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I'm using a single iMovie Library for my video project so that I can create versions easily.

Once I'm done with my project and have, say 10 different versions in there, I want to upload it somewhere (e.g. to Box) to save it for the future. Even though the duplicate projects for versioning don't create duplicate video files, it still contains a single copy of each video.

If I have 5 videos at 1 GB each, my iMovie Library is at least 5 GB big. My videos are already on Box.com, so adding the iMovie Library will take up an extra 5 GB that is not needed.

Is there a way I can back up an iMovie Library without having copies of the videos?

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This may not be the best workflow, but here is one that works.

To create a lightweight backup of a project:

  1. First, create a backup of your Library in case things break.
  2. Ensure you're only using a single library for each of your projects. Otherwise it'll be harder to backup only the project you care about.
  3. In Finder, show package contents of your iMovie library.
  4. Delete all the "Original Media" videos. You can also delete other large files such as "Render Files".
  5. You should now have a lightweight backup of your iMovie project without all the videos.
  6. Ensure your backup can be restored by duplicating it and following the steps below.

To restore a lightweight backup of a project:

  1. Open the iMovie Library for your lightweight backup.
  2. You'll see that a bunch of videos are marked as missing.
  3. Reimport your original video files, and everything will just work!

Another thing that will make this entire process easier/possible is making sure not to rename/edit/delete your original video files.

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If you have Final Cut Pro X, there is a much better way to do this:

  1. Choose the project you want to export (unfortunately you can only take one, so your versions will be lost), and open it in Final Cut Pro.

    This will create a giant Final Cut Pro file.

  2. Now create a new library, make sure all the settings are set up to not store media in the library, and copy the timeline from the old library to the new. Credit goes to this answer.

    You now have a highly optimized Final Cut Pro file with all the media/cache/etc stored externally.

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