How To Edit A Video Using iMovie for iPhone (And Some Tricks You May Have Missed)

Mobile video editing made easy with iMovie for iOS

Editing on mobile sometimes seems like hassle. If you have big fingers like me trying to squeeze and pinch video clips just seems like hard work.

But it doesn’t have to be. Although I have fancy software on my computer, I find that mobile editing tools like iMovie for iPhone can be effective.

Using mobile editing means:

  • You don’t have to send files from your phone to your computer (I’m often frustrated trying to airdrop video clips to my laptop)
  • You can do it on the go without having to unpack a cumbersome laptop.

For iPhone or iOS users iMovie is a simple feature-rich editing tool you can download for free.

I will show you how to edit using iMovie for iOS and I will share a few features and hacks even seasoned iMovie users may not know.

How to edit using iMovie for iPhone

Simple edit

Using iMovie select images and videos from your camera roll to add to your project. You can move the clips around by tapping to select them and then lifting them with your finger to where you want them to go in the timeline.


If you want to cut out a section at the beginning or end of a clip:

  • Select the clip, make sure the scissor icon is selected
  • Scrub across the clip until you reach the desired beginning or endpoint.


By default, iMovie adds a cross-fade transition between your clips. This looks nice but sometimes a straight cut works better.

Click on the transition box between your clips to select the transition type you want to use.

Vertical video

iMovie crops vertical videos to a square. If you want to show the full vertical video:

  • Click the clip to select it
  • Click the magnifying glass at the top right-hand side of the screen
  • Use your fingers to pinch the clip down to vertical size.

Voice over

Add a voiceover to your movie:

  • Click the plus button
  • Select ‘voiceover’
  • iMovie will count you in and a red bar will cover the section of the video you are recording voice for.

Free theme music

iMovie has free to use music built in. You can overlay this on to your movie without worrying about copyright.

To add music:

  • Click the plus button
  • Select ‘Audio’ from the menu
  • Choose ‘Theme music’ and select your music
  • This adds the music track to your project.
  • Click on the track to adjust the volume.

Sound effects

You’ll find these in the same place as you found the theme music.


You can overlay one video over another in iMovie. This allows you to create a collage, to take the sound from one video clip and add it to another or to add a picture in picture style movie.

One feature iMovie lacks is the ability to overlay an image on top of a video. This could be a handy way to display a logo at the top of your video.

Mark Orr from Pocket Video School shared a hack with me that lets you do exactly that.

Before you start you must enable screen recording on your iPhone. You’ll need iOS 11 or higher. Here’s how.

Once screen recording is enabled:

  • Display the image you want to add on your screen
  • Swipe up
  • Click record
  • Return to your image and click it to expand it full screen.
  • Continue recording the screen for as long as you’d like to have the image appear on your movie.

If you don’t have iOS 11, you could create a project in iMovie made of images and export that instead.

iMovie is a handy tool for creating quick videos on the go. It will never replace my laptop based editing software, but it can do a lot. I can see myself using it for Instagram stories more in future videos.

Will you give it a go? Are there any hacks and tricks you can share?

(Next time we’ll look at an Android editing app).

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