How to Add Text to iMovie

Adding text to your iMovies can make all the difference

add text to iMovie

Guido Mieth / Getty Images

It's becoming easier to make your own movies. If you're an Apple user, you can transfer your iPhone footage straight to iMovie for editing. This includes adding text.

You're not going to get Hollywood green screen special effects using iMovie, but for straightforward family vacation movies, iMovie is a very effective free tool.

Here's how to add text to iMovie footage; a title and subtitles are the two types of text you can add.

How to Add a Title to iMovie

  1. First, add your footage to iMovie. Click Create New, then click the import icon, represented by a down arrow.

  2. Once the footage has been imported into iMovie, select the Titles section at the top of the screen.

    Upload footage to iMovie
  3. Choose which type of text you want to have. You can see a preview of it by mousing over the thumbnail and looking at the screen to the right. Once you've chosen the text you want, click and drag it to where your video footage is.

    Dragging iMovie titles to footage
  4. By placing it on top of the footage, the title will appear as a text overlay. Go to the preview screen and double-click the text box to make it editable.

    Clicking title text on iMovie preview
  5. Type what you want the text to say. Adjust the font, text size, alignment, and color until it's just the way you want it.

    Adding a title to iMovie
  6. Now that the title has been made, it is time to position it so it's in the right place in the movie. Place the left edge where you want the text to first appear, then drag the right edge with your mouse. The text bar will get longer and numbers will appear; this is the duration of time the text will stay on screen.

    Specifying titles time on iMovie
    Specify the exact time you want the title to appear.
  7. An alternative to overlaying the text on the movie footage is to have the title appear before the footage. Instead of placing the titles bar above the footage, drag it inside the footage to where you want it to appear.

    Drag iMovie title to beginning of footage
  8. And you're done!

How to Add a Subtitle to iMovie

Adding a subtitle is slightly trickier because of iMovie's limitations. Namely, subtitles are usually in the bottom-center of the screen, and iMovie doesn't have that exact feature.

  1. Subtitles can be added, but you need to find a title you can live with. A lot of them have wobbling effects or fade in and out; you need something static.

    The closest one is likely to be Format, found at the bottom.

    Adding a subtitle to iMovie
    Adding a subtitle to iMovie.
  2. The Format title places a white bar across the bottom of the screen. Click it and type in what you want the subtitle to say.

    Adding a subtitle to iMovie
  3. Adjust the font, size, alignment, and color until the text looks exactly the way you want it.

  4. Finally, the subtitle has to match up with the speech on screen. Place the left edge where you want the text to first appear, then drag the right edge with your mouse. The text bar will get longer and numbers will appear, representing the length of time the text will stay on screen.

    Adjusting subtitle times on iMovie
    Adjusting subtitle duration on iMovie.
  5. And you're done.