iMovie Basics

Learn the basics of iMovie. See how to import video clips and then combine them into a larger video. Find out how to export that video to a file, or put it in iTunes Theater.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with Let's take a look at some iMovie basics.

So we are using iMovie, version 10.0. The most basic thing that you can do with iMovie is to take several clips, say take them with your phone or your camera, and string them together to create one video that you can then share.

To do this you want to create a new iMovie project. First you want to make sure you are using the Library, not Theater mode, of iMovie.

I want to get some video clips into my iMovie Library. I'm going to use the Import button here and then I am going to browse to find these videos. I've got a set right here. I'm going to select them all and hit Import All. It will bring these then into my Library. I have a sample ven here called Samples. Let's put them all in there. It is going to take a few minutes and it will render them all so I can see them here below.

Now at this point I can move my cursor through these video clips here below. I can see at the top preview area the video. So I can scrub around in them. I can also click in one. You can see I placed the timeline there and I can do that anywhere in any of these videos.

Then I could also drag and select an area. When I select an area like that, or double click to select the entire thing, I can already go to File and Share and share this out as a file or to different services. So I can just share this one clip without ever actually creating an iMovie project.

But if I want to put some clips together I want to create a project. So I'm going to go to File/New Movie which will create a new movie project. I'm going to choose No Theme and hit Create and I'm going to create one called My Movie and I'm just going to stick it here inside of the iMovie Library inside of Samples which is already created there.

Now everything is going to change. I can see my clips here are on the upper left. I can see the timeline for the current project here at the bottom and I can see the preview area has moved over to the right. I can still scrub around inside of the clips here inside of the Samples event to see different portions of it. I can grab a portion or double click to grab an entire clip.

Now to combine several clips what I want to do is select an area and then double click to select the entire clip and drag it down here below. So I can select this other clip here and I can either put it before the first one, it will insert it there, or I can stick it after. I'm going to stick it after there and now I've got one clip following the other.

So you can do all of this a little bit better if you know how to control what you are seeing. For instance, here for the clips I can decide to click here and change the clip size. So I can maybe see a little clearer what is there and see more of what is there. I can also change the zoom to see how close I zoom in. I can go to All which basically puts every clip in a single image here no matter how long it is. I can show wave forms or not. So I can do a similar thing here below. I can show and hide the wave forms, I can change the clip size, I can zoom in or out so I can fit more here on the timeline. See these clips here will make it easier say when I add my next clip to the end. So I can see all three together.

Now that I have put together three clips here I can export them using the Share function. So I can hit the Share button right here and there are various different things I can share directly to. I'm going to go and share it out to a file. I can select the size here and I can go down in size but I can't go up in size. These are all 720P videos. I can't create a video with more detail than exists in the clips of course.

I will leave it at that. I'm also going to check or uncheck the Add to Theater checkbox. Let's remove that for now and hit Next. It will ask me for a file name. So I'm going to save it as My Movie, replacing the one that is already there. It will export out and you will see a progress button, right here, that basically show you the progress it is making in the export. You can click on it and you can see some details from the progress.

When it is done it opens up QuickTime player automatically with the video in it. It also gives me a notification here. So I've got the video now exported into a file. Another way to share is to go to Theater. What it will do then is it will take you to the iMovie Theater and it is going to place several versions of different sizes in here. Also going to upload them to iCloud. So it will take a little while for it to complete.

Once it is done not only is it saved here locally as a finished project but it is also synced into iCloud so I should see it on my other machines in iTunes Theater as well. I've got some options here that I could remove it from iCloud but it will remain here in the local machine.

You can even add regular clips to iTunes Theater. So let me close the project here and then I can select a clip like this one and I can go to File/Share or hit the Share button here and share just that clip to iTunes Theaters and it would sync across my machines using iCloud.

Comments: 52 Responses to “iMovie Basics”

    10/28/13 @ 9:40 am

    Gary, previously you showed how to archive clips made in iMovie and clean up your computer of big files, as well as how to bring them back into iMovie in the future if you need to. However, iMovie 10 doesn’t seem to recognize those old files. Is there a method of retrieving them again? Thanks!


