Add audio and sound folders to iMovie

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iMovie 6’s Media tab is a very handy tool for adding audio and visual effects to your movie projects—assuming your media are in a folder that’s listed in either the Audio or Photos tab within the Media section. But what if they’re not? For instance, I will sometimes use a desktop picture as the background behind some scrolling text. I can drag the image to be used into iMovie each time, of course, but things would be much simpler if I could just make my user’s Pictures folder available on the Photos tab in the Media tool.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, you can indeed do just that—and it’s amazingly easy to do. Just drag and drop the folder into the folder list (just below the Audio and Photos tabs), and you’re done. You can add as many folders as you wish to either Audio or Photos; drag-and-drop to your heart’s content. The folders you add will be available to any future iMovie project.

Nifty trick, you’re thinking. You like it so much, you go crazy dragging and dropping, and soon have 37 folders in your Photos section. Whoops. No problem, you think, I’ll just drag them out. No you won’t—iMovie will just bounce your dragged folder right back into the list. It turns out that removing the easily-added folders turns out to be somewhat more complicated than it need be. Why? Because it seems that iMovie’s developers neglected to include a simple “remove from list” option.

However, if you have the Xcode Developer Tools installed, it’s relatively easy (and free) to remove some or all of your added folders. Quit iMovie, and then open your user’s Library -> Preferences folder. Find in the long list of file, and double-click it. It will open with Property List Editor. Expand Root by clicking the disclosure triangle, then navigate down to the two entries for MediaBrowserPictureSearchPaths and MediaBrowserSongSearchPaths. Expand each of these, and you’ll see the the entry or entries that you added. Highlight the one you wish to remove and click Delete, as seen here:

Save your changes and you’re done—your custom folders have been removed.

If you don’t have Xcode installed, the next-easiest solution is to download the $25 shareware app PlistEdit Pro and follow the above directions. If you want an alternative free solution, it involves using Terminal—you need to navigate to the Preferences folder, convert the binary iMovie plist file to text ( plutil -convert xml1, open it in your favorite pure-text editor, search for the MediaBrowser… lines, and then delete the three lines associated with each folder you added in a given section. For the above Pictures folder, for instance, the three-line entry looks like this:



Repeat for all the folders you’ve added, then save your changes and quit the editor. As a last step, convert the file back to binary ( plutil -convert binary1 ). Given all that, you may find it simpler to either install Xcode or pay the shareware fee for PlistEdit Pro.

Despite the issues with removing added folders, I love being able to customize the Audio and Photos browser to reflect locations where I store my song and image files—no longer do I have to toggle to the Finder and drag and drop the files I want to use in each project.

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