I do a lot of family video editing with Apple’s iMovie and find it works great. Except it’s filling up my disk and I need to copy it to an external drive. I tried just dragging folders, but then I can no longer access the older projects and events. Is there a smart way to move data onto a secondary or backup disk drive in iMovie 11 so I can still work on the projects?
As everyone who works with video has had to learn at some point, movie files take up a lot of disk space. A LOT of disk space. In fact, almost 2/3 of the space on my main video editing Mac system is consumed by MOV files, generally raw input data from video cameras. Hundreds of gigabytes. And with my workflow, at least, once I edit and publish a video — on my AskDaveTaylor YouTube channel — I never go back and work on it again, so I don’t really need to keep the files at all. Still, once in a while something resurfaces or there’s a typo identified or similar and a second edit proves necessary.
We’ll be looking at iMovie for this particular how-to but it’s really the same whether you’re using a version of iMovie or Final Cut Pro X or similar: there’s a way that’s part of the editing program to copy or move projects so that they work just fine from the external drive (or in a different version of the program if you plug the drive into a different computer, of course) and there’s a way that, well, makes a lot more work for you.
I know this because I tend to hobble together solutions, so my default approach is to just go into the file system and move folders around.
In that case, I’d be starting here:
You can see that My Passport Pro is already plugged in and ready to receive files [see my review of the terrific Western Digital 4TB external Thunderbolt drive] but if I just drag and drop things, they’ll copy and be able to be deleted off the main computer, but it’s a huge pain to work with them later, and it’s easy to get iMovie quite confused when folders show up and vanish from your “Movies” folder. Not good.
Instead, fire up iMovie 11 and then look closely in the Projects window for the external drive. It’ll be a pretty tiny line near the bottom if you don’t already have one or more project copied over.
Then click and drag a project from your existing list onto the secondary disk drive, like so:
Here I’ dragging the “Walmart Family Mobile Plan” video onto the “My Passport Pro”.
Because I just clicked and dragged, the following window will pop up:
Useful. But where this becomes way more interesting is if you click and hold the Control key while you’re dragging.
Instead of copying everything, you’ll be presented with the much more useful pair of options:
There ya go. In this case I click on the latter option, Move project and Events and after a few moments (Thunderbolt = fast. Good!) everything’s copied onto the backup drive in exactly the right format that it’ll remain in the iMovie project list whenever the drive is plugged in. Empty the trash to get rid of the old files that are now redundant and you’re done.
Not too bad, once you learn about the Control-drag secret technique, eh?