A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started in iMovie

Video Tutorials
March 1, 2021

A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started in iMovie

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With the rise of TikTok and Instagram reels, video creation is now more crucial than ever. Creators and business owners alike feel the pressure to churn out engaging video quickly and affordably. So – what is the best way to get started and cut video in iMovie without a professional video production background?

One great tool for beginners is iMovie. This amazing editing software helps people cut video clips into one cohesive project and comes free with any Mac. With this short tutorial, you can learn how to cut videos in iMovie and become a proficient editor so that you can churn out videos for YouTube, Instagram, or any other platform.

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For this tutorial, we used clips from filmmaker Donovan Randolph. Browse our library for even more footage to use in iMovie.

What is iMovie?

iMovie is what pros like to call a nonlinear editor. This is a type of software that you can use to cut and edit videos, music, and graphics without changing any of the original files. They’re powerful tools for filmmakers and are used to edit almost all of today’s Hollywood films. Professional-grade editors like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut cost a fortune and because iMovie is free, it’s a great place for beginners to start.

Like many other Apple products, iMovie is intuitive, keeping the average user in mind. Not everyone is a professional editor with years of experience, and the developers of iMovie know that. This doesn’t mean it isn’t an effective tool. You can still create jaw-dropping projects in iMovie—all it takes is a little practice.

Can I use iMovie on a PC?

The biggest drawback to iMovie is that it only works with Apple products—sorry PC users. However, if you have an iPhone or an iPad you can download iMovie from the App store to edit on a mobile device.

Ready to get started? Learn how to cut video in iMovie with some of the basics below.

Importing Footage into iMovie

Before you learn how to use iMovie, you have to get your individual clips into the program. This process is called Importing, and it is the easiest part of editing. Once you’ve created a new project, all you have to do is click the import button or press ⌘ + I. Then select the video and audio clips you want to edit and click Import Selected. This visual demonstration will help get you on the right track.

Create a new project in iMovie

Step 1: Create a New Project and Select Movie

Select "Create new Movie" in iMovie platform

Import button in iMovie

Step 2: Click on the Import button or Press ⌘ + I

Select footage and audio to import to iMovie

Step 3: Select Your Footage and Audio and Press Import Selected

Now your files are imported into iMovie and are ready for editing!

Cutting Video Clips and Editing Your Project in iMovie

Now you get to turn all of your individual clips into something special. This is the fun part, but there’s a lot you can do in the editing stage so it may be overwhelming at first. The editing process is where you cut and trim video clips and add any music and titles. It doesn’t sound like much, but once you’ve mastered these three things, you’ll be able to do a lot in post-production.

Drag a clip into iMovie timeline

Step 1: Drag a Clip into the Timeline

Adjust & trim video clips in iMovie

Step 2: Adjust and Trim Video Clips by Dragging the Edges

Repeat with other Clips in iMovie

Step 3: Repeat with Other Clips

Drag audio clips onto iMovie timeline to add audio

Step 4: Add Audio by Dragging an Audio Clip Underneath the Video in the Timeline

Add titles to iMovie project

Step 5: Add Titles by Going to the Titles Tab

Drag a title template above the timeline in iMovie

Step 6: Drag a Title Template into the Timeline above the Video

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Exporting Your Video

Now it’s time to share your masterpiece with the world! In order to do this, you have to export your finished project. Exporting simply compresses your project into one video file, and iMovie does a great job of doing all the hard work for you. All you have to do is choose the platform you want to upload your video to (like YouTube or Facebook), and iMovie will export and publish it for you. You don’t have to worry about all of the complicated settings that look like hieroglyphics.

Press the "export" button in iMovie

Step 1: Press the Export Button

Select Export Location for completed project from iMovie

Step 2: Select Your Desired Platform

Click "next" to export a project from iMovie

Step 3: Click Next and then Save

Save exported iMovie project

Now that you know how to use iMovie, keep editing and you’ll be a video editing pro in no time!

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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.