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How to customise the iMovie interface

Get access to your favourite features by creating the perfect editing interface

Apple’s hardware and software is well known for how it ‘just works’. It is the reason that many people buy a Mac in the first place. Apple’s apps are simple and straightforward, and work right out of the box without any fiddling. Unfortunately, this does slightly limit how much you can customise your apps. Unlike apps such as Aperture and Final Cut Pro X, which let you choose the controls and toolbars you can see when editing, apps like iMovie and iPhoto are a little more limited.


But there are still a few things you can do with the iMovie interface. By default it’s set up for simple editing, but you can activate some more advanced features in just a few minutes if you know where to look. Here we show you exactly how you can do that.

Step-by-step: Tweak iMovie’s controls

1 View waveforms

When you’re tweaking audio, you need to see it to do a proper job. Click the Thumbnail button on the right of the timeline and check the box in the menu to see waveforms below each clip.

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2 Skimmer Info

Click View>Show Skimmer Info, or hit Ctrl+Y to activate a small pop-up over each clip giving you details like the name of the video or photo and the file type.

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3 Wrapping timeline

If you have a lot of extra space in your timeline, you can choose View>Wrapping Timeline to show your project over multiple lines; perfect for longer projects.

Step 3_web

4 Size

You can adjust the size of the thumbnails for each clip in your timeline, too. Just click the Thumbnail button on the right again and use the slider to adjust the size.

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5 Swap locations

If you want to return to the glory days of iMovie ’09, you can put the timeline back in the top-left and move the events view down by choosing Window>Swap Project and Event.

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6 Sidebar

When you’ve got your perfect setup and just want to concentrate on editing your clips, you can also click Hide in the top-left to get the Libraries list off-screen temporarily.

Step 6_web


In-depth: A new setup

Click the image for a full-size look.