The Best Video Transfer Software for Capturing Video Tapes

Video Transfer Software Import from Tape

When you are getting ready to transfer videotapes to your computer, you may be wondering if you need any sort of special software to handle the video transfer.

Transferring videotapes is not a drag and drop process like transferring photos or videos from a phone or GoPro. You need specialized equipment to play the video like a VCR or camcorder, a computer with a capture device, as well as video transfer software to handle the transfer and conversion of a videotape to a digital format.

The best video transfer software for transferring analog tapes to digital is the software that came bundled with the USB capture device as it’s designed to work with it. If yours did not come with software there are also free alternatives like VirtualDub, and Sony Playmemories for transferring digital tape like MiniDV and Digital 8.

If you did not get any video transfer software with your capture device, or you want something more powerful there are plenty of alternate options which are outlined below.

There is also confusion about different video software terminology:

  • video transfer software – used for transferring video from tape to digital format on a computer.
  • video capture software – this is generally screen capture software, i.e., recording anything happening on your screen
  • video conversion software – converts video files already existing on your computer to another format.

Video Transfer Software for USB Tape Capture Device

When transferring a video tape directly to a computer you need some video transfer software to control the process of when to record and stop recording.

VCRs and camcorders generally connect to a computer with a USB video capture device, where the outputs of the VCR connect to the inputs of the capture device. Then the capture device connects to the computer with a USB port.

Most but not all USB capture devices come packaged with software that is designed and intended to be used with the USB capture device. However, with so many devices available on Amazon and eBay it turns out not all USB capture devices come packaged with capture software.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular USB capture devices that come bundled with video transfer software:

  • Roxio Roxio Easy VHS to DVD – very popular capture card with different versions for Windows and Macs, comes with Roxio Capture software that also does trims, edits, stabilization, and more.
  • Elgato Video Capture – top rated capture device that works with both Mac and PCs, captures in H.264 format and also has an s-video connector along with Elgato Video Capture software.
  • DIGITNow Video Capture – very affordable and comes with Digitnow! Video Capture software that is both Mac and Windows Compatible. It even comes with an s-video connector and can also convert audio tapes.

Free Video Transfer Software:

There are a few free options that might not be as user-friendly as the software that comes packaged with the capture devices above, but they can do the job and work with most capture devices. Most of the paid software that can capture from videotapes is outlined in the Video Editing Software section below.

  • VirtualDub – this is the original version of the famous VirtualDub, which was one of the most popular video transfer programs around. Powerful but more the more technically inclined.
  • VirtualDub2 – this is the updated version of the famous VirtualDub, which was one of the most popular video transfer programs around. Very similiar to the original but updated.
Capturing Analog Video with VirtualDub

Video Editing Software That Can Transfer Video Tapes

There are many full-featured video editors that also can import video from videotapes using a USB capture device or digital connection like a firewire IEEE1394 card. Some of these you may already own if you do any sort of video editing.

Adobe Premiere Elements

AVS Video Editor (sale price $59) – full video editor that can capture from various sources including analog and digital videotapes. Compatible with Windows, not sure if there is a Mac version

AVS Video Capture From Tape

Video Transfer Software for Digital Tapes (Mini DV and Digital8)

Sony PlayMemories

Sony came out with some free software call Sony PlayMemories that allows you to orgazine and edit your videos, import from USB / hard drive based camcorders, as well as digital camcorders.

If you have a MiniDV or Digital8 camcorder that you want to transfer some tapes to your computer then this is probably your best option.

Inside the tools menu is an option Transfer from Tape

Sony PlayMemories Import From Tape Menu Option

In order to use this import option, you must have connected your Digital camcorder to your computer with a Firewire IEEE 1394 cable, which transfers pure digital signal. If you’re not sure if you have a firewire port read What is a Firewire Card.

If you do have firewire installed then use this option to import your digital tape, more detailed instructions can be found here on How to Transfer Digital Tapes to a Computer.


If you’re a Mac user then you probably have iMovie installed as it comes packed with most Apple operating systems. I am not a mac user but from research there are method of importing from digital tape to your mac using a few adapters.

Bob Hennessey

Bob Hennessey has been an avid videographer for several decades. Having shot video in just about every tape-based format from Video 8 , Hi 8, Digital 8 and Mini DV I am more than familiar with how to transfer video tapes to digital formats.

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