I have recently recorded some college lectures using my Canon handycam.

The files I seem to have are in AVCHD format.

I'd like to know if there is a relatively fast method to convert them into .mp4 format.

I bought iMovie but with dismay I have been totally defeated by its interface.

I was thinking of using ffmpeg but thought I'd ask the question here first.


  • I assume you're using iMovie '11 (aka v9.x), because the current version of iMovie (10.x) now supports AVCHD natively, with a much quicker import (lossless, essentially same file size). Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 2:30

3 Answers 3


Handbrake should be able to handle AVCHD files. It relies on some codec library files from VLC player, so it may help to have that installed as well. Handbrake uses ffmpeg underneath the hood.

Alternatively, AVIdemux may also be useful. It's a bit more of an editor than just an encoder, but if it can read the source files, it should be able to output the desired encoding.

Commercially, SmartConverterPro has worked okay for me.


Try out Handbrake, it's the best and free converter I've used on my Mac. The interface is easy and pretty straight forward.

  • Thanks for the response -- just downloaded it but it does not seem to be able to open the AVCHD file. Commented Mar 9, 2014 at 19:16
  • Thanks, i keep it open as answer in case anyone is looking for a converter.
    – Rob
    Commented Mar 9, 2014 at 19:29

You can access the individual video files inside an AVCHD archive. Right-click the AVCHD file in Finder and select Show Package Contents. Then, inside the package will be a file called BDMV. Again, right-click on BDMV and Show Package Contents. Here in the STREAM directory are .MTS files for each video. These can be opened or converted with tools like QuickTime or VLC (which has more exporting options).

I've only checked the output of my camera — the directory structure or naming might be different for different cameras — but I believe that in all cases there are individual video files to be found inside the archive.

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