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iPhone 3GS Tip: How To Transfer Video from iPhone to Mac Quickly


Like most new iPhone 3GS owners, I ‘ve been occasionally playing with the video recording feature.  Although I have a couple YouTube accounts, up to now I ‘ve never used them much (I imagine that may change as I get the hang of video taking a bit more with the 3GS) “ and for now I much prefer getting videos over to my Mac and sharing from there if I decide I want to.  This also lets you view your videos at full quality, rather than compressed / monkeyed with for YouTube.

So I was very happy to spot a superb tip for importing videos quickly from the iPhone 3GS to a Mac over at iPhone Alley recently “ and thought I ‘d share it here.

How To Quickly Import iPhone 3GS videos onto a Mac:

Connect your iPhone to your Mac with its USB (sync) cable

Launch the Image Capture app on your Mac


The Image Capture app should almost instantly see the iPhone attached, and offer up a dialog like the one in the screencap below.  From there you can choose where to download videos or pictures to, whether to download all or make individual selections, and review and modify several other options (e.g whether or not to delete the originals on the iPhone once the import is done).


Once you ‘ve made you choices and clicked to download, it shows you a status bar and quickly transfers your videos over to the Mac. Or you can just click to select a video and drag it straight into your desired target folder for it.  I have tested so far with only 30 “ 60 second videos, but these zoomed across to the Mac quite nicely.

That ‘s it “ your video files will be available as .mov files wherever you chose to save them too.

** Please note you can also import 3GS videos via the iPhoto app, if you are a fan of watching paint dry that is.  I loathe iPhoto “ it strikes me as one of the slowest and least responsive and generally overrated and crappy applications of any kind that I ‘ve used on any platform “ so my preference is to almost never use it.

There may also be an app that does wireless transfer of files back and forth from iPhone to Mac or Windows machines that will work for this purpose, but I haven ‘t spotted one yet.

Continue reading:


  • BostonMerlin

    wow, sorry to hear about iPhoto. reading your article i'm thinking.. doesnt he know about iPhoto? On my macbook pro with thousands of images and (flip videos) the app flies. No lag, no hesitation. Just so others know it's not a universal problem your having. I do have the latest version of iPhoto.


  • joshua Powell

    I love iphoto!

  • What I'm waiting for is Facebook to allow video uploads from the iPhone app. What I have to do is upload to YouTube, then just post a link to it on my Facebook.. Which can't be done unless I'm at the computer. That defeats the purpose of being able to shoot wirelessly. I'm almost positive it's coming though

    • Sonny

      You can shoot/post to youtube/post url on facebook all from the iphone. You have to watch the posted video on your iphone to get the link. Problem is, all those tasks use up a major chunk of the battery.
      I was at a theme park all day recently and after doing all that early in the day on a full charge,I had to put the 3GS in conservation mode the rest of the day.

    • DKong

      There's an app in the app store called VideoUp which allows you to upload videos directly to your facebook account. I recommend it as it's the easiest way to upload videos to facebook

    • AdamW

      All you have to do is e-mail the video to your Facebook mobile e-mail that Facebook offers you. Look it up. The video posts directly to your wall.

  • John and Joshua – glad you've had better experiences than me. iPhoto has always been a dog on my MacBook – takes forever and a day to launch and even once I think it has fully launched, it often hangs as soon as I attempt a click anywhere. It may be just me, but I gave it a year's worth of chances and it never performed anywhere close to well.

  • Bobby – I would bet that will come along fairly soon too.

  • forgot all about image capture app. thx for the tip. making videos is so darn easy with the 3GS.

    • My pleasure on the small tip. Agree it is very easy – did a couple short ones while out walking the canine today. 🙂

  • jacoch

    I agree with other posters. I have more than 14K photos and videos, organized in about 100 albums. iPhoto takes a couple of seconds to launch and doesn't lag when working with photos or albums. I also have the latest version. Since iPhoto '06, I have never faced the troubles you describe. But never tried it on a Mac Book.