      10/28/13 @ 9:59 am

      There is an “Update” function in the File menu. I’d imagine that if you placed the event and project in the right place and used that, it would work. Seems to be what it is for. Can’t test it, though.
      Or, just use iMovie version 9 in case you need to dig into an old project.
      There may be other ways too, but I haven’t needed to investigate.

        10/29/13 @ 2:34 am

        Thanks, Gary. What I ended up doing was simply changing the .rcproject extension, which iMovie 10 doesn’t seem to recognize, to .mp4. I then used the Import feature and it recognized the clip. It actually created a folder for it and within that folder was a .mov clip that I was able to use. Now to go back and rematch your video to get a better handle on using the new version. Thanks again for all your efforts.


          10/29/13 @ 5:34 am

          That’s odd, because an rcproject file is NOT a movie. Inside it are video files, so perhaps it recognized it as a “folder” and a video file inside and grabbed it. I wouldn’t count on that working — well, actually, it didn’t work as you didn’t get your project back, just a video clip of it,

            10/29/13 @ 12:20 pm

            And you’re right! I had another clip that I just did the same thing to but there was no .mov clip that ended up being associated with it. Just a couple of data files. Perhaps when I had moved the first one I also brought over some additional info that allowed an actual .mov file to be created.

            Actually it’s really all beyond me here, and ultimately it doesn’t matter now because my external hard drive just crashed! LOL! Can’t access any files on it now. Sigh. Thanks, anyway.


    10/28/13 @ 4:00 pm

    Gary, thanks for your reviews. I always find out something I didn’t know.

    Do you know if there is any way to save in 4:3 aspect ratio? We are building a website that uses 4:3 and I cannot seem to find any way to export using this setting. Thanks!

      10/28/13 @ 5:32 pm

      Not sure. Could be that all videos in iMovie are now 16:9. I guess the idea is to keep it simple for non-pro videos.

    10/28/13 @ 4:40 pm

    Hi Gary, with iMovie 10, is there a way to import new content from a camera to an external hard drive? I don’t see how I can choose a destination for new footage and am afraid of stuffing my internal drive on my MacBookPro.
    Also, on my iMovie 10, “reveal in finder” is grayed out on clips so I can’t figure out where the files live on my drives; is there a way to find out how to reveal?


      10/28/13 @ 5:29 pm

      It is actually more straight-forward. You create iMovie Libraries wherever you want them. Use File, Open Library, New. Then create a new library on the other drive. Then select that one when you import.
      Clips are now stored in libraries, like with photos in iPhoto. You have to dig into packages if you want to find them — but the idea is to not worry about the “files” — just use them in iMovie like you use photos in iPhoto.

    10/30/13 @ 2:35 pm

    Gary, Can you tell us how to do “picture in picture” with iMovie 10?

      10/30/13 @ 2:48 pm

      It is essentially the same thing, but easier. Just drag and drop a clip above another clip in the timeline. I’ll have a video on it eventually — lots of new things to cover.

    10/31/13 @ 8:02 am

    Hi Gary, in the older versions of iMovie, you could fine-tune the % of speed you wanted to slow down a clip; in the new version, it appears you can only slow a clip down by 25%, or 50%, just those two choices. Am I missing something, or is this true? Thanks, big fan of your vids!

      10/31/13 @ 12:06 pm

      Not true. Play with it some more. You can set the speed to anything you want.

    Michael Plaisance
    10/31/13 @ 8:20 am

    Gary do you know if the iMovie theater uses your 5GB icloud space?

    Frank Grimaldi
    10/31/13 @ 12:10 pm

    Just upgraded to maverick and got the iMovie update and the new interface. Your video was very helpful and hope that you do a few more regarding some the new features in iMovie. Is iLife updates part of your new video series on Maverick?

      10/31/13 @ 12:16 pm

      Do you mean the Video Guide to Mavericks? No, that is just on Mavericks. It doesn’t deal with the 6 new apps — it would be much bigger and much more expensive (and wouldn’t even be available yet) if that was the case.

    11/2/13 @ 9:00 am

    Gary: Can you do a video on what titles you can edit and which ones you can’t? It seems that most of the titles are even more uneditable than they used to be. For instance, I can’t change the font on the Standard title, which seems insane.

