How to import video into iMovie using a Mac

by Contributor

Every Mac comes with iLife, a suite of software that helps you manage a ton of production stuff. So if you are interested in converting some old tapes into a digital format or you are looking to get into online video publishing, iMovie is a logical place to start. So here is how you do it.

iMovie Main Screen

Open iMovie on your Mac

Now we need to connect the camcorder to the computer. With the camcorder "OFF" and plugged into a wall outlet, connect a FireWire cable to your camera. The smaller end, called a "4-pin" goes to the camera in the "DV" port. The larger end, called the "6-pin" goes to the computer. The 6-pin end looks similar to a USB cable, but it is round, so do not try to plug it into your USB port.

iMovie Blue Interface

Turn on your camcorder in the "playback mode" or what is more commonly called the VCR mode. iMovie should detect the camcorder, and you will get a blue screen on the iMovie interface with the message Camera Connected. If this message does not appear, make sure all the connections from the camera to the computer are plugged in properly, and the camera is turned on to the VCR mode.

iMovie Function buttons

You will see some fucntion buttons similar to the buttons on your camcorder for playback. They will be "Play", "Rewind", "Fast- Forward", and "Stop" buttons. Also there is an "IMPORT" button on the screen as well. Use the function buttons to get the tape to the section that you want to import, or rewind the entire tape on the camcorder.

Once you get the place on the video that you want to import to your Mac and into iMovie, click the "IMPORT" button. You will notice that iMovie is playing along with your camcorder, and that it is saving the video in the right-hand section of the interface - in the "Clips" section.

If you want to stop importing video, simply click on the "IMPORT" button again or stop your camcorder. You will now have a clip or video segment in the iMovie interface.

After viewing all of the clips, you can go through the clips drawer and delete the clips that you do not need by clicking on them and hitting the delete key. Just be careful as iMovie can sometimes cut a clip in the middle of someone speaking. If you need to split a clip to delete a smaller portion, leave it the way it is for now.

Now read my article about how to edit video in iMovie here: LINK TO ARTICLE.

Now visit my article about editing video in iMovie"


  • check Before doing this, make sure that you have enough space on your harddrive. As a guide, 5 minutes of Digital Video (DV), takes up about 1GB of space. 5 minutes of High Definition (HD), takes up about 2-4GM of space.
  • check Not a bad idea to pick up an external firewire drive if you are going to do a lot of video editing.
  • check When saving clips, try to save short clips, as they are easier to edit.
  • check Do not worry about editing right now, as you can go back and do that later.
  • check You can import QuickTime and MPEG.4, and photos into iMovie.

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