It’s been a long time coming, and after three long years of incremental changes, iMovie has finally received a major update.

If you’ve always been itching to edit a home movie or two, now may be a good time to give it a shot, especially since iMovie is available as a free download for most Mac owners, even those who purchased the iLife suite of applications on a DVD - remember those? So we’ve gathered a few tips to guide you on your way.

See also Apple iMovie 10 for Mac review

Import

Before you can do anything, you must import some footage into iMovie. If this is the first time you’ve opened the app, you’ll be graced with… a dark grey window with ‘Import Media’ in its lower section. You could click on it and import footage from somewhere on your drive, or hook up your iPhone, but you can also simply drag the video clips or photos from the Finder straight onto iMovie - however you must do so by dragging it onto a specific area, namely the movie library event bearing today’s date.

See More - Or Less

When working on a project, all your available clips are shown top left of the interface and you can scroll through them and select the portions you want, but you might find the thumbnails’ size to be a too small. Thankfully, you can change that: click on the filmstrip icon, top right of that section to reveal a menu from which you can alter the clips’ size and how often a thumbnail is displayed (the more thumbnails per clip are shown, the longer the strip becomes, making it easier to select the part you want, but it also makes it harder to see the whole clip in one go).

Selective Selection

As you move the cursor over a clip, you can see a preview of it in the main viewer section, top right. Click on your clip to set a white vertical line. That line has a ‘+’ button. Click on it and a few seconds of that clip will be inserted at the end of your project starting from that white line onwards. If you want to be more precise, click and drag instead to create a selection box, which you can resize by dragging either the left or right edge. You can then click on the ‘+’ button to add it at the end of your project.

Event Bound

When you create a project, you’re asked by iMovie to bind it to a particular Event, ie, a specific series of clips already stored in the app. You might feel that this isn’t what you’re after, that you’d like to choose footage from multiple Events to create an amazing montage. Well don’t worry: even though that Event will be the one that appears by default when you open your Project, you’re at liberty to select a different event and drag a clip from there onto it as well. You can also store more than one Project per Event.

Timed Transition

The Transitions section displays the twenty-four transitions you have access to in iMovie. Mouse over them to see a preview of the effect both on the thumbnail and on the main preview section. Drag the one you want in between two clips and voila, one applied transition. But what if you want a duration that’s not one second long? Double-click on it in your Project to open up the Adjust section. From there, you can not only alter the duration but also the type of transition itself.

Fancy Titles

 

Adding a title is done in pretty much the same way as adding a transition, except that you must drop it above the clips in your project. Once there, you can resize them like you can clips, and double-clicking on a title will bring up the text editing section, but what may not be immediately obvious is that you can be very specific with your changes, even applying a different font, size and colour to individual letters, thereby creating truly unique titles.

Custom Maps

If you’re working on a road movie, adding a map to show the locations you’ve visited can be a lot of fun and you can do this in iMovie. Select the Maps & Background option and drag the one you’d like to use into your project. Strangely double-clicking on the clip may not bring up the editing tools but if that happens, you can reveal them by hitting the ‘3’ key. You can change the route from there but also customise the names that appear on the screen to make it a bit more fun.

Zoom in and Out

 

Top right of your Project section is a filmstrip icon like the one located in the Event section, and a slider. The icon allows you to change the size of your clips and also to display your clips’ audio waveform (which is on by default). The slider lets you zoom in and out of your project for precision work or to see your entire film in one go, but you can also do this by placing the cursor over the timeline, putting two fingers on your trackpad and moving them away from each other or closer together.

Exciting Trailers

You’re not limited to doing the whole movie yourself. iMovie also has a Trailers section which you can access from the ‘Create’ button. All you need do it locate the types of shots requested of you, like an action shot, a landscape shot, a medium shot, etc. and iMovie will do the rest for you. You can even choose a studio logo and name (and yes, you’re allowed to use real studio names, you know, for fun).

Time to Share

When you’ve completed your project, it’s time to share it with others. This is done by clicking on the Share button, top of the interface. All the options there are self-explanatory and you obviously must log into your social media account in order to upload your film to the relevant site. But what’s Theatre? It’s a place where you can store your film not only on your Mac, but thanks to iCloud, to all your other Apple devices as well, including AppleTV.