Video Editing

How to Cut a Video in iMovie on Mac and iPhone with Alternatives

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The iPhone's Point and Shoot camera has made everyone a movie director. iMovie, the built-in video editor on iPhone and Mac, allows users to become editors too.

Anyone can now create perfect videos by cutting out irrelevant parts. All they have to do is follow the proper steps.

This blog will teach you exactly what those steps are, with tips to help craft the best videos during editing.

How to cut a video in iMovie

iMovie is one of the best free video editors around. That's saying something considering video editing is not the focus of Apple’s business.

The software is easy to use, so much so that all you need to cut a video is place your mouse at a timestamp and snip.

Of course, the process is a little more than that from start to finish, but that is the general gist.

Before we take you through the steps, make sure your iMovie app is up to date. 

While the process is the same across all versions, you are more likely to get optimum results with the latest version.

Ready? Let’s begin.

STEP 1 - Import the Video

The first step to cutting or performing any edit in an editor is always to get the clip into the program.

In iMovie, you do this by launching the app and clicking the Projects tab.

There is a huge button with a plus icon. As seen above, in the dropdown menu, select Movie for the type of project you want to create. 

Movie supports longer clips, and you are not stuck with a pre-built template.

Selecting Movie will take you to the main editor window to import the video you want to cut. It should look like the screen below.

Click the Import Media arrow to open a window containing the media files on your Mac in different folders.

If the file you need is not in the opened folder, navigate to its location by selecting the correct destination from the menu options on the left.

When you find the video, select it and click the blue Import button.

NOTE: You can import more than one video at a time by selecting each one and clicking Import All.

iMovie will import the video(s) into the Project library, and you are ready to start cutting.

STEP 2 - Cut the Clip

In the main editor interface, drag the video(s) you want to cut to the Project timeline at the bottom of the screen.

When the video is in the timeline, move the playback cursor or playhead to the moment you want to cut from the clip.

For example, if the part you want to cut out starts at 2:15, move the cursor there.

Next, select Modify from the menu bar at the top of the screen. You will see a list of editing actions you can apply to that moment in the video.

Choose Split Clip from the list, and iMovie will cut the video into two parts from that point.

Alternatively, right-click on the moment in the timeline and select Split Clip or use the Command + B keyboard shortcut.

Something you should know. In professional terms, a cut means delete parts of a video from the middle.  You have to cut at two points and delete the isolated section.

A lot of people confuse this with trimming. In trimming, you delete the beginning or end of the video. They both involve deleting parts of the video, but the difference is where it happens.

This is important because it informs how you apply this step.

Back to it. After making the first cut, place your mouse at the endpoint of the part you want to remove. Then use Command + B, Modify, or right-click to complete the process.

The app will divide the original video into three parts. Select the one you don’t need (the selected clip will be highlighted in yellow) and delete it from the timeline.

Although it has a different process, this method also works if you want to trim, except you don’t have to cut in two separate parts. 

Just place your mouse at the moment you want the new video to start and split the clip.

Delete the unwanted intro. Repeat this for the end of the video, if necessary.

STEP 3 - Export and Save the Video

To save your newly cut video on iMovie on Mac, click the Share button at the top right corner of the screen.

Then select File from the options.

Alternatively, go to File in the menu bar and select Share from the options. Choose File.

In the export window that follows (picture below), choose your output settings.

Feel free to choose any combination of settings that suits the purpose of your video as long as you set the Format to Video and Audio.

Click Next and set the file destination for the new video to complete the process.

That’s it. You now know how you cut a video in iMovie.

How to cut parts of a video in iMovie on iPhone

The iPhone version of iMovie is substantially less powerful than the Mac version. However, you can still cut parts of a video with it.

Even better, the process is not all that different from the desktop version, so it is easy to learn.

Here is how to use it.

STEP 1 - Import the Clip

When you launch iMovie, tap the Projects tab and large Plus button to start a new project. Choose Movie from the small pop-up window that follows.

Select the video you want to cut from the media gallery that opens next. 

Then tap Create Movie to complete the import.

STEP 2 - Cut the Clip

Slide the playback cursor to the beginning of the part you want to cut out of the video.

If you are unsure of the exact timestamp, tap the Play button and pause at the right moment.

Once the playhead is in position, tap the video in the timeline (thumbnail with yellow bars) to bring up the editing tools.

Next, tap the button with the scissors icon to activate the cutting tool.

Then tap Split to cut the video into two at the point. Place the playhead at the endpoint to split the clip again and isolate the middle part.

