Introduction: How to Use Green Screen Effects on IMovie (Mac and IOS)

Are you bored at home with nothing to do? Have you ever wondered how film editors achieve visual green screen effects in movies and videos? It's not nearly as complicated as one would think.

iMovie offers a door of unlimited opportunity when it comes to visual effects. There's a vast multitude of video editing software programs that are more advanced than iMovie, but iMovie is free to Apple users. If you're looking to save a few dollars, iMovie is the right choice for you. Today, you can learn the overlooked art of green screen effects through iMovie. Hopefully, this article can help inspire others to become film editors or, at the very least, encourage you to develop a small skill with film editing!


  • Either a Mac or an iOS Device
  • The iMovie Application (Free on all Apple devices)
  • Google Chrome with an Ad-Blocker (Highly Recommended)
  • Computer Mouse (Optional)
  • Available Storage Space

Step 1: Finding the Right Green Screen Template

The internet makes it very easy to find green screen templates. A quick Google or YouTube search will reveal hundreds of thousands of templates. In a minute, I'll explain exactly how you can download any template to your laptop. The video-retrieval process is slightly different for Mac and iOS users.

For example, only iOS users have access to free screen-recording at the moment. However, there's a little-known trick that Mac users can use to download any YouTube video without screen-recording or installing any video-downloading applications. It's important to note that there are both green screens and blue screens. iMovie will detect both and they both serve the same purpose.

Step 2: Downloading a Video (Mac)

(NOTE: Before continuing, it's important to note that an Ad-Blocker along with Google Chrome (or a Web Browser that already blocks Ads) is highly recommended for this next step. Some of the Ad-Traffic that goes through this next website is pretty concerning.) Once you've found the template you want to use, you're going to want to head to the URL and, without clearing/deleting it, you want to type the letters "pp" after "youtube" and hit enter.

For example, the link will change from "" to "". It will take you to a website that will convert the YouTube video into a downloadable file for you. The website offers a multitude of video qualities that depend on the video itself. Usually, you'll want to download the highest-quality one. Once you've downloaded your template(s), go ahead and open up your Downloads folder to prepare for the next step.

Step 3: Choosing Your Base/Background Video

After downloading the green screen template(s), you must now decide what you want for the background of your movie. Think of a green screen effect as a sticker with a cut-out. This background can either be an image or a video. For the sake of this tutorial, I chose to make my background three separate videos.

The reason I chose three separate backgrounds was that, in the television template that I used, the person changes the channel on the remote twice. Intuitively, this implies that there are three channels on the television. If this doesn't make sense now, it will become clear eventually. Once you choose your background, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 4: ​Getting Started With IMovie (Mac)

You must now open iMovie. In order to create a new movie, click on "Create New". You can either make a Movie or a Trailer, but I've chosen to make a movie. From your Downloads folder, drag the base/background video(s) and the green screen template into the area that says "Import Media". Think of the Import Media area as a storage space for the media you'll use on a certain movie before you add them to the movie itself. In the next step, I'll cover how to begin creating your movie.

Step 5: Creating a Movie With Effects (Mac)

First, drag your base/background video(s) into the wide area under the Import Media space. You will always drag your base videos onto that area first. Next, take your green screen effect and drag it onto the space directly above your base/background video(s) to add it on top of each existing base video. Dragging it below will convert it into an audio file which is what you don't want. After dragging it on top, you'll notice that all you see on the right-hand side is your green screen with... well, a green screen. The reason for this is because iMovie doesn't know that this is a green screen template yet.

In order to fix this, double-click the template from the bottom. If you've done this correctly, it should be highlighted in yellow as shown in the second picture. Once you've completed that, navigate to the top right side of the screen. Click on Video Overlay Settings, which is the highlighted button on the top of the second picture. It should look like one square on top of another. Once you've clicked on the Video Overlay Settings, there's a drop-down menu directly below it that initially says "Cutaway". Click on this drop-down menu and click on "Green/Blue Screen". At this point, the green area should disappear and you should be able to see your base/background videos. Cheers!

