How to Fix Black Screen in iMovie? | 8 Troubleshooting Methods

9 minutes read

iMovie stands as a popular choice for Mac users. It’s a versatile tool that allows you to easily create stunning videos. However, like any software, iMovie isn’t immune to issues. One frustrating problem that users encounter is the black screen. In this article, we’ll explore why this issue occurs and provide step-by-step solutions to fix the black screen in iMovie using 8 proven methods.

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iMovie is one of the most popular tools for editing video, and for good reason. It offers powerful editing features, color grading, and special effects. Plus, iMovie is free for Mac and iOS devices.

However, iMovie does have a few issues. One of the most common is that iMovie can display a black screen when playing back your video clips. That can be a serious nuisance when you’re in the middle of editing.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about dealing with black screen in iMovie issue.

What is the Black Screen in iMovie Issue?

The black screen in iMovie issue can manifest in several ways. Sometimes, all of your video previews will disappear and you’ll see a black screen in the playback window while your audio plays normally. Other times, the timeline will show that there should be a seamless transition between two clips, but the playback screen flashes to black anyway.

Importantly, the black screen issue is different from iMovie’s black screen effect. That effect allows you to drop in an all-black video clip, which you can use for transitions between clips.

Common Causes of a Black Screen in iMovie

There are several common problems that can cause iMovie to display a black screen.

  • Failed import: Sometimes, iMovie simply glitches when importing a video clip. If that happens, that clip may not preview properly and you’ll see a black screen in its place.
  • Loading issues: iMovie can also suffer from temporary loading issues, particularly if you’re playing back a high-resolution video clip or working on a very large project.
  • Installation problems: If there was a glitch when you installed or updated iMovie, the software could fail to play back some video clips properly.
  • Memory shortage: Your computer may not have enough available memory to play back high-resolution video clips, such as 4K or 8K clips.
  • Malware: A malware infection on your computer can corrupt your video files and prevent them from playing back properly in iMovie.
  • Corrupted video files: If your video files are corrupted, iMovie may still be able to import them. But the software will display a black screen during playback because key information in the files cannot be accessed.
  • macOS issues: In rare instances, problems with your Mac operating system installation can prevent iMovie from running properly and cause black screen issues.

Also Read: How To Convert MOV Video Files Using iMovie?

8 Proven Methods to Fix Black Screen in iMovie Issue

If you’re experiencing black screen in iMovie issues, you can follow these eight steps to solve the problem.

1. Restart iMovie

The first thing to try when you’re having black screen issues is to simply restart iMovie. If the software is experiencing a glitch or temporary loading issues, restarting it should solve them.

You may find that iMovie works normally for a little bit after restarting, but soon displays a black screen again. That’s a likely sign that your project is using up all of your computer’s available memory—jump to solution three to address this.

2. Re-import Your Video Clip

Another relatively easy solution to fix a black screen problem is to re-import your video clip.

First, you need to delete your clip. Go to your iMovie library, select the clip, and click ‘Delete Media from Event.’


Note that if you simply click the clip in your timeline and click ‘Delete,’ this only removes it from your project. The clip will still remain in your iMovie library and you won’t be able to re-import it.

Once your clip has been deleted, click ‘File’ and then ‘Import Media.’ Select your clip to re-import it to iMovie and re-add it to your project.


3. Reduce Your Memory Usage

If you’re still having black screen in iMovie issues, it’s a good idea to check whether the root cause is your computer’s available memory. Open the Mac Activity Monitor app and then click on the ‘Memory’ tab.


This will display the amount of RAM (virtual memory) available on your computer and the amount in use.

Now, return to iMovie and play your clip. You should see the amount of RAM your computer is using increase. If the amount in use nears the amount available, it’s possible that your computer doesn’t have enough memory to play back your video properly.

In that case, you can reduce the size of your video clips. You can use an online video clip compressor to shrink 4K video clips to full 1080p HD. When finished, delete the original video clip from your iMovie library following the steps above and import the new, compressed video clip.

4. Restart Your Computer

If you’re still not having success in eliminating the black screen, the next thing to do is to try to restart your computer.

Occasionally, macOS experiences a glitch or a video driver loads improperly. Restarting your computer will often fix this.

Unfortunately, restarting your computer is rarely successful at solving black screen issues in iMovie. However, it’s worth trying before moving onto more drastic measures.

5. Update or Reinstall iMovie

Open the Apple App Store and click ‘Updates.’ If there’s an update available for iMovie, install it.

If there’s no update, you should uninstall and reinstall iMovie. To uninstall iMovie, open Finder and navigate to ‘Applications.’ Click on iMovie and select ‘Move to Trash.’ Then empty your trash to uninstall iMovie.


Next, visit the Apple App Store and search for iMovie. Download and install the software, then open your project file and re-import your video clips.

6. Check for Corrupted Video Files

Another reason you could experience black screen issues is that your video files are corrupted. This could be caused by an improper file transfer, a malfunctioning hard drive, malware, or something else.

The best way to check whether your video files are corrupted is to try to play them with another media player, such as Elmedia Video Player or VLC. If these players can’t open your video files or display a black screen, there’s a good chance that your video files are corrupted.

In that case, you can repair your video files using Remo’s video repair software for Mac. It works to restore most types of video files. Even better, it’s free and only takes a few clicks to start the repair process.


You can preview your repaired video files to ensure they’ve been appropriately restored. Then, purchase a Remo Repair license to download your video files and re-import them to iMovie.

7. Scan Your Computer for Malware

Malware could corrupt your video files or prevent them from playing correctly in iMovie. The best way to check for malware is to use a free antivirus software such as AVG, Norton 360, or Avast. You can scan your entire system and quarantine or remove any detected malware.

If you do detect malware, simply removing it from your system may not on its own fix the black screen problem. Your video clips may still be corrupted, in which case you can use Remo video repair software to recover your files.

8. Reinstall macOS

As a last resort, you can try uninstalling and reinstalling macOS. This will address any installation issues or driver issues that could be impacting iMovie’s ability to run properly. Reinstalling macOS will also overwrite any user preferences that could be causing black screen issues.

To reinstall macOS, shut down your computer and wait 10 seconds. Then hold down the power button until a menu appears. Click ‘Options’ and then ‘Reinstall macOS.’ Follow the prompts to complete the reinstallation process.



Black screen in iMovie can prevent you from editing your videos and create headaches for creators. Thankfully, you can eliminate the black screen and get back to making movies quickly with these eight solutions.

About the Author: Michael Graw

Michael is a freelance writer and editor based in Bellingham, Washington. He has spent 6+ years writing about tech trends, business software, and data management for publications, including TechRadar, Tom's Guide, Business2Community, and Along the way, he's discovered the importance of reliable data recovery software. Michael is enthusiastic about making software and tech more…