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From the author of Tip 2: Learn the Best Keyboard Shortcuts

Tip 2: Learn the Best Keyboard Shortcuts

When you use any program for an extended length of time, you'll discover that keyboard shortcuts can dramatically improve the experience. Video editing takes time, so Apple's engineers have incorporated several keyboard aids to make the process easier or to unlock hidden features that don't warrant a button, menu item, or preference. Here are a few of my favorites, each of which you can do with one hand on the keyboard and one hand on the mouse as you edit.

  • iMovie's Project browser displays your movie's filmstrip in rows that wrap in the same way a paragraph of text wraps in your word processor. When you get to the far-right edge of a row, the movie continues from the far-left edge of the next row down. When you skim (move your mouse pointer over the filmstrip), the Viewer displays the footage under the mouse pointer.
  • However, as you move the pointer past the right edge of a row, the preview in the Viewer stops. This behavior makes sense, because you should be free to move the mouse wherever you want, but it's annoying if you're trying to skim through your movie.
  • To continue previewing the footage, hold down the Shift key as you skim past the right edge, and iMovie jumps the playhead down to the next row. (View this trick in action on my website.)
  • Whenever the playhead crosses the filmstrip, you see a preview in the Viewer. On older machines, this behavior can slow performance. To disable the skimming preview temporarily, hold down the Control key as you mouse over the area.
  • When you add a title to your movie by dragging one of the title styles from the Titles browser, iMovie highlights a portion of the clip to which you're about to apply the title. Depending on where the playhead is, you can position the title at the beginning, end, or across the entire clip. For a bit more control, hold down the Shift key when dragging the clip. iMovie highlights a four-second area of the filmstrip, giving you more precision over where the title begins. As you drag, the Viewer displays the frame where the title will begin. This method also lets you straddle a title over multiple clips, instead of placing the title and then moving it into position later. (View this trick in action on my website.)
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