iMovie for Mac: Import from file-based cameras

Import from file-based cameras

File-based cameras and devices can record and store video clips and photos on flash-based storage or hard disk drives (HDD). File-based cameras and devices usually connect to your computer via a USB cable. Some file-based cameras have removable memory cards that you can insert into your Mac instead.

To check whether your camera is compatible with iMovie, go to the iMovie Supported Cameras webpage.

Tip: It’s a good idea to use Photos to import photos and video clips you want to use in iMovie. For more information, see Photos Help.

Import from a camera or camcorder

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Connect your device to your Mac using the cable that came with the device, and turn on the device.

      If you’re using a camcorder, set it to PC Connect mode. (The name of this transfer mode may be different on your device.) Your camcorder may automatically go into “connect” mode when you connect it to your Mac. For more information, see the documentation that came with your device.

      Note: Connecting a DVD camcorder to your Mac may cause the DVD Player application to open. If this happens, simply quit DVD Player.

    • If your device uses an SD card, eject it from the device and insert it into the card slot on your Mac (if your Mac has a card slot) or into an external card reader.

      For more information, see About memory cards and cables.

  2. To open the Import window, click the Import button in the toolbar.

    Import button in toolbar

    If you don’t see the Import button, click the Media button in the toolbar, and then click the Import button.

    Media button in toolbar

    If the Image Capture, Photos, or iPhoto window appears, close the window.

  3. In the Import window, select your device in the Cameras section of the sidebar.

    The Import window displays thumbnails of the video clips and photos on your device. When you select an item, a preview appears at the top of the Import window.

    Note: To show only video or only photos, click the pop-up menu in the upper-right corner of the Import window and choose an option.

  4. To preview video, move the pointer left and right across a video thumbnail, or move the pointer over the preview at the top of the Import window and click the Play button .

    You can also click the Previous or Next button to go to the previous or next clip, or click and hold the Previous or Next button to rewind or fast-forward.

    Import window playback controls
  5. To specify where the imported media will be stored, do one of the following:

    • Choose an existing event: Click the “Import to” pop-up menu at the top of the Import window and choose the event.

      "Import to" pop-up menu
    • Create a new event: Click the “Import to” pop-up menu at the top of the Import window, choose New Event, type a name for the new event, and click OK.

    To learn more about events, see Organize media and events.

  6. Do one of the following:

    • Import all clips: Click Import All.

    • Import selected clips: Command-click each clip you want to import, and click Import Selected (the Import button changes its name).

    The Import window closes, and your clips appear in the event. Depending on the length of each clip and the number of clips you’re importing, you may see a progress indicator in the upper-right corner of the window while the clips are being imported.

    Progress indicator in toolbar

    You can continue to work in iMovie while the import finishes.

  7. When your media is imported, disconnect the device.

Published Date: Oct 6, 2017
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