Import Video, Photos and Music to a New Mac iMovie Project

Import videos from your iPhone to your Mac with ease.

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Are You Ready to Begin Editing Video in iMovie?

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ITunes makes it easy for beginners to make movies on their Mac computers using iMovie. However, until you've successfully made your first movie, the process can be intimidating.

If you're new to editing video with iMovie, start by gathering all the necessary elements in one place—your Mac. This means you should have the video you want to work with in the Mac's Photos app already. Do this by connecting your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or camcorder to the Mac to automatically import the video to the Photos app. Any pictures or sound you plan to use when making your movie should also already be on the Mac, either in the Photos app for pictures or in iTunes for sound. If iMovie isn't already on your computer, it is available as a free download from the Mac App Store.

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Open, Name and Save a New iMovie Project

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

  1. Open iMovie.
  2. Click the Projects tab at the top of the screen.
  3. Click the Create New button in the screen that opens.
  4. Select Movie in the drop-down menu to combine video, images and music in your own movie. The app switches to the project screen and assigns your movie a generic name such as "My Movie 1."
  5. Click the Projects button in the top left corner of the screen and enter a name for your movie to replace the generic name.
  6. Click OK to save the project.

Anytime you want to work on your project, just click the Projects button at the top of the screen and double-click the movie from the saved projects to open it in the media screen for editing.

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Import Video to iMovie

When you transferred your movies from your mobile device or your camcorder to your Mac, they were placed in the Videos album inside the Photos app.

  1. To locate the video footage you want, click Photos Library in the left panel and choose the My Media tab. In the drop-down menu at the top of the screen under My Media, select Albums.
  2. Click the Videos album to open it.
  3. Scroll through the videos and select one you want to include in your movie. Drag and drop the clip to the work area directly below it called the timeline.
  4. To include another video, drag and drop it behind the first one on the timeline. 
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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 iMovie, click Photos Library in the left panel and choose the My Media tab. 
  2. In the drop-down menu at the top of the screen under My Media, select My Albums or one of the other selections such as People, Places or Shared to see thumbnails of those albums in iMovie. 
  3. Click any album to open it.
  4. Browse through the pictures in the album and drag the one you want to use to the timeline. Place it anywhere you want it to appear in the movie.
  5. Drag any additional photos to the timeline. 
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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 that is already stored in iTunes on your computer.

  1. Click on the Audio tab at the top of the screen next to the My Media tab.
  2. Select iTunes in the left panel to display the music in your music library. 
  3. Scroll through the list of tunes. To preview one, click on it and then click the play button that appears next to it.
  4. Click the song that you want and drag it to your timeline. It appears underneath the video and photo clips. If it runs longer than your movie, you can trim it by clicking the audio track on the timeline and dragging the right edge to match the end of the clips above it.
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View Your Video

Now you have all the parts you wanted in your movie sitting on the timeline. Move your cursor over the clips in the timeline and see a vertical line that indicates your position. Position the verticle line at the beginning of your first video clip on the timeline. You'll see the first frame enlarged in the large editing section of the screen. Click the play button under the large image for a preview of the movie you have so far, complete with music.

You can stop now, happy with what you have, or you can add effects to liven up your video footage.

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Adding Effects to Your Movie

To add a voiceover, click the microphone icon at the bottom left corner of the movie preview screen and start talking. 

Use the effects buttons that run across the top of the movie preview screen to:

  • 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

Your project is saved as you work. When you are satisfied, go to the Projects tab. Click the icon for your movie project and select Theatre from the drop-down menu that is under your movie icon. Wait while the application renders your movie.

Click the Theatre tab at the top of the screen at any time to watch your movie in full-screen mode.

Note: This article was tested in iMovie 10.1.7, released in September 2017. A mobile app for iMovie is available for iOS devices. 

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