How to Set a DirecTV Receiver to Change Channels Automatically

By Elizabeth Mott

Whether you follow every episode of a popular drama series, schedule your leisure time around your sports teams' games or purchase pay-per-view movies and events, as a DirecTV subscriber, you can view up to 285 channels of content, as of June 2014. DirecTV's autotune feature adds future programming events to a timer that automatically switches the channel to your shows when they air. This feature uses your DirecTV remote control to display information about upcoming and past autotuned events.

From On-Screen Guide Entries

While you scroll through the entries in DirecTV's on-screen program guide, you can add any event to the timer. This memorizes your choices and automatically switches your receiver to the correct channel at the designated time. To move forward through the listings, press the forward and back arrow keys to move through the guide half an hour at a time, or use the green and red shortcut buttons below the Menu button to move in 12-hour increments. When you find a show or movie that interests you, press the "Select" button on the remote control to access the event screen, and press the "Select" button again to designate the program for autotuning.

Manual Autotuning

If you know the time and channel of an event you want to autotune, but it doesn't yet show up in the on-screen guide, program it manually up to 12 days in advance. On an HD receiver, press the remote control's "Menu" button and select "Extras" to find the "Manual Autotune" option. On DirecTV's SD hardware, press the "Menu" button and choose "Manage Autotunes." Designate the event as one-time or recurring, choose a channel, designate the day and start time, and specify the duration of the program. To assure that you don't miss part of your show, set the start time a few minutes in advance.

Checking Autotune Events

The DirecTV autotuning system includes a To Do list that itemizes all the programs in your current schedule. To delete an item, scroll to it with the remote control and press the red shortcut button. Along with the To Do list, the History option shows you the status of past scheduled events. You can see whether a program aired as autotuned, identify events you deleted or canceled before or during their time slots, and see guide information about each program. The History screen also includes the date of DirecTV receiver firmware updates. The History list purges, if you unplug or reset your receiver, or the receiver loses power during an electrical outage. The To Do and History screens appear in the Extras menu on HD hardware and the Manage Autotunes screen on SD receivers.

Other Considerations

Approximately two minutes before the scheduled start time of an autotune event, an on-screen alert identifies your impending program. You can confirm or cancel the event with the DirecTV remote control through choices in the alert screen. Even if you fail to respond to the notification, your receiver tunes to the designated channel when the program starts. If you attempt to view the program guide while you watch an autotuned event, you must cancel the event before you can access the guide information. The autotune process also prevents you from scheduling events that overlap in time, even if they coincide only by a single minute. DirecTV displays a programming conflict screen that shows you what you have already autotuned in that time slot, and gives you the option to cancel the previous program in favor of the new one, or vice versa.