Managing iMovie Libraries and Files

iMovie version 10 uses a new system for storing clips and projects. It is very easy to be able to create and use multiple iMovie libraries and move items between them. You can store archived projects in libraries, and even spread your projects across multiple hard drives.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Managing iMovie Libraries and Files.

Hi this is Gary with Let's take a look at managing your iMovie project and Clips.

We're using iMovie 10 here and we're going to take a look at how iMovie stores files. It's different than the previous versions of iMovie but it still uses the idea of events and projects.

You've got an iMovie Library. This one is called iMovie Library which is the name it was given when it was created but you can call it anything you want. Under it I have two events; Samples and Samples 2. The events themselves have projects. Two movie projects in this one and one movie project in this one.

You can create new events very easily by going to File/New Event and you can also create new movie projects and also trailer projects here. They go inside of one of the events which all then go inside of a Library.

Now to see where this iMovie Library is stored is pretty straight forward. I'm going to Control click on it. Actually you can see as I rolled over there the apps come up. I'm going to use Reveal in Finder. I can see that in my Movies folder, which is in my User folder, I've got a file here called iMovie Library.imovielibrary. Inside of this is where all those different clips and the projects themselves are stored. You can see my old iMovie Events and iMovie Projects folder from previous versions of iMovie but this is where the iMovie 10 stores them.

So, I've got this here. I've also got another iMovie Library right there that I am not even accessing right now. You can create new iMovie Libraries very easily. To do that go to Open Library here and you can see it even knows that there is another one there. I create a new one and I'll call it Test Library and I'm going to save it. Notice I can save it anywhere I want.

So I'm going to save it here to the same folder here, the movies folder, as it was saved before. But I could actually save it somewhere else, like say another drive. So if I had multiple drives connected to my Mac I could easily save it there.

Now I can see I have iMovie Library and Test Library here and I could have used this same Open Library and opened the iMovie Library 1. I can select Other and then go to another drive somewhere and find other iMovie libraries. You can see it puts a Default event in here which is empty. There is no media, there is no project in it. You can also see I can drag and drop an entire event from one to the other. So I'm going to move Sample 2 to the Test Library. You can see that it does that. If the Test Library was in a different drive I would have just copied this entire event and projects to that other drive. I can now delete it from here if I want.

So I have the ability to move entire projects and events around as I need.

Which brings us to a very straight forward way to archive your projects. All you need to do is create an Archive Library, stick it on another drive, do it the way we just did inside of iMovie, and then drag these projects here. You can see I can actually hold the Command key down. When I hold the Command key down what is going to happen is it is actually going to move, not copy, but move that whole set of projects and events here, all the clips, everything in Samples, to this one. So I just moved it possibly to another drive and then if I wanted to I could then close this and now that is gone. It is still there. Its in that file and I just don't have it listed here on the left.

So it is a very easy way to access it. When it is in Archive I could open it again right now, drag another event in there, and then close it again. Very easy then to move projects around between drives, to hide projects that are still there and archive them. iMovie makes it pretty simple to do that as long as you do it all within this. Then you also have the ability here at the Libraries if I don't want to have to mess with all of these figuring out where things are. I can look at all my projects and all my clips here by using these shortcuts which just basically lists everything available below it.

I can also close these up so if I have a whole bunch I can shrink this down and focus on what I really want to do right now.

Just to show you what is going on here if I take a look at this library in the Finder, just like the iPhoto Library, it is a package. I can Control click on it and Show Package Contents and under there I can see stuff like here is a library here, some data files, inside Samples I've got different media rendering files. All sorts of things like that. The iMovie event.

So all of this stuff is just stored in here and is now hidden from you because iMovie is controlling it and if you go in there and you start messing around with the files iMovie is going to get really confused because it is not going to find the things that it needs to find for this event.

Comments: 22 Responses to “Managing iMovie Libraries and Files”

    5 years ago

    Question: Recently (just before updating to iMovie 10) I pulled off all my old videos off my Mac and put them on an external HD (freeing up internal HD room). I only use the videos shared to iTunes from iMovie on a regular basis. However I don’t want to get rid of the originals. So the ext. HD it is. It used to much easier to cut and paste certain videos using Finder. Watching your video I see the folders that contain my content. What’s you’re suggestion on moving only certain videos?

      5 years ago

      I don’t understand your question. It sounds like you have moved the videos you don’t need to an external drive already. So what are you asking?

    Michael Houser
    5 years ago

    Excellent lesson, I was dragging and dropping these files using the finder and am glad to know how to do it within iMovie itself.

    5 years ago

    Great video. So it’s a hierarchy storage structure: projects, trailers and raw footage are stored in events. And events are stored in a libraries. Correct?

