Getting started with iMovie 10

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When we last gathered in these hallowed halls, Apple had released Mavericks and I gave you a tour of its most visible new features. Prior to that, we were just getting into the mechanics of iMovie ’11. But wouldn’t you know it, Apple released a new version of that program as well. And that leaves us where?

As the keeper of these classes, I’ve formed a plan. A plan that goes a little like this: Nearly everything I’ve taught you about the Mac in these Mac 101 lessons is just as applicable today as it was when I wrote the original lessons. Mavericks has a handful of new features, but it’s not a radical departure from Mountain Lion. So there’s no reason to start again. Similarly, the new iPhoto is nearly a carbon copy of the previous version, so we can leave it alone too. The new iMovie 10, however, is different enough from its predecessor that it makes sense to reboot that series, this time focusing on what it has to offer.

So open your notebooks, update your copy of iMovie (it’s free if you already have a copy on your Mac), and let’s begin.

Interface changes

In our first iMovie ’09 lesson, I took you on a tour of the interface and pointed out the five panes and the central toolbar that iMovie used to do its business. With iMovie 10, Apple rejiggered the interface—so back we go to see where each element now lives.

The Libraries pane

The left side of the iMovie window contains the Libraries pane. The top portion of this pane is filled with links to your photos, projects, and movie events. At the very least you should see entries for ‘iPhoto Library’, ‘All Events’, ‘All Projects’, and ‘iMovie Library’.

When you select iPhoto Library, any events within iPhoto appear in the Browser pane that appears just to the top-right of the Libraries pane. (We’ll explore the Browser more thoroughly shortly.) Choose All Events, and any movie events you’ve created populate the Browser. Select All Projects, and projects you’ve created in iMovie appear as thumbnails in the Browser. Clicking iMovie Library also shows your iMovie events—this time laid out on a timeline, rather than as a thumbnail. Click the downward-pointing triangle next to the iMovie Library entry, and you see a list of individual events.

Select iPhoto Library to see thumbnail images in iMovie's Browser pane and Viewer.

At the bottom of the Libraries pane is the Content Library. This takes the place of the many buttons that used to occupy the right side of the iMovie ’09’s toolbar and includes entries for ‘Transitions’, ‘Titles’, ‘Maps & Backgrounds’, ‘iTunes’, ‘Sound Effects’, and ‘GarageBand’. When you select one of these entries, items related to it appear in the Browser pane.

The Browser pane

As I mentioned, when you select a library item, you see some kind of preview of that item in the Browser pane. If you choose iPhoto Library, you find, by default, thumbnails of your iPhoto events. But click the Events entry that appears at the top-left of the browser, and you discover ‘Faces’, ‘Places’, ‘Albums’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Flickr’, ‘Smart Albums’, and ‘Slideshows entries. Click the one that will lead you most quickly to the image you want to view.

When you do, the item’s main thumbnail image appears in the Viewer pane, which is just to the right of the browser. To see the contents of a selected item (an event or place, for example), double-click on it. All images within the item will appear in the browser. To navigate back, click the heading—Events, for example—that appears at the top-left of the Browser pane.

The Browser pane also has a Search field. If you’ve gone to the trouble to tag your images, you can use this field to find them more easily. However, search is contextual. For instance, if you’re viewing by Event, typing in a location won’t cause images geotagged with that location to appear. Instead, you must choose Places from this menu and then search for the location. Likewise, if you want to search for a person by name, choose Faces—unless you’ve specifically tagged an image with that person’s name as a keyword.

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