iMovie '09 Error – Audio Exporting Problem

Apple recently updated its iLife suite (including iMovie) from ’08 to ’09.  I haven’t done much with movie creation, but wanted to make a short video demonstration of my 3 dimensional breast augmentation simulator.  We shot some video at the office.  I easily imported the tape into iMovie ’08, but when I went to edit it, I noticed that iMovie ’09, which had just been released, had two features I wanted: precision trimming, and the ability to slow down a clip.  So, I ordered the upgrade.  It came quickly, and installed easily. About reports that it is version 8.0 (717). Check for Updates reports that it is the current version.

I edited my video until I was happy with it.  iMovie crashed a couple of times, but did not lose any of my work.  I went to export the video into a format I could post.  That’s when my problems began!

On many of the clips, I had set the audio to zero, so I could use voiceover to explain them.  I also adjusted the speed so that I would have more time for my voiceover than the length of the clip.  In a  couple of places I added some simple transitions.

However, on the exported video, in one of the clips I could still hear the audio that had been recorded with the video, even though the volume was set to zero!  (Now, of course, the audio was very slow and sounded like a growling monster).  And on one of the other clips where I had not adjusted either the speed or the volume, I could not hear the audio at all!

A search of the Apple Support forum quickly determined that I was not the only one having this problem.  For example, see and

Apparently, if you set the speed to other than the Apple Defaults (e.g., 50%, 25%, 12.5%), sometimes the audio volume adjustment is not respected in export, although it works fine when previewed in iMovie.  And sometimes later clips AFTER A TRANSITION do not have their audio if there is an earlier clip somewhere in the movie with one of these non-standard speed adjustments EVEN IF THE AFFECTED CLIP ITSELF DOES NOT HAVE ANY SPEED ADJUSTMENT.  And this occurs on export EVEN IF THE MOVIE PREVIEWS CORRECTLY IN iMOVIE!

This problem appears to occur in all exports, to QuickTime and not to QuickTime, at all speeds, and even to DVD (although I did not test that).

In my case, I was able to workaround the problem by changing the speed of the clip whose audio was still audible to the standard 12.5% (it had the problem when set to 19%), and by deleting two transitions.

Any ideas on how to get Apple to fix its broken iMovie ’09?

45 thoughts on “iMovie '09 Error – Audio Exporting Problem

  1. I am having the exact same problem. Very frustrating after spending three weeks editing a video, only to have the audio go crazy halfway through. Hopefully Apple will address this quickly…

  2. Hi. I am make a small video from my small girls birthday party.
    Willing to trim- the sound from the clipp with the birthdaysoang; I try again and again to make a copy of the sound from the clip.!
    Its is not avalible ! I can not take a audio-copy from a clipp I am using
    [Expletives deleted] this iMocie 09 !!!

  3. I think the last comment above could serve as the best call to action aimed at Apple iMovie folks – the sole [expletives deleted] part is works sufficiently convincing 🙂

  4. Same boat. I just spent hours on a promo video. I silenced all the clips individually and after exporting it to itunes the audio goes crazy (especially during clips that are slowed down or sped up), any leads?

  5. Whew! Thanks for this one–I was going nuts on this. It previewed fine, and then audio dropped out at random on the sped up clips (110%) and disappeared entirely two clips down the road.

    Once I set the clip speed back to normal, audio works fine. And I note that this problem has been known for A YEAR. At the very least, Apple should patch iMovie so that you can’t type in non-standard amounts. Sure, I’d grumble, but at least it wouldn’t lead me down a frustrating, annoying road that had me tearing out what little hair I have left.

    C’mon, Apple–you can do better than this!

  6. I’ve imported some audio files from the internet, and soon imovie crashes when any audio is added.. Now, today, there are ‘caution’ symbols on the audio track and they won’t play, yet I can now resume adding audio tracks.. This is a BIG, small film, 8 minutes full of audio, which doesn’t work. What does this symbol mean?? Any idea of specifics?… And garage band tracks don’t work either.

    • Sorry, I don’t know what that means. Of course, no software program should ever crash. How frustrating that iMovie has so many problems! Personally, I would (and have myself) use another program. I have started using Adobe Premiere; you can get a trial version on Adobe’s website (I expect that a new version of Premiere will be released within the next month or so.)

      You might also consider whether there is a problem with your iMovie installation. If you can try using it with your movie on a different computer, that might solve the problem, and on the other hand, if the same thing happens using iMovie on another computer, you will know that iMovie will probably not be your solution.

  7. I get this as well, is there any way round it? I have to get this sorted out by tomorrow as it’s for my dissertation!

    It hasn’t done it with previous exports that are of large quality, rather than HD. I’ll export it in large format instead of HD and tell you if that works.

  8. i have lost sleep over this imovie exporting problem. i can’t believe how apple put out imovie so that the user can’t even save a final version of a precious video production. its bulls**t. i’m happy to see that this is a common problem with imovie that not user error. just to think i almost smashed my macbook to pieces…

  9. I know you posted this blog more than a year ago, but THANK YOU, you just saved me hours of trying to figure out what was going on with my video!!

