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Unlocking iMovie '09 & '11

This is a quickie, but a goodie. I have noticed in some places a little confusion about how to save your project in iMovie '08. This is how you save your project:

1. Make all the edits you need to make.
2. There is no step 2.

From what I can tell, the genius in iMovie '08 is that it doesn't actually make permanent changes to your source video as you cut, color, and do whatever else you do to it. (My wife often wishes salons worked this way.) In fact, it appears that a project is just a list of changes that iMovie shows you while you are editing, referencing the necessary video as it goes along. Your edits are only permanent in the videos you export from iMovie, such as to YouTube or to the Media Browser. (Hence the warning you get if you make a change after already sending it to the Media Browser.) Even then, when iMovie exports it just renders a new video file that follows the instructions laid out by your project. Because all of your edits are nondestructive, the Apple engineers decided to do away with the mundanity of saving projects. I am also confident that this explains why older machines can't run iMovie '08. All this dynamism take a lot of horsepower!

The only caveat to this behavior is that your list of Undo's will be lost if you quit iMovie. Still, that is just a matter of convenience because you can always manually go back to what you had before. All in all, I really like this new editing method of iMovie '08.

40 comments: to “ How to save your movie project

  • Michiel van der Ros
    September 22, 2008 at 11:00 AM  

    Ah, that explains why there's no save feature under the file menu. I find this a bit confusing however. I tried to copy an iMovie project to another computer and there was no way to get it to work. Even on the same computer I can only find the import and not the edit.
    iMovie 08 has a lot of awesome features which make it a unique quick editing tool, but leaving out an explicite "save" might be step too far.

  • Anonymous
    October 10, 2008 at 7:31 AM  

    how to save the project on an external hard drive though? Can't find the "Save as..." function.

  • Kenneth
    December 10, 2008 at 5:47 PM  

    Students in our lab want to know how to take their iMovie 08 projects with them on an external HD so they can work on it using another computer at a later time, but we haven't found a workflow that seems to work. Please help!

  • eliot
    December 22, 2008 at 4:08 AM  

    I have just saved a project to and external HD. Navigate to your home/movies/imovie projects folder in Finder, right click the project file, select copy, navigate to your external HD, right click and paste. Presumably you could also drag the project file wherever you would like it be copied but I didn't actually test this.

  • Phoebe
    January 10, 2009 at 6:27 PM  

    I am also having trouble moving a complete movie to an external HD, so that I can work on it at a later time, saving space on my computer. This is very frustrating. I know how to save a project, but what about moving the entire raw footage to an external HD? I hope someone has an answer to this!

  • Aaron
    January 10, 2009 at 6:35 PM  

    Regarding the questions about iMovie '08 and saving projects on other drives, it works this way.

    1. iMovie *only* recognizes projects located in the home folder of the startup drive.

    2. If you copy a project to an external drive, iMovie won't recognize it. You will have to move it back into its original folder on your startup drive to get iMovie to see it.

    3. Project files don't work without the event footage to go with it, which is stored in a different folder (on whichever drive you told iMovie to put the event). Be very careful moving projects and events around manually, because you can break your projects.

    4. iMovie '09 will allow you to easily move projects in a way that preserves the event footage to go with it. Come on over to my new site to read more about this:

    What to Expect in iMovie '09

  • Mark Hrebinka
    May 11, 2009 at 9:17 PM  

    Very disappointing! You work hours on a project, export it, quit iMovie '08, have 2nd thoughts, decide to change something, and viola! no project to revise! One must start from scratch again. What were the sw engineers at Apple thinking? Horrible design.

  • Anonymous
    July 26, 2009 at 4:43 PM  

    The problem with no "save" option is the wonderful imovie "auto save" function does not work. So do you have any clues as to how I can save my projects with no save option? I have gone to the MAC website with no satisfaction to this issue and have notice there are more people out there with the same problem.

  • Mike
    September 13, 2009 at 5:57 PM  

    In case someone finds this, this is how you (or at least I) move your movie projects to an external drive.

    1) open terminal (it should open in your home account (where your Movies directory is).

    2) mv Movies Movies.bak (we always back thing up in case we screw things up.

    3) cp -r Movies.bak /Volums/[my other harddrive]/Movies (you can also do this from finder by dragging and dropping it.

    4) ln -s /Volumes/[my other harddrive]/Movies Movies

    This last command creates a soft-link between the local hard-drive Movies and the external drive.

    If you want to take this to another system and use it you can repeat the above procedure (just remember to set the Movies.bak back to movies when you are done.

    soft links are just like files. If you blow them away they don't actually remove the files they point too.

    So going to your home account and typing:

    rm Movies (note not rm -rf), will remove the link file, but leave what it pointed too on your external hard drive.

