How to Place Text on Video with iMovie for iPhone
Many iOS users will want to know how they can place text, a phrase, or a word overlay atop of a video captured with their iPhone. This is a fairly common and basic video editing task that can be handled with the iMovie app on iPhone, though if you’ve never added text to a video before, and if you don’t have much video editing background (like myself), the whole editing process with iMovie can be a little bit confusing at first. Not to worry though, we’ll walk through each step, and demonstrate how to place text on top of a video using nothing but iMovie for iOS.
iMovie comes preinstalled on all modern iPhones, but can be downloaded from the App Store on older models as well. While this demonstrates putting text onto a video with iMovie on an iPhone, the process is presumably the same on iMovie for iPad or other iOS devices as well. For Mac users, the process is a bit different, but it’s covered here if you’re interested.
How to Put a Text Overlay Atop Video with iMovie, Entirely from an iPhone
The only requirements for this are that you have iMovie for iOS installed on the device, and a video you wish to edit. The rest is really easy:
- Open the iMovie app in iOS
- Tap on your ‘project’ (the movie you want to put text onto) – if you don’t have a project yet, tap the + button to import the video of your choice to edit, and then choose that as your project
- Tap on the main project icon to open the project and edit the video
- Now tap on the video timeline near the bottom of the screen, this will reveal the editing options available, then tap on the “T” icon to place text and access the text overlay tools in iMovie
- Choose which text type you want and the location, in this example we’re choosing “Standard” and “Center” to put the text in the middle of the video
- Tap into the text to edit or change the words on screen with the usual iOS keyboard
- When finished, tap on the “<" back arrow button, then tap on the Sharing icon (it's a square with an arrow coming out of it) to save the video
- Select “Save Video” to save the freshly modified video to your Photos app and camera roll, or choose iCloud Drive, Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube, or your choice
You can choose different video quality options to save; 360p, 540p, 720p, and 1080p, do note that the higher quality options, which look considerably better, also result in much larger file sizes, and thus the save time is a little bit longer too.
If you save the video from iMovie to your local library or iCloud, you can watch it, trim it, and share it directly from the iPhone like any other video from the Photos app:
The sample video below shows a slow-motion movie captured with iPhone that has had a text overlay placed atop the movie, the quality for the sample video is 360p, which is the lowest resolution achievable on iPhone with iMovie exports:
Another aspect worth considering with saving HD video from iMovie on iPhone is that if you wish to transfer the full HD video and not a compressed lower resolution video file, you must transfer the high resolution video from the iPhone to a computer with a USB cable, as sending it through iMessage, email, or iCloud will compress the video at varying degrees, or, at best, take an inordinately long amount of time as HD video can be hundreds of MB if not GB in file size. When in doubt, use the USB approach if you want the highest quality video from an iPhone copied to a Mac or PC.
Overall, for simple video editing, text placement, filters, and other basic movie adjustments, the iMovie app on iPhone (and iPad) is quite easy to use. I personally have basically zero video editing experience and I was able to figure this out with iMovie for iOS in just a minute or two, whereas performing the same task of putting text atop video with iMovie for Mac OS X is a notably more curious and confounding experience to those who don’t have any iMovie experience. For that reason, if you just want to put some text onto a video, doing so directly from your iPhone or iPad is probably the simplest way to go, for the time being anyway.