  10. Thanks, rMeghann! I posted it because I wasted those hours, and so many times I have been the beneficiary of others who had posted their experiences online. I’m glad it helped you.

  11. I appreciate finding all these postings. They don’t provide much of an answer, but at least I now know I’m not going crazy or doing something wrong myself. To add just a little input from my own experience…I’m not having the audio drop out just on export. I’ve created a short (4min) video. When I preview the video from the beginning, with an itunes source song playing in the background, when it reaches the end of the video the final clip, which is supposed to play its own sound, is mute. However, when I preview only the last half of the video, the sound plays fine all the way through. When I export the last clip is mute.

    I’ve made several videos with the exact same camera and software, this is the first time I’m having these issues.

  12. Hello – I too have found these very illuminating and may point to my specific problem. I have a 2 hour Movie in imovie 09 which I have had to export to GarageBand so I can simply balance the sound. (It is only a single voice track but it was recorded only on one track so is panned left. (Side issue – why I cannot pan or easily copy an audio track within imovie is beyond me)

    Anyway – I have exported the movie to Garagband and it has completely lost the audio. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks!


    Hi, i’ve found the solution 🙂
    use only the imovie speeds (the speed u can set with mouse) 100% -50% 25% etc
    dont use 70% 72% or something like that.


  14. Thanks everyone for sharing this helpful info. I had been having the same issue with sounds… I’m glad I discovered I’m not the only one encountering this problem. I made a video with all the clips muted, & a background song playing, and when the song starts to fade out at the end, the original sound from the clips could be heard despite being muted, but only when playing back from the beginning, not in the middle somewhere. I was losing my patience and sanity trying to figure out how to fix it. Changing all the clips to standard preset speeds fixed the problem, but unfortunately I had to re-edit almost the whole video.. RRRAAAAAARRRGH!!!

    Hopefully apple comes up with a fix for this obnoxious problem! iMovie is a great program other than that!!!

  15. Hello,
    I’m another frustrated imovie user. I have the same problems when exporting a project… -hearing audio in clips that have been muted, -muted clips that are not supposed to be are some of the problems, but i have one more problem that haven’t seen mentioned here. Some clips have the audio of other clips. I don’t know how this can happen but at first i thought something might have gone wrong while inserting original files to imovie so I erased them and transfered them again, but nothing happened. Clips at the end of my project have the audio of clips used in the begining. I’ll agree with what somebody else said: iMovie would be a great application if it worked.

  16. Many thanks.. after I’ve lost a lot of hours on it I’ve checked this forum…

    So now I’ll try putting only % that mac shows and let you know


  17. I also have the same problem as Loucas. some clips have the audio of other clips and I have different audios overlapping. this is very annoying. is there any way I can fix this??

  18. Hey you guys!! I’ve had the same problem and came up with a solution for it. If anyone has the same problem as I did….which was the SOUND in IMOVIE9…! If you have Perian downloaded to your MAC then you don’t have to uninstall it. Just hit the eject button and start fresh with the new recording. You must close out Imovie first in order to get the sound back. I freaked when my sound disappeared.. but I just installed Perian so I figured that had to be the answer to my problem. Hope it helps some other lost soul lol!! Good day!

  19. My problem is that I had inserted music into my project and when I exported it to QuickTime it didn’t even show up. I have tried a ton of different solutions but none are working. I need to get this working as it is a project I am working on for school.

  20. Same problem here! after weeks of editing, the IDVD played the sound of my muted videos where pictures are shown. I called APPLE and they told me to export the movie to my desktop and if the problem continued, they said MY PROJECT is corrupted and I´ll have to do it again! Please, help me! I am exporting it to my desktop right now. If the problem continues I will have to do it all over again and it is a one hour project!

  21. Well an hour project is nothing i’ve been working on my Music video clip project for weeks now, it is terrible , i can not believe apple told you that your project is corrupted, if so many people have this exporting problem then IT IS THERE ####### I MOVIE 09 who is corrupted,

  22. Yay! So me and my peeps aren’t the only ones having this problem! Good to know we’re not making a mistake ourselves or anything.
    This is so annoying, though; I’ve found out about the default speed percents and all, but even though I try that, my audio still gets all jumbled! It’s ever so annoying grrrr!

  23. this may be a dumb question…but I put my movie in large and it came out as sound problems…but when exporting as HD (crazy sounds) and direct to to idvd….crazy sounds again.. MP4 is no good for IDVD? Yes I am reading all these after spending an entire day pulling my hair out. But at least I am in good company.. thanks..:)

  24. we made a video for out stats class and the same thing happened where the audio of the sped up or slowed down clips played over top of the song we were singing to… this will take hours to fix. did i mention its due tonight?

