuners only: If you are using a satellite input device, before you scan you must first fill in some information about the antenna network connected to your tuner. Click the Edit button and enter the details of your LNB. Currently only simple LNB settings are supported, full DiSEqC networks will be coming later.

Now, before scanning starts, you will be prompted to select your location (or the location of the signal source), so iTele can scan the appropriate frequency range. If your location does not appear in the list then please get in touch with me and I will add it. If you have a satellite tuner and your satellite does not appear, you can drag the page that contains the satellite tuning specifications from LyngSat onto the Scan panel and iTele will add that satellite as an option in the list.

The scanning process may take some time - probably around 5 minutes - but you can watch its progress in the Channels window. As signals are discovered, the names of the channels available on that frequency are added to the list in that window. If no channels are found then the grey placeholder entry for that frequency is removed. Here is a screenshot showing a scan in progress.

If you quit during a scan then the scan will be interrupted and the unscanned frequencies will remain greyed out in the Channels window. You can scan each one individually by clicking it, or you can start the scan again. Currently scanning erases your existing list of discovered channels for that location. This will be made optional in a future release.

Watching and Recording

The Channels window is the main interface to iTele. It contains a list of channels discovered through scans. Channels are named by their 'provider name' followed by their 'service name'. You cannot rename them, but that naming usually works out fine.

To watch a channel, simply double-click it, and an MPlayer (or internal) window will open to show that channel. A little icon of an eye will appear to the left of the channel name. You can watch a channel full-screen by selecting that item from the 'Channel' menu. There is also an option for watching it scaled-down. To stop watching a channel click the close box in the MPlayer window, or hit escape if watching full-screen.

To record a channel, simply select it and choose record from the 'Channel' menu. A little record symbol will appear to the left of the channel name. To stop recording you also use the 'Channel' menu. The channel is recorded to a file in your home directory named after the channel and current date. The file is a '.mpg' file in the MPEG-2 Program Stream format. You can play it back in MPlayer for free and (sometimes) QuickTime Player if you have the MPEG-2 QuickTime codec which costs US$20 from Apple.

When you are watching or recording a channel, all the channels on the same frequency will be highlighted. This represents the frequency that the input device is currently tuned to. You can watch and/or record as many highlighted channels as you like (unless you have a USB device in which case you are limited by the USB bus bandwidth). Here is a screenshot showing watching and recording multiple channels simultaneously. Note that if you ask iTele to watch or record a channel on a different frequency, unless you have multiple tuners and one is free, then it will first have to stop any activity on the highlighted channels, i.e. MPlayer windows will be closed and recordings will be stopped. You are not asked if you want to do this because it is usually what you want when you are switching channels anyway. The same goes for if you ask iTele to quit.

Scheduled Recording

The scheduled recording feature of iTele was new in version 0.3.0, and is still in testing. But it is hopefully better than nothing for those going away over Christmas! Use the Windows menu to bring up the Scheduled Recordings window. You can enter details for the channel that the program is on, the name of the program, its start and stop times, and how often it airs.

In order for recording to occur, all the conditions specified in its entry must be true. For example, if you just put 'Buffy' as the program name and no other info, then iTele will scan through and watch all channels as necessary to update their EPG information and record a show with 'Buffy' in its title or details whenever it comes on whichever channel it is on. Or if you just put 'Channel 7' as the channel name and from 10:30 to 11:30 on Tuesday, with a regularity of 'Weekly', then it will record channel 7 every Tuesday between those times until you tell it to stop.

There are basically two kinds of recordings, those based on EPG information as in the first example above, and those based on manually entered times and dates as in the second example above. If you specify start and stop dates as well as a program name then it will look for that program only between those dates. It may be helpful to provide a channel name for EPG-based recordings though just to cut down on the amount of TV iTele has to watch :)



New in version 0.5, iTele has the capability to do time shifting! At last! Attached to the bottom of every internal display window is a little controls drawer (or utility panel if space is tight). Press space or use the Show Controls menu item to bring it up. You will find a watch pause button, a record pause button, and a volume slider. Clicking the record button will toggle recording on that channel, just like selecting it from the menu. Clicking the watch button will simultaneously pause the live stream and start recording. If you click the watch button again then playback will resume from the point you paused at, as if you had magically paused time. What really happens is that the live stream is being written to the disk at the same time as the previously recorded one is being read to display it for you.

