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How to Set Up Your TV Antenna

By Brian Shim | Updated 
10/27/2021

Hooking up an indoor antenna like the Mohu Leaf to your TV is pretty easy if you have a relatively modern TV (built in 2006 or later). Simply screw the antenna’s coax cable into the “ANTENNA/CABLE” plug on the back of your TV, as shown here:

Back of TV showing where to plug in antenna cable
Back of TV showing where to plug in antenna cable

If you have a powered antenna, you’ll have to plug it into the wall for power (or some models have USB power plug that you can plug into your TV if it has USB).

Scanning for Channels on Your TV

Now turn on your TV and go into the settings menu. Find the option where you can select between cable and antenna input and select “antenna”. Here’s how it looks on my Sony:

Selecting the antenna input on your TV
Selecting the antenna input on your TV

Next, set your TV to auto-search for channels. Here’s how it looks on my TV:

Channel Search screen on my Sony TV
Scanning for channels

Hit “OK” and let your TV search for channels! Good Luck! You might need to re-run the search several times using different antenna configurations.

If you’re still having problems, check my troubleshooting page.

Tweaking Your Antenna Position

Once you hook up your TV antenna, I’ll be honest.. Getting the best reception requires lots of experimentation with where you put your antenna in your room. There can be a big difference in the number of channels you get depending on antenna orientation, location, height, and whether it is indoors or outdoors. Changing the antenna angle by a few degrees could change reception drastically for a particular channel.

If you are using an indoor antenna, I suggest placing it near a window, then scanning for channels to establish a baseline. Write down the channels you get, move your antenna, and scan again. If you lost any channels, manually add them back in using your TV’s channel management menu, and write them down, so you end up with a master list of all possible channels. Next, go to a weak channel and move your antenna around in real time until you get good reception. You might have to repeat this for other weak channels.

You never know where the best antenna position will be. After my last move, I mounted my antenna near a window. Reception was very mediocre at ten to twelve channels. While playing around with cable routing, the antenna fell on the floor. Just for kicks, I scanned the channels and found that I got four more channels in that unlikely position!

If you are not getting ten or twenty channels, you probably live too far from the transmitters or there is something blocking the signals, like a mountain. Go to the antenna section to find out more. If you don’t have access to your roof (i.e., you live in an apartment), I would suggest using the Mohu Leaf antenna. It’s thin and easy to hide indoors. It’s what I use. Here are some more tips on getting better TV reception and more channels.

If you’re not getting any channels at all, check out the link below:

One thing I want to stress: the difference in the number of channels you can get with different indoor antennas is pretty small. If one antenna can get five channels, you are not going to suddenly get 25 channels with a more expensive antenna. So, do not keep buying more and more expensive antennas with the hopes of solving reception problems. Antenna location has a much bigger effect on reception than the type of antenna you use, as long as you’re not using a cheap rabbit-ear antenna.

if you’re interested, here’s how I set up my antenna in my living room.

See What’s on TV – A Free Channel Guide Website

OK, so your antenna is hooked up. Congratulations! Now, how do you see which shows are playing? Fortunately, there is an online channel guide called Titan TV. You can view this on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The setup is not immediately obvious the first time, but I’ll explain it below.

First, go to titantv.com. Go to the bar above the channel guide and click the “+” button (this is very hidden):

Titan TV schedule
Titan TV schedule

When you click that, a popup will appear. Click the “Broadcast” box as shown below:

Titan TV setup step 1
Titan TV setup step 1

Next, enter your zip code, select your local area by checking one of the boxes, hit “Save” and you’re done!

Titan TV setup step 2
Titan TV setup step 2

You can repeat the process if you are close to two broadcast areas. The next time you visit this site, your settings will be there. Voila! Your broadcast TV guide!

How to Use Your Antenna with Multiple TVs

What if you want to feed your antenna signal to multiple TVs? You have several options. You can use one antenna per TV (kind of a pain), get a distribution amplifier to distribute the signal to each TV from one antenna, or use a Tablo. More on these options in this article.

Here are some distribution amplifiers on Amazon that I recommend:

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I test or research each product or service before endorsing. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. I own this site and the opinions expressed here are mine. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Basically, you run a cable from your antenna into the input of this box, and then run multiple coax cables out to your TV’s. The box requires power because it amplifies the signal. The bonus is that this improves reception and you might be able to get even more channels than before!

