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Published on 01.11.07 by Brent Trahan

Import Video in Windows Vista

How to import video from a Digital Video (DV) camcorder to a computer using the video import wizard included with Windows Vista.


Most video cameras come with a Digital Video (DV) output that connects your video camera to your computer via a Firewire connection.  Windows Vista comes with everything you need to import (or capture) video on your computer, edit the video, and burn it on DVD.

This guide covers importing video to your computer from your DV output on your video camera.

Connect Your Video Camera

What you need:  In order for you to connect your video camera to the computer you need a video camera with a DV output (usually a Firewire connection), a firewire cable to connect the video camera to your computer, and a Firewire port or card on your computer.

Make sure your video camera is turned off first.

Connect the camera via a Firewire cable to your computer.

Once the video camera is connected to your computer, turn the video camera on.

Note: Make sure the video camera is turned on with the player selected instead of the recorder.  The DV output will only activate if the player is selected on most video camcorders.  See the video cameras manual if you need help with this.

Import Video Wizard

Name, Location, and File Type

When you turn your video camera on Windows Vista will automatically recognize it and open the Import Video wizard.


The first thing you need to do is give the video you are about to import a name.

The second thing is choosing a location to save the imported video in.  By default the wizard will save the file in the Videos folder inside your My Documents folder.  If you want to change the location of the file, click Browse and pick the new location of the video file.

The third thing you need to do is tell the video import wizard which format you want to import the video in.  By default it imports the video in uncompressed (.avi) video.  This is the highest quality video and I highly recommend using this format.  One hour of uncompressed video will take up around 13 Gigabytes of hard drive space, so make sure your computer has enough space for the video.

If your computer doesn’t have lots of hard drive space or you just want to import the video to keep on your computer there are other smaller video formats to choose from.

You can change the format of the video import by dropping down the menu next to Format.  You have three video formats to choose from.

Audio Video Interleaved (single file): This is the original uncompressed video straight off the camera.  This format takes about 13 Gigabytes per hour of hard drive space.  When this type of video is opened in Windows Movie Maker it’s automatically split into scenes for easy editing.

I would use this format to create DVDs and keep an archive of important home videos and things like that.

Windows Media Video (single file): Microsoft’s video format.  It’s slightly compressed and takes around 2 Gigabytes per hour of video on your hard drive.

I would only use this for keeping video on your computer that isn’t important because the quality is slightly degraded from compression.

Windows Media Video (one file per scene): This is exactly the same as the Windows Media Video format above but it’s automatically split at the end of every scene and saved as separate files for you.  Think of a scene as the video between when you pressed record and then stopped that recording on your video camera.

This is great for if you want to edit the video later.  All the clips are separated for you.

Note: You can edit any of these video formats in Windows Movie Maker and save it in many different video formats and sizes.  I recommend importing your video in the highest available format and editing the video in a lower format later.

Click Next when you’ve chosen the video format you want to import the video in.

What Type of Import


Now the import video wizard asks you how you want to import the video to your computer.  You have three options.

Import the entire videotape to my computer: This option will rewind the videotape and capture the entire video automatically.


If you choose to import the entire videotape the window above will popup when you click Next.  You can see a preview of the video while it’s being imported but you won’t hear the sound.  Once the video has been imported it will be saved in the location you chose earlier.

Import the entire videotape and then burn it to DVD:  This option will rewind the videotape, capture the entire video, and then burn it to a DVD.

If you choose to import the video then burn it to DVD without any editing give the DVD a name and press Next.

Note: Make sure a blank DVD is in your DVD burner.  The computer will import the video and burn it on a DVD.

Only import parts of the videotape to my computer:  This option lets you choose which parts of the videotape to import on your computer.


If you choose to import parts of the videotape on your computer you’ll see the window shown above.

To control the camera simply press the rewind, play, fast forward, pause, or stop buttons.  The computer will control the camera.

When you’ve found the part of the tape you want to import video from, click the Start Video Import button.  Click the Stop Video Import button to stop the import.

