Importing PC .mov Video Files Into Mac iMovie (without audio and video missing)

It’s the age old problem. You import an MPEG, Quicktime (.mov) or AVI into iMovie, and get a video with no audio. Or the dreaded white screen with working audio. That, of course, plunges you into countless hours of Google searches, flings you into the black hole of forum & help sites, and ultimately convinces you to buy several $20 downloads that don’t work. Then you finally figure it out, but the next time you forget what you did.

Today, after spending $100 on Flip4Mac’s WMV and upgrading to Quicktime Pro, I found the solution in free software from Squared 5. It’s called the MPEG Streamclip. It also allows you to rip videos from YouTube and other video sites (see picture), and save them in a variety of ways.

When I do collaboration videos, I’m often sending large files (using free Pando software or YouSendIt), and the video files usually work fine.

streamclip to convert video files between mac and PCBut sometimes video files present problems because they are muxed (the audio and video are mixed). The odd part is that the clips sometimes play fine on Quicktime but won’t import into iMovie. That’s because iMovie doesn’t support muxed files. So you need to demux the puppies.

First, download and launch MPEG Streamclip, and then open your problem video file. Next, select “File>Demux>Demux to M2V and AIFF.” This may give you a strange video file that still won’t open in Quicktime or iMovie. But at least you can import the audio portion, since AIFF exports separately, and imports as audio to iMovie without problems. To patch up this “Grant Giggles” video built from ancient .mov files, I had to import the videos as Quicktime .mov files, then import the audio separately as AIFFs (which I created in Streamclip). I next locked the audio and video using Apple-L (a nice trick Charles Trippy taught me).

This may not solve all problems because the file extensions “.mov and .mpeg” can be deceiving. There are lots of different CODECs (ways to code them), and some versions are Mac friendly and others aren’t.

Still, Streamclip is free (thanks, guys) and has a lot of different import and export/convert options that I would have thought would come with Quicktime Professional or Flip4Mac’s WMV professional studio (and I have no idea what I just payed $100 for, since WMV can’t solve this, and I’m not quite sure what it does otherwise).

Here’s another site with a buttload of information about file conversions.

Got any better tips for solving PC/Mac or Mac/PC conversion problems? Please comment below!

Addition December 19: Thanks ChristopherMast for pointing out iSquint. If you’re on Mac and want an easy way to rip videos from the web, try Tasty Apps.  Marquis- this is for demuxing your own clips if they’re old (like these, which I captured via MPEG on my digital camera). Also- sometimes you lose a video and have to go rescue it from Revver or something. And finally, when I make videos and want to show a highlight of someone else (usually ask permission if I’m not sure they’ll say yes).

Author: Nalts

Hi. I'm Nalts.

33 thoughts on “Importing PC .mov Video Files Into Mac iMovie (without audio and video missing)”

  1. Streamclip may be downloadable for free, but it’s not “Free Software” as the Free Software Foundation defines it. Although you can download streamclip for no money, you aren’t free to share it with anyone else. Weird. The “disclaimer” on the streamclip site does not indicate whether you are welcome to modify the software or not, and it doesn’t appear to make the source code available. Yes, I’m being a little pedantic here. I’m glad you found a solution, Nalts.

  2. I bought quicktime pro, downloaded a trial of adope premiere, and it didn’t work. I later discovered the reason for this is because my videocamera is crap, but denial can last a long time when you’re broke. I still don’t have a decent camera. That’s why you don’t know me.

  3. Does anyone know of any free compression software that you can create optimum video quality automatically?

    ie: you can enter info to tell it to make a file of say, 100mb… allowing for maximum quality on youtube?


  4. Wait. I don’t understand why I would ever be downloading muxed anything to my harddrive. I CREATE videos, not import and alter other people’s stuff. Am I missing something?

  5. Guess I don’t read too good, Cheeky. S’plain it so a dumbass like me understands. Why would I ever download or have a muxed video file on my harddrive? I never had one so I don’t understand.

    As far as my question being a dig, I forgot the Youtube mentality: praise everything, kiss ass, question nothing.

  6. So, if you work with a PC and you pay for Quicktime Pro does it make any sense to get this converter thingy? I especially want a simple Midi converter to MP3 for audio and I can’t figure out why my musical keyboard won’t make anything but midi audio files which I always have to convert. Anyone?….Anyone? …

  7. argh! youtube files are flv how do I convert this to wmv or avi or mov _where it actually works?!!!!!_ I have tried a dozen + programs and none of them render the files properly. I did get vlc to translate one into an mpg, but windows won’t recognize it in any program MS makes and I have tried ever codecs known to man. If you’re looking for a challenge I have a youtube flv file I dare you and will be eternally grateful if you make work in any one of the three formats above.
    thank you

  8. Nothin is free with video conversion….Flip4Mac works with Streamclip. F4M is the best solution for me…not to much $$, either.

  9. I just rip ANY online vid with Snapz Pro X (Ambrosia Software) and import it to iMovie. I use it every day for vid-ripping and taking stills. Its very versatile. @ CHEEKYCHEN – Xvid is the open source clone of Divx (which I use). Both will compress your vids right down and they still look good. Some vid-sharing sites don’t like ’em though – like BlipTV, but YouTube endorses DivX.

  10. Your blog was picked up by my YouSendIt google alerts and I thought I’d drop in a comment…

    Side note of self interruption: After a 12 hr work day- “Giggling Grant” made my night!

    First, thanks for using and talking about YouSendIt! Have you checked out Express, the free YouSendIt desktop application? It’s super convenient and will provide up to 25% faster uploads. With the PC version you can even drag and drop multiple files or folders as large as 2GB each. (The folders just zip right up and send!- and the MAC version, still a bit behind, will catch up soon!)

    You’ll also see we’ve got plug-ins for Photoshop and Outlook as well….AND- Final Cut Pro is on our “ToDo List”

    Thanks for spreading the news! … Pass this promo code along to your readers for 1 free month of our Business Plus plan: RHORBP12.

    Simply create a free account, then go to “my account”/”account details” and enter this code. Accounts will be upgraded for 30 days, then revert back to the free version when it expires. No credit card info is collected. It’s just our way of saying “thanks” for talking us up and trying us out. And, we’re always open to feedback from frequent users. So drop us a line and let us know what features you’d like to see, or what things just aren’t working for you!
    Robyn- Marketing Communications, YouSendIt

  11. I exported to DV and the sounds started to work for me. Perhaps this is because my camera encoded it differently in the beginning?

  12. okay question .

    i used my boyfriend’s camera to record his birthday [just a few random moments] and i want to import the videos into iMovie but it won’t work.

    help please?


  13. Need more info. Which camera? What cable connection are you using, Firewire or USB? Does your iMovie software “see” your camera (list it) in the import window on the lower left? Do you get a blue screen when you select ‘import’ or a connection message? Is your camera set on ‘Play’ or ;Power’?

  14. What can I say?

    It worked.

    Ta for the share.

    Now to try and address all the other little bits of fun.

    However, sheer greed in some areas may mean some hardware/software glitches may only be solved by matching hardware upgrades with new software purchases (FileMaker, Final Cut Pro…), even though what I have got is working just fine… but just not with the new OS.

    At the moment I run two Minis; one for Tiger and one for Leopard. Doesn’t seem right.

Comments are closed.