MacMost Now 264: iMovie 09 Titles

Learn the ins-and-outs of titles in iMovie 09, which include title overlays, in-between clip titles, lower thirds, and more.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's take a look at how to use titles in iMovie 09. Using titles in iMovie 09 is one of the ways in which it excels compared to its more complicated professional counterparts. It's very easy to drag and drop some titles onto your video or in between clips and set some options and get some really cool looking titles in your movies. Let's go and take a look at how to use them. So here's an iMovie 09 project, and I've clicked on the T here to choose titles. Now, I can go ahead and drag and drop a number of different t-title styles here onto my project. And there's two main ways that you can add a title to your project. Let's go and take a look at the first one which is to add it as an overlay on top of the video. So you click and drag a title and you put it either at the beginning, the end, or over an entire clip. You drop it there, now you can see here on the right that the text actually appears over the actual video that's showing. Second way to do it, is to put it before after clip so I can put it right here and I will then get to choose a background since there's nothing for the title to be over, I can choose something like this curtain background and I get a period of about four seconds here and the title text is over that background. Now once you have titles, you can go ahead and double click on them in the preview window to the upper right and change the text. And notice how it put it all in that basic font. There I can undo that and you can see how I originally got a title and a subtitle so I can only select those parts. And just change those and have two different font sizes in the same title. You can also go ahead and click on the show fonts button here. This brings up this little window that uh has two modes. The first is to go ahead and use one of these basic modes where you can go ahead and change the font very easily, change the color very easily, it's a special interface just for iMovie. Or you can click on the system font panel button at the bottom left and now you have much more complete control over everything that uh has to do with this title and you can make your own fonts and everything like that. You can also go back to the iMovie font panel here. Now you can change the style of a title by dragging another one to the same clip area and it will replace it but it'll keep that same text there. So I can chose this one, I can chose this one here. Now, in cases where there are animations, like in this type of title, I can scroll back and forth in the project like this. I can also go ahead and select the title here and click on the play button which will just play this segment here. You can see the background moves here as well as the text. Now if you simply want to change the background or the timing of a title, you can click on the little control here at the bottom left of the clip and choose clip adjustments. And this gives you the ability to change the duration, so I can change this to say six seconds. I can also choose a new background for that particular title. And now, the changes will be reflected here, immediately. You also have titles that you can use as credits such as the scrolling credits type of title. When you add that, you actually get the choice of uh adding as much text as you want for a continuous scroll. And you also have some other ones such as the far far away type as well and you have lots of really cool ones. Another type of title is called a bottom third. So this isn't a title that appears in the middle of the screen but usually at the bottom of it. So you've got this lower third right here, you've got several other variations of it. You can add that there and you can see that the text appears, usually over video and it's at the bottom of the screen and you can use that to basically subtitle text, to put uh something about the place that the video was being shot without actually interrupting it by putting something between a clip. And you've got some pretty uh advanced ones here like for instance this organic lower one. We'd actually put some nice text and some animation there at the bottom, you can see it building like that. So another thing we can do with most types of titles is we can change the fade in and fade out, and see it fades in at the beginning, it fades out at the end. You can go ahead and alter that by looking at the project properties in the file menu under the timing set of preferences. You can go ahead and set the title fade duration for different amounts. So I can have it do more or less or appear right away. So that would give me no fade at all, and it appears immediately. Now, any time you have a title whether or not it's over a piece of video or over just a background, you can adjust it to have it appear at more or less of a clip, like I'm doing now just by dragging and dropping start and end. You can also go ahead and actually shift your video completely so I can move this title off this background here and onto this clip. Now there's one type of title in particular that's a little different from everything else. It's the date time title. If I drag that over a clip and drop it onto it, it will actually display, in the bottom left, the date and time that this video was taken, or at least the time stamp that it has on file. You can't really alter this in very many ways, but it's a really quick way to put this time stamp over some home video. So there's a quick look at how to add a titles in iMovie 09. Yeah, it's not as feature complete as something like final cut is but it does allow you to add titles very quickly and they look great. And there's plenty of different options to chose from, so it's perfect for making your own videos for presentations, or for home movies, things like that. Til next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 77 Responses to “MacMost Now 264: iMovie 09 Titles”

