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January 5, 2010

Handbrake can convert MTS files for Mac

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Tags: , , , , , , — Dennis @ 8:47 am

So a while back we purchased a JVC Everio HD camcorder. I’ll skip the commentary on whether or not that is a good idea. For me, the relevant issue is: how am I supposed to copy the MTS (AVCHD H.264) encoded files to my mac and get them in a format that I can import into iMovie and edit.

Here are a few things I discovered on my journey the last few months:

  1. VLC can play MTS files. I wasn’t able to get the stream converter to export them properly to mov files though. Perhaps there is some setting I missed somewhere, but the formats I tried either had messed up audio or Quicktime couldn’t open them.
  2. ffmpeg is probably a good option. I couldn’t get it to work though. I had the same problems with it that I had with VLC. I couldn’t seem to pick correct encodings to get the audio/video to stay in sync.
  3. iMovie can import video directly from the camera. If you plug the camera in and import the movies directly into iMovie, that works but you end up with mov files that are larger on your hard drive. Also, if you copy the camera drive in it’s entirety to a dmg image, and then mount the dmg file, iMovie can pretend like that is a camera too, and still import the files. I didn’t want this though since I didn’t want to make dmg files every time I want to import and I didn’t want to store mov files.
  4. Handbrake does the job nicely. You can queue up a bunch of files and choose a format to convert them too. I found converting to the preset Apple TV settings works pretty well for importing into iMovie.

Hope this helps someone. Skip all those ffmpeg front-end rip off programs that want to charge you money. They are GPL violating programs whose owners are attempting to make a quick buck off something you can (and should be able to) do for free.


  1. some useful info on converting mts file on the mac at

    Comment by Odin — March 22, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  2. Very useful information!

    Comment by LLLLLFFFFF — September 5, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  3. Can this also apply to final cut express?
    (As opposed to editing in iMovie)

    Comment by Andrew — December 20, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

  4. I suppose so. Handbrake can output quite a few different video formats so I’m sure there is something that Final cut could import if it can’t import the mts directly. I don’t have any experience with final cut express though.

    Comment by Dennis — December 20, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  5. […] details – Handbrake can convert MTS files for Mac […]

    Pingback by Apple frustrations with .MTS video files « — February 11, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  6. this answer is exactly what i’m looking for of all other google search result. thanks for sharing! good job.

    Comment by skin — February 16, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

  7. Using the AppleTV settings to convert a .mts file to .m4v with Handbrake works great for editing in iMovie ’11. Thanks for the tip!

    Comment by TheDude — September 17, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  8. Love the solutions… Handbrake is churning out 230 videos mts vids as we speak. Thanx Dennis

    Comment by Paras Universal — January 1, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

  9. thanks for sharing!

    Comment by montri — January 8, 2013 @ 7:13 am

  10. thanks! This was super helpful!

    Comment by eremiahjsu — February 6, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

  11. thanks! This was super helpful! Just an added side note. MPEG Streamclip is not able to read .MTS files, so handbrake is the way to go. =)

    Comment by eremiahjsu — February 6, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

  12. Tx for the concise notes! another note: multipart mts files can be joined using cat on the command line:

    cat file-1.mts file-2.mts file-n.mts > joined-file.mts

    VLC and HandBrake rock!

    Comment by memeLab — March 6, 2013 @ 6:14 am

  13. Thank you – It has saved me time. Handbrake works well converting MTS files to MP4 as well.


    Comment by AndyO — April 1, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

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