How to Reset and Delete Your iMovie Library

Apple’s iMovie is the go-to Mac app for many amateur video editors. It’s simple, intuitive, and, importantly, free to use. However, sometimes the application doesn’t behave as we would expect, and we need to invest in a little troubleshooting to get things running smoothly again.

When a library becomes corrupted, iMovie may fail to launch altogether. But a common complaint involves not having enough disk space to continue using the app to its full capacity. Fortunately, both issues have relatively simple fixes. So, let’s discuss how to reset, move, or delete your iMovie library in macOS.

How to Reset Your iMovie Library

If your current iMovie library is corrupted and won’t open, you can reset it and start afresh. Don’t worry—we won’t be deleting your old library. However, you will need to manually extract data from the corrupted package if there’s content you want to keep.

You can reset your iMovie library by following these steps:

  1. Launch iMovie while holding the Option key.
  2. Click New to create a new library.
    iMovie choose library window

  3. Name your new library, choose a location, and click Save.
    iMovie create new library window

When launching iMovie with the Option key, you also have the choice to switch between available libraries. If you do need to try opening your old library again, you can select it from the list or locate it on your hard drive.

How to Delete iMovie Library to Free Up Storage Space

Low disk space can be a major issue when working with large video files. If storage is running low, iMovie may not work correctly. Mainly, you won’t be able to import any new media. If this is the case, you’ll see a “Not Enough Disk Space” error message, which is a clear indication that it’s time to do some spring cleaning.

When it comes to clearing your iMovie library, you have several viable options. Most solutions involve deleting unwanted media. However, you can opt to move your library to a different location if you want to keep all of your iMovie files.

1. Delete iMovie Clips or Videos

Deleting unwanted videos in your iMovie library is a quick and easy way to create more free space. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Locate the videos you want to delete. You will either find these in individual projects under Project Media or in events under iMovie Library in the side menu.
  2. Control-click the file you want to delete and select Delete Media from Event.
    iMovie clip control-click menu

  3. Confirm that you want to remove the clip and click Delete.

To check individual projects, you’ll need to navigate to the project library by clicking the Projects button in the top left corner of the app.

Deleted videos will go to your Mac’s Trash, so don’t forget to empty it when you’re done to reclaim that extra disk space.

2. Delete iMovie Events

If you have entire events of unwanted clips in your library, you can delete them with just a few clicks. Here’s how to delete iMovie events:

  1. Control-click the event you want to remove in the side menu and select Delete Event.
    iMovie event control-click menu

  2. Confirm you want to permanently remove the event and click Continue.

That’s it. If you need to restore an event you’ve just deleted, you can click on Edit > Undo Move to Trash. Ideally, however, you could double-check anything before deleting.

3. Delete iMovie Projects

If your iMovie library is too big, deleting unwanted projects may help create free space.

You can delete an iMovie project by following these steps:

  1. Launch iMovie and click the Projects button to view your project library.
  2. Hover your cursor over the project you want to delete and click the More (three dots) button.
  3. Select Delete Project and click Continue to confirm.
    iMovie project more menu

When deleting iMovie projects to increase available storage, you should also check your events for any unwanted clips you can remove.

5. Move iMovie Library to an External Hard Drive

If you cannot afford to delete any of your content, you have another option: moving your iMovie library to an external hard drive. The catch is that whenever you want to access your projects, you’ll need to have an external disk connected to your Mac. You will, however, create a lot of free space by removing the library from your device altogether.

If you’re ready to move your iMovie library to an external hard drive, you can do so by following these steps:

  1. Connect an appropriately sized, correctly formatted external drive to your Mac. Know the best Mac file system for an external drive before you format it.
  2. Locate your iMovie library in Finder. The default location is ~/Movies/, where you should see a package named iMovie Library. However, the file path and library name may differ if you’ve changed them at any point.
    Finder showing contents of movies folder

  3. Copy your iMovie library and paste it to your external drive. Depending on the size of your library, the transfer process could take some time to complete.
  4. Once the copy completes, launch iMovie while holding the Option key and click Locate.
  5. Locate and select the external library and click Open to launch it.

When the external library launches, you should check to ensure everything is working correctly. Before removing the original library from your Mac, we recommend playing around with your projects and media files to ensure that nothing is missing.

Once confirmed, you can delete the original library from your Mac. You’ll also need to empty the Trash to reclaim the lost disk space. Remember that emptying the Trash will permanently remove your deleted library from your device, so double-check everything before hitting that empty button.

By default, iMovie should try to open your relocated library when launching the app. However, the application will create a new blank library if your external hard drive is read-only or inaccessible. If this happens, you should ensure that your disk is connected and troubleshoot if necessary.

6. Delete Your iMovie Library from Your Mac

If you want absolutely nothing to do with your iMovie library anymore and are happy to remove it, you can jump right into deleting it from your Mac. However, before taking such a drastic step, you must ensure your library doesn’t contain anything important. You should also back up your data if possible.

By default, your iMovie library is located in ~/Movies/ under the name iMovie Library. You can delete your library and all its contents if no longer required. And lastly, don’t forget to empty the Trash to permanently remove the contents from your Mac.

Is Your iMovie Library Too Big to Handle?

When your iMovie library outgrows your Mac’s hard drive, it’s time to free up some space. Luckily, you have several methods to choose from.

Deleting videos, projects, and events is a quick way to reclaim some of that lost storage. However, you may need to consider moving your entire library to an external drive if you can’t bear to remove any media.

Whatever method you choose, remember to always back up your data before making any major changes to your Mac. You don’t want to risk permanently losing anything important.

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