An Introduction to Editing Videos With iMovie on Mac

If you’re new to Apple’s iMovie and need some pointer, come right this way. Here’s an introduction to editing videos with iMovie.

If you’re a newbie looking for an introduction to editing videos with iMovie, consider this the right place to be.

People have been editing videos with iMovie on Mac for over 20 years. Available for free to anyone with a Mac, iMovie was initially used primarily by amateur videographers with a digital camera. In recent years, iMovie has successfully transitioned to a world where smart devices such as the iPhone and iPad reign. Though it all, using iMovie hasn’t changed all that much.

Editing Videos With iMovie

In this article, you’ll learn about the tools required to use iMovie and its different sections. From there, we’ll take a closer look at how to edit your first video in iMovie.

What You Need

To get started, you should have the newest version of iMovie installed on your Mac. Download iMovie from the Mac App Store if it’s not currently on your computer. Additionally, make sure your Mac is updated to the latest version of macOS. If it’s not, perform an update.

Getting Started

In this introduction, we’re going to import a video into iMovie. The app lets you edit movies and trailers. With the former, you can combine photos, video, and music to create a movie. The latter involves using built-in templates to create movie-like trailers.

For this study, we’ll be importing a trailer. To follow along:

  1. Open iMovie on your Mac.
  2. Click the Project tab if you’re not already there.
  3. Tap the box that says Create New.
  4. Select Trailer in the pop-up box.

Editing Videos With iMovie iMovie select trailer


  1. Choose a trailer from the list. Each trailer will star a specific number of cast members, which are listed. You can preview a trailer by clicking it once, then clicking the preview icon.
  2. Click Create at the bottom right.

iMovie create trailer

It’s now time to explore the different sections of iMovie.

iMovie Sections

There are four main sections to the iMovie app. First, at the top left, you’ll find your Libraries section. It’s from here where you can access any film clips stored in your Photos library or video content previously used in the app.

At the bottom is the storyboard or timeline where chips get dropped from your library. Together, these clips make your movie.

The Media Library is found at the top of the iMovie interface, slightly left. Clips used within your project are located here. In addition, you can see a preview of the video by clicking on it.

Finally, at the top right is the Edits section. As the name suggests, it’s from here you can adjust the colors or look of a clip before adding it to your timeline.

iMovie sections

First Steps to Editing Videos in iMovie

There’s much you can do as you create and edit content in iMovie. Among the most used features include the following.

Import Videos

To add video clips to your masterpiece:

  1. Click Photos in the Library on the left.
  2. In the Media Library section, use the pull-down menu and select Videos.

Editing Videos With iMovie iMovie choose video


  1. Click the video clip you want, then view it in the Edit section of iMovie.
  2. Drag the clip to your timeline.

The example above assumes the video is already on your Mac or iCloud. You can also attach a compatible device to your Mac to import content, such as digital cameras, tablets, or, yes, your iPhone. When you do, the device should show on the left side of the iMovie app.

Change Your Theme

Apple’s iMovie is packed with beautiful themes that you can use to personalize your video better. When you created a trailer, you already selected a theme. However, you can add or change this at any time for both videos and trailers.

To change your theme:

  1. Go into your iMovie project.
  2.  Click Settings on the right side above the timeline.
  3. Choose the button that says No Theme.
  4. Next, select a theme for your video.
  5. Choose Change.

iMovie themes


Videos are created by adding clips. To more clearly move from one clip to another, iMovie offers a large selection of transitions. These take many forms, including cross dissolve, swap, doorway, mosaic, among others.

To add a transition, make sure you have two or more clips on your timeline. From there:

  1. Click Transitions on the iMovie toolbar.
  2. Choose your transition.

Editing Videos With iMovie iMovie transitionsEditing Videos With iMovie: Fix Camera Shake Tool

No matter how good cameras get, shakes still happen. Luckily, iMovie has a tool for that! To steady a clip:

  1. Click a clip on your timeline.
  2. Next, select the shaky camera icon above the Edit section.
  3. From there, check the box marked Stabilize Shaky Video. 
  4. For more customization, use the slider.

iMovie stablize

Change the Look

To further tweak your video, you can change its look by adjusting its color balance or color correction. You can also use the filter buttons above the Edit section to make manual adjustments.

To use the color balance tool:

  1. Select one or more video clips.
  2. Choose the Color Balance button on the right side of the app. Options include:
    1. Click Auto to make automatic color adjustments.
    2. Next, choose Match Color to match the colors between clips.
    3. With the White Balance button, you can fix whites or gray.
    4. Finally, choose the Skin Tone Balance button to use skin tone to change a clip’s color.

Editing Videos With iMovie iMovie colors

Meanwhile, the built-in color correction tools make it possible to make the clips look as natural as possible. The color correction button is to the right of the color balance button.

To add filters:

  1. Select one or more video clips.
  2. Choose the Filter and Audio Effects button on the right side of the app.
  3. Click None next to the Clip Filter.
  4. Select your filter.

iMovie filters

Add a Title

If you prefer, you can add titles to your video. You can add these between and over the clips.

To add a title:

  1. Choose the purple marker in the timeline.
  2. Double-click on the existing text.
  3. Type your text.
  4. Adjust the style.

Editing Videos With iMovie iMovie title

Editing Videos With iMovie: Adjust a Clip

We’ve saved the best for last. You can adjust a clip within the timeline. To do so:

  1. Click on a clip.
  2. Grab the left or right edge of the clip.
  3. Drag the clip inward to remove the footage at the start or end.

iMovie edit clip

With iMovie, you can create movies and trailers in just a few steps. Use filters, different color combinations, and much more to make the finished product special. The steps above should be a good starting point for you to begin creating a digital masterpiece. Enjoy!

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