How to Archive iMovie Events and Projects

iMovie is a super-awesome video editing app that makes editing home movies and light-weight video projects fun and easy. If you use a Mac, and haven't used iMovie, you're missing out!


Modern video cameras and cell phones come with much higher resolution sensors than ever before. THat's great for improved clarity and detail, but it also means larger video files. Larger video files means larger video projects within iMovie, and that means that your hard drive or SSD will start to fill up fast. This post will walk you through the archival process to reclaim that precious storage space, yet allow you to keep the events and projects in tact so that you can edit them in the future. 

First, I need to explain how iMovie stores its events and projects on your Mac. If you open Finder and go to your Movies folder, you will see two iMovie-related folders... "iMovie Events" and "iMovie Projects".  As you can imagine, this is where iMovie stores its Events and Projects (respectfully). Before we continue, let me define the difference between the two:

iMovie Events

When you import video files into iMovie for editing, this is the location where those files are stored and accessed from. In other words, this folder contains the raw, unedited video files.  These files don't change as you begin editing your project. They are raw and static.

iMovie Projects

As you begin to use the raw assets (event files) in your project, this folder is where the edit information for the project resides. It contains edit in and out points, transition and filter information, render files, and more. 

For most video projects, there will usually be one project for one event (for example, the project "Lucy's 4th Birthday Party" will likely come from the corresponding event named roughly the same thing upon import). That doesn't have to be the case, of course. You can create multiple projects all drawing from the same event. In fact, you can even have one project draw from multiple events in the same timeline (for example, you can create a "Birthday Party Compilation" project that uses raw video footage from multiple birthday party events). This will be important to know when it comes time to archive your events and projects. If you archive an event that is being used in an active project (yet to be archived), it will cause problems for that project.

How to Archive

Now that we have a good foundational understanding of the file structure of iMovie and what the various components do, let's go through the process of archiving. It's really, really easy. First, you want to make sure you have enough storage on an external device to hold the events and projects you will archive. You can determine this in two steps:

Step 1) Highlight the event or project folder you want to archive then go to File > Get Info (or press Command + I). This will give you the size of the folder.

Step 2) Highlight the external drive or volume you want to archive to, then go to File > Get Info. This will tell you how much free space you have on that drive or volume. 

You also want to be sure that you are completely done using each event and project you plan to archive (as explained above).

Once you've done that, simply drag and drop to move the related event folder and project folder from the iMovie folders to the external storage device you have designated to archive these. Once you have confirmed that the move was successful, you can delete the related files from your local hard drive and reclaim the space. To keep this archived data organized, I would recommend creating a new folder on the archive storage called "iMovie Archive", then two folders within that folder called "iMovie Events" and "iMovie Projects". Each of those folders will contain the appropriate files.

If at some point in the future you need to make some changes to a project that has been archived, you will need to reverse that process. This can be done by moving the events and projects folders back to the related iMovie folders on your local hard drive or SSD. Once that's done, simply open iMovie and they will automatically appear. 


Posted on October 11, 2013 and filed under Design, How To, Mac.