How to Export a 720p video as 1080p or 4K using iMovie

How to Export a 720p video as 1080p or 4K using iMovie

Having landed here on this website, this page specifically, you’re likely about to pull your hair out as to why you’re unable to export or share a 1080p or 4K file, right?

While most professionals likely use Final Cut or Premiere to perform most video editing, the novice likely uses iMovie. Truth be told, I’ve been amazed at the breadth and body of video works produced using iMovie.

However, iMovie has also stumped me with its own complexities, having to use a number of workarounds that are seemingly straightforward in both Final Cut and Premiere.

A recent stumped moments centered upon exporting or sharing a podcast audio file as a video file. I’ve noted on a few occasions that 1080p is a selection in the list of resolutions, but that it’s grayed out.

Since sheltering in place due to COVID-19, I’ve had more time than not and decided to chase this rabbit down its hole to understand and solve why I was unable to save a 1080p file in iMovie.

It took a few hours. The first thing I figured out is that my iPhone was saving video files as 720p files. So, be sure your device is actually saving a 1080p or 4K file.

Once I corrected this phone setting and loaded the correct file into iMovie, my 1080p files were still being exported or shared as 720p files in iMovie. But why is this?

Through a series of events of starting new projects and events, I stumbled upon the resolution in iMovie is set based on the resolution of the file that is imported or dropped into the working space. Say what!?

Yes, if you drag a 720p file into iMovie’s working space, and then a 1080p or 4K file preceding it, 1080p and 4K options will be grayed out when exporting or sharing file.

So, if you’re hoping to save 1080p and 4K files using iMovie, then you’ll want to keep 1080p and 4K sample files around to drag into iMovie’s working space.

Once you’re ready to export the file, remove/delete the sample files from the working space, start the export process using File > Share > File, and you’ll discover either 1080p or 4K resolution options are now available to select.

What now took hours to figure out and stumped me for months on end, has opened the door to greater possibilities of saving 720p files as 1080p files.

While I could drone on and on, I invite you to watch the quick tutorial video below as I share step-by-step instructions of how to export a 720p video as 1080p or 4K using iMovie.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about the tutorial video, or general questions in regards to iMovie.

Thanks and that’s all for now!

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Written by Alvin Brown
He's an experienced and passionate serial entrepreneur, founder and publisher of Kickstart Commerce. Alvin possesses a great love for startups dominating their market using profitable digital strategies for greater commerce.