Starting iMovie Projects on iPad and Finishing on Mac

iPad, especially iPad Pro, works great for editing movies and photos. Sometimes iMovie projects launched on an iPad need some finishing touches that are only available through iMovie on Mac. Apple has begun allowing editors to send iMovie projects from one iOS device to another iOS device, a MacBook, or a Mac desktop computer. We will show users how to move iMovie Projects from an iPad or iPhone to a MacBook, Mac mini or iMac.

We have already hinted at the main reason to move project files from an iPad or iPhone to computer. The OS X version of iMovie offers some features that the iOS version does not. For example, iMovie for OS X includes more transitions and backgrounds. It’s easier to give a movie titles that look better or add good titles. iMovie for OS X does more than just the iOS version on an iPad.

Editing video on the larger screen iPad Pro is a pleasure because tapping a clip is easier to get the right frame to start with. However, some people also use a more powerful video editor like Final Cut Pro X. Final Cut can also import iMovie Projects.

How to Move iMovie Projects from iPad to Mac

imovie projects ipad

Start by creating a project in iMovie. Open it and tap the Projects tab at the top center of the screen. Tap the plus button and select Movie or Trailer. Choose a theme. Simple is usually best. Tap Create in the upper right corner.

Find videos and media to add from the content library on the right. Add by tapping the round arrow that adds it to the timeline. Use the tools in iMovie to organize your project to your liking. When ready to transfer to computer, tap Done in the upper left corner. This will take you to the Project main screen. It shows a large thumbnail of the movie and the title. Tap the title to give one. Preview iMovie for iOS by tapping the play icon in the lower left part of the middle of the screen. The middle button just to the right of the play button opens the iOS sharing feature.

share imovie ipad

The sharing feature provides several options. The simplest way to share this project with a Mac is to wait until it connects to the same network and in the same location. The user icon for your Apple account will appear in one of the AirDrop circles at the top of the share box. Tap to immediately send your project to Downloads folder of Mac. Depending on how long the movie is, it can take from a few seconds to over an hour. Wait patiently and make sure that the iPad and computer do not go into sleep mode during the transfer, otherwise it will turn off midway.

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airdrop received on mac

When the transfer starts, the Mac will show a small box in the upper right corner informing the user that the Mac has received the iMovie project file. It also informs the user audibly. When it finishes the transfer, the file will appear in the Downloads folder.

import imovie ios projects

In iMovie, open the Project file using the item in the menu. Select the project file in the downloads folder. Now the project is ready for any further editing.

With send movie to Final Cut Pro X, make sure it’s open in iMovie and then . Choose next. The project opens in Final Cut Pro X. This option will not appear on Mac if Final Cut Pro is not installed.

Other options

The above steps using Airdrop seem like the easiest way to send iMovie projects from an iPad or iPhone to a Mac, but there are other ways.

share imovie icloud drive

Select instead of AirDrop when it’s time to share the iMovie project using the iOS sharing feature. The share feature prompts the user to choose between sending the project file or the movie file. Choose to send so you can continue editing in iMovie or import to Final Cut. Uploads the project file to iCloud Drive.

Select the file in iMovie and locate it in the iMovie subfolder of iCloud Drive.

iCloud Drive is flaky at best. It usually works, but not always. That’s why using AirDrop works much better.

A third option involves plugging the iPad or iPhone into the Mac using a USB to Lightning cable. Open iTunes and let it sync. iPad may prompt you to Trust the computer by tapping the Trust button. If you haven’t connected the two devices before, the computer may ask you to set up synchronization.

share with itunes

Find in iTunes in the upper left corner. It will show a list of Settings and things along the left column. select from. Scroll down until you see the section. Select it and you will see the list of iMovie projects.

Select the project you want to transfer to Mac. Scroll down to the bottom and select in the lower right corner of the iMovie Settings box. This opens a Finder box on Mac. Save the project file on Mac. I recommend a temporary location as you won’t need this file after exporting to iMovie.

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Overall, AirDrop sharing works quickly and easily with smaller video projects. Really long video projects work best with the iPad connected with the sync cable. iCloud Drive seems the least practical as its sync feature seems so intermittent and unreliable to many people. However, this means that if it works properly, iMovie Project files will terminate on every Mac the user owns.

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