    • jacoch – so which type of Mac do you use iPhoto on? I don't think the MacBook should be an issue – it is only just over a year old, has 4GB of RAM and runs most apps fantastically well. I regularly work with 8 spaces open, Firefox running with up to a dozen tabs open, a VMWare virtual machine running etc – and happily switch back and forth among many running apps and get great performance in all of them. iPhoto, as I've said, has always been horrendously slow to launch, and enormously fond of becoming unresponsive and requiring a force quit way too often.

  • imawildman

    Thanks for the tip. Can't believe i didn't think about using image capture.

    • You're welcome – and glad if it helped.

  • lily

    I'm glad I found this thread, I haven't been able to copy my video's over to my iBook with iPhoto. It only recognizes the photos, not the videos. I'm wondering if it's cause I have an older iBook, although I think I have the most recent version of iPhoto. I too had totally forgotten about Image Capture.

    • So glad to hear this tip helped – thanks for taking time to comment and let us know.

  • mbzzzzzz

    Help you did! After way to much wasted time with iphoto I just got the videos off my phone. Thanks

    • Excellent – glad to hear it.

  • Fernando

    Thanks man!!! After more thn an hour trying to transfer video from my new iPhone to my MacBook you solved the issue. Appreciate it!

    • Cool – very glad it helped you out.

  • doeberman


  • Mike

    wow – this is super easy – thanks for the tip.

    I can't believe this basic info wasn't provided by Apple when the phone was launched.

    • My pleasure – and glad it helped.

  • Thanks man! very helpful 🙂

  • Mike

    Thank you, after two months now I can transfer my videos to my mac. Thanks a lottt

    • Great stuff – glad to hear it.

  • Foxy

    Great tip! Been looking for this since I am new to iPhone…great to transfer videos fast and simple! Thanks alot mate!

    • No worries – glad it was useful. 🙂

  • No worries – my pleasure as always.

  • Andrew

    thanks for that !

  • great tip

  • Roger

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Image capture is much better than iphoto in my opinion. Awesome the location feature that u can see in image capture.

    • You're very welcome. Glad it helped.

  • GWU

    Breeeeeeliant!!! Thanks!

    • Pleasure. Nice spelling there 🙂

  • ron

    just the tip i needed! Good man!

  • whatever

    So it cant sync your homemade videos you made with the iphone with itunes?
    What a joke!

  • JoeyB

    iphoto may be nice, even if you have no lag, but I didn't want to import every photo and vid from my iphone to wife's mac just to get the three video clips she wanted. Image capture is a great solution for this scenario. Thanks for the tip.

  • satamile

    Thanks alot! Image capture worked great on my G4 laptop running 10.4. iPhoto, does not work or will work on my system, apple forgets to tell you that you have to have iphoto 4.o or greater, iLike in this case and my system cant run that making it impossible to use iphoto, itunes or ilike. Thanks apple, no I’m not buying a new computer I’ll use image capture instead. thanks Patrick and your right , iphoto runs a like a drunk dog crawling out of a saloon in Needles Nevada at high noon.

    • You're very welcome. Glad it's been of help – and yeah I still avoid iPhoto whenever possible.

  • Dantheguitarman87

    Very good tip mate, helped me out a lot, feel a bit stupid for not trying that in the first place!!!

    • Cool – very glad to hear it helped.

  • Suranga

    thanks so much bro!!!

  • fatima2t

    i knew mac would make an easy way! but all i found online was programs to help transfer and none of them worked!! thanks so much!!

    • Very glad it was helpful for you.

  • Alain

    Anybody knows an alternative for Windows 7?

    • The Scanners and Cameras applet possibly?

  • Menno

    Thanks for this excellent tip!

  • Jason

    Problem here. When I connect my iphone 3gs to my iMac G5 via the USB cable and launch Image Capture, it says that "No Image Capture device connected" and won't do anything from there. Does anyone know what the problem may be?

    • You could try swapping the USB port you connect to, or the USB cable you're using for starters.

      • willdesu

        Thx Patrick! That worked for me 🙂

  • danm

    im using the latest MacBook Pro. iPhoto does not recognize videos just photos. Thanks to the tip about image capture!

