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How to Stabilize Shaky Videos in iMovie [Mac & iOS]?

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May 21, 2024• Proven solutions

Recording perfectly stable footage while holding an iPhone or any other camera in your hand is next to impossible. What's more, we often record videos while walking, which results in shaky footage that is not very pleasant to watch.

Mac, iPad, or iPhone users can easily fix their shaky video clips using iMovie, an app that comes bundled with all the latest versions of the macOS. If for some reason you don't have iMovie on your Mac or you want to install the iOS version of the app on your iPhone or iPad, you can download it from the App Store free of charge.

Here's how to stabilize shaky videos in iMovie.

How to Stabilize Shaky Videos in iMovie 10 on Mac?

If you already have iMovie 10 installed on your computer, you should launch it and import the footage you want to stabilize. If for whatever reason, you don't have iMovie on your Mac, you should install it first, and then proceed to import the video clip you'd like to stabilize.

Besides enabling you to fix the camera shakes, iMovie's Video Stabilization feature lets you correct image distortion caused by rapid camera movement.

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To stabilize shaky videos in iMovie 10 on Mac, you can follow these steps:

Step 1. Place the footage in the timeline and make sure that it is selected. If you don't select the footage, the software won't know to which video clip you want to apply the Video Stabilization, which is why it is important to double-check that the right clip is selected.

Step 2. Above the preview window, you'll be able to see the Adjustments bar, which contains icons like Crop of Video Speed. Locate the Stabilization icon and click on it. Proceed to mark the "Stabilize Shaky Video" checkbox, which is going to be replaced by an activity indicator until the stabilization process is complete.

iMovie Video Stabilization

Step 3. Next to the checkbox, you'll be able to see the "Stabilize Shaky Video" slider, so all you have to do is drag the slider left or right to increase or decrease the amount of stabilization that is being applied to the clip.

You can click on the Play button at any moment to preview the changes you've made to the footage. If you don't like the achieved results, you can always click on the Reset button and go through the entire process again. 

It is worth noting that iMovie's Stabilize Shaky Video option crops the footage in order to make it more stable. Dragging the "Stabilize Shaky Video" slider to 40% will help you remove camera shakes, but the video clip will be significantly zoomed in, which can result in pixilated footage if you are working with low-resolution videos.

That's why you must pay close attention to how much of the feature you apply to your video clip. Because if you don't, you can end up removing large portions of the shot.

How to Stabilize Shaky Videos in iMovie for iOS?

The iOS version of iMovie is basically a lighter version of the software that is available on Mac computers.

Consequently, the app's video stabilization options are less powerful, although you can still analyze and stabilize your video clips. The process is entirely automatic, so you won't be able to control how much of the effect is applied to the footage or how the final product is going to look like.

After installing the app on your iPhone or iPad, you should open the app and create a new project. You can then proceed to import the video clip into the app, click on the File menu and select the "Analyze for Stabilization" option.

The app will analyze the clip automatically and when done, it will display it in the timeline. The Gear icon will appear on the video clip, so you should tap or click on it and choose the Clip Adjustments option from the menu. You can then select the Smooth clip motion feature to ensure that your footage is as stable as possible.

Each new clip you add to your project will be automatically analyzed and stabilized if necessary, but if you want all the footage to be analyzed and stabilized every time you add a new clip to the project you're working on, you have to repeat the entire process by choosing the "Analyze for Stabilization" option from the File menu.

The app uses several stabilizing behaviors to reduce the camera shaking in a video clip. It features an advanced motion tracking technique that evaluates every frame of the clip and extracts the motion data without the use of on-screen trackers.

On-screen trackers, on the other hand, analyze reference patterns on a small sample of pixels in the frame. However, both of these behaviors are entirely automated and the app's users can't influence the way they are going to stabilize the footage.

The biggest downside of using the iMovie iOS app to stabilize your shaky videos is that you have absolutely no control over the process. The app automatically stabilizes the footage, and more often than not it only achieves moderate results.

Stabilize Shaky Videos on Windows and Mac with Wondershare Filmora

If you are editing an action cam video, you can use Wondershare Filmora video editor to stabilize it, correcting the fisheye, and changing the video speed easily.

Check the video tutorial below to find out how to do that. For the details, you can check our complete tutorial about editing action cam videos with Filmora.

Download Filmora Win Version Download Filmora Mac Version

FAQs About Stabilizing Shaky Videos in iMovie

Here are some common questions about stabilizing shaky videos for your information.

1. How long does it take to stabilize a shaky video?

The amount of time iMovie needs to stabilize a shaky video depends on how long that video clip is. The video editing software can analyze a five-second video in less than a minute, but the analysis of a five-minute video may take a while.

2. How to stabilize a video in iMovie from an iPad?

Once you’ve added a video clip you want to stabilize to the timeline, you should select it and go to the File menu. Choose the "Analyze for Stabilization" option and wait for iMovie to analyze the video clip. After this process is completed, you should tap on the Gear icon that is displayed over the analyzed video clip and choose the Clip Adjustments option. Pick the Smooth Clip Motion feature and fine-tune the settings.

3. Does the iPhone have video stabilization?

Yes, both the front and rear-facing cameras of the iPhone have the video stabilization feature that reduces camera shakes. This option also enables you to use longer exposure times, but it can only be helpful if you are keeping your phone relatively steady.

4. Why is the video stabilization option grayed out in iMovie?

The video stabilization option is going to be available only if you are editing your videos from the timeline in a project. You won’t be able to use this feature from the iMovie’s Event mode.


iMovie is not a powerful video editing software. And although it offers video stabilization options, it is probably best to use some more powerful software or apps to reduce camera shakes in video clips that are really important to you. The iMovie for Mac crops the footage as you increase the video stabilization levels, while the iOS app only offers automatic video stabilization, which in both cases limits your options significantly.

author avatar
Shanoon Cox
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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Shanoon Cox

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