How to Edit Clips on Your MacBook with iMovie

By Mark L. Chambers

One of the great features of MacBook’s iMovie is the ability to edit clips to create that perfect masterpiece. If a clip has extra seconds of footage at the beginning or end (as it should to ensure you get all the action), you don’t want that superfluous stuff in your masterpiece. Our favorite video editor gives you the following functions:

  • Crop: Removes unwanted material from a video clip or still image

  • Rotate: Rotates a clip or image on its center axis

  • Trim: Trims frames from a video clip

Before you can edit, however, you have to select a section of a clip:

  1. Click a clip or image in either the Project pane (where changes you make are specific to this project) or the Event pane (where edits you make are reflected in any project using that footage).

    iMovie displays the clip or image in the monitor.

  2. To select the entire clip or image, simply click it.

  3. Drag your cursor across the thumbnail to select the section of the media you want to edit.

    Note that some editing functions, such as Crop and Rotate, automatically apply to the entire clip.

    A yellow frame surrounds the selected region. You’re ready to edit that selected part of the clip.

Note the handles that appear at the beginning or ending of the selection. You can make fine changes to the selected section by dragging them or by pressing the arrow keys.

  • To crop: Click the Crop button on the Editing toolbar to display the frame in the Monitor pane and then click Crop at the top of the Monitor pane. Drag the edges of the frame and the handles to select the section you want to keep. To preview your selection, click the Play button. When you’re ready, click Done, and everything but the selected region is removed.

  • To rotate: Click the Crop button on the Editing toolbar and then click one of the two rotation buttons (which carry a curved arrow icon). Each click rotates the media 90 degrees in that direction. Click Done when the clip or image is properly oriented.

  • To trim: Right-click the selection (or choose Edit on the iMovie menu bar), and then choose Trim to Selection. iMovie removes the frames from around the selected video.

Edits that you make to one clip or still image can actually be copied to multiple items! Select the edited clip and choose Edit→Copy. Now you can select one or more clips and choose Edit→Paste Adjustments to apply video, audio, or crop edits. (To apply all three types of edits, just choose All.)