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Make iPhoto imported pictures usable in iMovie Apps
Several sites have noted that once you've imported a JPEG into iPhoto, the image is no longer usable in iMovie. After a bit of testing, I verified that this was indeed true - no image in my new 1,000-image library was importable in iMovie. Knowing that the files were still, in fact, JPEG images, I figured it couldn't be too hard to find out what was preventing iMovie from seeing the image files as importable. As it turns out, my hunch was correct ... remember, you saw it here first! :-)

The Answer: If you want to import an iPhoto-captured JPEG into iMovie, all you need to do is set the TYPE attribute for the image in question to "JPEG". You can do this in Classic with ResEdit. There should be a way to do it using the "XFiles" utility in OS X, but the attributes section was greyed out on my machine. Once you've set the "JPEG" type code, you should be able to import the image into iMovie. It appears that iPhoto strips the "JPEG" type code, and iMovie only sees images that have this type code set.

I tested relatively extensively with iPhoto, and it appears there are no downsides within iPhoto. All of the images I tweaked are still functional in iPhoto, and yet they are also now usable in iMovie. Still, make these changes at your own risk (but it's easy to change them back if something doesn't work right!). I guess this is a limitation on iMovie more than iPhoto - it appears iMovie ignores any image that doesn't have it's TYPE set to JPEG (this is conjecture on my part, though).

Of course, changing one image at a time is a bit of a pain, so read the rest of the article if you'd like to know how to change a large number of images at once using the Terminal (requires the Developer Tools as well).

While ResEdit is OK for changing a file or two, it's a pain if you have to open and close every file you wish to update. Instead, I fired up the terminal and just typed:
cd /path/to/iPhoto/archive
cd /2002/some/image/folder
SetFile -t JPEG *.jpg
That's (nearly) it. Now every .jpg file in the directory has its "type" code set to JPEG. I was feeling quite good about this neat solution, but when I went to import in iMovie, the images were still not available.

After a bit of troubleshooting, I found the final step. In the Finder, navigate to the same folder you just mass modified, and create then delete an empty folder. This appears to force the Finder to update the information you just tweaked in the Terminal, and you'll find that all your images are now importable in iMovie.
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Type and creators under Mac OS X
Authored by: Anonymous on Jan 18, '02 01:24:53AM

Hi rob,<p>
for setting type and creator under mac OS X there is one killer app! Barebones their Super Get Info, it does handle much more features..

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Authored by: bhines on Jan 18, '02 02:34:56AM

I prefer XRay. Cocoa, made by a developer who understands OS X.

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Authored by: Erik Toh on Jan 18, '02 02:48:16AM

You can do this from the command-line by using the /Developer/Tools/SetFile utility. The caveat is that the Developer Tools must be installed.

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Already mentioned...
Authored by: robg on Jan 18, '02 08:43:12AM

SetFile is used in the above tip already as an example of changing a large number of files at once.


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Authored by: saint.duo on Jan 18, '02 08:42:40AM

You could also write a droplet applescript to handle this. I've got one that does just that around here somewhere...

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Here's how to do it
Authored by: macubergeek on Jan 18, '02 10:48:14AM

courtesy of

modify code to suit your needs, copy and paste into script editor and then save it as application.

property fileType : "TEXT" -- change to whatever you want
property creatorType : "ttxt" -- change to whatever you want
on open (theList)
tell application "Finder"
repeat with theItem in theList
set file type of theItem to fileType
set creator type of theItem to creatorType
end repeat
end tell
end open

Credits:, specifically all props to Grierson

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Bad Idea
Authored by: cacheMan on Jan 18, '02 10:47:34AM
I think there is a reason you can't import from iPhoto directly, image security. I think this is related to that idea Steve Jobs was touting that you can always get back to your original image (the shoebox slide). Anyway, it seems like a much better idea to export the images that you want to use in other applications before using them.
It is easy to export images to jpegs, and then use them at will. Your originals (think negatives) will still be around in iPhoto.

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Am I misunderstanding
Authored by: rhapsodoic on Jan 18, '02 11:13:33AM

I have over 1k JPEG images in iPhoto and they are all divided into different albums. (ie beach, zoo, etc) When I want to use a set of these in iMovie I do file export, scale the image and export.