      11/2/13 @ 9:40 am

      I’ll be doing a video on titles at some point, certainly. But for figuring out what you can edit and what you can’t, it is just a matter of going through them and trying. As a general rule, when the text itself animates, it can’t be styled. So use “Centered” instead of “Standard” if you want to change the style.

    didier cuvele
    11/2/13 @ 4:39 pm

    I have several iphoto libraries on different external drives how do I go from one to the other from imovie 10 ?
    Can I merge several event libraries into one?


      11/2/13 @ 5:01 pm

      Open the one you want to use in iPhoto. Then run iMovie and it will use that one. I don’t think the new iPhoto has a way to merge libraries (the old one didn’t). You can use some third-party tools, though make sure they are compatible with the new iPhoto before you use them.

    11/5/13 @ 3:53 am

    Did Apple take away export to Quicktime?

      11/5/13 @ 6:21 am

      The new version doesn’t have that option like the old one does –it simplifies the process. But you can still use one of the many other tools to take the output from iMovie and convert to something else. For instance, Compressor will let you do almost anything.

    11/8/13 @ 3:35 pm

    How can I continue to work on a project after I’ve shared it to Theater?
    I shared it so people could see a rough draft assuming that I could continue to work on the project, but that doesn’t seem to be the case… Please HELP!! I spent too much time on this to start over. Thank you!

      11/8/13 @ 3:48 pm

      There’s nothing to prevent you from working on a project once it has been shared via theater. Just return to the Library view, select the project, and continue to work with it.

        11/8/13 @ 3:50 pm

        Thanks Gary, I can see the project, but when I click on it, it only shows me the clips that I used, it doesn’t go back to all of the titles and transitions etc. that should be there. Am I doing something wrong?

          11/8/13 @ 3:54 pm

          Sounds like you are selecting the event, not the project.

            11/8/13 @ 3:58 pm

            OK, iMovie crashed on me, and when it reopened my projects were exactly how they were supposed to be. Thanks for your help!

            One more easy one: How do I get a song to get quieter when there’s talking going on? Or can I manually adjust the volume at different stages?

              11/8/13 @ 4:00 pm

              You can manually adjust the volume using curves. This is for iMovie 11, but the concept is still the same:

                11/8/13 @ 4:13 pm

                You’re the man Gary! Thanks so much for the help. In this big wide web of info, sometimes it can feel pretty lonely. It means a lot to be able to ask a question and actually have a human being answer it. I’ll be back for sure!

    11/9/13 @ 9:12 pm

    Please help. I have a 5 minute movie that is approx. 800MB in 1080p. I want to download to youtube but want to compress it. Have seen how to do this in IMovie 9 and 11 but cant find how to do this on 10. I see H264 settings in version 11 but cannot find on version 10. Any ideas?

      11/9/13 @ 9:42 pm

      Those settings aren’t a part of iMovie 10. Just export in the highest quality and upload to YouTube. YouTube recompresses them anyway.

    John L
    11/24/13 @ 12:38 pm


    I need to edit and upload to YouTube songs from concerts I videotape. So far, I only see how to export the whole clip (unedited or trimmed but not split) or the whole movie. I’d prefer to split things into songs and only upload the edited clips. How do I do this? My fallback is using iMovie HD 6.0.4. (which then makes things more complicated with AVCHD footage.) Thanks.

      11/24/13 @ 1:12 pm

      You need to create a project for each movie you want to export. Then import the whole clip and trim it to just the song you need. Lots of ways to do that, use any one. Then export the project, which would only be that one song. Then repeat for the next song, or use one project and just keep re-trimming the clip.

        John L
        11/24/13 @ 2:56 pm

        Thanks. Wouldn’t that end up using lots of disc space?

          11/24/13 @ 6:21 pm

          Not necessarily. You have one copy of the original long clip. Then the projects don’t use up much space. Then each export is just one file.

            John L
            11/25/13 @ 10:02 am

            I hope so. I’ll try it out in two weeks and get back to you. Thanks!

    12/1/13 @ 8:55 pm

    I am trying to import footage from a GoPro 3 + camera unsung Imovie 10 but I am having all kings of problems. From reading several forum it seem I have to convert this clips first with some other program? Should I just give up and by final cut pro and if so will this make my work any easier. I have been using imovie for several years with a panasonic hd camera without problem what is the best tool for me to use with the GoPro?

      12/1/13 @ 10:53 pm

      I agree that you should simply use some other program to convert the clips. See what other GoPro users are using. Should be relatively quick and simple.

