How to Enable iMovie Advanced Tools

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

iMovie on various Apple devices
Courtesy Apple, Inc.

The recent versions of iMovie 10, iMovie '11, and iMovie have many advanced features. Many of these tools aren't visible. These tools are hidden to keep from cluttering up the user interface. Here's how to access these hidden editing tools in iMovie 10 and iMovie '11.

Instructions in this article apply to iMovie 10 and iMovie '11. iMovie 10 is a more recent version of the software.

iMovie '11

iMovie '11 is a consumer-oriented video editor. It offers powerful and easy-to-use tools on the surface. 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 iMovie '11's Advanced Tools

To turn on Advanced Tools, go to the iMovie menu and select Preferences. Then, select the Show Advanced Tools check box and 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:

  • The left one is the Comment tool. Drag it to a video clip to add a comment, like adding a sticky note to a document.
  • The right button is a Chapter Marker. 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 new buttons are on the horizontal menu bar that splits the iMovie window in half:

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

iMovie 10

iMovie 10 is a complete redesign of the app. It incorporates more 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, 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.

Advanced tools in iMovie 10.

The magic wand performs automatic video and audio correction, title settings, color balance, color correction, cropping, stabilization, volume, noise reduction and equalization, speed, clip filter and audio effects, and clip information. You may not see all of these tools at the same time; it depends on the type of clip that is loaded into the editor.

Some of the old advanced tools (such as the green screen) are visible after you use them. For example, when you drag a clip onto the timeline and position it above an existing clip, new options appear.

Overlay options drop-down in iMovie 10

Adding a new, overlapping clip to your timeline causes a dropdown 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 which options you choose, additional controls display, such as positioning, softness, borders, shadows, and more.