    7/13/09 @ 1:10 pm

    Great video

    7/13/09 @ 9:57 pm


    7/20/09 @ 8:03 pm

    Great work Gary. Love your podcast. your a true inspiration

    10/29/09 @ 3:17 am

    Gary. very clear and useful. Have you advice for making your own title or adapting and saving an existing one. I just need a bit more room for a clear education context set up of content about three lines. Also How do you get the text transcipt by hand or automatic?
    Thanks again

      10/29/09 @ 8:24 am

      You can’t build custom titles in iMovie — you have to adapt one of the existing titles to suit your needs. To go further, you’d need another piece of software, like Final Cut. And there’s no way to make automatic transcripts — but I’m not sure that’s what you are asking. Do you mean subtitles?

        10/29/09 @ 6:30 pm

        Gary Thanks. In fact I have since found a way to add a title graphic though this method is in Quicktime Pro

        Without AppleScript:
        1. Copy the image you want.
        2. Create a new movie in QuickTime Player.
        3. Paste the image in, then copy the movie and close it (yes, you need to copy what you just pasted).
        4. Open an existing movie.
        5. Select the first few seconds of the movie and choose “Add to Selection and Scale” from the Edit menu.
        6. Show the movie properties (command-J), select the newly-created video track (probably called “video track 2”), and click the Extract button.

        A new movie will appear that contains the image you pasted, only this one will last for several seconds (or however much you selected in step 5). Now just copy this and paste it into any movie you want. You can close and not save the dummy movie you opened in step 4.
        Of course imovie is not subtle enough to make a title appear clearly from the start and only fade out not jade in. As you say in need final cut.

        The automatic transcripts I was referring to is the text of your presentation in the box below your video. Was this manually transcribed or automatic?
        As my next task is to find some automatic speech soundtrack transcription software. Thanks

          10/29/09 @ 7:23 pm

          If you have the ability to create your own graphics, then you can do it in iMovie. Just create a graphic and drag that into your iMovie project. You can even use a semi-transparent graphic and put it in as picture-in-picture for it to appear over video.

    12/9/09 @ 10:24 pm

    Nice video. Say I have a title like: “Four score and seven years ago”. I want just the words seven years to appear on the screen, then I want the rest of the sentence to appear about 4 seconds later. Is this possiable? I also want “seven years” to be a different color then the rest of the words. How do i do that with imovie 09?

      12/10/09 @ 7:15 am

      Just have two full-screen titles appear one after the other. The first with the first set of text, and the second with the second set of text. You can select and change the style of a portion of the text using the Fonts panel — Command+T.

    12/21/09 @ 7:53 pm

    Thanks for the video. I would like the date to appear but not the time. Is there a non manual way to do this?? Thanks

      12/21/09 @ 11:46 pm

      You can simply add your own text title and put just the date. It isn’t automatic, but as long as you only have a few to do, that shouldn’t make a difference.

    1/8/10 @ 5:37 pm

    Thanks a lot for the video!
    I am putting subtitles for a 10 mins clip with lots of text. I have split each section where i will be adding the text but every time I drag the “Lower” title onto the image section I lose the settings from the previous section, ie the colour, the type face, the centering, the size etc of the text and it is very time consuming to change each setting each time!… I’m hoping there may be a way of keeping these settings for the text throughout my project, or to be mass editing it at the end instead of after each text entry… can you help me please?
    Kind Regards

      1/9/10 @ 12:33 am

      I know what you mean. How about duplicating the titles? Create the first one and set the font. Then, hold the option key down and drag the title to another clip, duplicating it.

