Add beat markers to music and other audio clips

Adding beat markers to music and other audio clips in your project is the necessary first step in synchronizing them with the visual elements of your project: video clips, still images, titles, and so on. You can also synchronize certain audio clips with each other. For example, you might want a voiceover to begin at a specific low or high note in your background music. Adding beat markers lets you do this.

After you add beat markers, you can align video clips, still images, titles, and so on, to them.

To add beat markers:

  1. In the Project browser, choose Clip Trimmer from the Action pop-up menu (looks like a gear) for the audio clip you want to add beat markers to.

    The Action pop-up menu appears at the left end (next to the time stamp and name) of the colored bar that represents the audio clip. For background music, it appears at the top-left corner of the colored background music well.

    The Clip Trimmer opens, showing a magnified view of the audio clip as a waveform.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag a beat marker (the note symbol, shown below) to the audio waveform.

      If you’re adding beat markers to a background music track with this method, and you’ve already added video clips to your project, iMovie splits the video clip at the beat marker. This splitting doesn’t visually affect your movie; rather, it makes it easy for you to replace just the portion of the clip between beats with new video of the same duration. If you deselect “Snap to Beats” in the View menu (which is in a gray bar at the top of your computer screen), adding beat markers in the Clip Trimmer won’t split video clips in the Project browser.

      Image of the Beat Marker button.

      As you add beat markers, they appear in the Project browser (below, left) and the Clip Trimmer (below, right) as thin vertical lines with a small dot at the bottom.

      Images of beat markers.

    • In the Clip Trimmer, move the playhead (the red vertical line) to the point in the waveform where you want to add a beat marker, and then press the M key.

      This method is especially useful for tapping out the beats of a background music track. Play the audio clip, and press the M key whenever you hear a beat you want to mark. To play the audio, move the playhead to the point in the music track where you want to start, and then press the Space bar. Press the Space bar again to stop playing.

      With this method, if you’ve already added video to your project, iMovie doesn’t split video clips where you add beat markers.

      If you want to make a music-video-style project, use this method to add beat markers. Go to this topic to learn more: Synchronize video clips with background music using “Snap to Beats”.

  3. To reposition a beat marker, drag it to a new position in the Clip Trimmer.