Step 6: Adjusting Your Movie (Mac)

All that you may need to do at this point is to adjust the movie itself so that everything works the way that you want it to. There's a ton of room for creativity here, so don't feel discouraged if it takes some time! As you can see, I've adjusted each of the three base/background videos so that when the person in the green screen template changes the channel on the remote, a new clip will play.

In order to trim videos, you can hover your mouse over one of the ends of each clip at the bottom and drag to shorten it. If you've shortened it already and you want to restore it to its original length, just drag it from the opposite side. You can also add transitions between each video if you so desire. Right-clicking on any clip will open a menu with other commands that will allow you to delete, split, or change the speed of that clip. Once you're content with your movie, you're done! Wait, but how do we export it?

Step 7: Exporting Your Movie (Mac)

Once you're finished and ready to share your video, you can click on the Share box at the top right. This will give you the options to share it in a number of ways. If you want it saved to your Mac, click on "Export File". Another menu will come up asking for the name of the movie and the quality that you want it downloaded. Better quality videos will take longer to export, so don't be worried if it takes a long time to download!

In order to name the project, click on the "Project" button at the top left and name it when it prompts you to. It's as easy as that! If you want to see how to achieve a similar effect using iMovie on iOS devices, I've included a tutorial for that as well!

Step 8: Getting Started on IMovie (Mobile)

First things first, you must open your iMovie application on your device. Click on the (+) card to create a new project, similarly to how you would create a new project on Mac. iMovie will ask whether you want to create a Movie or Trailer, so go ahead and click on Movie. I've already made a project, so I'll be creating a movie through that existing project. You will then be met with a screen that slightly resembles the iMovie Menu on Mac. In the next step, I'll show you how to import media to get started on your movie.

Step 9: Choosing Your Base/Background Video (Mobile)

In order to add media to your movie, click on the (+) icon in the middle-left region of the screen. It will take you to your camera roll, where you can upload either videos or images. If you upload an image, it'll display an image for any amount of time. Any image that you upload will start out with a Ken Burns Crop Effect, which will pan the camera around different parts of the image.

You can turn this off by clicking on the image at the bottom and going to its crop settings. You always want to import your base/background video or image first, and then apply the green screen template over the base/background. In the next step, I'll show you how to upload your template over the base image or video.

Step 10: Adding Your Green Screen Template (Mobile)

In order to add a template, you must again click on the (+) icon at the middle-left region of the screen. Instead of adding it directly as you did with the base/background video or image, you're going to click on the three dots that pop up when you select a video. A menu will pop up and ask you how you want to add the video. Click on "Green/Blue Screen" in order to add it as such. If you were to add it as you did with the base/background video, it would not have given you the option to switch it to a green/blue screen later.

On iMovie for iOS devices, you must always add it with green/blue screen effect. In some cases, iMovie will incorrectly detect the green or blue regions. Whenever this happens, iMovie will give you the option to reset the green/blue screen detection and allow you to manually select the green/blue screen. With that, you're done! In order to export your new movie, click "Done" at the top left of the screen and click on the "Share" box at the bottom. Now you're done!

Step 11: Acknowledgments

The green screen videos and other clips that I used for this tutorial can be found below:

The Green Screen TV was used in the Mac tutorial and was found on YouTube, posted by TRENDING USHAR. The Crash Bandicoot Saying "Woah" was used in the iOS tutorial and was found on YouTube, posted by Андрей Богачев. The iDubbbz Car Green Screen was used in the iOS tutorial and is a nine-second clip from the YouTube video posted by Just Boost It. The Dancing Alien is a clip posted on YouTube by IzTheWiz from the Adult Swim show, Smiling Friends. The Windows XP wallpaper, originally posted to Pinterest by, was found on Google. The Dancing Dracula is a clip from a video found on YouTube titled Dracula's Dilemma posted by Miles John.