  25. i’ve fought with this issue for the longest time… it appears it’s still not fixed? latest comment was like a week or so ago LOL.

    anyway, here’s a stupid workaround i’ve been doing… It’s dumb but it works… I don’t know about quality. Basically, i export the movie file, with the messed up audio bc i can’t possibly go in and change up all the settings, i NEED them the way it is. So here’s my idea, export the file anyway. Then use audio hijack, hijack the audio from iMovie and play the entire movie. It hijacks audio into lossless quality AIFF. re-import entire exported video with messed up audio into imovie again. Silence entire clip, place the full AIFF hijacked audio file, make sure it starts at the same time as ur video, so everything is synced. check if its good. then export the whole thing. it will work because its just one video clip at 0% audio and one audio file at full 100%. i don’t know, probably loses quality but hey it works.

  26. Speeding up the first clip only on my video seems to always and only affect the audio in the last clip of the video. When re-setting the speed of that first clip to normal speed the last clip plays with un-corrupted audio. The added music track seems unaffected no matter what. So much for creativity. Thanks to this thread, I didn’t shoot anyone today! Cheers.

  27. For everyone who (like me) wants to mute all the clips and put a single audio track underneath the whole thing. I – for instance – am making a music vid so I need to have the sound from everything I use go away and be perfectly timed.. so I need the persice stretching..
    1. I exported it (then the problem occurred)
    2. I imported the just exported file
    3. I pasted the audiotrack under it again
    4. I exported again.
    I know it’s a lot of annoying work, especially when Apple should have fucking fixed it by now.. But it works 😀

  28. Hello all,
    I just wanted to write a quick reply to everyone here with regards to this INFAMOUS audio problem. I myself was plagued with such an issue for weeks, i made a short film in iMovie08 and when it came to exporting, my sound was all goofed up, i had these original sounds playing over visuals i had silenced. I exported 8 times, always the same.

    So last night i upgraded to iMovie 2011, or 9.0.4 2011.

    I exported it, IT WORKED A TREAT…….

    No more audio problems, the film was exported perfectly….

    Im not sure this can fix everyones problems, but it sure fixed mine, so if you haven’t already done so, upgrade, costs ten pound…

    Hope all you upcoming filmmakers sort out your issues….

    Kind regards


    My Website:

  29. Just spent about three weeks working on a film / video project, and getting the muted tracks seep through the music track after exporting. Beyond frustrating. Don’t you hate it when something doesn’t do what it says it will do?! A grands worth of modern technology should not behave like a goddammed child… Agree with all these sentiments – SORT IT OUT APPLE.

    And yes, great to know I’m not alone in my frustration.

  30. I recently upgraded to Imovie ’11 and I’m new to editing movies. I’ve never used the older versions but I’m getting the exact same problem in Imovie ’11. It’s still not fixed

  31. Hello everyone, I am a fellow imovie user and have been havin the same exact problem as all of u! It sux don’t it! Iv actually been editing a short music video, did an excellent job then BOOM, once I exported it, same problem the video and picture is great but the audio shows up @ certain points in the video. So I kind of came up with a pretty good solution as it seems mac isn’t bein to quick to deliver one or even provide a free and correctly running upgrade. U basiclly hav to b smarter that the mac or pc or wutever u use with imovie. Finish the ur project then export it like u normally would. After u have exported it, start a new project and import it back to imovie in a new project file. Drop the original music as u normally would makin a video with theme music or music video then drop the whole clip on it and it will b exactly how it was in ur original file. This time it will all b one clip. Turn down the audio and export again, the wallla! Problem fixed! No audio showing up

  32. I upgraded to iMovie 11.
    But after working on a 50 minute movie for 2 months editing, adding various music & apple sound tracks, and played it prior to duplicating my project for use later, and adding voice overs, so I could then make my DVD for a presentation that I was supposed to present last night, many if the sound tracks were mute. I had to postpone my presentation and spent 2 hours with the genius and one of the trainers and the problem isn’t solved. I am sooooo frustrated and don’t want to restart the project…too much time invested to. There seems to be a problem with IMovie not reading the music files. They play in ITunes and in the events of iMovie but not in the project library. All the mutting & volume were checked & are ok…. I am Apple product user & this is the first time I have been so frustrated…brings back memories of my years using a pc….please fix this problem.


    I had the same problems as many of you on this chain. I spent several days making a movie in iMovie 09 only to have just part of the audio transfer over into the exported file. After hours of guess and check I figured out how to get all of your audio to be included in the exported movie. Simply right click on the clips where the audio doesn’t carry over and “Detach Audio.” Export again after detaching and it finally carries over.

    Good luck all. Apple won’t help you, but hopefully i did.

  34. Well, today is March 18, 2014 and this bug still exists. I used the export/import trick you guys mentioned above, so I got around it (thank you!!!), but I just thought people should know that this is still not fixed.

  35. Spent 5 months making a school musical/movie. Fixed the audio syncing issues by changing the slow motion to the set ranges, and detached all the audio. However, for some reason, there is issues now with tracks overlapping others. I have one section/scene that has the audio from a scene near the end overlapping it. Yike

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