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How To Skip Commercials in Windows 7 Media Center

If you use Windows 7 Media Center to record live TV, you’re probably interested in skipping through commercials. After all, a big reason to record programs is to avoid commercials, right? Today we focus on a fairly simple and free way to get you skipping commercials in no time.

In Windows 7, the .wtv file format has replaced the dvr-ms file format used in previous versions of Media Center for Recorded TV. The .wtv file format, however, does not work very well with commercial skipping applications. 

The Process

Our first step will be to convert the recorded .wtv files to the previously used dvr-ms file format. This conversion will be done automatically by WtvWatcher. It’s important to note that this process deletes the original .wtv file after successfully converting to .dvr-ms. Next, we will use DVRMSToolBox with the DTB Addin to handle commercials skipping. This process does not “cut” or remove the commercials from the file. It merely skips the commercials during playback.

WtvWatcher

Download and install the WTVWatcher (link below). To install WtvWatcher, you’ll need to have Windows Installer 3.1 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1.

If you get the Publisher cannot be verified warning you can go ahead and click Install. We’ve completely tested this app and it contains no malware and runs successfully.

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After installing, the WtvWatcher will pop up in the lower right corner of your screen.

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You will need to set the path to your Recorded TV directory. Click on the button for “Click here to set your recorded TV path…”

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The WtvWatcher Preferences window will open…

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…and you’ll be prompted to browse for your Recorded TV folder. If you did not change the default location at setup, it will be found at C:\Users\Public\Recorded TV. Click “OK” when finished.

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Click the “X” to close the Preferences screen.

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You should now see WtvWatcher begin to convert any existing WTV files.

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The process should only take a few minutes per file. Note: If WtvWatcher detects an error during the conversion process, it will not delete the original WTV file. 

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You will probably want to run WtvWatcher on startup. This will allow WtvWatcher too constantly scan for new .wtv files to convert. There is no setting in the application to run on startup, so you’ll need to copy the WTV icon from your desktop into your Windows start menu “Startup” directory. To do so, click on Start > All Programs, right-click on Startup and click on Open all users.

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Drag and drop, or cut and paste, the WtvWatcher desktop shortcut into the Startup folder.

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DVRMSToolBox and DTBAddIn

Next, we need to download and install the DVRMSToolBox and the DTBAddIn. These two pieces of software will do the actual commercial skipping. After downloading the DVRMSToolBox zip file, extract it and double-click the setup.exe file.  Click “Next” to begin the installation.

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Unless DVRMSToolBox will only be used by Administrator accounts, check the “Modify File Permissions” box. Click “Next.”

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When you get to the Optional Components window, uncheck Download/Install ShowAnalyzer. We will not be using that application.

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When the installation is complete, click “Close.”

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Next we need to install the DTBAddin. Unzip the download folder and run the appropriate .msi file for your system. It is available in 32 & 64 bit versions.

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Just double click on the file and take the default options. Click “Finish” when the install is completed. You will then be prompted to restart your computer.

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After your computer has restarted, open DVRMSToolBox settings by going to Start > All Programs, DVRMSToolBox, and click on DVRMStoMPEGSettings.

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On the MC Addin tab, make sure that Skip Commercials is checked. It should be by default.

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On the Commercial Skip tab, make sure the Auto Skip option is selected. Click “Save.”

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If you try to watch recorded TV before the file conversion and commercial indexing process is complete you’ll get the following message pop up in Media Center. If you click Yes, it will start indexing the commercials if WtvWatcher has already converted it to dvr-ms.

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Now you’re ready to kick back and watch your recorded tv without having to wait through those long commercial breaks.

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Conclusion

The DVRMSToolBox is a powerful and complex application with a multitude of features and utilities. We’ve showed you a quick and easy way to get your Windows Media Center setup to skip commercials. This setup, like virtually all commercial skipping setups, is not perfect. You will occasionally find a commercial that doesn’t get skipped.

Need help getting your Windows 7 PC configured for TV? Check out our previous tutorial on setting up live TV in Windows Media Center.

Links

Download WTV Watcher

Download DVRMSToolBox

Download DTBAddin

Andrew is a media center geek with some serious Windows skills. He's never far from a WiFi connection or a great cup of coffee.

  • Published 03/10/10

Comments (16)

  1. TUDrewser

    It looks like DVRMSToolbox can monitor for .wtv files…will it only do the commercial skip on DVRMS files?

  2. JMW

    If you use the ShowAnalyzer that was suggested not to be used, it will skip .wtv files. I use the DVRMS/ShowAnalyzer combo and it works great with .wtv files, no need to do the conversion.

