Working With Layers in the ScreenFlow Timeline

If you’ve spent any time using ScreenFlow, you’ll be somewhat familiar with the timeline, which appears across the bottom of your ScreenFlow window.


The timeline in ScreenFlow is where you place all your media clips  (video, audio and still images) to control when they start and stop, or appear in your presentation.

Adding clips to your timeline

When you create a screen recording, that clip will automatically be placed in the timeline.

Add additional clips (like additional recordings, background music or logos)  to your project by dragging them first into the Document Media tab in your Properties menu.Timeline

Then you can add them to your timeline in one of 3 ways.

  1. Double click on your clip, which inserts it onto a new layer in your timeline at the position of your scrubber.
  2. Drag your clip directly into your preview window, which allows you to position it on screen, or
  3. Drag your clip directly onto the timeline

Positioning with layers

When you add a clip to your timeline, you will notice that ScreenFlow wants to automatically add it to a new layer above the top layer.

Tip: To create a new layer between two existing layers, hold SHIFT as you drag your clip onto the timeline.

Layer position is important because a clip on a top layer will appear in front of any clips on layers below it. So, for example, if you have a logo that you want to appear on a white background image, you’ll need to position the logo in a layer higher up in the timeline than the layer the white background image is on.


Placing clips at the bottom-most layer of your timeline

Sometimes you’ll want to place something, like the white background image, behind everything else in your presentation- which means it should go on the bottom layer. Unfortunately, you can’t automatically place clips directly onto a new bottom-most layer, because ScreenFlow wants to add new clips to the top layer. The best way to get clips to the bottom-most layer is to first drag your clip onto an existing or new top layer of your timeline, then once it’s in the timeline, drag your clip down below the existing bottom layer, and a new bottom layer will be created with your clip.

If you find you have extra layers at the top, simply Select All clips (command-A) and click and drag all your media upwards. (Empty bottom layers will disappear).

Do you have any tips for working with layers in the timeline? Share with the group, and maybe we’ll all learn a thing or two!


  1. PSM

    The Shift tip is wonderful, thanks for sharing this. Still, I think there’s a huge amount of room for improvement when it comes to managing layers and layer behavior in general. Taking one thing from the blog post as an example, simply dragging all clips upwards to remove empty bottom-most layers is also a great tip, but doing this has the potential to shift clips forward or backward along the timeline; this is because clips are not prevented from moving left or right as they’re shifted upward. If, however, there were a function available which limited dragging in one direction (say, holding down a modifier key or two) then this would no longer be a problem.


  2. Joe

    I was able to add another layer, but now all my projects have a blank second layer underneath that I can’t seem to remove.
    I tried using command-a and dragging, but it didn’t change anything.

    I’m also having another issue:

    I need to make my main window area larger in order to make a large and precise crop selection, but I can’t drag the corner of the window to be larger than the screen with the mouse, and I can’t find a way to hide the toolbars or the timeline. If I zoom out, then the image is reduced in size to the point where I can’t make an accurate selection. What can I do?

    • JFB

      Joe: if I understand you correctly, you need to make your canvas larger so you can focus on a precise area of the screen to crop an element on your timeline. If that’s the case, use command + to zoom in on the canvas, and then… wait for it… you need to use the scrollbars (Remember those?) to move left and right, or up-and-down within the canvas. (Clicking and dragging inside the canvas will move the objects on the canvas and that’s probably not what you want.)

      Hope this helps.

  3. JFB

    Regarding layers: I usually drag the track headers which appear at the beginning of every track (dark gray, vertical bars with arrows and 3 lines), to reorder the layers. This preserves the position of the elements as there is no risk of moving objects horizontally on the timeline while dragging. This makes dropping a track to the bottom layer very easy.

    ** As an additional tip, this is also where you can expand or shrink each track by Control-clicking on the header, Or clicking on the up and down arrows.

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