How to Import Videos from iPhoto to iMovie?

Shreyas Patil SEO
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
How to Import Videos from iPhoto to iMovie

Importing videos from iPhoto to iMovie is a great way to enhance your home movies and creatively edit and share your memories. While it may seem daunting at first, the process is actually quite simple once you know the steps. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to successfully import videos from iPhoto to iMovie. Whether you're just getting started with video editing or looking to step up your skills, following this How to Import Videos from iPhoto to iMovie tutorial will have you importing and editing like a pro in no time!

Step 1: Confirm Your Videos are in iPhoto

The first step is making sure the videos you want to import are located in your iPhoto library. Here's how:

  • Open iPhoto on your Mac.

    Open iPhoto on your Mac

  • Click on the "Photos" tab at the top. This will display all of your photos and videos.
  • Browse through to confirm the videos you want to import are there. If not, you'll need to import them into iPhoto first.

If you need to import videos into iPhoto:

  • Click File > Import to Library.
  • Select the videos you want to add and click Import.

Once the videos finish importing, you can view them in your iPhoto library before moving them to iMovie.

Step 2: Create Your iMovie Project

Now we're ready to open iMovie and create a new project for our imported videos.

  • Open iMovie on your Mac.

    Open iMovie on your Mac

  • At the Project Browser, click the "+" icon to create a new project.
  • Name your project, select any theme or aspect ratio, and click OK.

Your new empty project will open and is ready to receive the iPhoto videos!

Step 3: Import Videos from iPhoto to iMovie

Here comes the fun part - importing those videos!

Method 1: Drag and Drop

The easiest way to import videos from iPhoto to iMovie is by drag and drop:

  • Open and arrange iPhoto and iMovie side-by-side so both library windows are visible.
  • In iPhoto, select the videos you want to import by ⌘-clicking multiple videos.
  • Click and drag the selected videos over to the iMovie Project Browser and release.

The videos will automatically import directly into your iMovie project!

Method 2: Right Click and Select Reveal in Finder

You can also right click videos and access them directly in Finder:

  • In iPhoto, right click on the video(s) you want to import.
  • Select Reveal in Finder from the dropdown menu.
  • This will open a Finder window displaying the video files.
  • Drag and drop the video files into the Project Browser in iMovie.

The major benefit of this method is it avoids duplicating the videos as you import them.

Step 4: Edit Your Imported iPhoto Videos in iMovie

Now comes the fun part - editing those imported videos in iMovie!

iMovie provides easy-to-use tools to trim clips, add effects, insert transitions, create picture-in-picture, add text, and more.

Here are some of the key features to explore:

  • Trim/split clips: Remove unwanted sections by dragging the edges of a clip inward. Split into segments by placing the playhead where you want to split and selecting Modify > Split Clip.
  • Reorder/organize clips: Click and drag clips into your desired sequence in the timeline. You can remove clips by dragging them out of the timeline.
  • Add transitions: Drag a transition between two clips to blend them together. Experiment with different transition styles and durations.
  • Apply video effects: Click on a clip and open the Video tab. Apply filters like black & white or instant replay. Adjust settings like color saturation and audio volume.
  • Insert cutaways: Drop in B-roll footage like photos, videos or graphics to cut between clips for visual interest.
  • Add titles: Personalize your movie with opening titles, captions, credits and more using the Titles browser.
  • Picture-in-picture: Import a second video and resize/reposition it over your main footage. Great for multi-camera interviews!
  • Green screen: Overlay custom backgrounds behind subjects on a green screen for magical effects.
  • Add a soundtrack: Select music from the audio browser to set the mood. Adjust volume levels as needed.

Take your time playing with effects and editing tools until your video looks just right. The fun of iMovie is in the creative freedom to tell your story!

Step 5: Export Your iMovie Project

Once your iMovie edit is complete, it's time to export it out of iMovie and share it with the world. Here's how to export your finished project:

  • Navigate to the Share menu and click Export File.
  • Select the desired export settings:
    • Format: Common options: 1080p, 720p, 480p. Higher numbers equal better quality.
    • File Type: Choose from things like MP4, MOV, M4V. Select a compatible format for your needs.
    • Compress and Size: A larger file size preserves quality but takes longer to export. Find the right balance for your project.
  • Click Next and choose where you want to save the exported file.
  • Click Save and iMovie will export your project to view and share!

Some popular ways to share your completed iMovie project:

  • Upload to YouTube, Vimeo or other social media sites
  • Airplay directly to an Apple TV
  • Save to a USB drive for viewing on a TV
  • Send via email, messaging apps or cloud storage services
  • Burn to a DVD

Be sure to showcase your hard video editing work with friends and family!

Advanced Tips for Importing iPhoto Videos to iMovie

Looking to take your iMovie skills even further? Here are some advanced tips when importing videos from iPhoto:

Optimize Media First

You can save iMovie processing time and disk space by optimizing iPhoto videos before importing them. Here's how:

  • In iPhoto, select the videos you want to optimize.
  • Go to File > Export and choose Optimized for video size and quality.
  • Set optimized export location and click Export.
  • Import the optimized versions from Finder to iMovie.

This will streamline large or high-res videos for smooth editing in iMovie.

Use Keyword Tags

Adding keywords to iPhoto videos makes them easier to organize in iMovie.

