How to Add Subtitles and Captions in iMovie

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Learn how to add captions to your iMovie projects with ease. Discover how to add, edit, and enhance subtitles for professional-looking videos. 

If you are a Mac user and a videographer, chances are, you’re using the system’s video editing software, iMovie. And why not? Just like all other Apple products, it combines clean design and user-friendly capabilities. And while it doesn’t offer an option of uploading a caption file, it has its own proprietary tools to add and edit subtitles to your iMovie. So, let’s dive into this topic.

Adding Subtitles in iMovie

So, how do you add subtitles in iMovie? Unlike with YouTube, you cannot upload a SRT file and add it to your video. Adding captions in iMovie is a manual job that you do with its Titles feature. The nice thing though, is that you don’t have to write down the caption sequence numbers and all the timestamps, and only have to worry about text.

If you already have a SRT file with subtitles for your video, you can use it to simplify your work of subtitling an iMovie file by copy-pasting the text from the file.

Keep in mind that subtitles you create in iMovie are “burnt-in,” also known as “open captions.” This means that the viewer cannot turn them off. But that can be a good thing too, because some sites don’t support closed captions, so open ones are exactly what you need.

How to Add Subtitles in iMovie on Mac

Here is a step-by-step guide to adding captions in iMovie.

1. Import your video to iMovie by clicking File > Import Media and selecting the necessary file from your computer. Alternatively, choose one of the videos you might already have in your iMovie program.

2. Drag your video file down to Timeline to begin editing.

3. Click on the Titles menu option at the top of the page.

4. After clicking Titles, pick the title style. iMovie offers a variety of settings for various uses, but since you are creating captions/subtitles, look at the title options for the bottom part of the screen. These include Lower, Lower Third and Reveal Lower Third.

Adding subtitles to iMovie on a Mac

5. The clip you want to title is selected on the timeline. To add the subtitle (title) style to it, drag the chosen option to your desired location on the clip. As an alternative method, simply double click on the preferred title style.

6. Time to add the text. Go to the Viewer. At the top of the Viewer, you’ll see a text box, which is where you enter your text. If you already have a SRT file, you can simply copy and paste the relevant line. If you don’t, type it up.

how to put subtitles on imovie

7. That’s it! Just keep selecting the relevant clips of the video to edit and add subtitle text until you are done.

8. Once you finish adding captions to the iMovie file, play the video back to ensure that the captions.

9. Export the finished video to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo.

How to Add Subtitles in iMovie on iPhone and iPad

You can also add subtitles in iMovie on your iPhone or iPad. Follow these steps.

1. Open the iMovie program on your iPhone or iPad.

2. Select the video you wish to subtitle.

3. Tap on the parts of the video to mark the clip you will caption. This is also the time when you can choose the subtitle placement.

adding subtitles to iMovie on iPhone

4. After you make the clip selection, the Title icon will appear. This will allow you to add and edit your captions. Clicking on the icon enables you to see the style options for your text.

adding subtitles to iMovie on iPad

5. By clicking Title Text Here, you’ll be able to type the subtitles for the selected clip.

How to Edit Subtitles in iMovie

Before you click Save and Export the resulting project to some video hosting platform, you have to make sure that your subtitles are fitted perfectly to the video. Here’s what to do.

1. After you have added all the text to the iMovie timeline, do a playback to see whether all captions align with the video and speakers.

2. If you wish to shorten or extend any of the subtitles, you can do it by dragging one of the clip’s edges. As you do that, its duration will change.

3. As an alternative, you can click on the Information (i) icon for the clip and change its duration in the window.

editing subtitles in iMovie

4. You can also change the style of your subtitles, choosing from a range of colors, fonts, font sizes and other attributes. To do so, first, click the title clip in the Timeline, and then click the Title Setting (T) icon at the top of the screen. Once you do that, a menu with all the available options will appear and you’ll be able to choose your caption style.

how to edit subtitles in iMovie

5. Proceed to edit all the titles in the same way. Alternatively, you can choose the caption style for your very first subtitle, and then just copy and paste the title text to the other clips. This will save you time on editing the style of each caption. However, once all the captions are in place and in uniform style, you will then have to go through the video and edit the text of each caption to correspond to the dialogue on the screen.

How to Edit Subtitles in iMovie on iPhone and iPad

If you are adding subtitles on your iPhone, here’s what you have to do to edit them:

1. To adjust the duration of your titles, drag the yellow bar manually. You can also click on some point on the bottom scale to choose the preferred speed of your subtitles.

how to edit subtitles in iMovie on iPhone

2. To change the style of your subtitles, click on the Options icon under the Titles icon. On the screen that appears, you’ll see the style settings that can be changed.

edit subtitles in imovie

3. To change the color and font of your subtitles, use the options available under the relevant icons under the Titles.

editing subtitles in iMovie on iPad

So, that’s it. If you have some time on your hands and a small video to subtitle, iMovie can be a handy tool, especially if you make all your media on your iPhone. But if you want to save time and effort – and concentrate on creative pursuits, there are always other options.

Send your media file to vidby, and we’ll do the subtitling for you. We can even do it in another language (or several languages) of your choice. You can upload the video to any platform of your choice and send us a link or you can send us the video file directly – and we’ll return it to you with captions.

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