Windows Movie Maker Red X:
Where Did My Video Editing Files Go?


Windows Movie Maker Red X

The dreaded Windows Movie Maker red X! If you ever use one of the older versions of Windows Movie Maker maybe you've run into this phenomenon.


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Here's a question I received from a person that was using one of the older versions of Windows Movie Maker.

"I was editing a video in Windows Movie Maker and closed the program for the day. I went back to work on the project the next day and when I opened it the storyboard showed a big red x in each pane. What happened? All my video clips and material where gone!"

Tim (in Alabama)

I know it can be pretty scary when you've worked for hours on your video production and then you come back the next day and apparently… everything's gone! Here's what probably happened to the video clips...

The Windows Movie Maker Red X... What Causes It...

When older versions of Movie Maker can't find the source files for the video clips in their original location on the hard drive (or wherever you had them when you started the project) it will show big red X's on the timeline or in the storyboard panes.

Windows Movie Maker Hard Drive Storage

If you have moved the source files (put them in another folder or on another drive etc.) after your video editing session...

* The red X is what you will see when you come back to edit the project again.

Movie Maker project files (.mswmm files) don't include copies of the source files like some video editing software programs...

Just the directory path to the originals in the original location.

Recovering Your Video Editing Work in Windows Movie Maker...

All you have to do to recover your work is to find and move the video editing files back to the location where Movie Maker "thinks" they should be. Their original location when you first started working on the video project.

Windows Movie Maker video editing software

Your work will then be restored as Movie Maker will now be able to find them again.

If you don't remember where they were originally then do this...

You can find the (original) location by right clicking on one of the clips in the Storyboard that now has a red X. 

After you right-click then go to "Properties"...

Look under "Source File", then "Location". Hover the cursor and you will see the directory path (where the file needs to be) for Movie Maker to find it.

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Return the source file (or files) to that location and everything should be fine. You should be able to pick up and continue editing your project from that point.

You can find out a bit more about Windows Movie Maker here in this article.


Kind of a pain-in-the-rear but, of course, this is freeware... :-). I hope this helps!

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Have fun...!  Dan


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