  • schemotz

    i wanna thank you a million… I've used my Mac for almost plus and can you believe I have NEVER knew there is an Image Caption Apps. LOL…. It's time to adventure with my MAC… Thanks again!!!

    • No worries – very glad to hear it helped, you're welcome a million 🙂

  • Steve

    A million thanks!

  • leo

    that was really helpful! thanks


  • Joey

    When I connect my iphone 3gs to my iMac G5 via the USB cable and launch Image Capture, it says that “No Image Capture device connected” and won't do anything from there. I saw a post where someone just changed their USB port. That doesn't work for me and I've tried everything. Need to edit some videos asap and my workload is getting bigger by the day! SOS

    • Does iTunes recognize the iPhone on that machine? I'm guessing not. Try another sync cable might be one next step. Or with a dock if you have one. Or on another PC and then transfer videos from one PC to the other.

  • Thank You!!!! After 5 "could not publish errors" (logged out and in to Youtube, checked that 3G was on, checked that wireless connection was on, made sure device would never sleep) I was about ready to pull out some hairs. And not just gray ones. Your suggestion worked beautifully.

    • Excellent – very glad to hear it helped you out.

  • melvin

    when I connect using image capture, it doesn't give me an import video option…only an image or photo import option

    • You're connecting an iPhone 3GS? If so, do videos show up OK in iPhoto?

  • SteveQuon


  • nan

    Am I the only one that this didn't work? I have a 3gs, and an imac w/ the latest iphoto and everything else all updated. When I launch Image Capture it doesn't recognize my phone being plugged in. Any tips to why? Or, how can I get it to recognize it? Damnnn so close!

    • Do any other apps recognize the iPhone being plugged in? Generally if one app sees it, all do. If none of them see it, then try a different USB port and a different sync cable.

  • ALP

    Thank you so much for this post! I couldn't figure out how to downlaod videos b/c iPhoto won't let me, this is MUCH appreciated and so easy! Thanks!!

  • Christine

    dude, thanks for the tip! I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to import video off my iphone. You rock!

  • Jackson

    Sincere thanks for this. Was going crazy trying to figure this out. For those that are getting device not found, make sure you've entered your password on your phone – that was my problem.

  • whadefu

    hi, just as an aside to this, you can just drag and drop the movie files directly into a folder without going thru the import route, as usual with my mac I assumed there would be a quicker way and yes, it works great…

    btw, iphoto is a bitch for me as well, so slllllloooooowwwwwww…

  • Micheal

    This doesn't work on my 3gs / macbook pro. Download bar progress nicely, but no pictures or vids are transferred. Apple fix this, it royally sucks!

  • xxxxx

    Nice 🙂 thanks

  • Mel

    Thanks for this post! I had been searching for different methods and they all required purchasing a program. So, thanks for saving me like… $25. :o) I appreciate it!

  • steve

    This tip made my life a lot easier. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  • Greate

    Thanks great tip!!!!!

  • Katie

    thank you!

  • Tamiandz

    I have tried transferring using Image Capture, Adobe Bridge, iPhoto (out of sheer desperation) and none of them work. It used to work no problem in Image Capture, but for some reason, it stopped working. I have. jpgs and .movs – they all show up in all programs, but when i go to transfer, the status bar looks like its working, until eventually it freezes, or i get an error message about unrecognized formats…??? Im so confused. Nothing has changed on my iMac or iPhone (3gs) but i literally cannot get these pictures off. Patrick? Anybody? HELP!!

  • Afw


  • D

    Awesome tip! I was finding all these websites trying to sell a 40$ software to do just this, which can be done for free with what comes with my MacBook. Thanks a lot!

  • Duncan Melbourne Australia

    Thanks so much for the tip to use ImageCapture. After hours of wrestling with the issue, this enabled me to load the video from my iPhone to my MacBook and as I type it is being saved to a flashdrive.

    I note from my googling that there are many folk who have a problem in getting videos across from their iPhones to their computers. My issue is that my MacBook does not ‘see’ the video and hence will not sync it to my iTunes or anything else, for that matter. I followed lots of advice, which seemed to work for others, but it did not for me.

