Free entry-level video editing app
iMovie is a free entry-level video editing app for macOS. User-friendly and designed to work seamlessly across all your Apple devices, iMovie makes it easy to turn your home videos into polished films. While it may lack the sophistication of other, more advanced software, iMovie for Mac is a great choice for first-time video editors and would-be home movie directors.
How do I get iMovie on my Mac?
It's easy to download iMovie. Being a native Mac app, the iMovie download comes from the official Apple Store. Like all Apple apps, the install is straightforward and, in a matter of seconds, you’ll find yourself ready to get started.
Upon opening on a Mac computer, users are greeted with a simple black interface with menu items running along the top. iMovie only shows you the basic tools you need at this moment, keeping the interface clutter-free.
The app should open on the Projects List screen, from where you can begin to create your first movie. Simply click on the Create New box and choose between making a movie of videos, photos, and music or following a template to create a Hollywood-style movie trailer.
You will then be taken to the Project Interface, where you can begin importing footage and editing your movie. Users can import media either on their computer or from an external drive or camera.
iMovie doesn’t offer any tutorials for beginners, as some other video editing programs do. Rather, tooltips appear as users mouse over specific buttons and features. Useful how-to guides are also available via the Help menu. Total beginners might struggle initially when using iMovie over other software with more explicit tutorials.
What can iMovie do?
iMovie gives you the basic editing tools needed to put together a movie from your set of imported video clips, allowing you to cut and paste bits of them together. You can then add transitions, titles, backgrounds, soundtracks, and audio. There is even a green screen and blue screen support if you want to start playing with special effects.
There are also lots of trailers and templates to choose from that will help make your movie look more professional.
Adding soundtracks or audio to your creations is fairly simple thanks to integration with iTunes, although we would love to see easier access to a library of copyright-free audio content. Images can also be easily imported from iPhoto and the Photos app, while there is a Voiceover button to allow you to easily add narration.
You can save your edits and changes in digital format, including 4K resolution for super high-quality movies.
iMovie can be fussy with formats. It works best with DV format films and trying to import other formats may not work - we had some issues with MP4 files compatibility. It will, however, work perfectly with footage shot on Apple devices, so format issues for Apple users looking to create movies from their iPhone-shot videos shouldn't be a problem.
We also found that the playback with spacebar function would sometimes stop working while at times the whole program would freeze up, forcing us to have to quit and start again. Luckily iMovie regularly autosaves projects, meaning we didn't lose any work, but it was annoying.
Good for beginners, pros might want more
iMovie is aimed toward total beginners, although first-time editors will need to spend some time getting to grips with how exactly a movie should be pieced together. It also uses lots of specialized terminologies that first-time users might not be familiar with.
Using iMovie does require some patience in the initial stages of use but thanks to its simple, intuitive functionality, it's a pretty quick learning curve. You'll be surprised to find you can quite swiftly produce a basic first movie.
Once you have created several movies and gotten to know all the functionality available, you might start to find iMovie for Mac a little limited. Advanced video editors will certainly find that it lacks specialist editing functions, while others might find the included templates a little prescribed.
It's important to remember, however, that iMovie is geared toward beginners for creating simple video projects. Once you find you need more professional-quality editing software, moving onto Final Cut Pro X might be a good next step. Alternatively, Lightworks is a very sophisticated editing program. For an industry-standard alternative, users might like Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Is iMovie good enough for YouTube?
If you are just starting as a creator on Youtube, iMovie is a great choice. It features an integrated YouTube uploader to publish your creations online instantly. We did, however, sometimes find this fails to upload properly or doesn't tag the video correctly.
You can also email your creations, share them to Vimeo or prepare the video for Facebook, although you will have to upload it yourself separately.
Can you get iMovie on a Windows computer?
iMovie is only available for Mac/iOS; Apple hasn't released a Windows version of iMovie nor announced any intention to develop iMovie for PC. Given that Windows Movie Maker is now discontinued, Windows users looking for an alternative to iMovie might like the simple and practical layout of Filmora Video Editor. There is also Filmora Video Editor for Mac available for macOS users.
Great first option for video editors
iMovie is a free video editing app exclusively available through the Apple Store. Its clean and elegant interface, and simple functionality, are well-suited for beginners looking to create their first movie. First-time users may find its lack of tutorials challenging initially, they will quickly get to grips with the app's main features.
iMovie is a great entry-level desktop application that can turn your footage and photos into impressive productions. While it lacks some of the formats and features supported in other programs, its simplicity and constraint are actually part of its appeal to beginners.