Windows Movie Maker collections: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about using collections in Windows Movie Maker.

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What is a collection in Windows Movie Maker?

A collection in Windows Movie Maker can contain audio clips, video clips, or pictures that you have imported, as well as the existing transitions and effects. The folders in the Collections pane contain your clips, which are smaller segments of audio and video. Folders help you organize content that you import into Windows Movie Maker.

What is the Windows Movie Maker collections file and what does it do?

The collections file, which has a .dat file name extension, is a database file that stores information about the organization of your collections in Windows Movie Maker and the clips within them. One collections file is created for each user account on the computer, and it is created automatically when the user signs into Windows using his or her account and then starts Windows Movie Maker.

The Windows Movie Maker collections file is stored on your computer. You can find this file in the following folder on your computer, where user account name is your user account name:

  • C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker

If any of the folders in the path listed above do not appear on your computer, you may need to configure your folders to show hidden files and folders. To show hidden files and folders, do the following:

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then click Computer.
  2. Click Organize, and then click Folder and Search Options.

  3. Click the View tab, and then select the Show hidden files and folders radio button.

Why would I back up my collections file and how do I do it?

Backing up the collections file is recommended because it lets you restore your collections should the collections file become corrupted or if you accidentally delete folders or clips in Windows Movie Maker that you do not want to delete. If you back up your collections file, you could then restore your folders from the point where you backed up the collections file and your collections and clips would appear again in Windows Movie Maker.

When you create a backup of your collections file, it's a good idea to store the backup collections file in another location that is accessible from your computer, such as a recordable CD, shared network location, or USB flash drive. If your existing collections file becomes unusable or is lost, you can then use this collections file to restore your collections in Windows Movie Maker.

Backing up the collections file does not back up the source files that the clips in the collection reference. Therefore, if the source file is deleted, renamed, or moved from the location it was imported from, you cannot use the source file unless you locate the source file or import it into Windows Movie Maker again. Because of this, consider backing up the location or folder that contains the source files as well.

To back up your collections file, do the following:

  1. Close Windows Movie Maker.

  2. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Computer, and then locate the following folder on your computer, where user account name is your user account name:

    C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker

    If you do not see the AppData folder, make sure that Show hidden files and folders is selected in Computer. To locate this option, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then click Computer.

    In Computer, click Organize, click Folder and Search Options, click the View tab, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click OK.

  3. In the Movie Maker folder, select the collections file named MEDIATAB0.DAT or MEDIATAB1.DAT.

  4. On the toolbar, click Organize, and then click Copy.

  5. Navigate to the location on your computer where you want to save the backup file.

  6. Click Organize, and then click Paste.

How do I restore my Windows Movie Maker collections file?

If necessary, you can restore your collections file by copying the backup copy of your collections file over the current collections file. This will restore your collections from the point at which you backed up the collections file. To restore your collections file, do the following:

  1. Close Windows Movie Maker.

  2. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Computer, and then locate the folder that contains the backup copy of the Windows Movie Maker collections file named MEDIATAB0.DAT or MEDIATAB1.DAT.
  3. Select the backup copy of the collections file.

  4. On the toolbar, click Organize, and then click Copy.

  5. Navigate to the following folder, where user account name is your user account name:

    C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker

    If you do not see the AppData folder, make sure that Show hidden files and folders is selected in Computer. To locate this option, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then click Computer.

    In Computer, click Organize, click Folder and Search Options, click the View tab, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click OK.

  6. Do one of the following:

    • If the collections file (named either MEDIATAB0.DAT or MEDIATAB1.DAT) that you copied has the same name as the collections file that is currently in the Movie Maker folder in Windows Vista, follow these steps:

      1. Click Organize, and then click Paste.

      2. In the Copy File dialog box, click Copy and Replace to replace the existing Windows Movie Maker collections file with the backup copy.

      3. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Movie Maker.

      Your collections folders should appear with the same structure and organization as they previously did in Windows Movie Maker. If you notice that some clips appear in your collections with a large red X, then the source files could not be found, and you must locate the missing source files. For more information about how to locate missing source files in Windows Movie Maker, see Find a file in Windows Movie Maker.

    • If the backup collections file has a different name than the collections file that is currently in the Movie Maker folder, go to the next procedure.

To rename and copy the backup collections file

  1. In Computer, go to Documents.

  2. Click Organize, and then click Paste.

  3. Select the copied file, click Organize, and then click Rename. Type the name of the current collections file so that it has the same name as the collections file in C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker.

    For example, if the name of the collections file that you copied is MEDIATAB0.DAT and the name of the current Windows Movie Maker collections file in C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker is MEDIATAB1.DAT, you would rename the file MEDIATAB1.DAT before copying and pasting it into C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker.

  4. Click the renamed Windows Movie Maker collections file, click Organize, and then click Copy.

  5. In Computer, navigate to the following folder, where user account name is your user account name:

    C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker.