    I have been an Apple devotee for the best part of thirty years, and really, I did not – and do not – expect this Apple-to-Apple foul-up.

  • Wasn’t able to transfer images via Image Capture. Then did the switcheroo with the USB cable from my hub to the computer directly and voila, it worked. Thank you!

  • Silver

    Thank you!

  • Cris

    Thank You Very Much Bro!! I have been trying with iPhoto and couldn’t do it. I hate it as much as you do. With Image cap it was like 1-2-3 boom!! In less than 20 sec!! Take care.

  • Lindsay

    If you set your computer to use Autoimporter when the ipod connected (I did this via the image capture program when it did not work for me) then you unplug/plug in your ipod this will work. (At least for me)

  • Goddess

    Thank you so much for this! just what I was looking for!

  • John H

    perfect. thanks!

  • WooooHooo YOU ROCK!!! Thank you so much…. 😉

  • Arslan

    Image capture keeps stating that “No camera or scanner connected” even when unplug the usb cable and plug in a different port. Of course Itunes recognizes it every time. Would love to use imagecapture to grab videos. Anybody know the issue?

  • Mariam

    Thanks for the great tip! Saved me such a hassle !! 🙂

  • Klara


  • Dude… you are awesome! Thanks for making it simple and sharing what you found with the rest of us!

    This made it so simple and I agree that iPhoto is a beast and I had to stop using it because it was taking up way too much space on my Macbook pro.

    You are a RockStar!

    Dr. Dan

    Offline RockStar Academy

  • Sagar

    i am unable to transfer huge video files through image capture. Like you said 30-60 secs is fine.. but i have a 10 min video which i want to transfer and when i click on download it does nothing…
    i have noticed that the images are getting transferred quiet quickly.

  • C

    Buddy, thanks so much for your help! That saved me a whole bunch of time and pain trying to transfer files… you rock!

  • Andy

    Thanks for the thread

  • I’ve been looking for this for years. I have no excuses. It’s sad but true.

  • robert

    its my 1st time to use i phone and i use i tunes to transfer some of my music to my laptop but when i sync all my movies and old music even my ringtones gone….so sad..what is the right version of i tunes should use to my 3gs pls help me….

  • Lucia

    Thank you! This was great, fast, without a hitch!

  • Thank you very much!

  • brandon

    It’s amazing you posted this two years ago and its still the only way I can find to transfer the videos over. Not sure why Apple doesn’t have this on their website. Thanks for the help!

  • Peter

    Brilliant. THX!!

  • Will

    Image capture opens when my iPhone is connected but it just says no camera detected. Can anyone help please?

  • Eric

    Very helpful! Thank you!

  • Lorelie

    THANK YOU…THANK YOU….THANK YOU!!! There are so many apps out there that require you to spend $35(+) to be able to download videos. This way was free, fast and easy!!!

  • Robert McLain

    Went to the APP store and could not find Image Capture. How do I find it?

    • It’s a Mac app. You don’t need to go to any of the app stores. It’s installed by default on the Mac.

  • murtaza

    yo what i dont get is that how do i send videos from my computer to my iphone

  • Sandhya

    thank you so much! managed to save some really precious videos, thanks to your tip.

  • DKay

    I have a iPhone 4. Trying this per your instructions, but the actual download is not appearing in my download folder (or anywhere it seems). The download screen appears, very quickly, but no download…Any ideas?

    • Arthur Yee

      Try Spotlight to find the file…

  • Abbey

    Thank you thank you thank you! So glad I found this tip! I have an iPhone 3GS and I’m
    frustrated with how difficult it is to transfer long videos. This is fabulous!!

  • Lisa Christine

    Thank you soooo very much for this tip!! I needed something FASTER than iPhoto and this was it!!

  • Arthur Yee

    I tried iPhoto – did not really give me the options I wanted. Started to download pictures that I did not want to download – could not find the preferences to control it.

    Image Capture is exactly what I needed! Download what I wanted to download, and put it where I wanted.

  • Hannah

    Thanks so much!