How to Add Text to a Movie in iMovie 10

Jazz up your iMovie creation with titles and subtitles

Making your own movies is becoming easier all the time. If you shoot movies on your iPhone, you can transfer that footage straight to iMovie on your Mac and edit it. If you want to take your movie to the next level, you can add text to it, such as titles and subtitles. Here's how to add text to your iMovie 10 movie.

Instructions in this article apply to iMovie 10 on macOS Catalina (10.15.x).

Add a Title to Your Movie

Before you can edit your video, you must import the footage to iMovie. To add a title to the footage you imported, complete the following steps:

  1. Drag the footage you imported to the iMovie timeline (the bottom window in the iMovie interface).

    iMovie 10 Opening Screen
  2. Select Titles above the browser (the top window in the iMovie interface).

    Upload footage to iMovie
  3. View a preview of each title style by hovering over its thumbnail. Choose the style you want, then drag it above the clip in the video timeline where you want the title to appear. The title appears in the timeline as a text overlay.

    Dragging iMovie titles to movie timeline
  4. In the browser, double-click the text box to make the text editable.

    Double-clicking title text in iMovie browser
  5. Type your title. Use the toolbar above the browser to adjust the font, text size, text alignment, character formatting, and color until the title looks just right. When you're done, press Enter on the keyboard.

    Adding and formatting a title for your movie
  6. Position the title so that it's in the right place in your movie. Place the left edge of the text overlay box where you want the title to appear, then drag the right edge of the box. The text box grows longer, and numbers appear to indicate how long the text stays on screen.

    Specifying how long movie titles appear in the iMovie timeline
  7. As an alternative to overlaying the text on your movie, make the title appear between video clips. To do so, instead of placing the title bar above the footage in the timeline, drag it inside the timeline where you want it to appear.

    Drag iMovie title to beginning of footage screenshot

Add a Subtitle to Your Movie

Adding a subtitle in iMovie 10 is a bit trickier than adding a title because of a limitation of the application. Namely, subtitles typically appear at the bottom-center of the screen, and iMovie doesn't accommodate that placement.

To add a subtitle to your movie, you must first find a title you can live with. Many of the options have wobbling effects or fade in and out. Choose something static. To add a subtitle to your movie, complete the following steps:

  1. Select Formal. A text box appears at the bottom of your movie in the browser.

    There may be other options, but Formal is a good default choice.

    Adding a subtitle to your movie by selecting the Format title type
  2. In the browser, select the text box, then type a subtitle for your movie.

    Typing a subtitle for your movie in the browser
  3. Adjust the font, size, alignment, and color until the text looks the way you want it to.

  4. Match the subtitle with the speech on screen. Place the left edge of the subtitle text box where you want the text to appear, then drag the right edge until you achieve the length of time you want the text to stay on screen.

    Adjusting subtitle duration in iMovie