How to Transfer Video With a USB

by Jeff Grundy
A simple USB cable lets you transfer video to a PC without removing the memory card in the camera.

A simple USB cable lets you transfer video to a PC without removing the memory card in the camera.

Modern digital camcorder and video camera allow just about anyone to capture and create high-quality home movies and videos with little or no experience. Nevertheless, shooting a great video is only half the battle; you must still export the movie clip to your computer, edit it and then save it to disc or upload it before you're finished. Most newer camcorders and video cameras include a USB port, which makes connecting the device to your computer and transferring videos relatively simple. In fact, when connecting a video camera to your PC, Windows does most of the work for you.

Connect the end of the USB cable with the small connector to the mini-plug port on the external hard drive, MP3 player, digital camera, camcorder or other portable device with a video you want transfer to the computer.

Connect the larger, flat end of the data cable to a free USB port on the computer. After you connect the cable to the computer, choose the "Mass Storage Device" or "USB Storage Device" if prompted by the portable device. If using a camcorder or digital camera to transfer the video clip, switch the function dial or choose the appropriate menu option to enable "Standby," "View" or "Transfer" mode on the camera as needed to connect to the computer – refer to the user guide for the device if you're not sure which mode or option to use. After a few seconds, the Windows AutoPlay window appears.

Click “Open folder to view files” in the AutoPlay window. A new Windows Explorer window appears displaying the contents of the external drive or portable device's memory card.

Click "Start," then "Computer" to open a second Windows Explorer window. Navigate to the folder to which you want to copy files from the external storage device.

Click and highlight a video file in the Windows Explorer window for the external device. Alternatively, press "Ctrl-A" to select all of the files and folders on the device.

Press "Ctrl-C" to copy the selected files and folders to the Windows clipboard. Click the Windows Explorer window displaying the destination folder for the file or folders. Press "Ctrl-V" to copy the video files and/or folders from the external drive or memory card to the destination folder on the computer.

Double-click one of the video files in the destination folder to open it in Windows Media Player or your default media player application. Verify that the video opens and plays properly, and then close the media player program.

Open other video files you copied from the external drive or memory card to verify they were transferred correctly and work as they should.

Close the Windows Explorer windows, then click the “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media” icon in the Windows taskbar. In the pop-up window, click the “Eject” link for the drive letter associated with the external drive or memory card. Disconnect the USB cable from the computer and the portable device.


  • Delete the original video files from the external drive or memory card if you no longer need to store them on the portable device. To delete a video file from the portable device, highlight its file name and press the "Delete" button. Alternatively, right-click the file name and click "Delete" on the pop-up menu.
  • Depending on the file format your camera or portable device uses to save video files, you may or may not be able to view them with Windows Media Player or your default media application. If your videos don’t open or play after double clicking them in Windows Explorer, download and install a video codec or player application compatible with the files created by the camcorder or phone. Refer to the owner’s manual or user guide to find which applications can run the files.

Items you will need

  • USB A-to-B data cable

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

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