iMovie eating memory on iPad

I’m posting this because I found zero information about it and I stumbled upon a solution.

Basically, if you try and export your iMovie after you’ve finished creating it in iMovie on the iPad, it might tell you at the very end (after wasting an hour of your time btw) that there isn’t enough memory to do the export.  Dood, how about telling me BEFORE I SPEND ANOTHER HOUR OF MY LIFE WAITING – SOUND LIKE A GOOD IDEA?!?!?  JUST MAYBE.

At any rate, you might find yourself deleting movies, pictures, apps, music – anything to get enough memory to export your project.  Then, you try again.  then AGAIN it tells you STILL don’t have enough memory.  You go back and look and – WTH?  all the memory you’d just cleared is now magically gone – but you have nothing to show for it.

Apparently iMovie has created your masterpiece but needs to copy it to the location you specified (the camera roll) – I’m not totally sure if it’s done or not, and it’s making yet another copy for the move?  or if it truly ran out of space and can’t continue, but has left a pile of mung behind.  Who knows.  But the fact remains that it is still taking up precious disk space without any visible way of deleting it, and you have no idea it even exists!

All you have to do is open the project in iMovie, make a simple change – then change it back, and exit back to the projects menu.  Now check your memory – it magically has re-appeared.  Apparently, making a change causes iMovie to cleanup after itself.

Hope that helps!

  1. Well,these will be useful to those who are very fascinated to movies. Now,they can enjoy watching movies in their IPad even if it is a big file. You can transfer it now through the use of IMovie.

  2. yeah, Apple do a nice work on erasing their track!
    I’ve got this problem, too, but dont know how to solve it

  3. Amazing! Brilliant! Luckily I read your post before I hurt myself for being angry! Thank you!!!!

  4. thank you!!! I thought I was going crazy! It worked like a charm :0)

    • AJ
    • February 6th, 2013

    Dude you are much better than superman !

    • Suzanne
    • February 11th, 2013

    I’ve worked on a project for hours (totaling 65 mins of film) and ran into this problem. I’ve deleted EVERYTHING on my iPad except the movie stuff and what Apple won’t let you remove. I even bought more Cloud storage. I thought my head was going to come off! Thanks for the fix!

  5. thanks man, you just saved my (i)life 😉

    • Elias Valencia
    • May 23rd, 2013

    Dude, I was about to blow a gasket from all the pent up anger bubbling inside me trying to delete this ghost file. I read your post and it was like the much needed release valve. So glad I found it before I screwed my project up. Thanks a million!

    • Tess
    • September 29th, 2013

    Lifesaver! Thank you!

    • Ken K
    • November 16th, 2013

    Brilliant – It’s not like that info is anywhere on the Apple Forums or application help. Thanks, greatly reduced my anxiety.

    • Jen
    • December 12th, 2013

    Hi. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but this did not work for me. Any further tips or clarification?

    • Only that you just need to go back into the project, make a simple change (like text or nudge some image left, then save, then back). That little change will cause iMovie to delete the hidden version of the file that’s taking up your memory

  6. I didn’t believe it would work. I had tried everything before finding your post. I’m a believer now! Thank you!

    • MW
    • April 29th, 2014

    Thank you so much. If you only knew how this post saved my sanity; much appreciated!!!

  7. Thank you, it worked!

    • Petr
    • July 29th, 2014

    thank you

    • Steph Whitby
    • August 11th, 2014

    It worked for me….Thank you so much and you saved my sanity!

    • kriptomike
    • October 1st, 2014

    I just ran into this problem and you hack works thank you! it’s crazy that apple still didn’t fix this problem after 4 years. iMovie must be some bad apple 🙂

    • Sah
    • November 11th, 2014

    YOU ARE SUCH A STAR!! I’ve been a whole day wondering how on earth I was going to get a video out of and off the ipad!! Getting a bit sick of apple, having to fork out extra money because of lack of compatibility, lack of space on clouds etc. Apps that don’t work if you upgrade etc. Really getting bored of it all.

    • bronaghraff
    • February 26th, 2015

    eternally grateful hahah

    • Grace
    • July 29th, 2015

    I actually think i love you!! have been climbing the walls all day with this problem, exactly as you said…thanks so much for posting!!

    • Melissa
    • August 12th, 2015

    You literally saved me! You dont know how happy and relieved I am right now!!!!
    I had no idea how to fix this problem on my iPad Air. I was so mad and almost cried of desesperation, because I worked on this project for days. All I wanted to do is put my ipad away and never see it again. But this worked and I am so happy!!!😀😃😃😃☺☺☺

    • aaron
    • August 23rd, 2015

    thank you so much

    • Greg
    • November 24th, 2015

    Thanks so much!

    • Sarah
    • December 23rd, 2015


    Thx so much u helped me so much. I was getting so annoyed, if it wasn’t for u I would have had to delete the whole app and start everything over 😭

    THANKS 🌸😀

    • Rajesh Verma
    • December 31st, 2015

    Thanks a lot. I was struggling a lot to free up memory but could not find any clue. Your trick works like magic. Initially I had deleted the iMovie project once. Second time again I was losing memory slowly. Thanks to you I saved myself from deleting the project again.

    • Alexandra
    • January 19th, 2016

    Thank you!!!

      • Sarah
      • February 5th, 2016

      Please explain this to me as I have already deleted everything from my phone and tried this trick but it’s still not working ? Can you tell me step by step what you did please ?

  8. Yeah doesn’t work for me either, unfortunately.

    • Joie
    • March 2nd, 2016

    THANK YOU! It worked Finally!

    • DS
    • August 10th, 2016

    its not working for me either 😦 please help

    • Wish I could – this is literally the only way I’ve found to fix the issue. I could only suggest repeating the steps (try again)

    • MarysLife
    • March 21st, 2017

    This seriously helped incredibly. Thank you so much, I was about to delete everything! This made my life alot easier, I worked so hard on my video and thought it was all over, you were a huge help!

    • Kalivero
    • August 24th, 2017

    This is magic! Thanks!

    • andrei
    • August 26th, 2017

    i will change the tittle of project i don’t know why but it still doesn’t work?

    • vidhika
    • October 30th, 2017

    it doesn`t work anymore. i tried exporting again after making sufficient memory. please help

    • foxyfox78
    • January 27th, 2018

    I have this same exact problem on my MacBook. I have 250GB of storage and before I made a movie I had 180GB left. After 2 days editing a 45 min video into a 25 min one, I look at my storage… 18GB LEFT. My settings said iMovie was taking about 120GB. There’s nothing in my files that shows what this storage is being used by in iMovie. I tried changing the volume of a few clips and putting them back again to make a simple change and it didn’t work. Help =(

    • Beth
    • April 26th, 2018

    Thank you so much!! I’d invested weeks of hard work into a few videos and I just couldn’t export it. Like the others, I’ve tried deleting everything from my iPad. I tried everyones advice but nothing. I was smiling when reading your post because I was sure it wasn’t going to work… but miraculously, it did!! Thanks so much!! You’re a lifesaver!

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