How to Transfer Movies From Mini DV to a Computer Via USB

By Rianne Hill Soriano

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Mini DV camcorder or tape deck

  • Mini DV tape

  • USB cable to connect the camera or tape deck to the computer

  • Video-editing software program

Connect the camcorder or tape deck to a computer through a USB or FireWire cable.
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If you transfer a video from a Mini DV tape to your computer, you can more easily play, edit and archive the tape's contents. You also can convert the video into a variety of formats, including DVD and many popular video file formats that can be played in portable media players or on a computer. The transfer process requires that you connect a functional Mini DV camcorder or tape deck to a computer.

Connect the USB cable from the camcorder or tape deck to the computer’s USB port.

Open the camcorder or tape deck. If you're using a camcorder, set it in “VCR” mode.

Load the Mini DV tape into the camcorder or tape deck.

Open your computer’s video-editing program. From the file menu, click the “Capture” button and wait for the “Capture Window” to appear on the computer monitor.

Press the “Play” button on your camcorder or tape deck. The “Capture Window” also will provide external control buttons, including “Play,” “Stop,” “Pause,” “Rewind” or “Fast Forward” so that you can have direct control over the footage with the computer.

If your camcorder or tape deck is properly connected to the computer, you should be able to view the footage on the tape in your editing program’s “Capture Window.”

Click on the “Record” button on the “Capture Window.” Note that the capture process entails real-time recording of the footage from the Mini DV tape to the computer.

Click on “Stop” on your “Capture Window” or the “Esc” on the keyboard to “Stop” the capture process. This will prompt you to create a file name for the video capture. Confirm the file destination of all captured footage so you can easily find them later on your hard drive.

Play your newly digitized video file so you know that it was captured and plays correctly. Before continuing with the transfer process, adjust video or audio settings, if necessary.

Continue with the digitizing process by cuing your tape for the next footage you want to capture. You may want to capture the entire tape’s footage in a single click or stop every now and then so you can separate each shot and make an appropriate file name for each. This process is more ideal for those who will edit the digitized video.

Press “Stop” or “Esc” when you've captured the entire tape. You will now be able to play, edit or archive the video on your computer.


Before starting an extended capture process, make a test capture to avoid wasting time on unusable digitized video files because you had failed to correct video or audio settings.

When you begin the capture process, it's a good idea to slide the tape’s write-protect switch to protect your footage from accidental rerecording.


Some computers or programs may accept tape-to-computer transfer of footage only through a FireWire cable. Although many of these camcorders have USB connections as well, they might utilize the USB function only to transfer images stored in the camera's memory card. If your computer doesn't have a FireWire port, you can use a FireWire-to-USB adapter.