Search results for

All search results
Best daily deals

Affiliate links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

How to export a video on iMovie on Mac and iOS

A masterpiece hardly masters if you can't show it off to the world.

Published onMarch 31, 2024

When it comes to straightforward, high-quality video editors that don’t require a manual to figure things out, iMovie is hard to beat. The Apple-only app is capable of your basic video editing needs if Adobe Premiere Pro‘s pricetag brings tears to your eyes. Once you’ve got your video project finished, you’ll want to export it from iMovie to show it off to the world. Here’s how.


To export a video in iMovie:

  1. On a Mac, click the Share icon in the top-right, which looks like a square with an upwards-pointing arrow. One of the options will be to export a movie file.
  2. On an iPhone, tap the Share button and choose an option like Save Video.


How to export a video in iMovie on Mac

  • Once you’ve finished slicing and dicing your video, look to the top-right of the iMovie interface. You will see the Share icon, which looks like a square with an upward arrow inside it.
  • You’ll get four options. To export as a MOV file, click Export File. The YouTube and Facebook option requires you to be logged into those accounts via your Mac.
  • After clicking Export File, you’ll be asked to specify a few things.
    • First, give your file a distinct name. You can also choose whether or not you want a complete video, only the visuals, or only the audio.
    • Resolution and quality can be critical, not just for appearance, but the eventual size of a file and how long the export process will take. Available resolutions will depend on the source video, but Quality can go up as high as Pro-Res.
    • Choosing Pro-Res will significantly increase file size, though, and isn’t useful outside of editing contexts.
  • Click Next… and you can now choose where to export the video file.
  • Choose Save. You’ll see a small progress meter at the top-right of the iMovie interface.

How to export a video in iMovie on iOS

  • To export your video from iMovie on an iPhone or iPad, tap Done in the top-left corner when you’re finished editing it.
  • Now tap the Share icon at the bottom.
  • Choose Share Video.
  • In the Share menu options, select Save Video to save to your Photo Library. You can also send videos to cloud storage, though, or to other installed editors such as LumaFusion. Choosing one of these options gets the export process underway. When it’s done, you’ll see a confirmation pop-up.


If iMovie refuses to export your file, check to see if you have any storage space left. Apple recommends a bare minimum of 25GB. On Macs, the company also suggests turning off Time Machine backups if you have them running. Just remember to switch them back on as soon as possible.

It depends on the length of a video, the resolution and quality you choose, and the processor power available. While something like a Mac Studio might export a video in minutes or even seconds, expect much slower results from something like an Intel Mac or an iPhone XR.

The rule of thumb is to match resolution and quality to the biggest screen size you expect to watch something on. Typically this means you can get away with 1080p, but you may want 4K if you’re expecting to watch on a 4K-ready TV over 60 inches, or one of Apple’s 5K displays.

There are two possible solutions. One is to shut down all non-essential programs, which could be overburdening your system. Second, try exporting at a lower resolution. Instead of 4K, for instance, try 1080p. You may not even notice the resolution difference. If all else fails, reinstall iMovie, but remember to backup your movie files first.

iMovie files are exported as MOV files by default. If you’d like a file to be an MP4 or another format such as AVI, you’ll have to use a file conversion tool such as Handbrake.

You might like