How to Use Davinci Resolve for Beginners

This article will show you how to use DaVinci Resolve 14, even if you’ve never used it or any other video editor before. Davinci Resolve is a free, professional-grade editing program from Blackmagic Design that allows users to create bold, unique, and attention-grabbing films and videos like a pro! In this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to find and use essential editing tools, menus, and windows

  • How to import and edit media files

  • How to add text and effects

  • How to save and share completed videos

DaVinci Resolve 14 is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems, but in this tutorial, I’ll be focusing on Mac.

To get started, you first need to download DaVinci Resolve 14 to your laptop or desktop.


When you’re ready to start creating, open DaVinci Resolve on your computer, and you’ll be greeted with a “Project” window.

To begin making a new video, simply click “New Project” at the bottom of the window, type your title in the pop-up window, then click “Create.”

The Project window is also where you can view your completed projects and projects-in-progress all in one convenient location.

Create New Project

Once you click “Create,” you’ll be taken to the Edit window. This window is filled with various buttons and sections and may look a bit intimidating and overwhelming to first-time users, but I’ll walk you through all the basic tools and steps you’ll need to start creating with ease.

First, let’s look at some of the tools and features you have to work with.

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Down at the bottom-right of your editing window, you’ll see a tiny icon that looks like a house, that’s the “Home” button. When you click on Home, it takes you back to your Projects window.

You also have a Settings icon, shaped like a gear. The Settings lets you make all kinds of adjustments to things like color, image scaling, and playback.

For now, we’ll just stick with the default settings as we go through the basic tools and processes of the program

The Settings at the bottom-right allow users to customize and adjust DaVinci Resolve to suit their needs and work style


Another essential tool in the menu along the bottom of the editing window is “Media.”

Click on Media, and you’ll get a new window with a range of options to explore. Before you can start editing, you’ll need to collect some media files with which to build your new video.  

First, look up at the top left of the Media window you’ll see your Media Library. The Media Library is where you can explore all the folders and files that you have saved on your computer.

Simply click through to the appropriate folders, find the video and audio files you want to use, and drag and drop them into the Media Pool at the bottom of your Media window.

As you add new media files, you may see a small pop-up window telling you that the frame rate of your selected file does not match the current project settings. All you need to do is click “Change” in the pop-up window, and DaVinci Resolve 14 will automatically adjust the frame rates of all your selected files so that they sync with one another.

It’s as easy as that!

Click on any media file on your computer, drag and drop it into the Media Pool, and click “Change” to automatically adjust the frame rate

Another way to import new media files is to hover your mouse inside the Media Pool space, then right-click to open a menu.

In the menu, you’ll see an “Import Media” option. Simply click through to the files you want to select, click “Open,” and the files will appear in your Media Pool.  

Right-click inside the Media Pool, click Import Media, and click through to find media files on your computer


Now, I’ll explore the Edit window, since this is where you’ll be doing most of the work.

Click “Edit” in the menu at the bottom of your window, and your Edit page will open. You’ll see that the imported media files you just added to the Media Pool are listed as thumbnails in the Library at the left of the window.

You can add even more media to your Library by right-clicking inside the Library box and choosing Import Media from the menu. Or you can drag and drop files from your desktop over to the Library, or drop them directly into the Timeline.

drag and drop right from any folder on your desktop into the Library or into the Timeline

The Timeline sits at the bottom of the Edit window and is the space where you collect and edit all the video clips and audio and images you’re going to use to create your video.

Now that you’ve learned how to add media to your Library and Timeline, you can also delete files in the Timeline if you decide you’re not going to use them. All you have to do is click on the file thumbnail in your Library, then right-click, and choose “Remove Selected Tracks” from the menu.

As a side note, once you drop a media file into the Timeline, it’s referred to as a “Track,” and I’ll be using that term as we move forward.

The Timeline offers users a range of tools to help organize and customize their editing experience.

Along the top of the Timeline, you’ll see an icon that looks like three connected squares with a line underneath. This is the Timeline View Options setting, and it lets you adjust what files look like in the Timeline to accommodate your tastes and viewing style.

Use the Viewing Options settings to adjust how the Timeline and tracks look

One great feature of the Edit window is the Viewer panels at the top.

The panel on the left previews the media files in your Library, while the panel on the right shows you the tracks in your Timeline.

