How to Create an iMovie Project

Import videos, photos, and music to make your first movie

It's easy to make movies on Mac computers using iMovie. However, until you've successfully made your first movie, the process can be intimidating. Follow these instructions to get started with your first iMovie project.

Step 1: Gather Your Video, Images, and Sound

The first step when editing video with iMovie is gathering all the necessary elements on your Mac:

  • Video
  • Images
  • Sounds
  • iMovie application
  1. If the iMovie application isn't already on your computer, download iMovie from the Mac App Store.

  2. Identify the video you want to use for your iMovie and move it to your Mac's Photos app. Connect your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or camcorder to the Mac and import the video to the Photos app.

    You can also upload your video to a service like Dropbox or Google One Drive and then download it to your Mac.

  3. Identify any images or sounds you want to use in your iMovie. Place images in the Photos app and sounds in Apple Music (or iTunes if you're using an older OS).

Step 2: Create Your iMovie Project

Before you get started editing, you need to open, name, and save your project:

  1. Launch iMovie and select the Projects tab.

    iMovie with the Projects tab highlighted
  2. Select Create New.

    iMovie with Create New highlighted
  3. Select Movie to combine video, images, and music in a movie. The app switches to the project screen and assigns your movie a generic name, such as My Movie 1.

    iMovie with Movie option highlighted
  4. Use the back arrow to go back to the Projects page and enter a name for your movie to replace the generic name. Select OK to save the project.

    iMovie with Projects back arrow and Name field highlighted
  5. To access and edit your in-process movie project at any time, select Projects and then select your movie from your saved projects list.

Step 3: Import Your Video to iMovie

Earlier, you transferred your video to the Mac. It should be residing in the Videos album of your Photos app.

  1. Open your project and select Photos from the menu on the left.

    iMovie project with Photos highlighted
  2. Select Albums and navigate to your video's location.

    iMovie project with Albums highlighted
  3. Choose the video you want to include in your movie. Drag and drop the clip to the work area, which is called the timeline.

    iMovie project with arrow indicating dragging the video to the timeline

Step 4: Import Photos Into iMovie

When you already have your digital photos stored in Photos on your Mac, it's easy to import them to your iMovie project.

  1. In your iMovie project, go to Photos.

  2. Browse through your images and drag an image you want to use to the timeline. Place it where you want it to appear in the movie.

    iMovie project with Photos highlighted and arrow indicating dragging a photo to the timeline
  3. Drag any additional photos to your timeline. 

    iMovie project with arrow indicating dragging photo to timeline

Step 5: Add Audio to Your iMovie

Although you don't have to add music to your video, music sets a mood and adds a professional touch. iMovie makes it easy to access music and mix audio already stored in iTunes on your computer.

  1. Select the Audio tab.

    iMovie project with Audio tab highlighted
  2. Scroll through the music list. To preview a tune, select it and click Play.

  3. Select a song and drag it to your timeline. It appears under the video and photo clips.

    iMovie project with a song being dragged to timeline

    If the music runs longer than your movie, trim it by clicking the audio track on the timeline and dragging the right edge to match the end of the clips above it.

Step 5: View Your Video

At this point, you've added all the elements you want. To preview your movie:

  1. Move your cursor over the timeline clips; you'll see a vertical line that indicates your position.

  2. Position the verticle line at the beginning of your first video clip on the timeline. The first frame will enlarge in the bigger editing section of the screen.

    iMovie project with vertical line highlighted at movie's start
  3. Click the Play icon under the large image to preview the movie you have so far, complete with music.

    iMovie project with Play button highlighted

Step 6: Add Effects to Your Movie

Optionally, add some effects to your movie using the effects that run across the top of the Preview screen. (Your project saves as you work.)

Effects include:

  • Adjust color, skin tones, or white balance.
  • Change the saturation or temperature of the color.
  • Crop a photo or apply a Ken Burns effect.
  • Stabilize shaky video.
  • Adjust the sound volume.
  • Reduce background noise.
  • Change the speed of the video or run it in reverse.
  • Choose from a large selection of clip and audio effects.

To add a voiceover, select the microphone in the bottom-left corner of the movie preview screen and start talking. 

Step 7: Share Your Movie

It's easy to share your movie via email, YouTube, or Facebook.

  1. Select the Projects tab, then select your movie project icon.

    iMovie with project tab and movie selected
  2. Select More (three dots).

    iMovie project with More (three dots) highlighted
  3. Select Share Project.

    iMovie project menu with Share Project highlighted
  4. Select Email. Your Mail app will open and you can send the movie to the email addresses you want.

    iMovie project options with Email highlighted
  5. Or, select Share Project > YouTube & Facebook and follow the prompts to upload to YouTube or share to Facebook.

    iMovie project options with YouTube and Facebook highlighted
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