iMovie - Making your first movie

 File Management:  Movies are often huge files.  Movies contain duplicates of the movie clips from cameras or phones.

  • Create a folder on the desktop named after your movie project e.g. "2020-12-31 Boys Trampoline"
  • Copy into this folder all "source" files (movie clips, still photos and audio files) that you want to use in your movie. 
    If you don't want to keep an editable version of the movie project, then delete the movie clips after you copy them to the folder so that the new finished movie will replace them in your "Photos" app.  
    (Yes I know iMovie will connect to the "Photos" and "Music" apps automatically, but, if you wish to archive an editable version of the project, we cannot rely on the same track existing in your "Music" app, or the same photo remaining in your "Photos" app.)
  • Open iMovie - File - Open Library - New
  • Name the library after this project and place it inside the same folder that contains the project "source" files.  (The easiest way to manage your projects is to make a new library for each project.)
  • Quit iMovie
  • Find the iMovie Library in your project folder and open it
  • iMovie should then open using this Library to store all the files it uses.
  • Move to the Projects page
  • Click the + sign and choose "Movie"
    (Trailers are an amusing "wizard" that forces you into a movie trailer structure)
  • iMovie will then "jump" back to the "My Media" page of your new project ready to import your "source" files
  •  Click Import Media
  • Navigate to the folder containing your "source" movies, photos and audio,
    highlight all files and import them into the Library
  • Your "source" movies, photos and audio should all them appear.
    (If you decide that you need additional sources later in the project, you should copy the files into the folder on your desktop before importing them into your project so that the project remains a complete copy for the future.)


  • Click "Titles" and drag a title style down to the movie timeline at the bottom.
  • Double click on the "title text" in the preview at the top right to edit the words.
    (There are lots more settings to play around with...... later) 

Add Movie clips, Still Images and Audio

  • Drag the other movie files down to the timeline.
  • Drag down still photos as well if you want them between clips.
  • Drag down audio clips under the movie and photos (as they play in the backgound)

Add Title (or Credits) at the end

  • Add a Title from the Titles style library.  One of them is formatted as Credits.

Crop clips to remove unneeded sections

  • When a clip is highlighted (yellow borders), you can drag the sides at either end to crop.
    (You can recover the rest of the clip at any time by dragging back.  No part of the clip is being deleted when you crop, it is just hidden from the timeline.)

Split clip to insert a still image, or other clip, or just remove a section of a clip

  • Right clicking on the selected clip brings up many other options with "Split Clip" the most commonly used.
  • After you split the clip, you can insert another clip of photo at the split, or hide an unwanted section.

Insert Photo

  • Photos in your media show the camera icon.
  • Drag them down to the timeline wherever you want the still image to be displayed.
  • On the top right preview there are again many many controls, the most commonly used is the Duration of the clip which is displayed when the clip Information is displayed.

Add Freeze Frame

  • Right clicking on the selected clip, allows you to "Add Freeze Frame" of an interesting moment.
  • As with almost all actions, on the preview window there are many extra ways to control the action.  The most commonly used is to change the duration of the freeze frame.

Slow or Reverse a Clip

  • When a clip is highlighted, common selections to choose are to slow, speed up or reverse the clip.

Transitions between clips

  • When you have finished all clip editing and sequencing, most people prefer to insert "transitions" between clips.  Most of these transitions take parts of the clips on both sides, so you may need to drag back a second or two from the clip you cropped.
  • Choose a Transition from the Library and drag it between the two clips that you want to "join".
  • The transition symbol appears between the clip.  If you click on it, you can alter it's settings - or delete it and start again.
  • Fade to black is a common transition at the end of a movie.

Audio Controls

  • You can have as many audio clips playing over the top of each other as you wish.
  • Apple has provided many audio effects (like children playing etc) that you can put into your movie.  You can add them once for a short clip, or many many times to cover the whole movie.
  • You can add music audio as well by dragging from your media library.
  • Volume: If you click and hold your mouse pointer on the horizontal line in the green audio track, you can change its volume. 
    You can do the same for each individual movie clip.
  • Audio fade out: At the end of the movie, most people like to fade the music to silence. 
    To do this, click and hold on the tiny circle at the end of the audio clip and drag it to the left to create a volume fade out.
    This works for audio tracks and for the audio track that came with each movie track.

Sharing your finished movie

  • File share - Youtube and Facebook - Resolution:  HD 720p
    (This is not quite as good as your original phone recording, but is the easiest setting for the most common use and at a quality that most people are happy with.  Saving at higher quality is possible with other settings, but the size of the movie file is likely to be even bigger than this !) 

  • Save the movie file in the same source files folder with the rest of your files.
  • Quit iMovie
  • Play the "shared" Movie (i.e. the complete exported movie) to check you are happy with it.
    (If not, just open the imovielibrary file, make changes and share/export again.) 

File Management

  • Drag the finished movie into your Photos app so that it becomes part of your Photo/Movie library (replacing the clips that you extracted to make the movie).
  • Compress all the files in the project folder.
  • Move the compressed file to an external hard drive so that it does not fill up your main computer drive.
    (There are now 3 versions of your clips - the original clips, the copies inside the imovielibrary and the copy embedded inside the exported movie.  Unless you follow my suggestions, iMovie will keep all these files on your main hard drive quickly filling it up !!!)
  • Delete the original folder
  • If you now open iMovie, you will see no mention of this project as it no longer exists on your computer.  If you even want it back to edit again, just double click on the compressed file, and then double click on the imovielibrary inside it.
Some more support:

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