Then select the unwanted clip and tap Delete.

If you make a mistake at any point during this process, hit the Undo button circled below.

When you finish cutting the video, hit Done.

STEP 3 - Save and Export the video

A screen with three buttons will open when you press Done. Tap the one in the middle.

Choose Save Video from the options that follow.

Choose your preferred output settings, and that’s it. This method also works on iMovie for iPad.  

How to cut part of a video in iMovie (Alternative Method for Mac): QuickTime Player

QuickTime is an Apple-developed media software that is a simpler alternative to iMovie if you find the latter too confusing. 

Though most people know it as a media player, the app also comes with editing features. 

To cut part of a video with it, open the app. You can find it with Spotlight search or via the Finder app.

When QuickTime opens, click File in the menu bar and select Open File from the options.

Finally, select the video you need from its location.

Then follow these steps once the video is open.

  1. Press Command + E to bring up the timeline view. You can also go to View in the menu bar and select Show Clips.
  2. Now move the playhead where you want to make the first cut. Then go to Edit in the menu bar and select Split Clip. Or use Command + Y.

(You can skip the first step and use the playback button to set the position for each cut)

Reposition the playhead to make the second cut. Repeat this process if you need additional cuts to the video.

  1. After making the cuts, you can rearrange the order of the individual clips or select the one you don’t need and hit delete.

Click Done when you finish.

  1. Save your changes by choosing Save from the File menu. You can also save by using the Export As option.

How to cut part of a video in iMovie (Alternative for iPhone/iPad): InShot

Even though iPhone users can open QuickTime files on their phone with a plug-in, the actual app is not available on the mobile device.

However, InShot is a helpful alternative to iMovie for iPhone and iPad users. It is feature-rich yet easy to use, especially for cutting a video.

Suppose you want to try it out, download and install the program (if you don’t have it already). It is available on the App Store.

Then follow these steps.

Launch the app and tap Video under Create New

InShot, like iMovie, will access your gallery for you to select the video you want to cut.

You can choose one video or several if you want to cut and merge different videos.

After selecting the video(s), tap the green checkmark at the foot of the screen to import the videos into the editor.

Tap Trim to find the Cut tool

The cut tool is in the Trim feature. To access it, tap Trim in the action panel above the timeline.

Finally, tap Cut to open cropping tools.

To cut the video, drag the sliders to the parts you want to cut. The app will split the video at the starting line of each slider.

Tap the checkmark button to return to the main editing window when you finish. Delete unwanted clips from there.

Save the Video

After removing the clips you don’t need from the editor’s timeline, and you’ve applied other edits, tap the export button at the top of the screen.

Follow the prompts to set the output quality, and that’s it. It is that easy.

How to Cut a Video in iMovie: Tips and Tricks

Sure, you are not trying to make an Oscar-winning movie, but these tips and tricks will ensure your videos come out great after cutting.

  • Have a storyboard

Even if it is in your head. It may not matter for short clips, but having a clear idea of the narrative you want to craft with the video helps. 

You will know the exact place to cut and what to rearrange, if necessary.

Don’t want to overthink it? Familiarize yourself with each frame by replaying the video a few times before cutting.

  • Preview before Exporting

Unless video editing is your passion, the process can quickly become tedious. To avoid an avoidable do-over, always preview the video before the final save.

On Mac and iPhone/iPad, iMovie has a playback button for this. Use it as much as possible.

  • Slow Down/Speed Up the video to boost engagement

Slowing down or speeding up your video can make it more engaging. 

A video of someone doing the dishes can get boring quickly. But slow it down & add transitions in between the cuts, and it is instantly more interesting.

You can find the speed control on the right side of the screen above the video preview window. Click the Transitions tab on the left side to add some.

  • Add Ken Burns Effect

If a portion of the video is boring, applying the Ken Burns effect can improve the quality.

To do this, cut the clip and select it. Then click the crop button above the preview window and choose Ken Burns from the options.

When the video plays at the playhead gets to that clip, the camera will zoom in on a portion of the frame.

Neat, right?


With that, you now know all you need to cut a video in iMovie. The Apple software is easy to use and is very effective once you master it.

Don’t worry if it takes you a few tries to figure it out. All that matters is you keep trying. 

And if it turns out iMovie is not your thing, try Keevi Video Editor. It is even easier to use, and you don’t have to install any software.

Check out our learning page for more tutorials on iMovie and video editing tips.

Hammad Akbar
Hammad Akbar
November 11, 2021