How to Cut Music in iMovie

Audio Tutorials Tutorials
May 29, 2019

How to Cut Music in iMovie

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It’s often easy to tell when music hasn’t been cut properly, but it’s difficult to know how to cut music without practice and a good editing program. Editing can be scary for beginners, but have no fear because we’re about to break down some of the basics of audio editing in one of the most user-friendly editing programs—iMovie.

If you don’t have any experience with iMovie, read this post to get started with iMovie.

Want to learn how to cut music, but don’t have any music to work with? There’s an easy fix for that—you can find and download royalty-free music tracks from Storyblocks Audio.

Download Music

Cutting music and video are the fundamental functions of editing. It allows you to rearrange and shorten the length of any clip. This means you can fit any song to your project no matter how long or short it is. There are many ways to cut music in iMovie and all it takes is a few clicks and drags.

Trim Music in the Media Window

Trimming clips is another common editing term associated with cutting, and it simply means shortening or lengthening a clip by changing its start and end points. You can trim music clips in the media window before you place it in the timeline. Check the two simple steps below to learn how.

how to cut music

Step 1: Highlight the Clip and Drag the Edges

Select the clip, then drag the left edge (start) and right edge (end) to where you would like to cut.

how to cut music

Step 2: Drag the Trimmed Clip into the Timeline

Click and drag the selection to the timeline and release.

Trim Music in the Timeline

Once your music clip is in the timeline, you can trim and cut it however you please. Trimming music in the timeline is the same as trimming it in the media window. Simply highlight the clip and drag the left and right edges in or out to make it the proper length. You can also trim clips with more precision by moving the playhead to an exact frame, right clicking, and selecting Trim to Playhead.

how to cut music

Step 1: Drag the Playhead to the Desired Frame

Move the playhead over the exact frame where you would like to cut.

how to cut music

Step 2: Right Click and Select Trim to Playhead

After you have right clicked and selected Trim to Playhead, the music clip will adjust in the timeline.

Cutting Music in the Timeline

Cutting music clips is a similar process to trimming, and it is just as easy. You can only cut when your audio is in the timeline, but once it’s there, all you need to do is right click on the clip and select Split Clip. This cuts the clip into two, and separates the two pieces wherever the playhead is. This visual demonstration should clear any confusion.

how to cut music

Step 1: Drag the Playhead to Where you will Cut the Clip

Move the playhead over the exact frame where you would like the clip to split.

how to cut music

Step 2: Right Click and Select Split Clip

After you have right clicked and selected Split Clip, your clip will cut at the playhead.

how to cut music

Your one clip is now two clips.

Refining Audio

Now that you know how to trim and cut music clips, it’s time to take your audio editing skills to the next level. There are several adjustments and effects you can add to your audio to enhance it and get a variety of different sounds. You may find more use for these with any audio that isn’t music, but it’s good to know the ins and outs of iMovie’s audio effects. There is a wide range of things you can do to alter your audio from adjusting the volume to changing the pitch. The only way to fully understand these effects is to mess with them yourself, but we can point you in the right direction.

how to cut music

1. Adjusting Volume in iMovie

The first audio adjustment tab allows you to change the volume of a selected audio clip with a simple slider. You can also auto enhance the audio in this tab and lower the volume of all the unselected clips in the timeline.

how to cut music

2. Noise Reduction in iMovie

Do you ever hear a constant hiss or a low hum sound whenever you play an audio file? This is called noise, and it is one of the most annoying aspects of poorly recorded audio. Sometimes noise is unavoidable, but there are ways to fix it in post. The second audio adjustment tab is for noise reduction. You can take out any unwanted, constant sounds with one click. You can also equalize audio in this tab. Equalize is a fancy word that means you can change the frequencies within an audio clip to give it a certain quality. This effect is very useful for enhancing music.

how to cut music

3. Adjusting Speed in iMovie

The third audio adjustment tab allows you to change the speed of a clip. You can speed up or slow down an audio clip. You can even reverse it. There is also an option to preserve the pitch so your audio doesn’t sound like a bunch of singing chipmunks when sped up.

how to cut music

4. iMovie Audio Effects

The last audio adjustment tab is full of unique effects. With these effects, you can make your audio sound like a robot, a radio, or even a bunch of singing chipmunks. By changing the reverb, pitch, and frequencies of an audio clip, these effect presets give the audio a unique characteristic. Playing with these effects can be a lot of fun.

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Now you can cut and edit music in iMovie like a pro, but there is always room for improvement. Check out our blog post that covers 3 Techniques for Cutting Music Without a Sudden Stop to learn how to cut music clips without creating a noticeable jump.

On your way there, download more music to practice with from our library.

Download Music

Christopher Petow

Freelance Writer

Chris is a freelance writer and filmmaker from Florida. A student in the University of Florida’s telecom program, he writes about film craft, After Effects hacks, and the best gear for filmmakers in the field.