    1/11/10 @ 5:57 pm

    mmm… Im not sure what you mean by duplicating titles… none of the text im entering is a duplicate…

      1/11/10 @ 6:00 pm

      You option+drag the title to duplicate it. It is the same title, with the same font, etc. But then you simply edit the text. This way you don’t need to set the font every time. Try it. Create a title. Duplicate it 15 times, then change the text in those 15. You end up with 16 titles, all with the same font, but you only had to set the font the first time.

        10/1/10 @ 2:04 pm

        Hi this is my problem too, I tried what you suggested but even though the first title I am duplicating doesn’t have its own background (ie the background is a photo) it tries to make me select a background and if I press cancel it just cancels the whole thing.

        Thanks for any help!

          10/1/10 @ 2:45 pm

          So, allow it to create a background. Then drag it away to where you really want it. Then delete the leftover background.

        11/16/10 @ 3:15 pm

        GENIUS! Thanks!!!

        7/9/12 @ 1:54 pm

        Hooray! That option+drag trick was just what the doctor ordered! Thank you!!!

    1/13/10 @ 1:53 pm

    Hi Gary-

    I am a complete amateur at using Imovie 09 and your videos have been a saving grace. I’m putting together 45s-2m video clips for a website. We’ve used the greenscreen & title function and now I’ve watched your video on how to build in custom titles- we’re using Seashore. In my clips that do not have backgrounds & titles, I get the PIP option and can drop the custom titles in. However, in the clips that we’ve already added backgrounds and titles, I’m not getting the PIP option when I try and drop the custom title in. Are you only able to add one title to each clip?

    1/14/10 @ 4:20 am

    wow that was just a strike of pure genius coming from you! What an incredibly valuable piece of advice thank you, it worked a charm!
    Im now gutted however, having just realised that I have edited the whole clip with endless amounts of subtitles… but that I have done it on a really bad quality copy of the video clip…. AAARRGGGHH! So Ive been trying a few things to keep all the subtitles where they are in the project and only swap the crap video to a good quality copy but it seems impossible! If I delete the video, the subtitles disappear as wellDo you have a special trick on that by chance? Thanks in advance! T

      1/14/10 @ 7:07 am

      That’s a tough one too. You can just put the replacement video in the same project after the current video, and then drag the titles, one-by-one over to it. Then delete the first video when you have moved them all. You’ll have to work to get them in the right spots, but at least you won’t have to re-type them.

    Gail George
    2/5/10 @ 7:29 am

    I have a student trying to add some title slides in between his clips and but it will not allow him to drop them in. He was able to add 3 or 4 and then suddenly could not add any more to the rest of his clips. Any suggestions?

      2/5/10 @ 7:32 am

      That’s odd. Just have him start a new project and see if it happens in that new project as well.

    Greg Lee
    3/8/10 @ 4:44 am

    Gary, do you know if it is possible to change a fonts background colour?

    The option is there on the system font panel but it does not seem to work.

    I want my title to be overlaid on video, with pink text but black background

    Do you know of a work around?


      3/8/10 @ 9:25 pm

      You can only do that with titles that already have a background. There are a few — but you can’t customize the color.

    esme Alexander
    3/11/10 @ 12:55 pm


    3/26/10 @ 2:42 pm

    Gary – I’m stumped with such a simple problem that was not a problem in my very old iMovie version 4. I choose the centered tile option. I go to change the font size for just the main title, but can’t make the font size for the subtitle smaller or different than the main title in any way. The Fonts function only lets me make them the same. What am I doing wrong??

      3/26/10 @ 2:45 pm

      Gary – never mind. I found the answer in the system fonts panel. :-)

    Samir Iyer
    4/10/10 @ 10:07 am

    You can change the date, actually really simply. Before you are going to drag the clip into you movie you select the clip and go to File –> Adjust Clip Date and Time. After you have done that you simply drag the movie you just changed into you movie and put the title Date and Time like he showed you.

