iMovie Won’t Export: The Operation Couldn’t Be Completed, Fix

This article explains how you can fix iMovie exporting problems. You can easily export your videos or movies so that you can use and share your project outside of iMovie. iMovie offers a lot of sharing options:

  • Email,
  • YouTube,
  • Vimeo,
  • File,
  • FaceBook.

Sometimes, however, iMovie may not work properly. More specifically you might not be able to share your videos from iMovie. You may get an error when trying to export videos from iMovie. For example, you may get the following error message:

Exporting “macreports” has failed. The operation couldn’t be completed. ( Error -1.)
Exporting "macreports" has failed. The operation couldn't be completed.Please try the following tips in order until you have fixed your iMovie sharing problem.

1. Restart your Mac. 

Simply restarting your Mac may solve your problem. This is really easy. Choose Restart from the Apple menu

2. Check your Internet connection.

Your iMovie sharing problem may be caused by a poor Internet connection. Make sure you have a strong internet connection. Please see the following article to troubleshoot your problem:

3. Isolate the problem. 

The problem may be with your library and project. These files may be corrupted these files can become inoperable or unusable causing various issues. Please follow the steps below to isolate the cause of your export problem. In the steps below, we will create a new library and video to see if we can export this new project. If we can, then the problem is your original files. Here is how:

  • Quit iMovie (iMovie > Quit iMovie).
  • Open iMovie.
  • In iMovie, click File (menu bar) then click Open Library and then New.
  • Name this library as a “macReports Test” and then save it to your desktop.
  • Now create a test video. First, open this new Library (you can do so by double-clicking or you can select it in iMovie).
  • Click the Projects tab.
  • Click Create New.
  • And create a simple video. (you can record a new video).
  • Choose File > Share now try to export. Does it work?

4. Update your Mac.

Make sure that your Mac has the latest version of the macOS software so that it can keep running smoothly and securely. Here is how you can update your Mac:

  • If your current version is macOS Mojave or later: Click the Apple menu, System Preferences, and Software Update. This will check for available updates. If there is an update available, click the Update Now button.
  • If you are running an earlier version of the macOS software (High Sierra etc.), open the App Store on your Mac and click the Updates tab.

5. Update iMovie.

Updating your Mac will not update iMovie. It is possible that you are using an old version of iMovie. It is important to keep iMovie up to date. Updating is really simple. Go to the Apple Store on your Mac and click Updates. If you see iMovie, click the Update button to download and install the update.

6. Safe Mode.

Load your Mac in Safe Mode may help you fix your problem. Here is how:

  • Turn off your Mac (Apple menu > Shut Down).
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key while it boots.
  • Keep holding the Shift key until you see an Apple logo and progress bar.
  • You may have to log in a few times.
  • Now your Mac is started in Safe Mode.
  • In Safe Mode, open iMovie and then try to export your project. Does it work now?
  • Now exit Safe Mode, and restart your Mac normally (do not press the Shift or any other key).
  • Now test iMovie again. Do you experience any problem?

7. Reset NVRAM or PRAM.

This may help you. Here is how:

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Disconnect everything except your keyboard and mouse.
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Option, Command, P, and R keys together.
  • Keep holding the keys for about 20 seconds.
  • Then you may release the keys.

If you are still having issues, you may want to contact Apple.

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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36 thoughts on “iMovie Won’t Export: The Operation Couldn’t Be Completed, Fix”

  1. How to empty the imovie storage folder after you have finished and exported your project and no longer need it anymore:
    1. Close imove
    2. Click amywhere on your desktop so that the Apple icon, File, Edit, View, Go, Window, Help are your options at the top of your screen.
    3. Left Click Go
    4. Left click Home
    5. Left click Movies
    See Imovie taking up over 100Gb??? Madness! Anyways..
    6. Highlight imovie Library AND imovie Theatre
    7. Holding Alt & cmd, press delete (the left arrow key)
    “Are you sure you want to delete the 2 selected items?”
    “You can’t undo this action”,
    it warns!! Don’t worry. Click delete because when you reopen iMovie it will automatically, instantly recreate these folders and they will be empty and you’ll free up ALL that space those clips were wasting. So go ahead click delete and start a new project with your mac working so much faster with no rendering/exporting probs.
    Good luck and God bless x x

  2. non of your trick has help me to solution the issue. I have an upgrade 2012 Macbook pro (8RAM / 1T solid). I`ve recently upgraded the OSX from Captain to Mojave (the last one I can upgrade to becouse of my running specifications). Everything worked normal but Imovie, Ican´t export my videos to theater and appears this “The operation couldn’t be completed. ( error -1.)” message all the time.

    If any can help I would appreciate so much. I´ve already tried all the suggestions this page has said.

    Please help!! I can´t upgrade the OSX to a higher one (my mac will just not run it) and my Imovie app it´s already upgraded to the highest version, at least it doesn´t show up any upgrade available in app store.

    Please help!!!

    • OK, my problem was similar and none of the above worked for me. I solved it. This might work for you. I updated from Sierra to Mojave recently. BUT iMovie does not update itself accordingly and the only update available on App store is version 10.2 for Catalina which is not compatible with Mojave. My iMovie version was 10.1.8 (still from Sierra) Apparently iMovie updates came up to 10.1.12 in Mojave, but of course I never got them because I was running Sierra. Luckily my wife, now on Catalina, Had time machine back ups of Mojave with iMovie 10.1.12. I deleted 10.1.8 on my machine and just copied over the 10.1.12 iMovie app from the time machine back up, and now I can export my movies as before. I think this would work for you. Tough part will be finding someone who has 10.1.12.


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