Now, be sure to put this amp as close as possible to your antenna. The reason is that the TV signal loses strength for every foot of cable that it has to go through. Therefore, it’s best to amplify it as early as possible – physically close to the antenna in other words, not at the other end of the antenna near your TVs!.

Yes, I know it is more of a pain to have to hook up this box in your attic or wherever your antenna is, and supply power to it, etc., rather than right next to your TV. But, if you want to bring in the most stations, you should keep the box closer to your antenna. In my experiments, even an additional 20 feet of un-amplified cable run from your antenna can cause you to lose a weak station.

That is also why you shouldn’t use a passive (non-powered) splitter for this application. In my experiments, a passive splitter will cause you to lose signal strength and possibly lose the weaker stations.

Give it a try and let us know your results!

Did You Like This Article?

Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
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Check out my other site, thefrugalnoodle.com, with ideas on saving money and living simply.

Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. 

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I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story!  Thanks! - Brian
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Tracy Boorman
Tracy Boorman
18 hours ago

Best indoor antenna

Terri coates
Terri coates
4 days ago

Is a channel master LTE a good investment. I get 20 to 25 channels, but sometimes it cuts out. Especially on sundays

Terri coates
Terri coates
4 days ago
Reply to  Terri coates

Thanks for the info

Debbie Sunderland
Debbie Sunderland
1 year ago

Thank you! This is the best and most useful article I've found on the topic!!

Brian
1 year ago

Hi Debbie,

Great, I'm so glad you found it useful! Thanks for sharing!

Best,
Brian

Dante Tuton
Dante Tuton
1 year ago

Thank you for the informative pages. My antenna, MOHU indoor/outdoor - 160 mile range, suddenly stopped working. I received a no signal message for any of my channels. I did the entire trouble-shooting list and still no signal. Does an antenna just stop working like this?

Brian
1 year ago
Reply to  Dante Tuton

Hi Dante,

It is rare (but not unheard of) for an antenna to fail. More often there is a problem with the cable, connector, or TV's electronics.

If you have another TV, you could narrow down the problem by trying the antenna on that TV. Or, by using a different coax cable to eliminate that as a cause. Basically swap TV, cable, and antenna until you narrow down the cause.

Best,
Brian

propcontrol
propcontrol
2 years ago

Hello,

I am thinking about cutting the cord with Dish. I pay over $90/month for their 120+ package and watch maybe a dozen channels. I am a big soccer fan so NBC Sports, FX1, FX2, ESPN are very important to me. I used to watch BEIN sports as well but had to loose them when I downgraded from 200 to 120+.

I have a smart TV and using rabbit ears I can get CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS and their . channels but not NBC. I am supposed to get these according to the TV reception map:

KXXV ABC 25 UHF
KNCT PBS 46 UHF R
KPLE-CD 30 UHF
KWKT-TV FOX 44 UHF R
KAKW-DT UNIV 62 Hi-V
KCEN-TV NBC 6 Hi-V
KWTX-TV CBS 10 Hi-V
KEYE-TV CBS 42 UHF R
KTBC FOX 7 Hi-V
KXAN-TV NBC 36 UHF
KVUE ABC 24 UHF
KLRU PBS 18 UHF
KNVA CW 54 UHF R
KCWX CW 2 Lo-V
KBVO NBC 14 UHF

I get the first 8 minus NBC. Do you suggest indoor or outdoor antenna? The TV is far away from windows.

I have been looking on Amazon at the following antennas:

2020 Newest Indoor TV Antenna,for Digital TV 120 Miles Range with 19.6ft Long Coax Cable,Support All Television for Free Local Channels 4K HD 1080P VHF UHF with Built-in Amplifier

[Upgraded 2020] 135+Miles Amplified TV Antenna Indoor/Outdoor -Ultra Digital HDTV Antenna with Amplifier TV Free Signals High Reception Antenna for Fire TV Stick 4K/1080P/VHF/UHF Channels 16ft

TV Antenna - RCA Outdoor Yagi Satellite HD Antenna with Over 70 Mile Range - Attic or Roof Mount TV Antenna, Long Range Digital OTA Antenna for Clear Reception, 4K 1080P

If you recommend the outdoor solution, I would have to remove the the dish of course but would I have to bypass/remove the Dish diplexer and connect straight into the coax going thru the wall with the help of a GE RG6 Coaxial Cable Extension Adapter, 2 Pack, Works on F-Type Cables, Compatible with All Brands of Coax Cables, Simple Setup,, Nickel Plated, 23203 or can I use the diplexer?

