My daughter takes a lot of videos with her iPad. She has maxed out her iCloud storage, so we need to clean some up (deleting from Photos, maybe archiving to an external hard drive).

Unfortunately, some of them are included in dozens of iOS iMovie videos that she would like to keep. If I just delete the original footage, the iMovie videos will break. (Exporting the iMovies would preserve the final product, but she wants the iMovies to remain editable.)

What's the best way to identify the videos that are safe to delete, or otherwise preserve the iMovie videos? Transferring the footage directly to iMovie would be ideal, but doesn't seem to be possible (videos are linked, not embedded).

My best answer at the moment is a tedious process of manually identifying the videos to keep, one clip at a time. For each clip, we have to watch it and, by trial and error, figure out which item in the Photos library matches. Being able to directly apply a "Favorite" to a clip from iMovie, or even being able see the file name, would be a huge improvement.

  • Can't you just "share" the iMovie project as a file(if you choose the iMovie file format, it should still be editable)?
    – airsquared
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 16:43
  • The question is whether sharing will embed the video clips. I'll experiment and see if it works. (If it does, that's a really weird place to hide an "embed referenced videos" feature.)
    – Dan Smith
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 22:54

1 Answer 1


The feature I'm looking for exists but was hard for me to find initially.

The Share menu will, for some destinations, allow you to choose between an iMovie Project and a Video File. The iMovie Project option, as a side effect, embeds all referenced video clips.

The ideal for me is to share to iTunes. This is a poorly-labeled choice, but what it actually does is make an archived copy of the project on local iPad storage. That archived copy can be restored later (no use of iTunes necessary).

So, my workflow:

  • For each iMovie project, Share to iTunes as an iMovie Project
  • Delete the unwanted older videos from iCloud Photos
  • If an iMovie is now broken, delete it and restore from the archived copy in the iTunes tab of the Project Import menu

The ideal would be a one-click embed videos command, but as a workaround, this isn't too bad.

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