If you want to place some text onto a video, the iMovie app for Mac is a good place to start. This is good for putting a title onto a movie, placing some basic subtitles on a silent video, captions on a video, or at a specific point in a movie, adding a watermark to video, or the myriad of other reasons you’d want words placed or alongside a movie. You’ll even be able to change the font size, font family, and various aspects of the text displayed on the movie.
You’ll find that overlaying text onto movies is fairly easy using iMovie in OS X once you learn how to do it, but it can be quite confusing to figure out how to access the text tools let alone how to save your video file the first time you use iMovie on the Mac, at least compared to the easier iOS version. But worry not, we’re going to show you exactly how to put text onto a movie using iMovie in Mac OS X, the video file you modify can be any you have access to.
How to Overlay Text on a Video with iMovie for Mac OS X
This is demonstrated from start to finish using the latest version of iMovie on the latest version of MacOS X, showing how to add a text overlay to a video, then save the video as a file on the Mac. Let’s get started.
- Open iMovie app
- Go to the “File” menu and choose “New Movie” – select “No Theme” (or choose a theme if you want one, your call), give the movie a name and click “OK”
- Click the “Import Media” button, select the movie or video file you want to add some text atop of, and choose “Import Selected”
- Now drag the thumbnail of the movie you just imported into the video timeline below
- Place your mouse cursor in the movie timeline where you want to place the text to overlay the video
- Click on the “Titles” portion under “Content Library” in the left side menus
- Double-click on the title (text) style you want to use, the most generic without any weird animations is often “Center” but explore the others, there’s a lot of fancy ones
- Edit the text as it appears in the preview screen, change the font size, font family face, font weight, and other text elements
- When satisfied, you can save your video by going to the File menu and choosing “Share” (why is there not a general Save option? Who knows!) and selecting ‘File’, clicking “Next” and now you’ll finally be at a normal save dialog where you can put the video file somewhere you can find it on the Mac
That’s it, your saved video file will have the overlay text you wrote out now in the placement of your choice in the movie.
To extend the title to cover the whole video, just grab the little handlebar and drag it all the way to the left for the start of the movie, and drag it to the right to the end of the video – the text will now cover the entire screen.
Is this simple? Once you learn how, sure, but myself and others may find that iMovie has a weird interface which is hard to predict if you’re unfamiliar with it. I’ll be the first to admit I am completely clueless when it comes to editing movies so maybe this is intuitive if you know what you’re doing with other video editor apps. Nonetheless, I found a fairly simple task like placing some text atop of a video to be way more complex than you’d expect it to be (say, like how easy it is to adding text onto a picture in Preview app of OS X). After stumbling around for quite some time before actually figuring it out I figured I should do a quick tutorial on this, because there’s no way I’m the only person this confused by this. Notably, it’s much easier to add text to videos with iOS iMovie, so perhaps an update to the Mac app will improve things.
Happy iMovie editing! If you know of an alternate method of placing text over video or onto a movie file with iMovie on the Mac, do let us know.