    Hope this helped!

    Katie F.
    6/13/10 @ 6:57 pm

    Is there a way to add one line text over a video/slide show? I want to use Gradient White but only want one line and it will not let me subtract the subtitle so that part is left blank at best! BUT…therefore the one line title is not centered in the gradient white background =( Thank you!

      6/13/10 @ 7:04 pm

      You can just delete the text in the subtitle.

        Katie F.
        6/13/10 @ 7:09 pm

        But the space is still there. and so the one line title is not centered.

          6/13/10 @ 7:16 pm

          When I use the “Gradient Centered” title and delete the bottom line completely, it centers the top line in the graphic.

            Katie F.
            6/13/10 @ 7:21 pm

            thank you for the quick response!
            But unfortunately I need the text at the bottom and all the bottom titles do not allow me to do this!

    David Dailey
    6/24/10 @ 5:04 pm

    I have been using the iMovie Font Panel with the fonts, colors and sizes as you have shown. Now all of a sudden, I only have the bottom line of the System Font Panel. Is there a preference I need to trash, or have I accidently hit some command key? I still have the button to go to the System Font Panel, but I like the iMovie Font Panel better.

      6/24/10 @ 5:06 pm

      When you bring up that System Font panel, there should be a button to the lower left for “iMovie Font Panel.” Click that to toggle back to the iMovie font panel.

        David Dailey
        6/27/10 @ 2:05 pm

        I’ve done that, but I can not get back to the full size iMovie Font Panel.

          6/27/10 @ 7:15 pm

          What do you mean? The button isn’t there? Or, the button is there but it doesn’t work? Does it give you an error message?

            David Dailey
            6/30/10 @ 2:06 pm

            I can easily toggle back and forth between the System Font Panel and the iMovie Font panel with no error messages. However, when I’m in the iMovie Font Panel I only have about 1 1/2″ of the panel with no way to expand it (no drag option in the lower right as in some panels. If there is a way to paste the panel I have here, let me know so you can see it.

              6/30/10 @ 2:43 pm

              Perhaps deleting the iMovie preferences would help?

    Lee Jones
    6/29/10 @ 4:49 am

    In my previous imovie projects I created semi transparent lower third PNG titles and dropped them into the movie, and it worked perfectly. But now I have come back and while I still get the complete transparency of the upper two thirds of the title, I cannot import the semi-transparency of the lower third, it just comes in as a dirty block colour. I tried dropping in the old PNGs that were successful in older projects, but they also lose the semi transparency of the lower third. Any idea why this is happening? Have I changed some settings?

      6/29/10 @ 6:48 am

      What is the difference between the upper and lower titles you are using? Are they both just picture-in-picture? Or are you doing something different for each? What happens if you use a graphics that takes up the whole screen?

    Jennifer Zamora
    7/24/10 @ 7:30 pm

    Is there any way to have two titles appear at the same time on one background? For instance, is there any way that I can have one title appear, followed by another one while the first title is still on the screen? Thanks!

      7/25/10 @ 7:47 am

      Not really. You can do one title, export the movies, then import it again, then do the second title. But probably not a good solution.

    Jen B.
    7/30/10 @ 2:16 pm

    Do you know if there is any way to add brushes (usually used with Photoshop) to titles? They act mainly as stamps and offer more decoration.

      7/30/10 @ 2:23 pm

      Brushes? Do you mean draw on the titles — lines and curves, etc.?
      No, that’s not something titles do. You can create something in Photoshop (anything, really) and use picture-in-picture to make an overlay. See episode 423:

        Jen B.
        7/30/10 @ 3:19 pm

        Oh thanks that’s helpful. Is there any way to make overlays from pictures that already exist?

          7/30/10 @ 3:30 pm

          Absolutely. Just edit them to make what you want of them in Photoshop or a similar tool.

            Jen B.
            7/30/10 @ 3:53 pm

            Sorry to bother you again. How would I do that using Seashore?

