I have a number of old mini-DV tapes that I would like to import into my Macbook.

  • I want an app to read the contents of these tapes
  • It should be able to produce a single MP4 combining all of the clips on the tape
  • It should be able to produce multiple MP4 files of the separate clips on the tape.

I tried using iMovie one time and found it to be overkill for what I need. It imported the contents of my tape as multiple .dv files and then I have to create a project. I don't want to deal with that. I want to not need to manage things and import the content of tapes and store it on the filesystem so that I can watch the content on Macs/Windows/Linux/multiple-platforms.

What software meets these requirements?


Connect your camcorder and use iMovie HD to import the tape, then export using Share>Quicktime. It will create one file out of the tape.

Edit: In response to Sajee's comment below.

Choose Share>Quicktime>Compress movie for: Full Quality. As implied, there won't be any loss of quality.

Share>Quicktime>Compress movie for: Full Quality

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  • I saw this option but will there be a loss in quality during the Export process? I would like to maintain 100% quality, regardless of how much disk space it takes. – Sajee Jan 24 '12 at 21:03
  • @Sajee See my updated answer. – daviesgeek Jan 24 '12 at 21:58
  • @Sajee Did this work for you? If not, let me know what's not working! – daviesgeek Jul 20 '12 at 20:34
  • MBP (10.5.8) did not detect the camera (Sony DCR-TRV7). I used the Firewire (4 in the camera to 8 in the MBP) connector that came with the camera. System Profiler did not recognize the camera. – 5un5 Dec 4 '13 at 2:55

I have an older Canon Mini-DV camera and the process was quite painless when I brought the video in to my Mac.

  1. Obtain the necessary firewire cable to connect your camera to your Mac. Honestly, this was the hardest part for me.
  2. Make sure the camera is plugged in to the wall (you don't want the battery dying during import) and the tape is in the camera and set to the start of the tape.
  3. Turn on the camera, turn on your Mac.
  4. Connect the camera to your Mac via the firewire cable.

The Mac will open up an import dialog when you connect the camera and ask if you want to import the video in to iMovie. Say yes and iMovie's import feature will take over. It will start the video play back on your camera and you'll see it saving the video content to disk on your Mac. IIRC the import was real time (or very near too it), which is unfortunate. But really it was that simple.

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I had this problem and this is how I solved it:

  1. Connect camera to iMovie (firewire in my case).
  2. On the camera press PLAY.
  3. Wait until it starts playing in the iMovie window.
  4. Click Import in the iMovie window.
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There's a new Mac app ($19 on the Mac app store) that simplifies the import and saving of MiniDV tapes. Here it is: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lifeflix/id630212114?mt=12

this is $99 on the App Store

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