Start editing an iMovie project

An iMovie project consists of assembling your clips and photos and adding titles, effects, and transitions to create a video.

If you’re new to iMovie, you’ll need to create a new project and import video clips before you begin.

Prepare clips for editing in iMovie

After adding clips to iMovie, open them in Event Explorer. You can add the clips to your iMovie project as-is, or adjust the clips’ audio and video settings before adding them to the project. If you know you want to make adjustments to the entire length of the clip, it’s easier to let them know before adding the video to your project.

After making the necessary adjustments, it’s time to select the parts of the clips you want in your project. When you arrow-click a clip, part of it is automatically selected (the amount depends on your computer’s iMovie settings). You can expand the selected portion by dragging the sliders to the exact frames where you want your trimmed clip to start and end.

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Selecting footage is a precise process, so developing your clips so you can view them frame by frame helps. You can do this by moving the scroll bar under your video clips. In the example above, I moved the scroll bar to two seconds, so each frame on the filmstrip represents two seconds of video. This makes it easier for me to slowly and carefully move through the clip and find the exact spot where I want it to start and end.

Add clips to a project in iMovie

After selecting the portion of your clip that you want to embed in the project, click the Add Selected Video button next to the arrow. This will automatically add the selected footage to the end of your project. You can also drag the selected part to the project editor area and paste it between two existing clips.

Dragging the clip over an existing clip will bring up a menu offering options for inserting or replacing footage, creating crops, or using picture-in-picture.

Once you’ve added clips to your iMovie project, you can easily rearrange them with a drag-and-drop operation.

Adjust clips in your iMovie project

Even if you’ve been careful in selecting footage to add to your project, you may want to make some small adjustments after you’ve added it to your project. There are several ways to shrink and expand clips once they’re in a project.

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There are small arrows in the bottom corners of each clip in your iMovie project. Click to adjust the start or end of your clip. When you do this, the edge of your clip will be highlighted in orange and you can easily lengthen or shorten it by up to 30 frames.

Edit clips with iMovie Clip Cutter

If you want to change the length of the clip more, use the cutter. Clicking on the letter opener opens the entire clip with the used part highlighted. You can move the entire highlighted part, which gives you a clip of the same length, but from a different part of the original clip. You can also drag the ends of the selected part to lengthen or shorten the part contained in the project. When you’re done, click Done to close the clip trimmer.

iMovie Precision Editor-in-Chief

If you want to do in-depth frame-by-frame editing, use the precision editor. The precision editor opens below the project editor and shows you exactly where your clips overlap, allowing you to make fine adjustments between clips.

Trim clips in your iMovie project

Sharing is useful when you’ve added a clip to a project but don’t want to use the entire clip at once. You can split a clip by selecting part of it and then clicking Clip > Split Clip. This splits your original clip into three parts: the selection part and the parts before and after it.

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You can also split a clip in two by dragging the playhead to where you want the split to occur, and then clicking separate clip.

After you split a clip, you can rearrange and move the pieces separately in your iMovie project.

Add more to your iMovie project

After you’ve added and arranged your video clips, you can add transitions, music, photos, and titles to your project. These tutorials will help you: