Video Editing

How to Split a Clip in iMovie: The Easy Way

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Nowadays, it is so easy to film a video and edit it yourselves without needing the services of a professional video editor. Splitting, one of those editing actions, is relatively effortless with apps like iMovie, Apple’s native video editing tool.

You can isolate the unwanted sections, delete them, and join the leftover parts by using the app’s Split feature in a couple of clicks.

By the end of this blog, you’ll know the importance of clip splitting, and how to do it to create beautiful and professional-looking videos that connect with your audience.

How to Split a Video Clip in iMovie on iPhone/iPad

iMovie is a handy video editing tool, and one of its many advantages is its availability to iPhone and iPad users. When you film that random video on your mobile device, you can quickly import it to the app, remove shaky and uninteresting parts before sharing it.

Also, while it is always better to use the latest version of any app, splitting a video clip follows the same process across all recent versions of iMovie, including versions 8, 9, 10 and 11. 

Now, let’s get started.

STEP 1 - Import the Clip

The first step to performing any editing action on a video is to import it into the editor. To do this in iMovie, launch the app and click the Projects tab.

You will see a large + button named Create Project. Click it to open a small pop-up window with two options - Movie and Trailer. Then select Movie.

It will open your media gallery within the app. From there, choose the video clip you want to split. If it is a recently filmed video, it should be near the top of the screen.

Once you find the video, select it and click Create Movie to import the clip into the editor.

STEP 2 - Split the Clip

Once the video is in the editor, simply slide the playback cursor to the starting point of the section you want to split.

You can do this by playing the video and pausing at the exact moment or dragging the cursor manually.

When the cursor is in position, tap the clip in the timeline, i.e., the thumbnail with the yellow bars. The editing tools will appear at the bottom of the screen.

Click Split, and the app will cut your video in two.

Select the newly created half and tap the Delete button to remove everything else.

Suppose you want to remove a tiny portion in the middle of the entire video. In that case, you have to repeat this step, only this time, you place the cursor at the end time of the unwanted section before clicking Split.

Doing this will leave you with three different clips in the timeline. Select the isolated clip and press Delete to erase it from the timeline.

After this, you can reconnect the remaining two clips. (more on this in How to Reconnect a Split Clip in iMovie below)

Also, it's common to make mistakes at least in the beginning like placing the cursor at the wrong timestamp, etc. You can undo the action by clicking the Undo Arrow Icon circled above.

How to Split a Clip in iMovie on Mac

Video editing is always better on a desktop device. You have access to a larger screen, and as helpful as iMovie is on iPhone and iPad, you get extra features when you edit on a Mac.

However, much of the splitting process remains the same, especially when importing the video you want to split.

STEP 1 - Import the Video

When you launch iMovie on your Mac, you should see a screen that looks a lot like this.

It is the Project tab, and it contains the list of videos you’ve imported and edited on the app. If this is your first time using the app, it would be empty. All you need to get started is to click the Create New button.

Like iMovie on iPhone/iPad, you will see a drop-down menu with two options, Movie and Trailer.  Click Movie

It will take you to the main editor window, from which you can import the video you want to split.

Click the Import Media arrow in the top left section of the interface. It will open a window containing media files on your Mac in different folders.

You can search between different folders by selecting each one from the menu options on the left. Select the clip you want to edit from the correct folder and click the blue Import button.

If you want to import multiple clips at once, select each one and click the Import All button.

The app will return you to the main interface, and the imported clip(s) will be in the iMovie library.

STEP 2 - Split the Clip

When the clip(s) is in the library, drag it down to the Project timeline at the bottom section of the editor’s interface.

Once it is there, you are now ready to perform all kinds of editing actions on it, including splitting.

To do this, move the playback cursor to the timestamp you want to split from and click on it.

Next, go to the menu bar at the top of the screen and click Modify. You will see a list of options of various actions you can apply to the clip.

Scroll down and click Split Clip. Your clip will be cut into two parts, from the point the playback cursor was.

Instead of using the menu bar, you can simply right-click on the timestamp and select Split Clip from the list of options. Alternatively, you can use the Command + B shortcut to split the clip immediately.

To split the clip further, perhaps to isolate a small section in the middle, repeat the process. Only this time, you place the cursor or playhead at the end time of the unwanted part.

This will split the original clip into three different parts. You can then select the section you don’t need and delete it from the timeline.

Repeat this process to split the clip into as many parts as you need.

How to Reconnect a Split Clip in iMovie

You have to delete the unnecessary one if you only need the first or second half of a split clip to get a complete video.

However, suppose you split the original clip into different parts. In that case, you have to reconnect or join them after deleting the unwanted section(s). Without doing so, there will be gaps in the timeline, which will ruin the final video’s quality.

Thankfully, it is just as easy to reconnect a split clip in iMovie as it is to split one. And since the clips in question are already in the editor, you don’t have to import them again. Simply follow the steps outlined below.

STEP 1 - Select the Clips

Before selecting the clips, make sure they are in the proper order. If they are not, drag each one to the left or right, depending on your preferred order.

TIP - Hit play in the video playback section to confirm that your order is correct.

Once they are, hold down the Shift key and select the clips you want to join. Every selected clip will be highlighted in yellow, as shown below.

STEP 2 - Join the Clips

After selecting the clips, go to the Modify menu option and choose Join Clips from the list of options.

That’s it. You will see that the formerly split clips are now one.

Here is something you should know. The Join Clips option only works for clips you split within the editor. The option is unavailable if you try to merge different videos.

Although it's not the focus of this section, to merge different videos, you have to: 

  • import the videos into the iMovie library
  • drag them into the project timeline
  • arrange them in your preferred order
  • save and export them as one

How to Reconnect Split Clips in iMovie on iPhone/iPad

The Join Clips feature is only available on iMovie for Mac. It is not available on the iPhone/iPad versions. This is one of several advantages of editing videos on desktop devices.

However, you can use the workaround outlined below: 

  1. After splitting the original clip, leaving only the first part you need, save and return to the Project menu.
  2. Launch another project, uploading the original clip. Then split and keep the second part. Save and return to the Project menu. Repeat this process until all the sections you need are standalone clips in your iMovie library.
  3. Next, start a new project, select all the individual clips and tap Create Movie. Don't forget to arrange the videos in the correct order.
  4. You can choose to include transitions between the individual clips. It is accessible by placing the cursor at each cut point then selecting the transition icon to pick a transition style.
  5. Finally, tap Done (top left) when you finish. The app will combine the split clips into one video.

How to Split a Clip in iMovie and Save it

After splitting a clip, removing the unwanted middle sections, and reconnecting the leftover parts, the last thing is to save it.

On iPhone/iPad and Mac, iMovie automatically saves your edit while you work. However, after you finish, you need to save and export in your preferred settings properly.

During this process, you can determine the output quality of your video with setting options like compression, video quality, and resolution.

Here is how to do it on each device.

How to Save on iPhone/iPad

After hitting Done, iMovie will open a screen with three action buttons. Choose the middle one, which is the Share button.

When you do, the app will show you a list of options, as seen below. Tap Save Video. 

Then select your preferred resolution from the available options. For best results, save in HD quality, i.e., 720p and above.

If you don’t want to save the video to your device, you can share it directly to any of the listed platforms. This includes WhatsApp, Instagram, and YouTube.

How to Save on Mac

To save on your Mac, hit the Share button at the top right corner of the screen.

Alternatively, you can go to the File menu and select Share from the list of options.

After clicking File, you can set the title, description, and tags. However, neither of those is as important as making sure the Format category is set to Video and Audio.

After that, set the resolution, quality, and compression. We recommend choosing the highest possible setting in these categories because it is always better to convert to a lower quality from a higher one than vice versa.

Finally, click Next, and hit Save to complete the process.

Shortcuts on How to Split a Clip in iMovie

Video editing can be a tedious process, especially when working on multiple clips of varying lengths. Mastering and using shortcuts can be very useful in shortening editing time and easing your workflow.

Here are the relevant shortcuts you can use when you are splitting a clip in iMovie.

Action Shortcut
Import media Command + I
Create New Movie Project Command + N
Move the playhead one frame forward Right Arrow key
Move the playhead one frame backward Left Arrow Key
Play the Selection Slash (/)
Select an entire clip X


In this blog you’ve learned how to split a video clip on iPhone/iPad and Mac. Doing so in iPhone/iPad is useful when you are on the move, however Mac packs more features and capabilities for advanced editing.

Splitting on either is, however, easy, regardless of your video editing experience. In a couple of clicks and taps, you can remove unwanted parts and create professional-looking videos on your own.

For more tutorials on video editing on your iPhone and Mac devices, visit our learning page.

Hammad Akbar
Hammad Akbar
September 29, 2021