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Old movies have disappeared

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 456 ✭✭ JonMac

    I've just realised that I have a problem with my old iMovies.
    A few years ago I imported all my video camera "movies," both analogue and digital, into my iMac.
    I was able to mirror them to the Apple TV and watch on the big screen.
    I went to watch one from 1995 and couldn't find it or any of the others.
    Where I used to have 202GB I now have empty files of 570KB!
    I had backed them up on a removable drive, but my Mac doesn't want to open it.
    I had also burned all of them to DVDs and it won't play those either.


  • This sounds like something you'd want to get professional help with. If you know a Mac guru who can look at the various bits and pieces for you, then I'd start there.

    A few thoughts:

    - Home-burned CDs and DVDs have a finite life – if these were burned in the late nineties it's quite possible that they are beyond recovery at this point.

    - When you say that your Mac doesn't want to open the removable drive, are you saying that it isn't accessible at all? If that's the case, I'd think about taking it to a company that specialises in data recovery. This isn't cheap – but if the videos are important to you then that might be the way to go. I've used in the past and they've gotten me out of trouble.

  • Thanks for your thoughts. An update:
    1. Although Quicktime Player won't run the DVDs, VLC media player does.
    2. I have rarely used iMovie, but I moved my movie library to an external drive in 2018 to save space on the HDD.
    3. I can load the iMovie library but I can't open it to see the video files [202GB].
    4. When I double click it, iMovie opens the drive but only shows the few movies that I had previously worked on, it doesn't see the other 30+.
    5. I think I need another app that can open the files.

  • 1. In that case, the DVDs are probably fine. QuickTime has never been able to play DVDs; back in the day Apple had a standalone "DVD Player" app that was used for that job. If you want to be able to pull them back into something QuickTime can read, you'll need to "rip" them. See here:

    5. Probably :) From your original description the situation seemed far more dire than it does in your update. It may be that an old version of iMovie will be able to open the library you've got?

  • The older version of iMovie didn't help; I used Time Machine to restore an old version but it refuses to open the library as it was created with a later version.
    When I moved the movies folder to the removable drive in 2018, the system defined the drive as an iMovie library. Finder is not able to open the drive to enable access to the movies.
    iMovie can access the 16 movies that I had edited, it cannot see the other 28 which I think were saved as mp4.
    I need an app that can see the 28 movies!

  • VLC will normally open anything I throw at it.

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  • Yes, VLC can see the 14 I had edited but it can’t see the other movies!

  • OK, even though I have been using Macs since 1992, I have luckily had little experience with Time Machine.
    Yesterday it finally dawned on me that the movies should be in there. I successfully restored them! So no need to worry
    about the external drive.
    I think they disappeared during the upgrade to Big Sur, which didn't go easily at all. Recently found my ROSCerts had gone, and I used that in early November.