    Mike

  • Anonymous
    September 24, 2009 at 5:13 PM  

    totallv frustrated. i can't save mv movie project to thje desktop. whv should this be a problem. this design is not intuitive to sav the least and from the other comments shows what poor design instincts i'm afraid are at work here. sigh

  • Phoebe
    September 24, 2009 at 6:45 PM  

    Does anyone at Apple read these comments? I would think that they might want to respond and help us out a bit here. But then, when I went to my Apple store for help, he didn't even know there wasn't an option to "save as" on imovie 08! He did offer to provide private tutoring for $50 an hour though. Nice.

  • Devon
    September 28, 2009 at 10:27 PM  

    iMovie 08 has got to be the most ass-backwards software I have ever had the misfortune of using. Absolutely terrible.

  • francis
    November 15, 2009 at 6:22 PM  

    What a crap program, what sort of numbskull egghead geek devised a program which where you cannot save your changes to a document? Time to go back to PC I think.

  • Anonymous
    December 4, 2009 at 7:21 AM  

    I feel the same way. I have to make an educational video for a class, but our school library only has iMovie '08. It's the worst software I've ever had to use. Nothing is simple. There is a problem with everything. I can't change the background color, only the title color. You have to download add-ons to stabilize, which the library won't allow. I need to use a different computer to do a voiceover, but because I can't save it I can't do the voiceover. Why would they design software like this? I suppose they're depending on making a good deal of money off their tutoring and Phone Support.

  • Brandon Butler
    January 1, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Vertigo778
    January 2, 2010 at 6:58 PM  

    Brandon, I think you missed what we all mean. We want to save the Imovie project itself, not just spit out a quicktime of it which is easy enough to do. how the heck do I back the damn thing up? The answer is I can't. I can't save multiple versions of the same project, which is especially frustrating and stupid. What if I wanted to work on a previous version of the same movie? The answer is I can't.

  • Aaron
    January 3, 2010 at 4:29 PM  

    @Vertigo, to edit multiple versions of a project, you can just duplicate it using the command in the File menu. This is equivalent to keeping multiple versions of an iMovieHD project file.

  • Anonymous
    January 17, 2010 at 3:26 PM  

    OMFG i spend like 2134502136450912734 hours on a project, leave it for 15 minutes, finish it up, and then it restarts... THEN only HALF og my project shows up. -__- HELPPPPPP

  • Ridge
    March 8, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

    Who was the dunce who decided 'oh lets leave out the save option' fuck i wana work on a new project and save the one thats there now. what, so we're only allowed to do one project with this program ?? get real apple,, its just a shame , fcuken outrageous!!!

  • Michel
    April 13, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

    So really? there is no way around the no "save as" option?

  • Anonymous
    May 9, 2010 at 8:58 AM  

    Wow. I have been expecting to slowly build a video of granddaughter's clips as I receive new ones. But every time I reopen to extend it, I'm back to square one. No transitions, no voice over, no titles....

  • Rosie Vexed
    May 18, 2010 at 5:17 AM  

    I have spent hours and hours (not including the time spent making my movie projects) trying to work out how to back up my memory hungry iMovie files. Aaah... like iMovie before I'll just copy them back on to my camera to edit later.. NO!!!! Not possible - Mac in all their wisdom have stopped that easy route...So like a good girl doing the housework I have backed up all my Event files onto external HD and.... thought great.. now I will back up my projects.. went back to imovie with a empty area saying 'My First Project' - so where are all my other three projects? Tantalising projects with .rcproject are there... but will not play and I can not import them... This new program is unbelievably bad!!! Anyone got an iMovie 06? Aaaah now that was software design! I can't continue to use this.. to much memory being used up and complicated stupid backing up makes this software unbelievably impractical, hard to use and has wasted much of my time , not to mention created a few more grey hairs, wrinkle lines and quite a lot of money in the swear box!ie

  • Anonymous
    May 18, 2010 at 5:28 AM  

    I have spent hours and hours (not including the time spent making my movie projects) trying to work out how to back up my memory hungry iMovie files. Aaah... like iMovie before I'll just copy them back on to my camera to edit later.. NO!!!! Not possible - Mac in all their wisdom have stopped that easy route...So like a good girl doing the housework I have backed up all my Event files onto external HD and.... thought great.. now I will back up my projects.. went back to imovie with a empty area saying 'My First Project' - so where are all my other three projects? Tantalising projects with .rcproject are there... but will not play and I can not import them... This new program is unbelievably bad!!! Anyone got an iMovie 06? Aaaah now that was software design! I can't continue to use this.. to much memory being used up and complicated stupid backing up makes this software unbelievably impractical, hard to use and has wasted much of my time , not to mention created a few more grey hairs, wrinkle lines and quite a lot of money in the swear box!