Move your cursor over a video file in your Library, and you’ll see that clip appear in the left-side Viewer. Move your mouse back and forth from left to right across the thumbnail, and you will see the video running backward and forward along with the motion of your mouse.

Mouse over a video clip thumbnail in the Library to get a quick view in the left Viewer panel

You can also double-click on an audio or video file in the Library, and you’ll be able to play that clip like any other video in the Viewer. Once you double-click, you can use the control buttons at the bottom of the Viewer to listen to audio tracks, watch video clips, and find specific points in the track as you edit.

Now drag and drop some files into your Timeline in the Editing window.

You’ll notice that as soon as you drop a file into the Timeline, video files will appear as blue blocks, and audio files appear as green blocks. This is just a visual aid to help you keep track of which files are which. Still image files will appear as a slightly darker blue in the Timeline.

When you drag a track into the Timeline, video tracks appear blue, audio tracks appear green, and still image files are a slightly darker blue

Look to the left side of the Timeline, and you’ll see a small list. This is the Track List.

Video tracks in the list are labeled V1, V2, and so on. Audio files are labeled A1, A2, etc.

The track list labels and lists all the tracks inside of the Timeline

The right Viewer allows you to keep track of your edits in real-time, so you can check how everything looks as you work.

Look down and find the red vertical line in your Timeline, then click and drag that line left and right. The red line is essentially marking a specific moment in time.

As you move the line across the tracks in your Timeline, you’ll see the video playing backward and forward in the right Viewer.

You can also click the “Play” arrow in the control menu at the bottom of the Viewer, and you’ll notice the red vertical line moving steadily across the Timeline as your video plays.

The right Viewer window lets you see the clips in your Timeline, and the red vertical line serves as a progress bar

Now it’s time to try some basic editing.

Viewer Controls

Let’s say that you have a video file and you only want to use a ten-second clip from the middle of the video. All you need to do is click on that track in the Timeline so that it appears in the Viewer.

You’ll see that there’s a little progress bar along the bottom of the Viewer that shows how far into the video you’ve gone.

To select a specific section of the video, simply click on that progress bar at the moment where the clip you want to use begins, and a tiny white mark will appear.

Click on the right-pointing arrow on the right side of the Viewer controls. By clicking that arrow icon, you’re marking that specific spot as the beginning. Then select and click on the point on the video progress line where you want the clip to end, then click the arrow that points left, and this will mark that specific point as the ending.

Click on the progress bar under the Viewer to select the beginning of a clip, then click the “select” arrow in the Viewer controls menu

Once you’ve selected your clip, go to the control menu that runs along the top of the Timeline, and click on the icon that looks like three frames of film with a tiny “down” arrow beneath them. This is the “Insert Track” tool, and when you click, it takes the track you just created and moves it into your Timeline.

Click the “Insert” icon to add a clip from the Viewer into the Timeline

Selection Tool

Another tool in your Timeline toolbar is the “Selection” tool. This tool looks like a tiny arrow icon and sits at the left end of the toolbar.

Click the Selection tool, and you can then click on tracks and move them around anywhere you like in the Timeline.

Snap To

Now, one critical Timeline setting to know about is the “Snap” setting. This appears as a little U-shaped icon in the Timeline control menu.

The Snap To tool should be “On” and appear white. This setting helps you attach different tracks to one another and keep things in sync. It also prevents you from laying one track on top of another and accidentally erasing data, because if the setting is “Off,” this means you can effectively erase another track simple by moving your selected track over the top of it.

Make sure that the “Snap” setting is on. Otherwise you might accidentally delete information when you move tracks around the Timeline


Another handy tool is the “Unlink” option in your right-click menu.

Let’s say you’ve dropped a video track of a beach scene into your Timeline, and that track has embedded background noise, like the sounds of waves crashing and children playing. When you drop this track into the Timeline, the video and audio tracks will automatically be linked and stay together as you edit and move things around the Timeline.

But if you’d like to get rid of that background noise, maybe to replace it with some soothing music, you just click on the track, right-click, and click to uncheck “Link Tracks” at the very bottom of the menu.

With Link Tracks unchecked, your video and audio become separate files that you can edit, move around, and delete individually. You can also use Link Tracks to add new audio to a video track and keep the audio and video joined as you edit and move the tracks around the Timeline.

