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I was using my macbook air 2013 to create a youtube video on iMovie. When I started I had 55gb of space left. I recorded everything used handbrake to convert it and edited it in iMovie. I then exported it and put it on youtube. I then deleted absolutely every file from iMovie and the event. But my remaining space had gone from 55gb to 44gb. What is taking up this space?

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Try looking at your cache. Navigate to ~/Library/Caches/ and look for a folder for iMovie (may also be labeled com.apple.iMovie). Check its size. If it's quite large, then you've found the culprit.

Note: deleting the contents of Caches is safe provided the application isn't running. While not necessary, deleting the contents of the entire folder should prompt a reboot.

You may also elect to give Grand Perspective a try, which will show you the contents of your drive and how files are arranged on it. This will help hunt down the loss of space you are experiencing.

  • FWIW this doesn't seem to exist anymore. Can't find com.apple.iMovie and there's caches in my ~/Movies directory instead. – jerclarke Jan 31 at 15:37
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It's probably still stored in a Time Machine local backup since local backups are automatically enabled for laptops.

Open Finder, browse to the original location of the files you deleted, then open Time Machine. Go back in time to find the files, then right-click them and delete the backup. This will return the space.

Alternatively, it might be an error with the drive, which could be fixed using Disk Utility's Repair Disk from the Recovery HD (boot with ⌘R). This would fix errors such as "Invalid volume free block count."

  • I have done the disk repair and it has freed some of the space. Also, time machine does not back up onto my laptop. Only my external hard drive. Any idea how to regain the rest of the space? Cheers. – Sashley Feb 2 '14 at 19:37
  • @Sashley Not to sound rude, but are you sure? Local snapshots are enabled by default on laptops and will back up every hour to the internal disk, regardless of your Time Machine settings with regard to external drives as backup disks. How much space is reported to be used by backups in About this Mac → More Info… → Storage? – grg Feb 2 '14 at 19:40
  • Nope. I turned off local snapshots I think and it says 0kb for backups. – Sashley Feb 2 '14 at 19:43
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iMovie now has a “Delete Render Files” button right inside its preferences window (opened via Cmd+,).

You should be able to just open your preferences and use that button to clear any unnecessary hard drive space.

Aside from that, after exporting your movie and backing up both the sources and final result somewhere:

  • Remove the project from projects list
  • Remove the library section with the sources from the iMovie Library

P.S. Here's another approach that explains the current location of cache files and how to delete them manually or with the command line: How to free up iMovie disk space

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