              7/30/10 @ 3:56 pm

              Depends on what you are trying to do, exactly. Basically: Open the photo in Seashore. Edit it to get the image you want. Save it out. Use it in iMovie.

    Leigh Zeitz
    9/12/10 @ 5:38 am

    Thanks for the wonderful video on making titles with iMovie ’09.

    What software are you using to create your video? I like how you have your personal video overlaying the screen.


    Leigh Zeitz

    11/15/10 @ 12:16 pm

    Hey Gary

    Is there any way to set the font for the whole project? I have a bunch of titles and I have to go through each an every one to change the font. Is there anyway to set it so the font is consistant throughout the whole project so I don’t have to go through and change each one individually?

    Thank you!

      11/15/10 @ 3:21 pm

      You can change the default fonts in the iMovie preferences. But it may or may not help depending on how you use the titles. Many titles are preset to start with a specific font to match the style of the title. But at least by changing the presets to your liking you can quickly move through your titles and change each one with just a few clicks.

    12/3/10 @ 10:52 am

    Sorry dude, but this is incredibly lame. Show us something different, other than what’s in the manual.

      12/3/10 @ 11:00 am

      I’m sorry this video wasn’t interesting to you. Not every video will be of interest to everyone.

    3/8/11 @ 10:14 am

    GARY PLEASE ANSWER that thing happened to me ***
    please tell me what to do i have to make a movie and now i cant HELP!!!!!

      3/8/11 @ 11:00 am

      What happened to you? The original link you provided didn’t have anything to do with iMovie. Post a question in the forum explaining the issue and I’ll see if I can help.

    3/31/11 @ 5:14 am

    I have added a blurred – in out title to the front of a video – but it’s attached itself to the whole video rather than the front clip – stupid error on my part. Problem is I can’t now find a way to delete the text and keep the video in Project – I no longer have the event. Thanks

      3/31/11 @ 7:23 am

      If you have dismantled or trashed the project or some of the files, then there’s no much you can do.

    4/23/11 @ 10:08 am


    I have a short 1 min. movie with titles. I can export the large version fine, but when I try to export to the HD option the title stutters and looks wrong. Any idea why this may occur? Thanks in advance.

      4/23/11 @ 11:33 am

      I’ve never seen that happen before, sorry. Maybe try changing the type of title or playing around with different properties? Experiment.

    4/30/11 @ 7:36 pm

    is it possible to add a second set of subtitles on one clip? im trying to make a music video with japanese lyrics on top and english translation on the bottom

      4/30/11 @ 11:28 pm

      No, not that way. You could create a picture-in-picture overlay for everything and do it that way. But it would require building the overlays in a graphic editor and there would be a lot of them. Would be better to move to a pro editing solution.

    5/2/11 @ 8:58 am

    Thanks for the great videos, Gary. Is there anyway to move the location of the title? In other words, I’d like to use Lens Flare, but I’d like it in the lower third position of the clip. Is that possible with iMovie 09?

    5/23/11 @ 3:25 am

    When I put an title overlay on a picture there is no show fonts option. Do you have any idea why that doesn’t show up for me?

    I see that it does on your tutorial.


      5/23/11 @ 6:47 am

      Make sure you have the title, and only the title, selected in the project area. Then, it also may depend on the type of title you have selected. Some may use a special fixed font.

    Jeff Thomas
    6/12/11 @ 4:28 am

    Hi gary, great video, I am trying to set two lines of text as one frame with the text the same size for each, the default setting seems to have the top line bigger than the bottom which looks odd, is there anyway around this, thanks

    12/12/11 @ 4:12 pm

    Gary – I am using a text transition (Zoom). Is it possible to get the same exact effect with an image? I’ve messed around with Ken Burns but want to get the same exact transition as you get with text.

      12/12/11 @ 4:25 pm

      No, not really, not in iMovie. Probably could get closer to it in FCPX.

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