How to Enable iMovie Advanced Tools

Both iMovie 10.x and iMovie '11 have advanced tools

Video editing applications iMovie 10 and iMovie '11 from Apple have many advanced features. Some of these features are difficult to find, and some aren't visible until you need them. This keeps the user interface uncluttered, which you'll appreciate after you learn where to look for the advanced editing tools.

Instructions in this article apply to iMovie 10 and iMovie '11 on a Mac.

iMovie '11 was released in 2010 as part of the iLife '11 software bundle. Apple released the completely redesigned iMovie 10 three years later and has updated it regularly ever since. That means iMovie 10 is newer than iMovie '11, which causes some confusion.

iMovie 10

iMovie 10, which is a free download for all Mac users, expands the options for sharing an iMovie via social media and includes themes from the iOS version. iMovie 10 also includes picture-in-picture, cutaways, green-screen effects, transitions, and a method to create movie trailers.

Accessing iMovie 10 Advanced Tools

The iMovie 10's Preferences menu doesn't contain an option to Show Advanced Tools. The advanced tools are located in a toolbar above the large thumbnail image in the editor.

iMovie interface showing Advanced Tools location

The row of icons above the large thumbnail image includes many advanced capabilities:

  • A magic wand performs automatic video and audio correction
  • Title settings for entering and editing text
  • Color balance
  • Color correction
  • Cropping
  • Stabilization
  • Volume
  • Noise reduction and equalization
  • Speed
  • Clip filter and audio effects
  • Clip information

You may not see all of these tools at the same time, depending on the type of clip you are working on.

Some of the older advanced tools (such as the green screen) are only visible after you use them. Adding a new, overlapping clip to your timeline causes a drop-down menu to appear. This menu provides options for how two overlapping clips should be processed: Cutaway, Green/Blue Screen, Split Screen, or Picture in Picture.

Overlay options drop-down in iMovie 10

Depending on the options you choose, additional controls display, such as positioning, softness, borders, shadows, and more.

iMovie '11

iMovie '11 is a consumer-oriented video editor. It offers easy-to-use tools on the surface, but it also has some advanced tools. The most useful advanced tool is keywords. Use keywords to organize your videos and to make videos and video clips easier to find.

You can also use Advanced Tools to add comments and chapter markers to projects, create green screens and blue screens to superimpose video clips, replace a video clip with another video clip of the same length, and add picture-in-picture clips to a video.

How to Turn on Advanced Tools in iMovie '11

To turn on Advanced Tools in iMovie '11, go to the iMovie menu, select Preferences > Show Advanced Tools, and then close the iMovie Preferences window.

Show Advanced Tools in iMovie '11

Two new buttons appear to the right of the Horizontal Display button in the top right corner of the Project browser window:

  • Comment tool: This is the left one. Drag it to a video clip to add a comment, like adding a sticky note to a document.
  • Chapter Marker: This is the right button. Drag it to each place in a video that you want to mark as a chapter.
Add comment and chapter marker in iMovie '11

There are two other buttons on the horizontal menu bar that splits the iMovie window in half:

  • The Pointer (arrow): Closes any tool that is currently open.
  • The Keyword (key): Adds keywords to videos and video clips to make it easier to organize them.
Advanced tools in iMovie '11
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