Open iMove and import the files. Works fine.

Is this what you are trying to do?

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Without the export...
Authored by: robg on Jan 18, '02 12:01:31PM

This is a way of doing the same thing without the export...


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Without the export...
Authored by: cacheMan on Jan 18, '02 01:51:06PM

Buy you may be risking your original photos.

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Damaged how?
Authored by: robg on Jan 18, '02 02:32:43PM

I'm not sure how setting a TYPE code on a file could be risking the original photos? About all that might happen is you won't be able to open it in iPhoto, but that doesn't seem to be the case -- the photos still work fine. At no time is the file itself modified, and you never go near the data within the file.

When they get imported into iMovie, iMovie makes a copy of the image in its own directory, so you still won't be modifying the original file at any point.

Clearly it's more "correct" to export each file you wish to work with, but it's more time consuming. I was just happy that I found a way around it :-).


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Damaged how?
Authored by: cacheMan on Jan 18, '02 03:22:28PM
Your workaround is interesting and valid. But it just makes me wonder, why would apple go through the trouble of changing the file type if it didn't have a reason. True, iMovie doesn't look as if it is going to damage your photos, but some other app might. I think that the explanation for why they changed the file type might be just as interesting as the workaround.
When Jobs introduced iPhoto, he spent at least a minute talking about how it was important that you didn't somehow throw away or destroy your photos accidentally. It is my belief that this is the reason for the file type change.
Have you noticed that it is a pain to delete a photo from your library? When you change them to JPEGs, can you throw them out more easily?
When you change them to JPEGs what are you really doing?

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Damaged how?
Authored by: tknospdr on Jan 18, '02 06:23:43PM

He's not changing them to jpg's, they already are jpg's. What he's doing is adding metadata to the file so that other applications know what to do with it, like ID3 tags for MP3s and such.

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Damaged how?
Authored by: cacheMan on Jan 18, '02 07:27:21PM

That is my point exactly, other programs now know what to do with them. Other programs know how to modify jpegs. My hunch is that apple did not make them jpegs on purpose so that other programs didn't modify your photos. This way you have "negatives" that you can always go back to. If you want to play with your photos as jpegs, iPhoto allows you to export them as jpegs. Why else would they not have made them file type JPEG? On accident? I doubt it, these are jpg files we are talking about. I understand what this workaround is talking about, I just don't think that it's a good idea.

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Damaged how?
Authored by: Anonymous on Jan 19, '02 01:07:59AM

All right, let's think here people. If Mr. Jobs had really wanted to intentionally "obfuscate" the files' metadata, such that other applications could not as easily "tell" they were indeed jpeg images, don't you think the software might also have gone so far as to remove the more-obvious ".jpg" extensions on the files? At least in my iPhoto library, most of the JPEG files I've imported were simply renamed to xx.jpg, though the type code is stripped off.

An interesting sidenote, however... I have also imported many single-layer photoshop files into iPhoto, and those have all retained their type codes of "8BPS".

I suspect the behavior of iPhoto that everyone is speculating about is not at all intentional, but an unintended side effect of OS X's emphasis on file extension over metadata.

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Damaged how?
Authored by: robh on Jan 19, '02 01:44:03PM

Come on, this smacks of a bug in iPhoto (or iMovie's importing routine) rather than a conscious attempt to stop other apps from importing them.

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Filesystem metadata issue
Authored by: miggins on Jan 20, '02 11:06:04PM
This problem was caused by Apple's recent decision to stop using some forms of filesystem meta data, like HFS type and creator codes. If Mac OS X was simply intelligent enough to use whatever form of meta data is available on any given filesystem, then problems like this would just simply not happen. See the Mac OS X meta data petition for more information, and perhaps to get Apple to make Mac OS X more intelligent rather than less so.

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Filesystem metadata issue
Authored by: robh on Jan 21, '02 06:19:00AM

Since other apps, e.g. GraphicConverter, Photoshop, Preview, etc can import iPhoto jpegs, it seems to me that the problem is with iMovie's import mechanism. I assume that iMovie relies on missing metadata.

This could be an argument against metadata over-reliance.

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