Download video from your camera to your computer

Ready to start editing your video files with Windows Movie Maker? Your first step is transferring your files from your camera or video camcorder into your computer. The best way to import your video files depends on what type of camera or computer you have. Here are a few options:

Memory cards

Most newer digital cameras and video recorders capture video and still images on memory cards. If your computer has a build-in memory card reader, simply remove the memory card from your camera and insert it into your computer. If your computer does not have a built-in memory card reader, you can connect an external memory card reader to your computer through the USB port.

To download video using a memory card

  1. Remove the memory card from your camera and insert it into a memory card reader.

    Once the memory card is inserted, Windows XP will detect the connection, and the Removable Disk dialog box will open.

  2. Under What do you want Windows to do?, click Open folder to view files, and then click OK. A window will open showing the folders in your memory card.

  3. Double-click each folder to locate the files that contain your videos. Once you find them, select all of the video files.

    You can quickly select all of the video files by clicking the first video, holding down the SHIFT key, and then clicking the last video.

  4. Click the Edit menu, and then click Copy to Folder.

  5. In the Copy Items dialog box, click My Documents, click My Videos, and then click Copy.

    Once your video files are copied to your My Videos folder, you can rename them. You can also delete the files from your memory card to save room for future videos.

  6. When you're ready to watch your videos, open your My Videos folder, and double-click the video you want to see.

USB port

If you don't have a memory card reader, you can still import video files to your computer using the USB port. Simply plug one end of the USB cable (usually included with your camera) into your video camera, and plug the other end into your computer.

i.Link (also known as FireWire or an IEEE 1394) cable

If you have an older video camera or computer, you might need to use an i.Link (also known as FireWire or IEEE 1394) cable. If you don't have a FireWire port on your computer and you plan to do a lot of video editing, then you might need to go to an electronics store to install an i.Link adapter.

To download video using an i.Link cable

  1. Connect your camera to your computer by plugging one end of the i.Link cable (often included with your camera) into your camera and the other end into your computer. Turn your camera on, and set it to playback mode.

  2. In the Digital Video Device dialog box, click Capture Video using Windows Movie Maker, and then click OK. The Video Capture Wizard will open.

  3. On the Capture Video File page, in the Enter a name for your captured video box, type a name for your video.

  4. In the Choose a place to save your captured video drop-down list, choose a folder, and then click Next.

  5. On the Video Setting page, click Next to accept the default setting Best quality for playback on my computer.

  6. On the Capture Method page, click Next to accept the default setting Capture the entire tape automatically. If you want to see and hear the tape play as it's being captured, select the Show preview during capture check box.

    The Video Capture Wizard rewinds your tape and then begins capturing it.

  7. Select the Create clips when wizard finishes check box if not already selected.

  8. After the tape is captured, the wizard will stop automatically. If you reach the end of your recording before it reaches the end of your tape, click Stop Capture, and then click Yes.

    Movie Maker will automatically break your movie into clips and add them to a video collection under the name you provided.

Analog video

Older video cameras, such as Hi-8, VHS, or VHS-C video cameras, were not designed to connect to a computer. But they can connect to a VCR or TV using analog video connections. Typically, these connections are with S-Video or composite video cables. You can use these connections to play your video on your TV.

If you'd still like to connect this type of camera to your computer, you can use a video input adapter. While USB video input adapters are the most convenient, you can also buy internal cards for desktop computers. Then connect both the video and audio feeds from your camera to the video input adapter. If the video input adapter does not have an audio input port, connect the audio feed from your camera to your computer's line-in or microphone input jack.

To download analog video

  1. Connect your camera to your computer using a video input adapter.

  2. Click the Start menu, click All Programs, and then click Windows Movie Maker.

  3. In the Movie Tasks pane, under Capture Video, click Capture from video device. The Video Capture Wizard will open.

  4. On the Video Capture Device page, click your camera, and then click Next.

  5. On the Capture Video File page, in the Enter a name for your captured video box, type a name for your video.

  6. In the Choose a place to save your captured video drop-down list, choose a folder, and then click Next.

  7. On the Video Setting page, click Next to accept the default setting Best quality for playback on my computer. The Capture Video page will open.

  8. From your camera, rewind or fast-forward to about five seconds before the start of the clip that you want to download. Press the play button on your camera.

  9. On the Capture Video page, click the Start Capture button.

  10. Click Stop Capture at the end of your clip.

    It's okay if you start capturing video earlier than your clip begins, because you can trim the beginning later. You might also want to capture the entire tape at once, because you can break it into shorter clips later.

  11. When you're done, click Finish.

Looking to do more with video?

Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 allows you to quickly turn your photos and videos into polished movies that you can easily share with your friends and family. To get Windows Live Movie Maker—part of the Windows Live Essentials suite of products—simply upgrade to Windows 7.