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iMovie '11: If iMovie doesn’t recognize your camcorder

If you’ve connected your camcorder to your computer but the Import window doesn’t open, or iMovie can’t control your device, there are several things you can try to establish the connection.

Here are some things to check:

  1. Make sure that you’re using the correct equipment configuration:

    • Your camcorder must be compatible with iMovie. For a list of compatible camcorders, go to the following support page: http://help.apple.com/imovie/cameras/en/index.html?lang=en_US

    • Your camcorder must be connected properly to your computer.

    • Your camcorder must be set to the correct output mode. On some camcorders, this is called VTR or VCR mode, but not all camcorders use the same terminology, so check the documentation that came with your device. On some camcorders you must set the output to DV mode or HDV mode, depending on whether the content is standard (DV) or high definition (HDV).

    • If you’re connecting a tape-based camcorder to your computer, you should be using a FireWire cable (also called IEEE 1394, or i.LINK), not a USB cable.

    • If you’re connecting to a device that records to flash memory, hard disk drive (HDD), or DVD media, you should be using a USB cable, not a FireWire cable.

    • If you’re importing video from a camera or other flash memory device, make sure the file format of your video is MPEG-2 or MPEG-4, which are compatible with iMovie.

    • If you’re importing from an AVCHD camcorder, make sure you’re using a Mac with an Intel Core Duo processor or better.

    • If you’re importing from an AVCHD DVD camcorder, make sure your computer has the latest version of Mac OS X installed.

    • If you’ve enabled Fast User Switching, make sure no one else is trying to use the camcorder from a different account at the same time.

  2. If you still can’t import video after checking the items above, try the following:

    • Turn the camcorder off and on again.

    • Disconnect the cable from both the camcorder and the computer, and then reconnect it.

    • Quit and then reopen iMovie.

    • Restart your computer.

    • Try using a different cable.

    • Try using a different computer with iMovie installed.

Last Modified: Apr 26, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Apr 26, 2013
  • Article: PH2146
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