Copying files from the Canon Vixia camera

Our Canon Vixia digital cameras make shooting video very simple, but the file formats can be difficult to work with. The following is a set of instructions on connecting the camera to your computer, followed by three options for working with the footage.

For more information about the Canon Vixia camera, check out the hardware page.

1. When you have finished filming and you are ready to retrieve your files, plug the Canon Vixia video camera into a computer using the supplied USB cable. It is generally a good idea to plug the camera into its charger as well, in case the batteries die during transfer. While it is possible to transfer files from the camera to your computer without also charging it, we do not recommend it.

Canon 1

2. Turn on the camera. Press the Playback button to switch from recording mode. If the USB cable is properly connected, the screen will display a USB connection message. Select Built-in Mem. and an icon named CANON will pop up on your desktop.

Select built-in mem

Canon 2

Importing Footage Directly into iMovie

To import the footage from the camera directly into iMovie for editing, follow the instructions in the following Tech Fairy video tutorials:

iMovie 10 Tutorial 1: Importing Video for users with iMovie 10.

iMovie Basics - Tutorial 1: Importing Video for users with iMovie 2011 (older).

Not sure what version of iMovie you have? From iMovie (at the top left of the screen), select About iMovie.

Version check

This method also works with other video editing programs, such as Adobe Premiere Elements. This is a good option if you wish to edit your footage into a movie.

Copying the AVCHD Folder for Future Use

If you simply want to quickly copy the footage to your computer so that you can work with it later, all you need to do is copy the AVCHD package.

1. Double click the Canon drive on your desktop.

The Canon drive

2. Click and drag the AVCHD package to your desktop or a folder where you would like to save the footage.

Contents of the Canon drive

The AVCHD package can be played with QuickTime Player and other media viewers, but is unwieldy and not suitable for upload. You will need to import the footage into a video editing program such as iMovie, or extract the .mts files for conversion with Handbrake. However, this is a good temporary option if you aren't sure what you want to do with the footage.

Copying the .mts Video Files for Conversion

If you are sure that your footage does not need to be edited, you may wish to import just the .mts files and convert them in Handbrake.

1. Double click the Canon drive on your desktop.

The Canon drive

2. Right click AVCHD and select Show Package Contents.


3. Right click BDMV and select Show Package Contents.


4. Select the Stream folder. The .mts files can be found here. The Canon Vixia restricts the size of any particular .mts file to approximately 2GB. At standard quality, this is about 15 minutes of footage. Some of your longer clips may be too large to fit in a single .mts file, so there may be more files here than you shot clips. Copy the .mts files to your computer.

The .mts files

Copying the .mts files takes less time and space than copying the entire AVCHD package would, but the files are nonstandard and cannot be read by most programs, including many video editors. The only guaranteed method is to use Handbrake to convert the files to the more universal .mp4 format. Instructions can be found here. This a good option if you want to share the raw footage, and the 15 minute files are the perfect length for uploading to the internet (once you have converted them).

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