Convert vhs tapes to digital


Is there a simple method to convert VHS tapes to digital files (perhaps mp4) that can be edited in iMovie or Final Cut Pro X in an iMac? I’m not interested in converting to DVD; I prefer to save the digital files the the iMac and edit them myself. I realize that video from VHS tapes will be low quality, but some of the videos will be worth preserving anyway. I plan to use an old VHS tape player connected to a video capture device of some type.

Google and YouTube searches produce a myriad of results, mostly related to a video capture device such as a “Dazzle” that comes with software requiring Windows (link:

One reviewer suggested avoiding the problematic software provided with the Dazzle device, instead using the open-source OBS Studio software. This is available for macOS (link:

Does anyone have experience with either the Dazzle device or other video capture devices? Is OBS Studio software a good option, or can other macOS software be used to work with the video capture device to save the digital files? Can iMovie or FCPX be used for this, instead of OBS Studio?

I also have a Mini-DV camcorder with a few dozen Mini-DV tapes. I understand that Mini-DV tapes can be “played” in the camcorder connected via Firewire cable and Firewire-to-Thunderbolt adapter and captured directly in the Mac to iMovie or Final Cut Pro X. Is this correct? Does anyone have experience or tips to share?

Googling vhs tapes to mac offers a lot of info on $30-$100 analog-to-digital capture boxes that connect between your VHS player and a Mac, along with scenarios for saving files.

Unless the tapes contain adult material and need to be converted in the privacy of your home, the cost of the adapter plus the considerable 1:1 time involved in converting each tape seems to favor using a service to convert the video and either uploading it to the cloud for you or putting it on a portable HD to take home. While places like Walgreens make DVDs for $35/tape you’ll probably find local computer repair shops offering conversion services for closer to $15/tape.


What a coincidence. I’m - as we speak - busy setting up my rig to do the exact same.

I will try to do this with an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid. Although Elgato says their Video Capture dongle is better suited for the task, my first attempts will be with the EyeTV as I still had this thing laying around. Quality of the tapes isn’t all that good anyways. So that’s not an issue.

A lot of the devices mentioned in the articles aren’t available where I live. So options are limited.

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I used to use a Mini-DV camcorder for this. VHS —> camcorder a/v inputs —> FireWire —> iMac G4

Everything should still work as it did, but I wouldn’t recommend an iMac G4 :slight_smile:

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I had very good luck with an Elgato video capture device and its accompanying software, which produced standard MPEG4 video files. Am not familiar with the ones you mentioned.


In the meantime I started the process. Using an Eye TV Hybrid and EyeTV software. Transferred the first of around 30 VHS tapes. So still a long way to go.

It’s slow and will take some time. Not just because you have to play the tapes from beginning to end. But also because converting the recording to mpeg-4 or h.264 is an additional step in this setup. You won’t have that when using the Elgato Video Capture device I think.


I could get downvoted for this but assuming you have the VCR, what about an iPhone on a tripod in front of a good TV maybe with audio treated separately? I’ve considered doing that. I mean VHS quality is very poor anyway.

Tim - This isn’t REDDIT so you won’t get downvoted… but your suggestion isn’t great.

The quality will be even worse than normal VHS. Any of other the solutions above would be better. I speak from experience, as my Father attempted this with his 35mm film and VHS tapes. They were AWFUL!!!