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When trying to save a 15-minute movie from iMovie in order to upload it in the YouTube app, I frequently get the message "Storage Full: There is not enough space left on this device. You cannot share until you free some space."

This despite the fact that Settings shows "28.8 GB of 64 GB Used" and that iMovie is using only 1.29 GB of that. (It also shows that iMovie was "Last Used: 12/12/18" which is clearly false; is that a clue that the storage graph is inaccurate?)

How can I get iMovie to use this 35G available space for its export?

iPad Air 2, iPadOS 14.2, iMovie 2.3.2 (5087)

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  • This could mean that the 15 minute video file you want to save is a really big file. High resolution video files can really get very big. What is the settings you are using to export the movie?
    – sfxedit
    Jan 8, 2021 at 2:43
  • iMovie must be transcoding the video prior to uploading to YouTube. It’s possible that the temp file is taking up all that space. The source video, I’m assuming is from your Photos app and you’ve imported it into iMovie. The source almost certainly wasn’t copied but just referenced from Photos. What I’m saying is the source video is probably large and transcoding it in iMovie for upload to YouTube is probably exhausting the space. You may have to transfer the video to a Mac, if possible, and do your editing there.
    – daneb
    Jan 8, 2021 at 6:36

3 Answers 3

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It's a "known issue" that has been around for years according to various threads of people encountering the same problem. Apple has no intention of fixing it, otherwise they would have by now. The only workaround I've found to be consistent is to delete all other projects, edit a video, leave it for like a month, then try to export it.

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  • In 2023, I had to delete all projects, uninstall some apps for this to work and even then exporting was so slow.
    – NelsonGon
    May 18, 2023 at 17:54
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I talked to several advisors at Apple Support, and eventually learned that this is a known bug that has impacted others besides me, and that engineers are working on a solution, but it is not known when that solution might be released.

Meanwhile the only workaround, since this is our only Apple device, is to download the clips that comprise this video from iCloud to another computer, edit the video again in an editing app that runs on that computer, and upload it from that computer.

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Found a workaround to this that doesn’t take much effort.

Download a bunch of movies (I used Disney+)

When trying to save your iMovie project as a file and you get something like “You need 6gb but you only have 2gb free” you delete the number of movies you just downloaded (from Disney+ in my example) to free storage (in this example >4gb). Delete a bit more than it says you need to be sure.

Then you save the file again the same way in iMovie and it should start!

Seems you trick the system by doing this, and it doesn’t work if you delete pictures and videos from the “Photos” app to free up storage, you have to delete other files.

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