Can I achieve the same reception quality with an indoor antenna to save me the dismantling outside, if so what do you recommend?

I also like to record the games so what do you suggest I do?

Thanks in advance,

Frederic

Cathelene O'Connor
Cathelene O'Connor
2 years ago

Hi, Brian;
I have a 2012 RCA 42" tv model number 4536-LE42c45-c208522. I have cut the cord with DirecTV recently and since then have not been able to pick up any air channels. Its hooked up to a very good antenna, good signal strength, etc. I have checked and rechecked everything 50 times, lol. Ran autoscan 200 times, tried manual input of channels at least 25 times, but cant receive them in and they disappear when I turn the tv off. It is a digital tv and plays very well with Roku and Firestick. I just can't pick up any channels. Took the atenna to the tv in bedroom and there was no problem. Rewired attic anntenna to RCA in living room and still no luck. The one thing I have noticed is I have to keep resetting the clock to the current time. I dont know if that means anything or not. It stays stuck to the datge/time I bought the tv and first plugged it up. And while I was with DirecTV, I could switch to Antenna channels that I had before direcTV and they showed up in the channel list. I have a dismal feeling the service guy that hooked up DirecTV 7 years ago did a bad. Any advice?

Andrea M Roseli
Andrea M Roseli
2 years ago

I bought a Digital antenna. The amplifier light is on but Antenna isn't highlighted on the tv to select. Any suggestions what is wrong?

Brian
2 years ago

Hi Andrea,

The antenna selection should show up regardless of whether an antenna is even plugged in or not. What is the make and model of your TV?

Thanks,
Brian

Mark TV
2 years ago

Thanks this is exactly what I was looking for!!

Stefanie Stockwell
Stefanie Stockwell
2 years ago

Hello, we have had a HD TV digital outdoor antennae for about 2 years. For some reason the remote will no longer move it. We still get channels, so we bought a new one because the first one was very cheap, so we upgraded, we have some channels but the antennae still won't turn. My guess is it is a bad cable?

Brian
2 years ago

Hi Stefanie,

Hmm, hard to say without being on site to diagnose it. As you said, a lot of those antenna rotators are pretty cheap. It could be a cable issue, or the motor might have gone out. I would check it for any obvious physical problems like it being stuck or obvious broken parts.

Best,
Brian

Stefanie Stockwell
Stefanie Stockwell
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Thank you, well we bought a newer, more expensive one thinking the cheap one just wore out, and this one is not moving with the remote either...............it's a mystery.

Rick
Rick
2 years ago

I have a roof antenna, long cable runs, about 80 feet to a 1st floor TV, and about 85 to 90 feet to the second floor TV's from the antenna. I placed 4 port drop amplifier where the cable comes into the house, about 40 feet from the antenna, and split from there. My first floor TV is newer and shows the signal strength and signal quality. I looked at my weakest channel then my strongest channel signals before and after adding the drop amp and signal strength has not changed. Followed the directions that came with the unit, and this is my 3rd try with different amps with the same results on all. Its like they don't exist. Any Ideas would be appreciated. Rick

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Rick

Hi Rick,

Interesting. My main suggestion would be to put the amplifier right by the antenna, instead of 40 feet away. That way, it would be driving the full 90 feet of cable instead of only half of that.

I recommend doing it as an experiment with an extension cord if you need to. Don't permanently wire it up until you verify it gives some improvement.

Let me know how it goes.

