How to Record Video to a USB Flash Drive

by Ken Burnside
Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

USB flash drives have become the removable media format of choice for most computers and media types, including office files, audio and video. Flash drives are convenient and easy to handle and every computer on the planet can read them, while not every computer has the appropriate cable connection for a FireWire transfer or a microSD reader. Getting your video onto the USB flash drive is usually straightforward, too.

Copying Video From Your Computer's Hard Drive

Step 1

Insert the flash drive into the USB port. Both Windows and Macintosh operating systems will auto-detect the USB drive. Double-click on the flash drive's icon on your desktop (Macintosh), or double click on "My Computer" and then double-click on the flash drive's icon in Windows. This procedure will open up a window showing the flash drive's contents.

Step 2

Find the video you wish to copy and right-click it (hold down the "Command" key on a Macintosh and click the file).

Step 3

Select "Copy" from the menu that comes up.

Right-click the flash drive's folder, or hold down the "Command" key and click the background of the folder on a Mac, and select "Paste." This will copy the video to the flash drive.

Recording Video Directly To The USB Drive

Step 1

Check to see if your video camera supports recording directly to the USB port. Not all of cameras do, and those that do generally record in the AVCHD video format, which requires some additional processing before it can be played back.

Step 2

Insert your flash drive into the camera's USB port and wait for the camera to recognize it.

Step 3

Configure the camera's menus to record any raw video to the thumb drive rather than the internal hard drive on the camera or any other storage media the camera might have, like an SD Card or a built-in mini DVD burner.

Record your video stream. The raw video footage will be saved to your flash drive.

Exporting Video To Your Flash Drive

Step 1

Connect your camera to your computer and use your video editing program's "Import From External Source" tool set. In Windows Movie Maker, click on "File" and then click "Import from Digital Video Camera."

Step 2

Edit the movie as needed in your video editing program.

Step 3

Click on the "Publish," "Export" or "Save As" option.

Select your USB flash drive as the destination.


  • Older versions of Windows and Macintosh OS X could potentially corrupt files if you pulled the flash drive out of the USB port without first dismounting it. To do this on Windows XP, right-click on the tray and look for the icon with a green arrow that says "Safely Remove USB Device" and click on it. Wait until you see a message saying it's safe to unplug the flash drive. For Macintosh OS X, drag the icon for the USB drive to the Trash icon; this will allow you to remove the device safely.


  • The most efficient way to handle digital video files is to record them on the microSD card in your camera and pull them from the camera for processing on your computer. This is the workflow that most digital video cameras assume.


Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Ken Burnside has been writing freelance since 1990, contributing to publications as diverse as "Pyramid" and "Training & Simulations Journal." A Microsoft MVP in Excel, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alaska. He won the Origins Award for Attack Vector: Tactical, a board game about space combat.

More Articles