Mac computers running OSX 10.4 and earlier do not support the mini-DVDs which are used by Panasonic and Sony AVCHD cameras.

With OSX 10.5, Apple introduced UDF file support, which is the file system used on the mini-DVDs.

Under OSX 10.4 or earlier, you cannot copy files from these mini-DVDs.

Many of our users have tried different approaches to getting clips from a mini-DVD onto their Mac. We are recording all the hints on this page as a resource for other mini-DVD AVCHD users.

The Problem

The problem is that the DVD-based video cameras use DVDs which can re re-written (such as DVD-RAM and DVD-RW). These disks use the UDF 2.5 or 2.6 filesystem which OSX 10.4 does not recognise.

Also, the small DVDs which these cameras use will not physically load into the Superdrive found on the current model MacBookPro laptops.

The Solution

The easiest solution (if its not too late) is to not buy a DVD camera! We think these are not such a good idea as you end up have to cart around DVDs (assuming that the reason you bought the DVD version was to keep the original footage). Its more efficient to keep all your footage on a big hard-drive and archive that off to full size (9Gb) DVDs as required.

Assuming you already have a DVD camera, there are a few options available:

  1. Try using ReadDVD! from Software Architects. One of our users has found this works well, so it is our recommended solution at the moment.
  2. Use BootCamp - Boot up into Windows and copy the files to your hard drive. Then copy to an area that your Mac can access.
  3. Use Parallels - Again, copy to a shared area that you can access on your Mac.
  4. Upgrade to OSX 10.5

Note that using BootCamp and Parallels both require using Windows. If you haven't set this up already, it is a costly and time consuming activity. Also, we have had varied reports as to the effectiveness of using the Windows-based approaches. It seems to work for some people some of the time.

All of these approaches require the use of a DVD drive that can handle the small disks. Keep that in mind also. Your MacBook/MacBookPro/iMac won't be able to do this.

Looking Forward

OSX 10.5 (Leopard) does support modern versions of UDF. This is good news for desktop Mac Pros with Superdrives, but the Mac laptops will still not be able to load the mini DVDs. An external DVD drive would be necessary.