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Dash Cam File Management

How to organize & edit your dash cam footage on PC

Dash Cam File Management

Dash Cams, by default, have a habit of breaking down recordings into couple-minute-long clips to conserve space, but what if you want a streamlined view of what the dash cam sees? If you own a dash cam with multiple camera configurations, while also having the parking mode recording feature activated 24/7, we bet that your microSD card has tons of files at different days, times, and locations in it.

We understand that managing dash cam files can be a bit tricky, especially when they're divided into numerous short clips. So, in this article, we will guide you on how to manage these files on both Mac and Windows devices efficiently.

Why do dash cams record in clips, and not one long continuous file?

To keep recording, every dash cam is equipped with a loop recording feature that ensures the dashcam will keep recording, even when the SD card is full. A dashcam will loop recorded video files on the SD card into shorter chunks, often 1, 3, or 5 minutes long. When the SD card is full, the dash cam deletes the oldest file to make room for a new file. If you’re wondering why dash cam manufacturers designed the system like this, here are the following reasons:

1. Corruption

If a file is to become corrupted on the microSD card, it is very likely that the remainder of the files on the card will still be intact and not corrupted. If cameras are recorded in one large file, you will lose all of your data as they become unreadable. This is highly important so that you don’t lose important footage, normally of specific clips.

2. Downloading

It will also be much easier to download small 1-3-minute clips to your smartphone or computer than it would be if transferring a large 128GB packet of data using the same method, which can take up to several hours as these are high-bitrate files.

3. Organization

It is much easier to search for individual files based on their type (continuous, motion detection, event, manual, etc.) and date/time, rather than having to search through one large file.

How to Properly Organize Dash Cam Footage

Creating and Renaming Folders

The first tip to organize your dash cam footage in your computer is to start creating a dedicated folder. Within this folder, you can create subfolders organized by date, location, or your specific activity. For example, you can have folders named "2023-09-11", "Road Trip to Niagara Falls", or “Parking Mode @ Repair Shop” - depending on your preference.

Dash cams typically record videos in various formats like H.265, H.264, MP4, AVI, or MOV, so make sure you have a video player to play these formats (VLC Media Player is a good option).

Sorting Dash Cam Footage

As soon as you copy all the footage you need to your computer, you’ll likely want to take a quick preview of the videos so you can see which is which.

Here, you don’t necessarily have to open every file - a quick preview will do. For both Mac and Windows, you can use the following method to quickly preview a video without opening it:

  • For Mac users, you can use Quick Look right inside Finder. Quick Look offers a fast, full-size preview of nearly any kind of file without opening the file. On your Mac, select one or more of your dash cam files, then press the Spacebar. You will then be led to a Quick Look window to preview media. If you selected multiple items, the last item you selected will be shown first.

  • For Windows users, you can enable the Preview pane. Open File Explorer then click the View tab. In the Panes section, click the Preview Pane button. The Preview pane is added to the right side of the File Explorer window. Here, you can also increase or decrease the size or width of the footage by dragging the separation bar left or right.

Sorting By Date

To view your dash cam files in chronological order, you can also sort them by the "Date Added" or "Date Created" column in your file browser. This makes it easy to locate specific footage based on when it was recorded. Many dash cam files will also have the date/time in the file name, normally sequentially in military time.

For example: TW_20230822_163530_F.MP4

Translated: Brand_Date_Time_Front or Rear_File Format

How do I stitch up the dash cam files?

If you have a dash cam with multiple channel configurations, or want to make your dash cam footage flow chronologically, you can still stitch up the dash cam footage if you want to. To view and edit your footage, you can utilize third-party video editing software, which can also be useful for enhancing the video quality. Here are the ones we can recommend:

QuickTime Player is primarily known as a video player, but it can also be used to stitch together multiple dash cam clips into a single video file. This software is available for Mac and Windows.

If you wish to stitch up dash cam footage here, simply open QuickTime Player on your desktop. Click "File" and then "Open File" to select the first dash cam clip you copied in your folders. Once the clip is open, click "Edit" and select "Add Clip to End." You may also continue adding clips in the desired order. When you're ready to save the stitched video, click "File" and choose "Export As." Select your preferred video format and settings, then click "Save" to create the final version of your dash cam footage!

CapCut is a user-friendly online video editing tool that allows you to edit and compile your dash cam footage effortlessly. This can be downloaded in your PC, or even in your mobile phone. This software is actually a hit for content creators, so it’s a must-have for you if you love sharing driving videos or footage on your Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok!

If you wish to use CapCut, you can download it on the App Store or Google Play, or visit the CapCut website and create an account if needed. Once the tools are installed, click "Create Video" to start a new project. Upload your dash cam clips to the timeline in the order you want them to appear. Then, use CapCut's editing tools to trim, add transitions, and enhance your footage. Once you're satisfied with your video, click "Export" to save it to your device.

The next software is exclusive for Apple computers. iMovie comes pre-installed on Mac computers and is perfect for beginners looking to edit and organize their dash cam footage.

If you wish to use this for quick dash cam file previews, simply open iMovie on your Mac. Create a new project and give it a name, then import your dash cam clips into the project library. Next, drag and drop the clips onto the timeline in the desired order. You can edit your footage using iMovie's intuitive tools! Once you're done editing, click "File" and choose "Share" to export your video.

While iMac has iMovie, Windows has Microsoft Clipchamp. This is a user-friendly video editor included with Windows computers, making it an excellent choice for beginners.

To organize and edit dash cam footage using this tool, open Microsoft Clipchamp on your Windows computer. Click "Create a new project" and rename it. Then, import your dash cam clips into the project. Once done, you can start arranging the clips in the desired order on the timeline. Edit your footage using Clipchamp's editing tools. To save your edited video, click "Export" and choose your desired settings whether you want your dash cam to be rendered at 480p, 720p, 1080p, 4K and GIF.

Adobe Premiere Pro is a professional-grade video editing software for those who want more advanced editing capabilities for their dash cam footage. This is available for both Mac and Windows.

If you wish to organize and compile your dash cam footage, open Adobe Premiere Pro. Start a new project and set your project settings, then import your dash cam clips into the project bin. Next, drag and drop the clips onto the timeline in your preferred order. To export your video, click "File" > "Export" > "Media" and choose your export settings.

Filmora is a user-friendly video editing software that strikes a balance between simplicity and functionality – also a great choice for beginners and intermediate users.

To use it, launch Filmora on your computer and create a new project. Import your dash cam clips into the media library. Drag the clips to the timeline in the desired order, hen edit your footage using Filmora's built-in tools and effects. When you're ready to export, click "Export" and select your preferred settings.

Looking to Zoom in on Dash Cam Footage?

Sometimes, you need to make out those specific details like a passer-by or a license plate. While simple method like screenshotting and zooming will work, doing so in a video can be more difficult.

We use Adobe Premiere Pro (which should also be possible in Final Cut Pro), with this, we can frame hold the section of the clip, and it creates a still image. Duplicate that, and then we scale that duplicated still into the license plate area. Then create a mask of that just to show the license plate section.

Prioritize and Organize Your Dash Cam Footage!

In summary, organizing dash cam files is a responsibility of dash cam users for safety, efficient data management, and peace of mind. When you know how to organize your files, you ensure that your dash cam serves its intended purpose effectively and that you can access critical footage when it matters most. And whether you're a beginner in editing videos, there are easy-to-navigate softwares and tools that will help you make the most of your dash cam.