How to Add Subtitles on iMovie: A Step-By-Step Guide

How to Add Subtitles on iMovie - Featured Image

In an increasingly digital and inclusive world, subtitles are essential for ensuring your videos are accessible and understandable to all audiences.

iMovie, Apple’s intuitive video editing software, is, on the whole, a user-friendly platform for adding subtitles. That being said, it’s not always obvious to most users how to add subtitles to iMovie

If you’re in the same situation, you’re in the right place. 

This in-depth guide gives you a step-by-step guide on how to add subtitles to a video on iMovie, from opening your project to sharing your subtitled video with your viewers. 

Let’s get into it.

How to Add Subtitles on iMovie

  • Step 1: Setting Up Your iMovie Project
  • Step 2: Understanding the Titles Feature
  • Step 3: Selecting an Appropriate Subtitle Style
  • Step 4: Syncing Subtitles with Your Video
  • Step 5: Reviewing Your Work
  • Step 6: Exporting Your Video

Does iMovie Automatically Generate Subtitles?

Unlike Adobe Premiere Pro, iMovie does not automatically generate subtitles. And, even though subtitles add a fair bit of time to your overall editing hours, it’s worth it. There are many benefits of adding subtitles to video content

But, before you start typing away to add subtitles to your video, there are other alternatives that can allow you to add subtitles to a video automatically, and one of them is Sonix!

Using Sonix, all you need to do is follow four simple steps to add subtitles to your video in just a few seconds:

Curious to see how it works? Try it yourself and sign up for 30 minutes of free transcription with complete access to our transcription services without entering your credit card!

That being said, if you still want to add your subtitles manually, here are the steps to do just that!

Step 1: Setting Up Your iMovie Project

  • Open iMovie on your Mac.
  • Click ‘Create New’ for a new project or select an existing project from the ‘Projects’ tab.
  • Click the ‘Import’ button or drag your video file into the iMovie timeline.
  • Skim through your video to ensure it’s loaded correctly.

Step 2: Selecting an Appropriate Subtitle Style

Before adding the subtitles, you need to decide how the end result will look with the video. To do that:

  • Locate the ‘Titles’ button above the browser. Clicking this will reveal various text styles.
  • Hover over each style to preview how it looks on your video. For subtitles, clarity is key. Styles like ‘Lower Third’ or ‘Standard’ are typically used for simplicity and readability.
  • As a general rule of thumb, choose a clear, legible font in a size and style that ensures readability against the video background.

Step 3: Adding and Customizing Your Subtitles

Now that the style is picked out, it’s time to add the subtitles.

  • Drag your selected title style to your timeline, positioning it where you want the first subtitle to appear.
  • Double-click the text box in the preview window or the timeline to edit the text.
  • Type out the content of your subtitles in the box. Make sure to keep things concise (less than 70 characters ideally) so it’s a bit easier to sync the text with the audio.
  • Continue doing this with the rest of the video. You don’t need to add subtitles 100% accurately here, but just add them in roughly the desired spot where they should pop up.

Step 4: Syncing Subtitles with Your Video

Now comes the hard part. Syncing your subtitles with your video is probably the only reason why a lot of your niche competitors are not adopting the habit of adding subtitles. But, as we discussed earlier, it’s a necessary evil with tons of benefits.

  • Play your video to ensure subtitles appear and disappear at the correct times. Subtitles should sync up with the spoken words or the action in the video.
  • Adjust the length of each title clip by clicking and dragging its edges in the timeline.
Man editing a video

Step 5: Reviewing Your Work

Quality checks are incredibly important when you’re adding subtitles, and we’d never suggest uploading any content without double-checking the subtitles.

Even if you use a transcription tool like Sonix AI that is almost 99% accurate, it’s a good habit to check your work.

  • Watch your entire video with subtitles to ensure there are no typos, synchronization issues, or readability problems.
  • Check on different devices if possible to see how your subtitles look on various screens.

Step 6: Exporting Your Video

Once you’re happy with the subtitles, click ‘File’ > ‘Share’ > ‘File’ to export your video. Choose the resolution and file format that best suits your needs.

  • Save the video to your desired location.
  • After saving the video, it’s ready to be uploaded to your preferred social media platform.

Adding Subtitles on iMovie: Is Sonix AI Better than the DIY Approach?

We’ve listed down the steps required to add subtitles to an iMovie project manually, but you should know that this is a pretty time-consuming process, especially if you’re looking to put out multiple pieces of content in a week.

If you want to spend less time in the editing suite and more time creating new video content, it might be better to use an automatic AI subtitle generator like Sonix for your iMovie videos. 

Remember, accuracy, timing, and consistency are key to successful subtitles. With Sonix, you can generate subtitles with almost 99% accuracy in just a few minutes every single time.

Don’t want to take our word for it? Click here to sign up for 30 minutes of free transcription. Complete access, and no credit card required.

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