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Viewing AVCHD on a Mac

How hard can this be? Sample video from the Sony HDR-TG3E (TG1 in the USA) has started appearing online and I’ve downloaded some to have a look at on my Mac. The video files are in an AVCHD format with an .MTS file extention. Quicktime doesn’t recognise the files, and VLC tries to play a few seconds then crashes. This post says some of the VLC nightly builds will play the video, so I downloaded several that were recommended as working. All played the video files poorly, freezing and jumping constantly. Mplayer wouldn’t even open the files.

Further searching revealed the only current way of viewing .MTS AVCHD files on the Mac is using Roxio’s Toast 9. Toast opens the Toast Video Player (©2008 Elgato) which plays the video’s smoothly. iMovie and Final Cut Express/Pro can import the video files direct from the recorder, but not plain files on your hard drive.

For anyone looking to view some sample’s on a Mac here are some links that should help.

Tracy & Matt’s Blog – sample video file

Akihabaranews – sample video files

iMovie ’08 camcorder compatibility at Apple.com

Fileinfo.net compatible software for .MTS files

Download a trial of Toast 9 from Softpedia

  1. March 24, 2009 at 8:47 am

    update to this post should say – VLC now plays MTS

  2. April 15, 2009 at 2:49 am

    Hi, the Toast player on Toast 10 isn’t playing my .mts videos that smoothly, skipping and no sound… just a few milliseconds of video is really in motion…

    what could be wrong?

    I simply copied the AVCHD folder (with all its subfolders) from the Canon HF11 mounted drive to my desktop.

    Also, is the method above a form of backup? Meaning, will I be able to import those videos onto iMovie later on? I have been having problems with iMovie crashing when the camera is plugged and haven’t been able to import any of the clips to iMovie successfully (crashed before I even have a chance to start importing). So, I will return the camera, BUT I want to make sure my footage is safe just by copying the AVCHD folder (and its subdirectories) from the mounted “CANON” drive to my desktop.

    It is footage of my daughter’s first month and I cannot afford losing it…

    Please advise on both the backing up question and the playing smoothly on Toast 10 video player.


  3. basshead
    April 15, 2009 at 7:35 am

    I don’t think dragging the AVCHD folder to your desktop works, in my experience iMovie does not recognise the folder and will not import. The method I have found most reliable is to create a disk image of the memory card using Disk Utility. This can then be mounted at a latter time and iMovie treats it the same as plugging in a HD video camera or memory card and imports the video.
    As for your Toast 10 problem, it worked fine for me so may be related to your hardware. Try the latest version of VLC that was recommended in the first reply.

  4. Ken Woo
    September 8, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I was able to import and playback AVCHD shot on Panasonic GH-1 by importing into iMovie ’09 directly from the camera. Looks and sounds great.

  5. Jenny
    April 23, 2010 at 10:33 am

    another list of compatible software at http://dotwhat.net/mts/9029/ and some useful info in the discussions

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