  3. DigitalGeekery

    There is more than one way to achieve commercial skipping in WMC, but unfortunately there is not one perfect solution.

    DVRMSToolbox cannot skip commercials in wtv files alone. It’s requires ShowAnalyzer to do that. ShowAnalyzer is a commercial product ($30) that certainly worked very well in earlier versions of Media Center. However, in our testing with WTV files in Windows 7, ShowAnalyzer proved far less accurate at catching commercials than this DVRMSToolbox / WtvWatcher setup.

    Hopefully, we will see some improvement in ShowAnalyzer in future updates because skipping without converting is ideal. Either way, I’m sure many readers will appreciate this free approach to commercial skipping as opposed to having to pay for a product.

  4. Smarr

    Does this same tool/app work on Vista Media Center?

  5. AnupSharma

    I always wanted to do this, and tried it in MythBuntu but never knew such a thing could be attempted in Windows as well. Thanks for the good tip and a good writeup

  6. puulima

    Dumb question: Are the commercials actually edited out of the DVR-ms files or just indexed for skipping in MC? I’d like to convert my DVR-MS files to another format (H.264 via Handbrake) for use on my AppleTV – without the commercials of course.

    I understand that DTb can do this (remove commercials and conversion to MPEG – since Handbrake can’t work with DVR-MS) but I’m lost on the sea of DTb options…

    Is there an “automated” setup for DTb for this – and detailed instructions like the above?

    Thanks!

  7. DigitalGeekery

    Puulima – Not a dumb question at all. The files are indexed for skipping. DTB is quite a complex application and getting “lost” is understandable. We haven’t done any additional write-ups on the subject yet.

    However, you may want to check out our article on MCEBuddy. It will automate cutting commercials and convert to other file formats, including MP4 w/ H.264 codec.

    http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/12857/convert-video-and-remove-commercials-in-windows-7-media-center-with-mcebuddy-1.1/

  8. Fitech

    Hey, Thanks for the great writeup. I will try this tonight!

  9. dxh

    So, is this method much faster than the MCEBuddy/Comskip method?

  10. jagrime2

    I’m getting a wtvconverter.exe error code ’2′ , can’t seem to find any info on this. I ran through the above process step by step (then uninstalled and ran again). Anythoughts on what I’m missing?

  11. rabidrobot

    Thanks for the DTBAddin for Windows 7 Link (Above comments & ads)
    If that is available via the official site, they sure made it a pain in the neck.

  12. Genius1121

    Any idea how to deal with the conversion to DVR-MS only choosing the visually impaired audio stream? On kids shows, such as Curious George and Sesame Street, i get the voice over going ” a big yellow bird is playing with a furry elephant” “A small red monster is talking to a goldfish” etc….

  13. Triton

    I have tried your method but I still can not achieve commercial skipping. I have downloaded all 3 files and installed them all. Wtvwatcher has converted all my recorded tv into .wtv files (which took the better part of a day) and I setup mcaddin and the commercial skip settings exactly like you have them but it still does not work. I have let everything run its course and when I go to a tv show I get that prompt commercial file not found which you said one happen. I click yes leave it paused for an hour or so come back and still nothing. Where am I going wrong here? And why does every single wtv file I play prompt me? Do I have to do this for every one or is there an automated process?

  14. SecondJon

    I’ve tried a year ago (or so) and again today. Finally got it working. I’m not sure how long it took, but eventually the xml files located in C:\Users\Public\DvrmsToolbox\CommercialsXml have some content and pressing the right arrow in a commercial break skips the commercials.

    To Triton – Wtvwatcher is supposed to convert FROM wtv to dvrms, which dvrmsToolbox can remove commercials from.

  15. JasonVP

    I’m having the same problem as Triton, actually. WTVWatcher automatically converts the files to dvrms as expected. But there’s no hand-off to DVRMSToolbox for some reason. When I watch a program, I get prompted for the Commercial File, which I say “Yes” to. And since it only takes 6-7 minutes to handle a 1 hour show, it’s done before the first commercial break and it auto-skips for me.

    However, I’d like DVRMSToolbox to automatically run when a new dvrms file is created, and that part doesn’t appear to be happening. Any suggestions as to where to look?

    Thanks.

  16. Rudi Pittman

    Whats the best solution to use your instructions to mark the commercials but still compress the files to mkv? I don’t actually want to cut the commercials out which leaves out mcebuddy but I do want to mark them then compress the file…and hopefully still have it skip on playback.

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