  6. Click Organize, and then click Paste.

  7. In the Copy File dialog box, click Copy and Replace to replace the existing Windows Movie Maker collections file with the copy of the Windows Movie Maker collections file.

  8. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Movie Maker.

    Your collections folders should appear with the same structure and organization as they previously did in Windows Movie Maker. If you notice that some clips appear in your collections with a large red X, then the source files could not be found, and you must locate the missing source files. For more information about how to locate missing source files in Windows Movie Maker, see Find a file in Windows Movie Maker.

How can I copy my Windows Movie Maker collections from a previous version of Windows Movie Maker to Windows Vista?

You can copy your Windows Movie Maker collections file from your computer that is running Windows XP SP2 to Windows Vista. When you do this, the structure of your collections in Windows Movie Maker in Windows XP SP2 will be displayed in Windows Movie Maker in Windows Vista.

Copying or migrating the collections file does not back up the source video, audio, or picture files that the clips in the collection reference. Therefore, you must separately move or copy the source files from your computer that is running Windows XP to your computer that is running Windows Vista. One way to move the source video files, pictures, or audio files is to use Windows Easy Transfer.

To migrate your Windows Movie Maker collections file, you might need to perform all of the following procedures. Read through the procedures to see which steps you'll need to perform.

To locate the Windows Movie Maker collections file on your Windows XP computer and copy it to a new location

  1. Close Windows Movie Maker.

  2. On your computer that is running Windows XP, click the Start button, click My Computer, and then locate the following folder on your computer, where user account name is your user account name:

    C:\Documents and Settings\user account name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Movie Maker

    If you do not see the Local Settings folder, make sure that Show hidden files and folders is selected in My Computer. To locate this option, click Start, click My Computer, click Tools, click Folder Options, click the View tab, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click OK.

  3. In the Movie Maker folder, select the collections file named MEDIATAB0.DAT or MEDIATAB1.DAT.

  4. Click Edit, and then click Copy.

  5. If you do not have access to your computer that is running Windows Vista, open a new temporary location to paste the Windows Movie Maker collections file in.

    For example, you could copy the collections file to a USB flash memory device, burn it to a recordable CD, or copy it to a shared location on your home network.

  6. On the Edit menu, click Paste.

To migrate the collections file to Windows Vista

  1. Make sure that the source files have been copied to a location that you can access on your computer that is running Windows Vista.

  2. On your computer that is running Windows Vista, close Windows Movie Maker.

  3. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Computer, and then find and select the Windows Movie Maker collections file that you copied from your computer that is running Windows XP.
  4. On the toolbar, click Organize, and then click Copy.

  5. Navigate to the following folder, where user account name is your user account name:

    C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker

    If you do not see the AppData folder, make sure that Show hidden files and folders is selected in Computer. To locate this option, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then click Computer. In Computer, click Organize, click Folder and Search Options, click the View tab, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click OK.
  6. Do one of the following:

    • If the collections file (named either MEDIATAB0.DAT or MEDIATAB1.DAT) that you copied has the same name as the collections file that is currently in the Movie Maker folder in Windows Vista, follow these steps:

      1. Click Organize, and then click Paste.

      2. In the Copy File dialog box, click Copy and Replace to replace the existing Windows Movie Maker collections file with the backup copy.

      3. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Movie Maker.

      Your collections folders should appear with the same structure and organization as they did in Windows Movie Maker in Windows XP SP2. If you notice that some clips appear in your collections with a large red X, then the source files could not be found, and you must locate the missing source files. For more information about how to locate missing source files in Windows Movie Maker, see Find a file in Windows Movie Maker.

    • If the backup collections file has a different name than the collections file that is currently in the Movie Maker folder, go to the next procedure.

To rename and copy the collections file in Windows Vista

  1. In Computer, go to Documents.

  2. Click Organize, and then click Paste.

  3. Select the copied file, click Organize, and then click Rename. Type the name of the current collections file so that it has the same name as the collections file in C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker.

    For example, if the name of the collections file that you copied is MEDIATAB0.DAT and the name of the current Windows Movie Maker collections file in C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker is MEDIATAB1.DAT, you would rename the file MEDIATAB1.DAT before copying and pasting it into C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker.

  4. Click the renamed Windows Movie Maker collections file, click Organize, and then click Copy.

  5. In Computer, navigate to the following folder, where user account name is your user account name:

    C:\Users\user account name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Movie Maker

  6. Click Organize, and then click Paste.

  7. In the Copy File dialog box, click Copy and Replace to replace the existing Windows Movie Maker collections file with the copy of the Windows Movie Maker collections file.

  8. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Movie Maker.

    Your collections folders should appear with the same structure and organization as they did in Windows Movie Maker in Windows XP SP2. If you notice that some clips appear in your collections with a large red X, then the source files could not be found, and you must locate the missing source files. For more information about how to locate missing source files in Windows Movie Maker, see Find a file in Windows Movie Maker.