There is an iOS and Android App available to transfer files directly from a GoPro camera to a mobile device. Those apps transcode files and compress them for easier viewing, and to save storage space.
While that approach gets footage onto my iPhone, I still need to transfer the files to my Mac for editing. Plus, there’s an additional compression step involved which can’t be good for picture quality. Besides, it takes forever to do its job.
A much more useful approach would be to hook directly into the GoPro and transfer files that way. This leaves the SD card place and doesn’t disturb the (sometimes hard to reach or difficult to recreate) position of the camera.
Here’s how to do it.
Connect to your GoPro’s WiFi Network
Put your GoPro into Wireless mode. This will create a WiFi hotspot. Mobile devices need to be connected to it so that the respective GoPro can operate the camera.
We can connect to the same WiFi hotspot from our desktop and laptop computers, using the same password we had setup using the GoPro. Multiple devices can be connected to the camera at the same time, so your iPhone App and your desktop can “surf” the same GoPro created hotspot.
Hook-in to the GoPro’s web server
The GoPro’s actually runs a web server and exposes part if its internal file system.
Open a web browser and navigate to
The :8080 part of the IP is the port on which we’d like to connect. This will show you a very basic yet browsable file structure.
Downloading hi-res footage
Select the videos folder so see the same structure that you’d get if you would look at the SD card. All the files are in the same places. Footage is in the DCIM folder, usually in the 100GOPRO folder.
You can only select one file at a time. Clicking on it will usually try to play it, so instead right-click on a file and select “Download” or “Download As”.
Note that this will take FOREVER due to the large size of those files, and the relatively limited transfer rate of about 1 MB per second. It’s not a GoPro limitation, but rather a limitation of the “g” type WiFi standard it’s using – at least on my HERO 4. This is still a nice option if the camera is mounted in a hard-to-reach place though.
The web server in the GoPro is extremely basic. To navigate up the directory structure, no . or .. directories are exposed. Instead, to traverse up the directory, use your browser’s “back” button.
Downloading low-res footage
On the mobile apps, it is possible to view a low-res version of the footage. This can be downloaded much quicker, because the file size is much smaller (and the quality is lower too). But for preview purposes, that might just be enough.
To access this low-res footage, head over to the live folder. This will give you access to the transport streams the GoPro creates for live-streaming to the respective mobile apps. Click on the the dynamic .m3u8 file to view the same stream.
I must admit that I haven’t had much luck with that option on my GoPro HERO 4 (Silver). Perhaps it’ll work better for you.
Thanks to Christ Ostertag for this tip!