    Stuart J
    5 years ago

    Very informative video.
    When upgrading to iMovie 10, limited disk space dictated only importing a few of many iMovie 9 and iMovie11 projects and events. Total 450gb on 3 external drives

    Now I have a large capacity external HD.
    What’s the best strategy to organize all iMovie data files onto LC external HD and use it as default iMovie disk?
    Do I start by import and converting iM 9 data into iMovie 10?
    How can I direct the converted data to a specific library on new HD?
    Out of space..

      5 years ago

      The video gives you the answer to most of your questions, you just need to apply it to your specific needs. Try playing around with the library and learning how it works. If you still can’t come up with a solution, perhaps get some first-hand help.

    5 years ago

    Thanks, I had my suspicions that was how it worked. Just a little nervous about experimenting on my existing events and projects. Good job!

    5 years ago

    Would the process for IMovie 11 be the same? Is iMovie 11 the most current program?

    5 years ago

    I started using iMovie 10.0.3. When the library (4 star icon) is disclosed another item is shown below (paper looking icon) which does not show in your video. When this item is disclosed the event item below (1 star icon) is shown. So there is 2 items below the library. The item with the paper looking icon is named 2014 and can not be changed. This is confusing as it does not seem to be a library or an event. Is there a way to hide this item? Thank you.

      5 years ago

      Paper? Do you mean the calendar icon? That is just a way of dividing the projects into years. You cannot change the name of a year. If you had older events they would be under 2013, 2012, etc.
      If you prefer, you can control+click on the library there and choose to sort by name instead of date, then they will all be grouped together instead of by year.

    Jonathan Hoffman
    5 years ago

    Does the same procedure apply when moving/archiving events and projects in FCP X?

      5 years ago

      No. Only somewhat. This tutorial is specific to how iMovie works. FCP works differently.

    5 years ago

    I copied my Movies folder using Finder to an external HD before my MBP crashed and now can’t get them back into iMovie library!! 1) If I try and open a movie in iMovie from the Movies folder, none of the movies are highlighted so I cannot open them. 2) When I open a movie using Finder in the Movies folder, it goes through this conversion process with QuickTime player which takes several minutes. Please help.

    5 years ago

    Thanks Gary; I have a related question. I’ve just been through a lengthy exercise of moving most of my iMovie events to an external HD to save space on the Mac HD. But they still show up in the iMovie library (by clicking on ‘show package contents’), thus making this library nearly 500GB. These events DON’T show in iMovie when I don’t have the external HD plugged in. What’s happening?

      5 years ago

      iMovie will show you all of the iMovie libraries on all of your attached hard drives. So that makes sense. But I don’t understand where/why you are doing the “Show Package Contents” thing. Are you doing that to the original iMovie library? Perhaps a first-hand look by someone at the Genius Bar will clear it up.

        5 years ago

        Yes – I’m unplugging the external drive that contains the mass of footage, then using Finder and ‘Show Package Contents’ to view the iMovie library as located on the Mac HD. I don’t understand why, if I’ve moved the events off the Mac HD, that the library is still huge. The events I’ve moved don’t show in iMovie. So you would think that the iMovie library should be small. A new library has been created on the external drive that presumably encompasses all the events that are stored there.

          5 years ago

          I’m guessing that you didn’t “move” the events to the external library, but simply copied them there. But a first-hand look by an expert may be required to diagnose the problem.

    5 years ago

    Hi Gary, great videos. I have a question that is related to the same topic. In previous iMovie 9 version you had shown us how to archive our projects similar to what you have shown here in this version 10. How do I upgrade my old archive files from iMovie 9 to iMovie 10 so that later on they don’t get outdated? It would be great to see a video on this topic or I hope to see a response from you here if that works better for you

      5 years ago

      You’ll need to experiment. I would try restoring the files to their original iMovie ’09 locations, then running iMovie ’09 to check to make sure they are in order (installing iMovie 10 doesn’t erase older versions). Then see if running iMovie 10 will initiate an update of those projects. Report back.

    Richard Jellicoe
    5 years ago

    I have watched this clip a bunch of times. What I want to do should be simple but I can not figure it out. I want to save a group of credits that I can add to a movie, But I can not figure out how to do this without sharing the credits when then do not allow me to edit them later. I want to be able to save an editable set of credits that can be added to a movie with the ability to edit them then share the movie, Can not figure it out

      5 years ago

      Two ways come to mind. One is to have a Credits movie. Export (share) it and take that export and add it to your current movie. Then if you need to edit it, just go back and edit the Credits movie, export again, and replace the credits at the end of the current movie with the new version.
      The other way is to have a Credits movie, then copy and paste all of the elements in that project from the Credits movie to the current movie project. For the next project, copy and paste again.
      Create sample movies right now and play around with these ideas. See how they work for you.

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