How to Convert and Import MOV Files to iMovie

Serious? iMovie can't import MOV files? Yes, this does happen but not often. Both iMovie and MOV format are designed by Apple. iMovie is the entry-level of video editing software for Mac, while MOV is the default video format on Mac. In most cases, iMovie can import MOV files without effort. Then why there are iMovie users asking why I can't import MOV to iMovie for editing? You'll find the answer and solutions on this page.

mov to imovie importing

Why iMovie Won't Import MOV Files?

MOV, short for MOVie, is a Mac and Windows video format created by Apple. MOV is actually a multimedia container in which video, audio, timecode, and text tracks are included. Each track can use specific codec. To play or edit MOV files, the application must have to recognize the codecs first. The common codecs for MOV video include MPEG-4, H.264, MPEG-2, WMV V8, AIC, MJPEG, ProRes, Sorenson 1/3, PNG, etc.

Sadly, iMovie supports MOV files that use MPEG-4 and H.264 codecs only. If your MOV files contains codecs other than these two, you'll be failed to import MOV to iMovie. That's the reason why iMovie says it supports MOV, but can't open your MOV files for editing. It's all about the codec incompatibility. Therefore, you can either convert MOV to MP4/MOV with the MPEG-4 or H.264 codec or use a video editor compatible with your MOV files.

Part 1: How to Convert MOV Files for Importing to iMovie

First of all, how do you see the codecs in a MOV file? Here is it: Open your video in Quicktime Player and go to Window/Show Movie Inspector. You'll see the format details in the pop-up dialog. Can't open it with QuickTime? Directly convert it with a video converter like Movavi Video Converter which lets you choose video codec for your MOV file container. The "MP4 for iMovie" option is included for instant use, saving your precious time. Below are easy steps to using this MOV video converter.

Step 1. Import MOV Files to Video Converter

Download and install this MOV video converter and launch it after installation. It'll show up as shown below. To import MOV video files for conversion, click the Add Media button and select Add Video. In the open-up browser, select your MOV files one by one, or select multiple MOV files using the Shift or Command key.

mov to imovie video converter

Step 2. Specify The Output Format: MOV for Final Cut Pro

This MOV Video Converter supports most video formats and codecs in the world. You can customize it yourself, or direct use the preset profile. Here you can either select MP4 for iMovie or MOV for Final Cur Pro. Final Cut Pro is a more powerful video editing application than iMovie, both are developed by Apple. So here MOV or MP4 either works.

mov to imovie output format

Step 3. Incompatible MOV to iMovie Compatible Conversion

Before starting MOV video conversion, click the Share button on the top right corner and check the iTunes option. By doing this, the converted MOV file(s) will be imported to iTunes automatically. Thus it's easier to watch MOV or edit MOV in iMovie.

Also specify the output folder or keep in mind the default output folder. Now click the Convert button to go ahead. Your video files will be soon ready for import to iMovie.

Step 4. Import MOV to iMovie 10 (Big Sur)

While the MOV conversion is complete, go to the output folder in Finder and drag and drop it to an event in the your iMovie Libraries list. See detailed steps on Apple.com if you don't know how to import media files to iMovie.

See, it's easy to convert any incompatible MOV to be iMovie compatible. In addition to MOV video conversion, Movavi Video Converter can help you convert any incompatible video for editing with iMovie. No compatibility issues any longer.

Part 2: Import Any MOV File for Editing on Mac (Without Conversion)

If you're really care about the video quality, MOV conversion might be out of consideration. Then a video editor with wider format support is necessary. Here Movavi Video Editor is highly recommended for its broad format support and feature-rich. It supports almost any MOV files with codecs like MPEG-4, H.264, MPEG-2,WMV V8, AIC, MJPEG, ProRes, Sorenson 1/3, etc.

mov video editor

Movavi Video Editor is one of the best iMovie alternatives for Windows and Mac. Different from iMovie, Movavi Video Editor supports more input and output formats, easier interface and much more free resources like music, sound effects, stickers, filters, transitions, and so on. If iMovie failed to import your MOV files and you want a video editor alternative to iMovie, Movavi Video Editor is good to try.

Part 3: How to Export iMovie Project to MOV (ProRes) Files in iMovie

The latest iMovie (iMovie 10 for Big Sur) will export your project to MP4 (H.264) format. If you want to export iMovie to MOV (H.264), you could simply change the file extension from MP4 to MOV. There are not much differences. Below is how:

Display the file extensions first by starting Finder on your Mac. In the Finder menu open Preferences, and click on the Advanced tab and check the box of Show all filename extensions. Uncheck Show warning before changing an extension if you change file extension frequently. Then you're able to change .mp4 to .mov for iMovie. Know that the codec won't be changed using this method.

Alternatively, if you set Quality to Best (ProRes), the output files will be saved into MOV (ProRes). The file size would be very huge depending on your project's size. If you wish to check if it has saved as MOV (ProRes) file, right click the file and select "Get Info". In the sidebar, click the drop down arrow for "More Info" and your file format will be next to "Codecs".

mov prores for imovie

MOV to iMovie Conclusion

For most people, there is not any problem importing MOV to iMovie as long as the right codecs are used in the MOV file container. If there is, follow instructions described in this article. The problem of "iMovie Won't Import MOV Files" is successfully solved.

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