Use the right-click menu to unlink audio and video tracks


Clipping is another useful feature you can use in the Timeline.

First, click the “Trim Edit” tool in your Timeline toolbar. This icon is just to the right of the “Select” arrow and looks like a vertical bar with a box on each side of it.

Once you click this tool, it will appear highlighted in red, and then you can move your cursor to the edge of a track, click, and drag back and forth to shorten the track.

Keep in mind that when you use this tool to shorten a track, you’re permanently removing information from the track, so if you accidentally remove a section you didn’t mean to remove, you can simply use “Command-Z” or Edit>Undo to undo the mistake.

Use the “Trim Edit” tool to extend to clip the ends of video clips

Trim Edit & Speed Adjust

You can also use the Trim Edit tool to click and drag on the end of a still image file to adjust how long that image appears onscreen in your finished video. With image files, you’re not actually removing any information when you shorten the track, it merely adjusts the amount of time the image spends on the screen.

Now let’s say you want to speed up or slow down a piece of video.

To adjust the speed, just click on the track in your Timeline, then right-click, and select “Change Track Speed” from the menu. This will open a little pop-up window that allows you to change the speed by adjusting the percentage.

For example, moving the percentage down to 50% would mean the track would play in slow motion, and moving it up to 200% would mean the track is sped up.

Once you change the setting, you can see how the clip looks in the right Viewer, and then make any more adjustments you need to make.

Right-click on a track, then select “Change Track Speed” to speed up or slow down the track playing speed

Razor Edit Mode

Another tool in the Timeline toolbar is the “Razor Edit Mode,” which looks like a little razor blade icon. With the Razor tool activated, you can click on your tracks in the Timeline and cut them into sections.

This is a great way to break a track into separate pieces so that you can insert other tracks in between them or even delete sections of tracks that you don’t plan to use.

Remember, you can use the red vertical line to find specific points in a track, so you know that you’re cutting at just the right moment. The Razor tool also works with audio tracks and allows you to select and edit specific pieces of music and sound

Use the Razor tool to make cuts in video and audio tracks


There’s a handy setting that allows you to “Hide” specific video tracks by clicking the small right-side box in the track list on the left of the Timeline.

When you ”Hide” a track you aren’t deleting or removing any information; you’re merely making that track invisible.

You can “Hide” a track in the Timeline, click Play under the Viewer, and you can see how the video looks without that specific scene. Then you can unhide the track and see how you like the video with the scene included.

You can also “Mute” an audio track by clicking the tiny “M” in the track list so that you can isolate certain tracks and reduce the clutter as you watch and listen to your video as you edit.

You can Hide video tracks and Mute audio tracks using the controls in the track list]


You can also “Lock” a track to prevent accidental edits or clipping.

Over in the list, you can see that each track has a little lock icon. Simply click that lock, and the track will be protected from any accidental changes.

To edit or move the track around the Timeline, just click on the lock icon again to unlock the track.


One creative tool that you might enjoy using is the “Resize” tool. This allows you to have more than one video or image clip appear on the screen at the same time.

Perhaps you’d like to have a clip of crashing waves in the background, and add your beach scene clip over the top of it.

To do this, click on the beach track in the Timeline so that it appears in the Viewer, then go up to the Viewer toolbar and click on the icon that looks like an empty box with little dots at each of the four corners.

As soon as you click, you can see size adjustment handles appear around the Viewer image.

If you click and drag on one of the bottom or top corner handles around the Viewer, you can make the image smaller or larger.

Next, click on the crashing waves track in the Timeline, drag it under the beach track, and up in the Viewer, you’ll see the waves appear behind the beach scene.

Use the Resize tool to select an image or video and adjust the size as it appears onscreen

The “Resize” tool also has a small drop-down menu with options like Crop, which allows you to cut away certain areas of the beach scene clip, or whichever clip you’re working with, so that you can remove any parts of the scene that you don’t want, and focus in on the areas you do want.

Use the drop-down menu next to the Resize tool to select options like “Crop”

Inspector panel

Another way to crop and modify visual elements is to use the Inspector panel located at the top right of the Edit window, next to the Viewer.

This control panel lets you adjust things like the opacity of the clip, as well as crop, rotate, warp, and adjust scale, timing, and lens distortions.

