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The day before, an Apple employee in the sales department actually sold me iMovie v9.0 (2011 version) and was very helpful/ confident about it. He knew my operating system limits and knew that Mavericks and the current iMovie v.10.0 would not work on my macbook. Even the order confirmation/ receipt said 'iMovie '11 single unit'. 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.
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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.
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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:
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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.
Use Capto for video recording on Mac
It’s the quickest way to record screen, add voiceover, and edit your recordings flexibly on Mac. Try Capto free on Setapp!
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!
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Before you begin, make sure to back up your iMovie libraries, your media, and the iMovie app.
Try these troubleshooting steps in order
After trying each step below, test iMovie again to see if you've fixed your issue.
Restart your Mac
If you use an external device with iMovie like a camera, reset NVRAM:
- Shut down your Mac.
- Disconnect all external devices other than your keyboard and your mouse.
- Reset NVRAM.
- Open iMovie and attempt to reproduce your issue.
- If iMovie works, reconnect devices one at a time until you can reproduce your issue. Restart your Mac after reconnecting a device if the device requires it.
- If iMovie still doesn't work, you might need to update your device's firmware or have the device serviced.
Update macOS and iMovie
Choose Apple menu > App Store, then click Updates. If an iMovie update is available, click Update to download and install it.
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Check camera and media format compatibility
Make sure you're using a camera and media format that works with iMovie. If you can't find your camera listed or need further assistance, contact the manufacturer of the device for support.
If you're using a third-party video interface with your Mac, check with the manufacturer for firmware or other software updates for your device.
Test with a new library and project
You can create a new library and test project to check if the issue is with your library, project, or iMovie app. First, create a new library:
- Quit iMovie.
- While you press and hold the Option key, click the iMovie app in the Dock or double-click the iMovie app in the Applications folder.
- In the Open Library window, click New to create a new library.
- Name the test library 'Test iMovie Library,' then save it to the Desktop.
Next, create the test project using a built-in trailer template, then export it as a QuickTime video file:
- In iMovie, click Projects to return to the Projects view.
- Choose File > New Trailer, click the Action trailer template, then click Create.
- Choose File > Share > File, click Next, name the file 'Finish Line,' then save the video file to the Desktop.
Next, import the QuickTime video file into a new project in the new library:
- Click projects to return to the Projects view. In the window, click OK.
- Choose File > New Movie.
- Choose File > Import Media, then click Desktop in the Import window sidebar. Select the 'Finish Line.mov' file in the list, then click the Import Selected button.
- Select the clip in the browser, then press the E key to add the clip to the timeline.
- Try to recreate the issue you were having. For example, if iMovie quit when adding a transition, try to add a transition to the timeline.
If the new library and project work as expected, you've isolated the cause of your issue to the original library or project. Try to restore a previous version of the original library from a Time Machine or other backup.
Test iMovie with a new user account
Create another user account on your Mac, then test iMovie with the new user account.
Reset iMovie to default settings. Libraries won't be affected.
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Delete iMovie, then redownload and reinstall it. Libraries won't be affected.
Still not working?