How to export videos in iMovie

In a nutshell

  • Your export settings in iMovie will vary depending on where you plan to show or upload your video.
  • Exporting from a MacBook or desktop allows for quality and resolution customization while exporting from an iPhone or iPad offers a quicker and simpler process.
  • Save your iMovie project frequently to prevent loss of progress due to technical issues.

Exporting videos from iMovie allows you to share your creations with the world. However, the process may differ slightly, whether you’re using a Mac, iPhone or iPad. We’ll walk through the steps for exporting videos seamlessly across all your devices, allowing you to export your edited videos in a choice of file formats and resolutions and ensuring your videos are a hit wherever they’re viewed.

Let’s dive in.

Steps to take before exporting your video

First things first: As soon as you start editing your footage in iMovie, you should save your iMovie project to ensure that if anything goes wrong, your project will be safe. Here’s how you can save your project:

  1. Open iMovie on your Mac.
  2. Click on File in the top menu bar.
  3. Select Save Project to save your project file on your computer.

It’s always a good idea to save your project frequently to avoid losing any progress due to unexpected technical issues. Also, there are many export options for iMovie, so you should know where you plan to show or upload your video. Your exporting settings will depend on where it will be played.

Exporting to your MacBook or desktop

In iMovie, select the quality and resolution settings for your project. Make sure your format is set to “VIDEO and AUDIO.” Choose your desired resolution: 720p HD, 1080p HD or 4K quality. Keep in mind that the size of the file will change depending on the quality you choose. You will have two choices when it comes to quality export: quality and compression. If you select HIGH quality that can have an impact on the time it takes to export your video or clip. If you want a smaller file size for your upload, you can choose MEDIUM or SMALL quality. If you choose a Pro-Res quality like 4K, the file size may be too big. For compression, iMovie users recommend selecting BETTER QUALITY — especially if you have a fast computer. Select Next when you have the preferences you need.

After you decide where you want iMovie to save the video, select SAVE to start exporting.   

Exporting from your iPhone/iPad

There are some differences when it comes to exporting video on your iPhone or iPad. On your iPhone, press DONE after you have made your edits to your video. Then, select the export or share button. After that, click the SAVE VIDEO option to save the video to your iPhone and you’re done. 

The same steps apply to iPads. Select “DONE” on the upper-left corner and then hit the share button. Select the video quality that you want after clicking SAVE VIDEO. And that’s it. 

Sharing your video directly to your social media network

If you’re looking to post your video to your social media platform, export to a file first, then upload the file to your YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, iTunes, Email, etc. By exporting this way, you don’t have to worry about linking iMovie to any of these platforms. You select the file, name the title of your video, and then it’s ready. You can also share your videos directly by following these steps:

  1. Select a movie or clip in the Theater, click Share button > Video.
  2. Select your iMovie share settings.
  3. Add your social media account, password, category, title, description, tags, select the size to publish and click Next
  4. Hit Publish to save and upload your video to share with others.

Note, the above method is used when you’re exporting a project saved on your Mac or desktop. You select the project you want to export by locating it in the top-left Project Library panel list and double-clicking the project to open it.

Exporting video to your photo library

You can also save your movie in your Photos library. Here’s how:

  • Locate the exported video file on your computer.
  • Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer using a USB cable.
  • Open iTunes or Finder on your computer.
  • Select your device from the list of available devices.
  • Go to the File Sharing section or the File Sharing tab.
  • Find the iMovie app in the list and click on it.
  • Drag and drop the exported video file into the iMovie Documents section.
  • Wait for the video to finish transferring to your device.

Sharing video through your email

If you want, you can also send finished movie files to others in an email with the Mail app or in a text message using the Messages app.

  1. From the Projects browser, tap the movie you want to share. If you’re editing a project, tap Done in the upper-left corner.
  2. Tap the Share button and then tap Messages or Mail.
  3. Tap Send after completing your email.

To ensure you can share your video through email or text, choose a resolution that reduces the movie file to a size that’s supported. The attachment size limit for Gmail is 25 MB — quite small. Alternatively, you can export your video to your desktop, upload it to Google Drive and share the file directly to your recipients that way.

Ways to fix errors and crashes

If you get a Video Rendering Error or your iMovie keeps crashing when you are exporting your files, it can be for several reasons:

  • The device could be running too many programs simultaneously.
  • Your version of iMovie may be outdated and needs to update.
  • You may not have enough space on your hard drive.

Thankfully, these issues often have easy fixes. First, make sure to close all unnecessary programs that could be bogging down your device. If that doesn’t work, check if your version of iMovie is due for an update. Alternatively, you can try restarting your computer and retry exporting your project. If the problem still isn’t fixed, check your computer’s storage capacity. If your hard drive is full, consider backing up unnecessary files on external storage and removing them from your hard drive to free up some space. Alternatively, you can try exporting your video at a lower resolution, but that often isn’t a good option, as that will lower your video’s image quality. If you create a lot of videos, consider upgrading to a Mac Studio which can export in seconds, unlike the slower Intel Mac and older model iPhones and iPads.

Export your creation with confidence

One of the best things about iMovie is how easy it is to use. You don’t need to be a video editing expert to create professional-looking videos with iMovie. It’s also easy to export your videos and share your work with the rest of the world. So, if at any point, you need help exporting, or need a refresher, feel free to come back to this guide. Remember, always know your end destination for your video, as that will determine what steps you need to take when exporting.

Stephen Mandel Joseph
Stephen Mandel Joseph
Stephen Mandel Joseph is a published, professional writer and director of several Sci-Fi 3D animated shorts and a short drama film.

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