How to Use Premiere Pro – A Comprehensive Guide

A world of content creation that requires video on a weekly, sometimes even daily basis can place a burden on business owners and hobbyists to learn to use new and better software. Free software can only go so far, especially in regards to effects, transitions, and other necessities that can make a good video even better. Even a professional editor with a significant amount of experience would struggle to work with a video editing software that has limited functionality, making it beneficial to learn how to use Premiere Pro.

This is why Adobe Premiere Pro, among other programs, is one of the best video editing tools in the world. To learn how to use Premiere Pro, you should start with the basics – opening a new project.

Starting a New Project – Behold the Interface

Once you open Premiere Pro, you will be greeted by the Home window, allowing you to start a new project or open an existing one. You can also browse through a list of your recent projects if you have any. A single click opens any of your most recent projects.

If you want to open a specific project you can click on the Open Project button. If you are planning on starting a new project, then clicking on the New Project button will prompt another window to open and the Home windows to close. 

How to use Premiere Pro – Starting a New Project & Selecting the Right Settings

The New Project window offers some settings to be chosen at the start of the project. You can select which renderer to use, often having two available, hardware and software. Depending on your hardware you will use a different API, often OpenCL. The hardware renderer is faster, so have that in mind if your computer supports it. 

You can select how the video and audio will be displayed, the options for Video being Timecode, Feet + Frames or just Frames. The options for Audio are Audio Samples or Milliseconds. The default settings are Timecode and Audio Samples and are the easiest to work with.

Scratch Disks is another tab that you can access to the right of the General tab. It has plenty of options for setting up how Premiere Pro saves your files and how it opens them. This is useful if you have more than two drives, especially if you are running multiple drives in Raid0.

Another tab to the right, college Ingest, allows you to import content from connected devices, as well as transcode them using the Adobe Media Encoder. This is useful for larger businesses using a common format.

Once you are done with the details, name your project and choose where it will be saved and press OK.

The Default Interface – Workspace Choice

How to use Premiere Pro – The Editing Workspace

Once you open your project, you should see the Editing Workspace. Workspaces are predetermined ways of displaying the windows that the user would want to see. The default Editing Workspace consists of Media Browser, Source editor, Program (which is where you will see your timeline once you click play) and the Timeline window.

You can use the Media Browser to browse your drives, adding a file to Source. The Source window is used to crop and select parts of a video. You can crop the video, audio, or both. Adding them to the timeline will display that content, allowing you to select and modify a sequence. Depending on whether you added video, audio, or both, they will be moved into their respective audio/video track. 

If your files are from a different source and are added to the same sequence, you will be warned, especially if they vary in resolution, bitrate, or quality in general. You should normalize the quality and resolution before proceeding (albeit it can be done when exporting the video).

If you have specific things that need editing, you can choose any of the following workspaces already present when you start a project, including Assembly, Libraries, Color, Effects, Audio, Graphics, and Learning.

The Other Workspaces

Learning is a new tab that allows you to open Adobe-made tutorials.

Assembly is similar to editing, except that it replaces the Source with a very large Media Browser, allowing you to import media with ease, giving you more space to work with.

Color allows you to color grade your images and videos.

Effects help to make your videos more professional. As an example, you could use a transition to make a video more interesting as the video moves from one clip to the next.

Audio allows you to edit the audio in a more professional manner, giving you the option to choose the volume for each track separately, or pan, as an example. 

Libraries give you the option of using Adobe Creative Cloud libraries, including Color themes, various Graphics options, and more.

Graphics gives you the option to add various interesting graphics to your video including charts, graphs, and titles as you would see in the opening credits of a movie, for example.

Have in mind that you can customize the workspace as you prefer, choosing any of the windows these workspaces use.

How to Create a Sequence and Edit Your Video

Importing Files

Creating a sequence is an important part of making your project universal. In the newest version of Premiere Pro, simply adding a video file will make it a sequence with its own settings. Adding videos with different resolutions or bit rates is not ideal. You can, however, still normalize everything when exporting the project.
Your sequence consists of different Audio and Video tracks displayed in the Timeline window. 

