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Older versions of Apple's iMovie provided a highly versatile solution for adding subtitles. This functionality has since been greatly limited in iMovie 9 and newer, in part because the Title feature in iMovie has changed dramatically over time. You are currently limited to choosing either the Lower Third or simply Lower title options. In both cases, videos with extended dialog will need to be carved up into many small clips in order to get all the text on the screen.

Creating Subtitles in iMovie
To access the Title options, be sure to click the Titles button in your iMovie workspace, which is the T located to the right of the digital camera icon.

Once you have the list of available titles visible, drag either the Lower Third or Lower title option to your movie clip. You are then able to edit the text of the lower third in the video preview window adding text to either of two lines. You can see the two options in the screenshot below.

adding subtitles in iMovie

In addition to changing the text for your subtitles, you can also configure the text size, the text color, and adjust the positioning on screen. iMovie (and most video editing apps) defaults to using white for text, which is nearly impossible to read on light colored backgrounds. I recommend changing it to an off-white or slightly yellow text color for easier reading.

Dave writes, "I have an old PowerBook G4 laptop with a broken monitor (it just displays vertical lines). I connected it to my HDTV using an HDMI cable and a DVI to HDMI adapter and all I got on my TV was a blue screen. I had the TV set to the right input. Any ideas?"

Connecting an external display to a MacBook or PowerBook, as you did when you connected your HDTV, typically causes the Mac to extend the desktop to the external display. Sometimes this doesn't happen automatically, which means you need to make manual changes. In your case, the Mac shouldn't try to use the built-in laptop screen because it's broken, but the Mac probably can't detect that. Fortunately there's a relatively simply solution to the external display problem you are having.

"Is it possible to have a phone number display caller ID on my Mac computer monitor when I receive an incoming phone call? I am subscribed to call display with my local phone company and the phone numbers display on my home phone."

Mac Caller ID is harder than it used to be, because most Mac hardware no longer includes a modem port for connecting a phone line. In the past, you simply needed to plugin your phone line to your computer, download caller ID software, and Mac OS X would happily inform you each time you received a phone call. To add caller ID to your Mac now, you need an external USB modem along with software.

"I have an iMac and AVCHD Sony video camera. Final Cut Express imports AVCHD files, but FCE does not output AVCHD. I'd like to create a Blu-ray disc with my AVCHD video. What is the best solution to edit my AVCHD files? Can I use FCE for editing and Adobe Encore CS4 for the high definition menu for Blu-ray? If so, which format should I choose for the output from FCE in high definition?"

Choosing the right tools for editing and authoring Blu-ray on a Mac is still somewhat confusing. Based on the tools you have available, I'm inclined to recommend editing with Adobe Premiere Pro and authoring a Blu-ray disc with Adobe Encore. However, if you are more familiar with editing in Final Cut Express, I can certainly understand the appeal of sticking with what you know. As for which settings to choose in either route, let me make a few suggestions.

"I want to print to a printer in another room from my MacBook. Is there any way I can print wireless from my MacBook or do I need to get a long cable?"

There are a number of factors that will determine the best way for you to print wirelessly from your MacBook, but none of them should result in you needing a long cable. A printer connected to anther computer can typically be connected to using network printing. If the printer is standalone and connected to your network, you should be able to locate it on the network. Or if neither of those options is available, you can setup the printer for wireless printing using a wireless network adapter.

"I never got around to doing the upgrade from Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger to Leopard. Now I have an iPhone 4 and it tells me it won't work with my Mac. How do I upgrade from Mac OS X 10.4 to Snow Leopard?"

Apple forces you to upgrade Mac OS X if you want to sync your iPhone 4 with it. This doesn't really make sense because you can upgrade iTunes without upgrading to Snow Leopard, but in this case Apple makes the rules. To upgrade from OS X 10.4 to 10.6 Snow Leopard Apple wants you to buy the Mac Box Set.

When I need to do a Windows screen recording, I use Camtasia from TechSmith. Nothing else comes close to offering the rich set of features. When I need to do a screen recording on Mac OS X, I'm left feeling disappointed because none of the alternatives match my experience with using Camtasia in Windows. I've heard rumors from TechSmith for a couple years about a coming Camtasia for Mac OS X. Now they are finally coming true. Announced on the Visual Lounge on August 7, Camtasia for Mac OS X launches on August 25, 2009. What this means for me is less dread in doing Mac screen recordings. I can't wait!

"How does a Windows user upload to my public directory on iDisk?"

While Windows users can have a MobileMe account with an iDisk, most of them don't, but that doesn't mean they can't use your public directory if you give them permission. Uploading to an iDisk public directory is basically the same for both Windows and Mac users. For a Windows user to be able to successfully upload to your iDisk, you need to have the correct permissions set in your MobileMe account. There may be a password required from the iDisk account holder. Here's how to upload from Windows or Mac to a public directory on iDisk:

"Can you recommend a good fax app or online fax service for my MacBook with OSX?"

If you only need to send a fax with your Mac, my recommended solution would be to visit free fax site FaxZero. It allows you to enter the recipient of your fax and upload a file to send as a fax. If you want to receive a fax on your Mac, you will need a different solution because FaxZero is only designed for sending faxes.

"How can I convert my old vinyl records to MP3 on a Mac? You recommend SpinItAgain for Windows, but what can I use to convert vinyl LPs on Mac OS X?"

There are many audio recording apps available for Mac OS X, including the popular iLife application GarageBand. If you connect a record player or USB turntable like the Ion to your Mac, you can record vinyl using GarageBand as if it were an instrument. That method is complicated and filled with extra steps, so I don't recommend it. Instead, I suggest using CD Spin Doctor, which comes very close to offering the same ease of use I find so wonderful about SpinItAgain.

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