This is another great tool to experiment with, so I recommend taking time to play around so you can become familiar with all the various options.

To do even more fine-tuning, click on “Inspector” at the top right of the window

Effects Library

Next, I’m going to go over the Effects Library, which you can find at the top-right of the Edit window. Click on Effects Library and a Toolbox of options will appear at the left edge of your Timeline.

Let’s explore Transitions first.

Transitions are a great way to move from one scene to the next, or one audio track to the next.

For example, maybe you’d like the opening credits to gently fade into the first scene of the video. All you need to do is click on a specific transition in the Video Transitions menu, then drag and drop it directly on top of the beginning of your opening scene track in the Timeline.

Open the Effects menu, then drag and drop Transitions and other effects onto clips in the Timeline

Once you’ve placed a Transition onto a clip, click on the Transition box, click Inspector at the top-right of the window, and it will open a panel that lets you adjust your effects and adjust things like duration, style, and color.

If you decide you don’t like a certain Transition, just click on it in your Timeline, right-click, and choose “Delete.”

The Effects Library also provides an extensive range of text options that you can add to your video.

First, click on “Titles” in the Effects Toolbox at the left side of the Timeline, choose an option, and click, drag, and drop it onto a video track in the Timeline, just like you did with the Transitions.

As soon as you drop a Title option onto a video clip, you’ll see text appear up in the Viewer.  

Click, drag, and drop “Title” effects into the Timeline to create titles, credits, and other custom text

To edit the text you’ve just added to your track, click on the little Text box in your Timeline to highlight it, then open the Inspector, if it’s not open already.

The text Inspector panel lets you choose between a range of fonts and adjust the size and color, as well as typing in whatever words and characters you like.

The Inspector panel also gives you the option to add simple effects to your text, such as a drop shadow and colored outlines.

Click on the Text box in your Timeline, then use the Inspector panel to edit and adjust the text

Another great option in your Effects Library is “OpenFX.”

All you need to do is click on OpenFX in the main Effects Library, select an effect from the menu, drag and drop it onto a clip in your Timeline, and the effect will be instantly visible up in the Viewer. Then you can go to the Inspector panel at the top-right of the window, click OpenFX at the top, and make a wide range of adjustments to that specific effect.

You can also add more than one effect to a clip and layer and blend multiple effects in a single scene.

OpenFX offers even more visual effects to play with. Simply drag and drop an effect from the OpenFX menu into the Timeline, and the effect will appear in the Viewer

OpenFX also has a range of options for audio files, and provides a control panel on the left side of the Edit window, in addition to the Inspector panel at the right, to give you a wealth of editing options.

Drag and drop Audio Effects into the Timeline, and you’ll see an audio control panel open at the top-left of the window

Now that you’ve learned how to import media files, add files to the Timeline, edit tracks, and add some effects, all you need to know is how to export and share a completed video.


Down at the bottom of the Timeline is a button called “Deliver.”

When you click on Deliver, a panel will open at the top-left of your Edit window.

This panel provides some pre-set options that automatically format your video for specific platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo, a range of customization options where you can select from a list of video formats such as Quicktime, MP4, and DPX, and various audio and file formats.

To export a finished project, click “Deliver” at the bottom of the window, then choose your formatting options in the control panel at top-left

Let’s say you decide to choose the YouTube formatting option.

Once you choose the formatting, you need to click “Add to Render Queue” at the bottom-right of the control panel. This will make a Render Queue panel appear at the top-right of your window.   

Once you’ve selected the format or destination, you’ll need to add the video to the render Queue

Next, look at the top of your Timeline, and you’ll see the word “Render” next to a drop-down menu.

If you want to export the entire complete video, you just need to click the drop-down menu and click on “Entire Timeline” to export the entire video that you just created in your Timeline.

Then go up to the Render Queue panel at the top-right, click “Start Render,” and you’re done!  

Go to the Render drop-down menu and choose “Entire Project”

We’ve only just scraped the surface of this amazing program, but now you know how to get started and get on the path to creating fun, entertaining, custom-made videos.

Remember: the DaVinci Resolve 14 download includes a detailed, easy-to-read User’s Manual, so you can take all the time you need to learn about and experiment with all the versatile tools, features, and functions this amazing program has to offer.

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