How to Split a Video Clip in iMovie

Clean up your video clips before starting an iMovie project

What to Know

  • Drag the long clip to the timeline and move the playhead to where you want to split the clip. Select Modify > Split Clip.
  • Unusable footage? Split off that section and delete it.
  • Crop a clip: Select it, hold down R, and select the footage you want. Press and hold Control, click the footage, and choose Trim Selection.

This article explains how to clean up and organize your video clips after you import video into iMovie, including how to assemble video clips in iMovie, split longer clips into separate scenes, and remove unusable footage by splitting or cropping.

Assemble Video Clips in iMovie

You need to create a project and import video clips before you can start working on your iMovie project.

  1. In iMovie, click the Project tab at the top of the screen.

  2. Click the blank thumbnail image labeled Create New, then click Movie from the pop-up.

  3. The new project screen is given a default name. Click Projects at the top of the screen and enter a project name in the pop-up field.

  4. Click File > Import Media.

    Screenshot of iMovie 10 opening screen
  5. To import a video clip from your Photos library, click Photos Library in the left panel of iMovie, then click the album containing videos from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen to bring up thumbnails of the video clips.

  6. Click a video clip thumbnail and drag it to the timeline, which is the workspace at the bottom of the screen. 

  7. If the video you want to use isn't in your Photos application, click the name of your computer or other location in the left panel of iMovies and locate the video clip on your desktop, in your home folder, or elsewhere on your computer. Highlight it and click Import Selected

  8. Repeat the process with any additional video clips you plan to use in your iMovie project.

How to Split Video Clips in iMovie Into Separate Scenes

If you have long clips that contain several different scenes, split these large clips into several smaller ones, each containing only a single scene. To do this:

  1. Drag the clip you want to split into the iMovie timeline and select it by clicking on it.

  2. Use your mouse to move the playhead to the first frame of a new scene and Click to position it.

  3. Click Modify in the main menu bar, then click Split Clip. Alternatively, press Command+B to split the original clip into two separate scenes.

  4. If you won't be using one of the clips, click it, then press Delete.

How to Split or Crop Unusable Footage

If some of your video footage is shaky, out of focus, or unusable for some other reason, it's best to trash this footage so it doesn’t clutter up your project and take up storage space.

You can remove unusable footage from usable footage in two ways: split it or crop it.

Any video that is deleted using either of these methods disappears from iMovie for good, but not from the original file. It does not show up in the trash bin, but if you decide later that you want to use it, you must reimport it to the project.

Splitting Unusable Footage

If the unusable footage is at the beginning or end of a clip, just split that section off and delete it. This is the best way to go when the part that you don’t want to use is located at the beginning or end of a clip.

Cropping Unusable Footage

If you want to use a piece of video that is in the middle of a longer clip, you can use an iMovie shortcut.

  1. Select the clip in the timeline.

  2. Hold down the R key while dragging across the frames you want to keep. The selection is identified by a yellow frame. 

  3. Press and hold the Control key, then click the selected frame.

  4. Click Trim Selection from the shortcut menu.

How to Trash Unwanted Clips

If you add clips to your project and decide later you don't want to use them, just select the clips you want to get rid of and click the Delete key. This removes the clips from iMovie, but it doesn't affect the original media files; they are retrievable later if you decide you need them.

Because your clips are cleaned up and organized, it’s much easier to put them in order, add still photos, add transitions, and create your video project.

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