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This tutorial will explain how to add sound effects, music and how to record voiceovers in iMovie.

Sound Effects and Music

iMovie has a built-in Library of sound effects and royalty free music that you are able to use and access easily from within the program. Click the Audio tab at the top of your Event Window, above your clips.

imovie audio button

The Audio Browser will open in the top left pane of iMovie where your clips were. In the menu to the left of this, make sure Sound Effects is selected. You can then sort through sound options by clicking on the blue folder icon and selecting a category from the list.

imovie sound effects screen
imovie sound effects drop down box

When you are ready to add an effect or music clip to your Timeline, drag and drop it from the Audio Browser directly to the Timeline.

dragging down of effect into timeline

You can then adjust the length of your sound clip by dragging from the left or right edges.

iMovie adjusting length of sound clip

Your sound or music can be moved in the Timeline by clicking on the top-third of the green bar and dragging it along the Timeline.

Music options are found in the Jingles category under iLife Sound Effects.

iMovie sound effects options

There are a few adjustments that are very useful and easy to make to your music.

The first is to Fade In and Out. To do this, hover your mouse over the green bar you want to fade, and a small dot will appear on the left and right edges of the bar. Center your cursor over the dot and when the cursor changes to two left-and-right-pointing triangles, click and drag away from the edge of the bar.

Fade In and Out

You can also apply these fades to the sound attached to your video clips.

The other adjustment you may want to make is if your music is too loud for the sound in your video clips. To have it lower automatically wherever those video clips end up, hold down command and click on all of the clips that you want to hear better.

iMovie sound adjustment

Once selected, click on the Volume Icon above the Viewer Window, and then check the box next to where it says Lower volume of other clips.

iMovie volume icon in viewer window
Adjust Volume

Recording a Voiceover

You can record voiceover narration directly into your iMovie Timeline.

To record a voiceover, click Window on the menu bar, and select Record Voiceover, about halfway down the menu that opens. You can also just press “V” on the keyboard.


record voiceover

The Voiceover options will appear below the Viewer Window. Make sure to select the appropriate microphone by clicking on the voiceover settings button, denoted by the white slider bars.

voiceover settings

To record, click the red Record Button in the center and you will be given a 3-second countdown before it starts recording.

3-second countdown

Press Spacebar or click the red Record Button again to stop recording. You can then trim the beginning and end by dragging the edges, and reposition your voiceover by dragging from the top of the green bar.

imovie intervals

To make your clip louder, hover your cursor over the line that runs horizontally along the center of the green bar, then click and drag up or down depending on if you want it louder softer. If the tips of your waveforms turn red, it is too loud and will sound distorted.

waveforms example

To make cuts to delete or rearrange parts of your recording, first single click on your recording where you want to make the cut. This will move the playhead to where your cut will be made.

playhead example

Then click Modify on the menu bar, and select Split Clip, about halfway down the menu that opens. You can also just press “Command+B” on the keyboard.

split clip

This will split your clip.

finished split clip

To delete part of your voiceover click on it and hit delete on the keyboard.