What is iMovie? Getting Started Guide

iMovie is a simple video editing application for macOS and iOS. Perfect for beginners or those who don’t need professional video editing software, iMovie is easy to use. However, for users with no general video editing experience, this software can be a bit daunting.

What is iMovie? When iMovie first launched on iOS devices, it was a very basic version of the Mac desktop app. Today, the two apps are very close in terms of features, although the look and feel of each has been tailored to the Apple device for which they were designed.

iMovie for macOS Vs iOS

Apple specifically designed the two versions of iMovie to work seamlessly with each other. This means you can start a project on your iPhone or iPad and then simply AirDrop it to your desktop or MacBook and continue editing from where you left off.

If you don’t have a macOS device, that shouldn’t be a problem. The iOS version of iMovie is more or less as capable as the desktop version. You can start, edit and finish complete projects just using your iOS device.

However, as you can imagine, the two versions have slightly different interfaces. One is designed for touch and the other for mouse input. However, now you can also use a mouse with iOS!

In this guide, we’ll be using the macOS version of iMovie as a base, but the basics all translate to the mobile version smoothly.

What can iMovie do?

iMovie is based on the same software platform as Apple’s Final Cut Pro package, a fairly expensive professional video editor. So in terms of performance and stability, it matches Final Cut.

However, you should soften your expectations about the editing tools. iMovie is much more than bare bones, but it’s just, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Often less is more, and for the beginner user, it doesn’t help to be faced with millions of dashboards filled with unfamiliar terms.

Film Clipboard

So with iMovie you can do all the necessary editing tasks. That includes importing media, cropping clips, arranging them on the timeline, and adding titles on the screen. iMovie also offers support for green screen work, basic special effects, and color adjustments. With just some of these features, you can create some pretty impressive basic video editing.

If you’ve just started filming with your new iPhone 11 Pro or are experimenting with drones like the Mavic Mini or Air 2, iMovie is a great way to enhance that content. From something your mom will love on Facebook, to something millions of people will want to share around the world.

Create a new project

The first step in your iMovie journey, after opening the app, is to create a new project. The project is the workspace that you will use to combine all the elements that will go into the final product and then edit them into the final video.

So when opening iMovie, click Create new. afterward click on Movies.

Movie options

Now it’s time to grab some content.

First step: Get your vehicle

Now that you have a new project open, you need all the media that you are likely to use in your project. That can include video clips, audio clips, music and the like.

Here we will simplify and use only some video clips. We’ve just downloaded a couple of cool clips from Pixabay, which provide public domain and royalty free content. If you like, you can also get music and photos from them.

Videos on Pixabay

Once you’ve downloaded your clips to a folder of your choice, you need to import them into your iMovie library.

To do this, just click File And after that Import vehicles, or click Imported vehicles Under My media in the iMovie Library.

Media Import button

Now browse to where your clips are, select them, then click Enter selected.

Selected passages

Once you’ve selected all the media to import, you’re ready to start assembling your video project.

Get your Clips on Timeline

Your videos are gathered on a “timeline”. Each clip is dragged into the timeline in the order you want to use them. As you can see here, we dragged our four clips onto the timeline in the order we wanted. All you have to do is drag the relevant clip from the media library onto the timeline.

Timeline window in iMovie

You will notice that the timeline also has different tracks. For example, have a track dedicated to the background music.

Follow the timeline

There’s an early “eraser” game throughout the timeline. Wherever the player is, you’ll see the video’s current “frame” displayed in the preview window, which is the sum total of all the audio, video, text, and other elements you’ve compiled at that location. that mind.


Now that you’ve organized your clips, you’ll want to cut them into the appropriate chunks. To split a clip, simply move the playhead to the point you want to trim. Then press Alt on it and select Separation clamp.

Split Clip in the right-click menu

Your original clip is now two magic clips! You can move the two clips to any position on the timeline, but here, since you don’t want the rest of the clip, just Alt-click the bit you don’t want and click Delete.

Delete in the right-click menu

This is a good time to mention that editing videos with iMovie is indestructible. The original clip is completely untouched. So feel free to crop and remove everything on the timeline as you please.

Add titles & transitions

So now we have our clips in the shape and order we want them to be. This is the right time to add a little spice to the production process. Titles are text elements that can be placed on your clip. For example, useful if you want to tell your audience the name of your video or give them more information.

To add a title, switch to Title navigation. Then drag any title you like onto the clip where you want it to appear.

Added a title to the video

Now just click dummy text in the preview window and enter your own text.

Next, we’ll include some cool transitions between our clips. Simply switch to Forward and drag the transition into the space between the clips where you want the transition to take place.

Added transitions to clips

A good start

Congratulations! You’ve now learned enough about iMovie to make a basic video. However, to create something that looks great and sounds great, we recommend you consider the following iMovie functions, when you feel comfortable enough to move on:

  • Split audio clip
  • Cut clip
  • Adjust color and contrast
  • Changing the background in a “green screen” shot (Chroma Keying)
  • Add music to your project

Despite being a relatively simple program, iMovie has quite a bit of depth. So take your time to explore its more advanced features.

Perfect your movie

To wrap up this basic iMovie tutorial, let’s export the movie we have. Remember that exporting a movie is not the same as saving your project! Make sure to save your project via File as you would in any other program.

To export your movie, click the little share button in the top right corner. afterward click in File. Unless you want to send a video directly to YouTube, for example.

Share button with sharing options

In this window, you can see how long your clip will be and its estimated size. You can adjust its resolution and quality here, but most of the time, you can completely leave the defaults in place.

File info window for My Movies

If you are satisfied with these settings, click Next, choose a save location and finish exporting your video. It will take a while to render, but at the end of the process, your masterpiece will be ready to show the world.

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