Best,
Brian

Richard Laggenbauer
Richard Laggenbauer
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Thanks for the quick response Brian. Being in my 60's and nursing and old injury to my shoulder the last couple weeks, don't think I didn't appreciate your suggestion, I do. However I kept my feet on the ground, got a third TV with a signal bar and not mounted to anything, and headed to my basement. I had to move my coax distribution point 35 feet to were the coax came into the house, which is about 40 feet of cable to the antenna. At that point my weakest signal is in the High Normal range.
The 2 TV's I am watching are about another 60-70 feet from the amp and read at Medium Normal on my weakest channel, (the signal bar reads Poor / Normal / Good.) Not having a mobile Signal Reader, this was the only way to get my job done. Prior to that I suspected that the Signal Strength Meter on my brand new TV isn't working...putting in nicely. When you get the same signal no matter if you have a straight line hook up to 1 TV, regular splitter to 2 TV's, there's a problem.
Thanks Again Rick

Matt james
Matt james
2 years ago

I bought a tilt tv antenna that promised movie channels and sports and box set channels etc,, to set it up I have to go to ant or antenna on the input source but my tv does not have this option,, yet all of my 100 freeview channels are still working through this antenna on digital tv but of course I purchased this item to receive the cable channels without a subscription fee. How can I tune on antenna when this option isn't even there?

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt james

Hi Matt,

It sounds like your TV might not have a digital tuner. What is the make and model?

Just to be clear, a broadcast TV antenna will get you the major TV networks and local stations. it will not get you all cable TV channels. You can get those by using Internet streaming services that cost less than cable, such as Sling TV.

Best,
Brian

Charles Hansen
Charles Hansen
2 years ago

Hi Brian -
I have a Dell PC and use IE 10 and classic Google. I've been noticing that it doesn't work or is very slow on an increasing number of sites so might have to switch, but when I try Chrome or Firefox the interface seems very different. I've started taking my hand off the mouse after clicking and on the other end clicking the X to close instead of waiting for cursor movement to do it. I'll try other browsers and report back.
==>> I just tried the other two browsers and it is much more reliable, so I guess it's time to bite the bullet. I know Chrome is much more popular, but my reading indicates that Firefox is more secure and might have fewer ads. I'm used to ignoring them, but do hate those pop-ups in the middle of the screen and you need to wait for the X to appear in the top-right corner.
Just got my Mohu Leaf and heavy cable, so will install them tomorrow - (much) later today where I am ;)
Charles

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hansen

Hi Charles,

Yeah, IE is basically an abandoned browser so I suggest moving away from that. If you like Microsoft, you can also try Edge.

Best,
Brian

Charles Hansen
Charles Hansen
2 years ago

Hi - I see you mention TitanTV and I also use it, but one thing bugs me.

When using the Detail view pop-up window for a program, sometimes programs will close at the slightest twitch of the mouse, while others
stay open even if the cursor is moved across most of the screen, remaining open long after the cursor has left the Details window.

I asked them about this, but deny it - do you experience this?
I can add detailed text from them if you want.

Charles

Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hansen

Hi Charles,

I just tested and didn't see this problem, but it might require more testing. What browser and OS (Windows or Mac) are you using? Does it happen with different browsers?

Thanks,
Brian

Furrmin The Cat
Furrmin The Cat
3 years ago

How do I enter a decimal Chanel such as 41.4

Brian
3 years ago

Hi,

If your remote doesn't have a decimal point button, it might have a dash button, which serves the same function.

Best,
Brian

Furrmin The Cat
Furrmin The Cat
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Thanks. That works. Don't know why I never saw that dash before.

Michael Joseph Nugent
Michael Joseph Nugent
3 years ago

So I finally want to cut the cord but I have a few questions and included a drawing. I want to put an antenna in my attic 1) Should I put the distribution amp as close to the antenna as possible? If so, I will be dropping down to 2 TV's on the 2nd floor with a 3rd coax running to the basement where I have to split to 3 possibly 4 TV's. for the first floor. Should (or can)` I use ANOTHER powered Distribution Amplifier or just a regular 4 way splitter? Thankscomment image

Brian
3 years ago

Hi Michael,

First of all, yes, you should put the distribution amplifier as close to the antenna as possible.

Regarding the 2nd distribution amplifier, the answer depends on the length of the cable going from the attic to the first floor. But unless the cable is insanely long, I would not add another amplifier. To start out, just run the cable to one TV on the first floor. If that's good, try adding a passive splitter to drive the four TVs. Only as a last resort should you go out any buy another distribution amplifier because I have a feeling it will overdrive the signal.

Best,
Brian

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