If you’ve been asking yourself “what is iMovie?” — it's Apple’s answer to a video editing program for amateurs and enthusiasts alike. There's no need to even download iMovie for Mac, as it’s already included, for free. A companion iMovie app is also available for iPhones and iPads, and makes it easy to edit on the go.
For all of us who have hours of video clips from birthday parties, travel adventures, and other special life events, being able to create memorable movies out of them to cherish is priceless. And you don’t need anything but iMovie to turn iPhone-recorded video notes into a true attention-grabbing blockbuster.
So with your iMovie download in hand, go through this iMovie tutorial to learn how to use iMovie like a pro. Plus, additional tips and tricks, which never hurt.
How To Use iMovie On Mac
Before you can start with the iMovie app, you need to make sure you actually have it on your Mac and know how to launch it:
Click on the iMovie icon from your Dock or Applications folder (in case your don’t see the iMovie app there, search for it in the App Store and redownload)
In iMovie, choose one of the libraries (Photos for media files in that app, All Events for files from your Mac, or All Projects for the past iMovie work)
How to create a new movie project
So with all your iPhone video clips ready to go, let’s create your new movie. To get started with a blank timeline for a new project:
Open iMovie and click Create New
The new Apple iMovie project will open. By default, there’s no predefined theme. To add a name to your movie:
Click to go back to Projects
Enter the project name
Then double-click on your movie project to get back in
How to add video clips to your movie
It goes without saying that to play and edit your movie, you first need to include video clips it will eventually consist of! You can also use the picture in picture iMovie feature that’s useful when you want two clips to play at the same time (e.g. when you’re creating an iMovie tutorial). One clip will then appear in a smaller frame within the larger clip.
So to add a clip to your timeline:
Select a file from your Libraries in the sidebar
Drag the entire file onto the project timeline
How to trim a clip in iMovie
If you want to reduce the duration of the clip you’ve just added because it’s too long for what you’re trying to do, you can easily cut it at either end:
Select the clip on the timeline and simply drag its corner inwards
When done, click somewhere else to save the cut. Your changes remain adjustable until you click them off (you can still use the undo command though).
How to split a clip easily
In the process of making a movie, quite often you’d find yourself needing to split a clip into multiple sections (e.g. when creating a timelapse). Luckily, it’s very easy to do:
Hold the cursor in the place you’d the clip to split
Click ⌘ + B or right-click and choose Split Clip
How to combine clips together
iMovie makes combining two separate clips into one for editing and seamless playback effortless. Just drag the clips onto the timeline and make sure they are positioned back to back.
Add transitions between clips
If you look closely, you’ll notice that no movie just plainly changes its scenes — there’s always a smooth transition in place. How is it done?
In your iMovie app, choose Transitions in the top menu
Preview a few options by clicking on them
When you find the right one, drag it to position just between the clips
How to add text to iMovie
If you’re about to make your own iMovie tutorial, you need to know how to add text to iMovie project, such as titles or subtitles. Luckily, it’s much more simple than it sounds:
While in your project, select Titles in the top bar
Go through all that are available, watch previews, and pick the best one
Edit the title if such option is presented
Drag it onto your timeline and place in the right spot
Add background music to your project
Background music helps set the mood, define a character, mark a climax, or introduce a transition. No wonder the days of silent movies are long gone. Let’s see how to add music to iMovie to liven your project up:
With iMovie open, click Audio at the top of the app
All your tracks from iTunes will be listed there. If you don’t have any music on iTunes, just upload some audio from your Mac there first. Alternatively, switch to Sound Effects in the sidebar if you’re looking for something more ambient.
Drag the audio file you like right onto the timeline and put it where you’d want the tune to start
How to add a background image to your movie
Adding images to the background of your iMovie project is a breeze:
Switch to Backgrounds page in the top toolbar
Go through the previews of all samples
When you see the perfect one, just drag it onto the project’s timeline
How to save iMovie projects
Saving progress as you go is easily the most important thing you can do. As movie projects are often quite heavy and demand lots of processing power, you’re always a glitch away from losing everything you didn’t save in time. Make sure to know how to save iMovie projects:
In the iMovie window, click Share
Customize the default video information
Select the destination folder ➙ Save
How to export iMovie projects
To share your iMovie projects on the internet, you can export them to Youtube, iTunes, Facebook, Vimeo, or email with a simple share feature:
Click the Share icon in the top-right corner of iMovie
Choose where you’d like to export your movie
If you just want to save your movie to Mac, choose File and follow the process from the section above
More (better) video editing options
While iMovie is an ok video-editing app to start with, since it comes right with your Mac, there are much better options out there, which can perform more customized and advanced functions for video recording and editing. For example, Capto and CameraBag Pro.
Capto allows you to easily record the screen of your Mac to make tutorials or videos that include voiceovers and annotations. The app handles features like crop, cut, fade in and fade out of audio tracks, and many more without breaking a sweat. Plus, you can edit your screenshots too! To start with Capto:
Choose whether you’re editing an image or video at the top-left corner
Select one of the tools in the sidebar to activate it
CameraBag Pro is similar to Capto, but supercharged with even more advanced features. It has recently become #2 in the Mac App of the Year according to Apple and is basically the best photo and film-editing tool around that boasts:
Award-winning intuitive interface
A library of over 200 filters created by professional photographers
Non-destructive edits for both photos and videos
The ability to batch changes and save hours of doing micro-adjustments
Best of all, both Capto and CameraBag Pro are available to you for a free 7-day trial through Setapp, a platform with more than 150 Mac apps that inspire creativity and help you get your work done faster and better. Now that you know how to use iMovie for Mac and some other options to explore, making your first movie is going to be a no-brainer!