Adding and Editing Graphics

The Graphics workspace opens an Essential Graphics window to the right of your Program and Timeline windows. It shrinks the regular Editing workspace but opens up options of adding graphics. From the Essential Graphics window, you can choose a multitude of different premade graphics, which may include editable text. Some of them have animations. You can simply drag and drop them anywhere on your timeline in any video track. 

Clicking on that Graphic allows you to edit it in the right-side window, Essential Graphics. You can edit everything from the font, if the graphic has one, to its shape and color.

Effects Galore

Effects are a part of almost every video and can break up the narrative of a video or spice it up if needed. They are also entertaining and could make or even break a video when used improperly. The Effects workspace adds a window to the right of the Program and Timeline windows, called Effects. From there, you can browse folders with Adobe-made effects, ranging anywhere from audio effects and transitions to video effects and transitions, also including plenty of presets.

Adding an effect can be done the same way as you would add a graphic by dragging and dropping it where you want it on your timeline. 

You can edit the effects by using the window tabs on the Source window, choosing the one named Effects. Each effect has its own properties which you should consider editing if you want to customize an effect.

Audio Editing

Selecting the Audio workspace opens up the Audio Track Mixer and Audio Clip Mixer windows. One of them is visible where the Source window would have initially been, with the Project and Media Browser moving to the left.

The Audio Track Mixer is arguably more useful than the Clip Mixer. This mixer allows you to separately adjust every track, including the master volume. You will see whether your input settings are too high and whether you should lower some of the tracks. 

Another option is to select which track to play Solo, or Mute a track if you prefer it silent. You can mark any of the audio tracks for Recording so that you can add your own audio if needed. Finally, you have the ability to choose the input device for each track from the drop-down menu.

How to use Premiere Pro – Color Grading

From the Color workspace, a window named Lumetri Color opens to the right of the Program and Timeline windows. It allows you to quickly color grade a video. You can select the video you want to color grade from the tab panel at the top of the Color window. The main editing tab is the Creative tab. This tab allows you to select various built-in presets or create your own. You can do this by editing the Vibrance, Saturation, Sharpen, Faded Film effects, as well as Shadow and Highlight tint.

Color grading a clip from a different camera to match that of your main camera is a typical use-case scenario for this workspace/window. Color grading clips from your main camera is also often needed if you forgot to set the white balance.

Exporting a Project – The Export Window

From the File menu, you can select Export, then Media, to open the Export Settings window. This is also doable via the Ctrl+M shortcut.

In this window, you can see your project on the left, as well as plenty of editable settings on the right. Choose your project’s format and preset, for example H.264 and Match Sequence. This is where you can normalize (to an extent) all your videos if they have different sizes and bit rates. 

In the lower part of the window, you can further edit Video, Audio, Effects, Captions, and Multiplexer. Next, you can Publish the video directly after it is rendered to various online platforms. 

You can then Queue the video to the Adobe Media Encoder if you have it installed and continue working on other projects or use Export to immediately start exporting, which will disable Premiere Pro until the export is finished. You can also edit the Metadata of the project prior to exporting it by pressing the eponymous button.

How to use Premiere Pro – Other Useful Links and Tutorials

No tutorial is complete on its own, so you should look up other interesting tutorials to master specific parts of a software. Learning how to use Premiere Pro is difficult enough with a single guide, so multiple ones should be consulted for the best results.

Taran from Linus Tech Tips has a tutorial on how to edit in Premiere Pro. Kick back, it lasts as much as a third Lord of the Rings Movie, 4 hours and 19 minutes.

This playlist from expert editor Justin Odisho contains 291 different Premiere Pro tutorials.

How to use Premiere Pro – Summary

Learning how to use Premiere Pro can be daunting at first. If you go through the various windows and panels to familiarize yourself with the interface, learn the shortcuts and edit multiple videos, short or long, you should be well on your way to mastering the software. With this tutorial, your professional editing journey should be a lot easier.

Other Resources

Check out this guide on how to export video using Adobe Premiere Pro.

Check out these Adobe Premiere Pro tutorials.

The following two tabs change content below.


Morgan is a recognized video marketing expert and content creator. She also runs a video production company and has a passion for teaching all things video.