When iTele is recording or if any recording has been done since the drawer was opened, then the drawer expands to expose a lot more controls. First up there is a button to jump to the start of the recorded stream, and one to jump to the live stream. These do not affect the recording in any way (only the record button does that). Between them there is a large slider over a bar that displays which segments of time have been recorded. The slider's playhead displays the current location of the playback. Every so often the bar and slider have to rescale when the recording passes beyond the end of the bar (it doesn't rescale if just the playhead passes beyond it). You can move the playhead anywhere over the bar to commence playback from that point. It will always unpause but you can just click the pause button to pause it again. (Pausng does not cause recording to start if you were playing back the recorded stream - only if you were watching the live stream).

Above the slider is a text field that allows you to change the name of the recording. Only rename the recording here, as doing it in the Finder will cause iTele to lose track of it. You can also drag the icon of the recording to move it somewhere else on the same disk, even while you are recording to the stream (you cannot move it between disks ... yet). To the right of the field the path to the recording is displayed. To the right of that is an indication of the current size of the recording as well as the space remaining on the disk where it resides.

The recording state as represented in the bar will remain as long as the channel is being either recorded or watched (not necessarily live - as long as the window is up). If you stop doing both of those at the same time then the recording state is discarded and you cannot get it back. But of course, the recorded stream is still there on disk, you just cannot get iTele to display it (yet).


New in version 0.5 is a real Preferences window. I'll get around to writing it up at some stage. It lets you choose the display algorithm, the recording name format, drag out to specify temporary (hit pause) and default (all other) recording folders, and in future will let you specify a different external display application. But it's far too late at night to go into all that now.

Troubleshooting and Tips

The first thing to do if you have a problem is to check out the forums. It's likely another iTele user will have had the same problem and can help you with it.

If iTele cannot find any multimedia input devices, then make sure that you have installed the hardware correctly. In particular, make sure that you have read and followed the instructions about obtaining firmware in the installer for the drivers. You cannot just click through them!

If you have a problem running iTele, then some useful information can be obtained by running it from the command line. If you installed iTele in the Applications folder, you can do this by entering the following command into a Terminal window: /Applications/
You can get similar information by looking at its output in the Console utility.

Log messages related to driver activity may be found in the system log, which you can get a running display of with the following command: tail -f /var/log/system.log

MPlayer has problems playing back 1080i HD channels at full size and speed (e.g. crashes if buffer is over 1024 pixels high). I've now integrated the functionality of MPlayer into iTele, using libavcodec in ffmpeg. You can enable it with the 'Use Internal Display' menu item. Please give me feedback on this option - I know it has problems with some graphics cards.

As of version 0.5.2, iTele has minimal support for ATSC, so that cards like the DVICO Fusion HDTV 3 ATSC card will work. The support is fully functional for watching/recording/timeshifting HDTV albeit quite basic. There is as yet no channel or event information parsing - however I do intend to remedy this lack in the near future.

iTele requires at least Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar). Versions since 0.2.5 have only been tested on Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther), which is what I use. iTele v0.5 requires Panther, but I found the problem and added back Jaguar support since v0.5.3.

Change Log

New in v0.6.4 New in v0.6.3 New in v0.6.2 New in v0.6.1 New in v0.6.0 New in v0.5.8 New in v0.5.7 New in v0.5.6 New in v0.5.5 New in v0.5.4 New in v0.5.3 New in v0.5.2 New in v0.5.0 New in v0.3.7: New in v0.3.6: New in v0.3.5: New in v0.3.0: New in v0.2.5: New in v0.2: Original v0.1:


Stuff I want to do but have not yet done (very old list): Stuff that used to be on that list but which I have now done:
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Last updated 17/5/2006 by John Dalgliesh