  • Ketil
    May 29, 2010 at 2:07 AM  

    To "save as..." in iMovie: Click on project Library, and you see a list view with "icons" of all the project files in your Movie->iMovie-projects folder. Right click on any project and enjoy a juicy menu that includes Duplicate. You can even delete a project from here!

  • Heather Clarke
    June 22, 2010 at 7:12 PM  

    all you have to do is go to share and select export movie. this will put it in the right format to use on a tv or post on the web, as well as save it.
    hope that helped!

  • Wendy
    July 1, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

    It's no good exporting it in any kind of format as that renders it impossible to edit. I've been trying to save a project onto the desktop to then transfer to another computer. The tantalising thing is that I've been doing that self same thing for the past few days by moving the project to the trash and then dragging it out onto the desktop. Now I try it and it won't work! Just saves the icon and not the dv files. I'm doing something wrong, as like I said, it worked before. That seems to be the best way to do it. I'm using imovie 08 and transferring to 09. The whole programme is absolute pants. I just found out how you can colour correct and lighten a video... Select the clip and press v. WTF???? How is that intuitive? Where's the option on the edit menu to do this? It's pants, pants, pants, and I'm now going to go away and learn how to use final cut pro!

  • Wendy
    July 2, 2010 at 2:38 AM  

    Okay, I know what I was doing wrong. What you have to do is after you've imported the film and it has become a new "event", before you create the "project" and do any editing whatsoever, you need to grab the "event" and send it to "trash". You can then drag it out of the trash onto the desktop. It will be called"i Movie temporary items" and will have a long number after it. All the dv clip files will be there. You can then save it as whatever you want, re-import it, transfer it to another computer, whatever. As soon as you start editing the original file and taking bits of it to put in a project, you won't be able to do this.

  • Arvind Chayal
    August 20, 2010 at 12:31 PM  

    Nice, I like it.

  • Ventrella
    October 14, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

    I agree with those of you that wish Apple would provide us with good old "save" and "save as". We creative users have built up years of experience in managing our projects. Apple should not try to be so clever, and let us do that part. Auto-save is a fine idea - a good idea in fact, but it should mean that I cannot have to choice to save a current version of my project and branch off a new project whenever I want.

    Apple has done great designs over the years. Now they need to just calm down and not get too bossy about how we do our work.
    -Jeffrey

  • Anonymous
    January 3, 2011 at 9:27 PM  

    "Duplicate Project" is grayed-out in my iMovie. Not selectable. What then?

  • Sean McDonald
    February 5, 2011 at 2:31 AM  

    In the upper left corner of your screen is the Project Library button. Hit that and you can change the name of your project and essentially, save it.

    Create a new project and you will see you have two projects now, your first project and the new one. They are saved in the Projects Library. Select one. Hit Edit Project and you're off and running.

  • Sherry
    June 22, 2011 at 10:02 AM  

    Starting over Grrr.....Wish I had read all of this a few days ago. Whose boneheaded idea was it not to have a straight forward save option?!!!

  • Anonymous
    August 19, 2011 at 3:53 AM  

    basically ive made a really good dvd for my dadf. but unfortunatley my disc drive is broken so i cannot burn it. Would it work if i put it on a USB stick and then burnt it off my laptop??? HELPPPP arghhhh

  • Anonymous
    September 20, 2011 at 10:46 PM  

    FUCKING iMovie, the autosave is PURE SHIT, I´ve already lost my project TWICE, Apple is for DUMB people, I want to CHOOSE when to FUCKING save

  • Anonymous
    September 25, 2011 at 1:51 PM  

    RAWRWAGHLKDRNBHJRTISUHIORTHGKNBKSRNR THAT IS THE SOUND OF MY RAGE AGAINST THE FACT THAT I CAN'T FREAKING SAVE A PROJECT THAT I WORKED SO HARD ON!!!! APPLE, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?!?!

  • Anonymous
    October 16, 2011 at 8:50 PM  

    I right clicked on my project (the one under Project Library) and found Export using QuickTime. It can now be saved as .mov! :)

  • Anonymous
    November 2, 2011 at 8:38 AM  

    Not being able to save your work sucks! I've lost my freakin work twice to this idiotic program.

  • Anonymous
    November 5, 2011 at 7:54 PM  

    go to share then click export

  • Anonymous
    November 14, 2011 at 6:23 PM  

    How do you transfer an imovie onto a usb drive?

  • K
    December 4, 2011 at 12:14 AM  

    I haven't double checked this to see if it works, but hopefully it will. I just went into the hard drive where the imovie projects are automatically saved, copy pasted that file onto my external..then I found the folder where the raw footage is saved called imovie events and copy pasted the event folder onto my external. Logically it would seem that if I moved to another computer I could paste these back into the same folders on that computer's hard drive and they would work. :/