    Ellie S
    12/2/13 @ 8:53 pm

    In iMovie 10, I can no longer see the name of my Passport external hard drive on the interface as I could in iMovie 9, so I have no clue how to save a project (and events) onto that drive. I looked everywhere for it. Any ideas? Thanks.

      12/2/13 @ 8:58 pm

      Perhaps it isn’t formatted for Mac? Otherwise it should be there, you just have to get used to the way it works in the new iMovie.

        Ellie S
        12/2/13 @ 9:59 pm

        Gary – my hard drive is formatted for Mac and is only a couple months old. Maybe the new iMovie you’re talking about is iMovie 11 that comes as part of iLife on all new computers – it’s actually much more like v9 than v10 in its look and feel. iMovie 10 is the “update” (more like the cousin) to iMovie 09, with a whole new interface. I do think v10 left out the ability to (easily) save projects to an external hard drive, as the icon does not show up there. I sure haven’t figured it out!

          12/2/13 @ 10:27 pm

          Don’t confuse version numbers with iLife suite “years.” The last version of iLife was iLife ’11 (as in 2011) and people refer to the version of iMovie that came with that as iMovie ’11 (as in 2011). That was actually version 9.x.
          The latest version of iMovie is iMovie version 10.0 and it was released in October of 2013. It is what now comes on all new Macs.
          You certainly can save to any location you want. It is easier than ever, but you have to forget about the odd way that previous versions did it. Now it is straight-forward. Go to File, Open Library. There you can create a new library anywhere you want — different places on your internal drive, external drive, etc.

    Ellie S
    12/3/13 @ 11:31 am

    Gary – you’re right. The software versions are so mixed up. I’m going back to square one now and learning step by step how to create and save a project in iMovie 10. That process is very different from iMovie 9, which I preferred. I do love some of the new editing features in V10, though, so I’ll stick with it…

    12/15/13 @ 6:23 am

    Can you please tell me how to create “camera archive” in iMovie 9? I use to get that as an option when importing from camera in the previous version but don’t seem to see it now.

    Also, is there a way to import selected clips and not “all” clips from the camera?


      12/15/13 @ 8:40 am

      Not sure what you mean by a camera archive. Maybe describe what you are trying to accomplish. Do you just want to save your clips somewhere outside of the iMovie library? And as a for importing, it greatly depends on the way your camera works. An old tape camera imports completely different than a camera that uses an SD card, or an iPhone.

    HD Visual Solutions
    12/27/13 @ 5:59 pm

    Hi Gary,
    I am awaiting shipment of my new Mac Pro desktop and have a few concerns with iMovie10. Reading horror stories on the web about Maverick crashing older Macs after update and new iMovie 10 super slow /crashes all the time. I use imovie 9 for business and it meets all my needs. Film in 1080p and export to 720p. At the Apple store I was testing the new Mac Pro and iMovie on it was smoking fast. But a 4 min 720p mp4 was 280mg compared to 100mb exported form my iMovie 9. Wondering why?

      12/27/13 @ 6:05 pm

      It all comes down to your export settings. But if you are getting a Mac Pro, you should really think about using Final Cut instead of iMovie. Lots of optimizations for FC on the Mac Pro. Much more control over your export settings — and it sounds like you want that.

        HD Visual Solutions
        12/27/13 @ 6:21 pm

        I know. Thinking about getting Final Cut X. Took Izzy’s free 3 hour video tutorial and it seems like a bloated imovie. Nothing that I would ever use personally in my business except maybe export settings. I am really just looking for speed in export. Since I didn’t see any export settings available in the iMovie running on the new Mac Pro at the Apple store I am guessing the 720p mp4 you get……”is what you get”…period? Just seems crazy that it’s almost 3 times the size compared to imovie 9.

          12/27/13 @ 8:26 pm

          You can always use another app to re-compress the output from iMovie. I disagree that FCPX is bloated. I love using it. The features I don’t use do not get in the way if I’m not using them.

    1/4/14 @ 2:54 pm

    Gary. I have clips in different events. How can I move them to a new event to make a new movie project ?

      1/4/14 @ 6:51 pm

      You can use clips from different events in other movies. You can also move events by just dragging and dropping.

Comments Closed.