Splitting clips with VoiceOver in iMovie on Mac

macOS & Mac Apps

Can someone tell me how to split a video on iMovie on Mac using VoiceOver please?
When I navigate to the timeline, press play to get to the point that I want to trim the video, press space to pause then command B to split the video the Mac just beeps me like it does when you have pressed the wrong shortcut keys.
What am I doing wrong please? Any help would be very much appreciated.
Thank you



Submitted by Eli on Saturday, April 28, 2018

Have you tried restarting the computer. I recently had that problem when I did the newest upgrade and shutting down and starting up the computer help for some reason. If that doesn’t work try getting your cursor on the clip and pressing X to select the clip and then try to split it.

Submitted by Ryan Dour on Saturday, April 28, 2018

The way that you edit in iMovie is not like the traditional linear experiences of the past. Keeping that in mind, it requires that you approach the problem from a new editing perspective. The following works well for creating a timeline video that will be easier to manage.

1. Select your desired content from the clips first:

When selecting content, using the keys "i" and "o" sets the in and out point for selection. However, if your goal is to select the entire clip, and then only cut off undesired content from the very beginning and very end, use "x" to select the entire clip first. After that,, "i" and "o" can still be used to shorten the selection to the desired range. This is especially good when trying to place GoPro camera footage on the timeline, where you may have wanted the entirety of some clips, as the camera cuts the video always at 4 GB for file size maximum reasons.

2. Place the selection per clip on the timeline:

After you make your selection in the clip, pressing "e" places the selection on the timeline. Assuming you don't bother to go down to the timeline, the next inserted clip will be at the end. If you choose to move the play head via reviewing the timeline, make sure you press the "end" key before leaving the timeline, to place your playhead at the end of the video. To summarize, select your desired selection per clip, then press e to place it on the timeline.

3. Trimming the timeline content:

Assuming you watch the content on the timeline and want to trim a bit more, you can use the same "i" "o" and even "x" commands to create selection. The "delete" key located above your backslash can remove unwanted selected materials, or Option-\ (backslash) can remove content outside the selection within the current clip.

At this point, you have used iMovie to perform a very basic editing job, simply removing unwanted content. There is much else that can be done here, but this should be the necessary flow for the question that was asked. If the use of the split command was simply to split the clips and then remove unwanted split off content, this method of editing does accomplish the same task without the need for splitting at all. If the split was required in order to move two pieces of video to different locations in the timeline, then further explanation is necessary.

• Useful commands:

I suggest using j, k, and l for reviewing the content in the clips, up and down arrows to move between clips. Both of these sets of commands works equally well in the clip organizer and the timeline, just remember to check where your focus is at via Control-Option-F4, as keyboard focus is the key to knowing where your commands will take effect.


• For a list of some commands, refer to iMovie's help menu.
• Additional commands can be found via this Apple Support article:



I recently went through this exercise with a friend who wanted to edit her cooking video channel on YouTube. She just wanted basic editing use of iMovie, so I spent some time determining what would be the least amount of commands necessary to perform basic editing. The above is very much a summary of the experience, and not official documentation or instruction. An example of her videos can be found here:


Thank you so much for those detailed instructions, they are very helpful.
I am struggling to select points in the video where I want to start and end the trim, when I press I and O, nothing seems to happen. Please could you tell me how to do this please?
Thank you again

Submitted by Holly on Saturday, April 28, 2018

In reply to by Eli

Yes, I have tried to restart the computer but no luck. How do I put the cursor on the clip using VoiceOver? I have no useful vision so rely on VoiceOver.
I'm also struggling to select specific points in the clip to trim as well.

Start by using the arrows to get on the clip that you want. Use the key command option plus the VO keys, plus command plus F5 to get the mouse on the clip. Another reason you might not be able to split the clip is your computer hard drive might be getting close to capacity. I have also had that problem come up in the past. Go to the apple menu and get information on your Mac to check the storage.

Submitted by Steven on Saturday, December 14, 2019

Hi guys. I am new to using iMovie and tonight I just found this post by Ryan on here which I think may be a major moment in my life! I still have a small amount of useless vision and a single two hour edit on iMovie this week put me in bed with migraines for two days. It is clear to me that I can't do that anymore so wanted to find a way to do the editing without the physical pain. Ryan's detailed comment has been promptly copied to a text document on my computer and will be read and used a lot from now on as well as finding out more detailed information through the links provided. I often think when people comment so fully they probably don't realise the difference they are making. Thanks so much, and also thanks to everyone here for such an amazing website. Best, Steven.

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