  • In iPhoto, double click a video and add keywords like dates, locations, people's names, etc.
  • The keywords will transfer over when importing to iMovie.
  • Use keywords to search and sort clips in your iMovie project.

With keyword tags, you can quickly find specific videos among a large iPhoto library.

Utilize Albums

Organize videos into albums in iPhoto, then import directly by album.

  • Create new albums in iPhoto and drag videos in to categorize them (like Vacation, Kids' Recital, etc).
  • In iMovie, choose File > Import iPhoto Album and select the album to import.
  • The entire album will import neatly organized into your iMovie project!

Albums keep similar videos neatly grouped together.

Manage Duplicate Imports

Avoid importing the same iPhoto video clips multiple times:

  • In iMovie, check the small thumbnail images in the corner of clips to identify duplicate imported videos.
  • Delete unwanted duplicate clips by selecting and pressing delete.
  • Consolidate duplicates into one instance of the clip to save space.

Reviewing thumbnails helps weed out unneeded extra copies of the same video clip.

Quick Tip to ensure your videos never go missing

Videos are precious memories and all of us never want to ever lose them to hard disk crashes or missing drives. PicBackMan is the easiest and simplest way to keep your videos safely backed up in one or more online accounts. 

Simply Download PicBackMan (it's free!), register your account, connect to your online store and tell PicBackMan where your videos are - PicBackMan does the rest, automatically. It bulk uploads all videos and keeps looking for new ones and uploads those too. You don't have to ever touch it.

Common Issues When Importing From iPhoto

While importing videos from iPhoto to iMovie is generally straightforward, you may encounter a few issues during the process:

iPhoto Videos Not Showing Up In iMovie

If your iPhoto videos are not appearing in iMovie, try the following:

  • Confirm the videos are in iPhoto by viewing them there first. If not, import them.
  • Check for and accept any required software updates for iPhoto and iMovie. Outdated software can prevent communication between the apps.
  • Restart both iPhoto and iMovie to clear any cache issues.
  • Reconnect the iPhoto library if it became disconnected from iMovie. To do this, open iMovie, navigate to File > Import iPhoto Clips and reselect your iPhoto library.

Imported Videos Are Black/Don't Play

If imported clips show up black/won't play, it could be an incompatible file format, codec, or projection setting. Try:

  • Update iMovie and iPhoto to their latest versions to handle new file types.
  • Re-export the original iPhoto videos from Finder in a codec supported by iMovie, like H.264 or Apple ProRes. Then re-import to iMovie.
  • Adjust Project Settings in iMovie to Widescreen or Standard to match the clip properties.

Videos Import with No Audio

If your iPhoto videos import without audio sound, verify the source audio is intact by playing in iPhoto first. If intact, try:

  • In iMovie preferences, confirm box is checked for "Import audio from original into project."
  • Examine the file format - compressed formats like .MOV sometimes store video and audio separately. Re-export from iPhoto and import new version.
  • Check volume levels in iMovie clip inspector and on computer sound output. Boost if muted.

Media "Grayed Out" After Importing

Clips appearing grayed out in the iMovie timeline signify missing media – the link between project and source video is broken. To restore:

  • Reimport the original video files from iPhoto into the project.
  • Consolidate the iMovie project's media from the File menu to relink.
  • Or, delete and re-add the grayed out clips to your iMovie timeline.


Importing iPhoto videos directly into iMovie makes movie-making magic! By following the steps outlined in this How to Import Videos from iPhoto to iMovie guide, you can easily import clips, organize media, creatively edit, add effects and titles, and export high-quality movies to share.

Troubleshooting common issues like missing media, codecs, and syncing gets you back on track so you can realize your cinematic vision. With practice, you'll go from home videos to Hollywood blockbusters in no time! iMovie's intuitive and fun interface lets anyone jump into video editing.

So grab those precious memories stored in iPhoto and bring them to life on the big screen with iMovie. Then sit back and enjoy your personal cinematic masterpieces with friends and family!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some common questions about importing iPhoto videos into iMovie:

Q: Will my videos be deleted from iPhoto when I import into iMovie?

A: No, importing does not remove or delete clips from your iPhoto library. Your videos will remain in both iPhoto and iMovie.

Q: Can I select and import multiple videos at once?

A: Yes! In iPhoto you can ⌘-click to select multiple videos, then drag them all at once into iMovie for a batch import.

Q: What video formats can I import from iPhoto to iMovie?

A: Common supported formats include .MOV, .MPEG4, .MP4, .AVI, .DV, .MPEGPS, .M2V and .M2TS. For best results, optimize or re-export videos from iPhoto in one of these formats before importing.

Q: What happens if my imported video has no sound?

A: Check that sound was originally recorded by playing back in iPhoto. If intact, adjust iMovie preferences and project volume levels. Re-exporting from iPhoto can consolidate sound.

Q: How do I export my finished iMovie project out of iMovie?

A: In the Share menu, select Export File to export your completed edit. Choose format, file size, and export destination. Popular shares include YouTube, Apple TV, and social media.

Q: How can I improve slow imports from large iPhoto libraries?

A: Optimize and export clips from iPhoto first to streamline file sizes. Import by album instead of full library. Close other resource-intensive apps during import. Upgrade computer processing power and RAM if needed.

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