The video clips you’ve imported will be saved in the location you chose earlier.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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18 Responses to “Import Video in Windows Vista”

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  1. niels says:

    Thanks for the guide. The major drawback with Vista is that it is not compatible with many, if not most, camcorders. My Sony worked fine with Windows XP but is suddenly not compatible with Windows Vista…

  2. Brent Trahan says:

    I bet if you checked with Sony they would have an updated driver for your camera that works with Vista.

  3. Devon says:

    None of the options outlined above are available with my Sony camcorder (Micor MV – DCR-IP55) during the import and I have only been able to access the wizard through MovieMaker. I am limited to importing the entire tape in high def format, and I get a lot of hung-up or frozen sections of the footage during the import. Is there a way to access the import wizard outside of MovieMaker?

  4. Jessie says:

    I have a Sony handycam DCR-TRV280. I have had a while and I have never been able to use it on my Dell computer with windows vista home premium. The computer does not recognize the camcorder. Unable to review, burn, transmit or anything. Please help! I don’t know if I’m doing or not doing something that is causeing this. Thank You! Jessie

  5. Brent Trahan says:

    @ Jessie

    Do you turn your camcorder on and set it to the playback setting? Most cameras won’t transmit their video until you turn them on the video player mode.

  6. Pancho.QV says:

    I have exactly the same problem as Jessie! I also have a Sony handycam DCR-TRV280 and a Dell Inspiron 6400.

    And yes, i did turn my camcorder and set it to the playback setting. I don’t know what to do. The only info i have is that the camera shows a message saying “DV IN” when the cable is connected both to the computer and to the camera..


  7. Brent Trahan says:

    I would check with Sony on this problem guys.

  8. Nate says:

    Same situation…Would love to hear the feedback from Sony since it seems to be a common problem with them…

  9. gary coutts says:

    i have similar problems with my cannon mvx30i camcorder. i have tried in vain with no results


  10. Maurice Adams says:

    I have used the program successfully and then after importing and burning about 10 tapes it stopped operating correctly. I had plenty of storage space on my hard drive but the program just began to hang up. Any fixes?

  11. VS Dude says:

    Perhaps people having trouble with their camcorders are not using Firewire? I have a Canon Z700 and it’s connected by Firewire to my Dell quad core Studio desktop. I can use Vista’s on-screen controls to fast-forward, rewind and import the video. One note, I don’t hear audio during import – but only during import. After import, the video plays fine with audio.

  12. Chantell Pennington says:

    I have a samsung digital camera and i’m hooking everything up like you said but the import video wizard isn’t automatically showing up. I can’t even find it anywhere on my cpu. What now?

  13. Matt says:

    I have a Canon ZR40 and I have the same problem. Connected via Firewire. Turn the camera on and the “Import Video using Windows Import Video” screen comes up. I select that option, then nothing happens. If I try again, it insists that “Import Video is already started and running on this computer.”

    No new drivers seem to be available.

    Isn’t DV a universal format?


  14. mark says:


    I have a JVC camcorder and import seems to work fine to a degree. All is well until it reaches about 4Gb of download. A message is then dispalyed saying that the limitation is due to it being a 32bit system. I have plenty of HD space.
    Any suggestions on a work around or fix ??


  15. ibrahim kökdemir says:

    In xp, there is a property that we can choose the format type to which the video is converted (wmv format especially). but in windows 7 only format that video capturer uses is lossless avi and that takes huge amount of space (13 gB for an hour). same one hour video is about 700-1000 mB in wma and also same for general purpose. I cannot find any other method to do that.

  16. PZoro says:

    Hey I capture with import video wizard once and it worked awesome, I did not click any of the options on the auto play but it no longer shows up.

    The problem I am having is I want to be able to capture video using the same Import Video program but am unable to find it an launch it without using autoplay. Does anyone know how to launch the Import Video program without it being prompted in autoplay?

  17. Joseph says:

    I have used my Sony DV camcorder DCR-HC52 for eight months and downloaded my video with Vista Home premium without problem. Now Windows Vista has failed to recognize my camcorder. I have tried everything possible but no autoplay comes up. The camcoder indicates DV in.

    Can anybody help?

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