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How To Watch TV On Your Mac

written by: Donny Yankellow•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 7/7/2011

If you have a Mac you probably know that you can purchase TV shows through iTunes and watch them on your computer right in iTunes. What if you don’t want to buy TV shows from iTunes? Well, there are other options for watching TV on your Mac and this article will tell you about four of them.

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    Different options for watching tv on your desktop

    Network Websites

    For several years the major networks have been streaming episodes of tv shows for free. What’s the catch? You have to watch short ads (usually 30 seconds) throughout the show. I have done this several times and it works great. The ads go by fast, and the quality of the program is very good. The downside is that your browser will not remember where you were if you don’t finish the show in one sitting.

    HULU has gotten a lot of attention lately as a place to go to catch tv shows on your computer. There is even a free dedicated HULU app for your desktop. You don’t even have to go to the website anymore, but you do need an internet connection. HULU is loaded with free content, including full episodes of current TV shows and past seasons. Once again- FREE.


    Joost is similar to HULU. It is free and you can watch a huge catalog of content in the Joost application. Joost is full of network content and user made content. I have used Joost for a PBS interview on an artist I teach my classes about. It is the only place I have been able to find this video. Like HULU, an internet connection is required.

    There is also a Joost app for the iPod Touch/iPhone. More on this in the upcoming article mentioned above.

    Make your Mac a DVR

    With a piece of hardware and software you can quickly turn your Mac into a DVR and a TV. In order to do this you need an Intel Mac and the faster the better. I use an EyeTV Hybrid by Elgato. With it I can watch live TV through the EyeTV software and record shows like I would with a DVR or a VCR. I can then go in and edit the shows, send them to iTunes in iPod or AppleTV format, or make a DVD with the files using Roxio Toast or other software.

    No internet connection is required. However, you will need a connection to your AppleTV to use those features (probably a wireless network) and there is a internet based option for viewing your shows away from home.

    EyeTV isn’t the only option for this on the Market. Other options can be found at and I do not use either of these products, so I am not going to write much about them. I did have a Miglia tuner before my EyeTV tuner and it worked great with EyeTV. The Equinux products use a different piece of software called The Tube, which I have not tried enough to comment on.

    Both EyeTV and The Tube have iPhone apps, but that is another article coming soon.

    There you go, four options for watching TV on your Mac. Plus, don’t forget the fifth option of iTunes. iTunes is loaded with great content for your Mac and iPod.