This paper presents an accurate yet straightforward methodology for characterizing time-dependent anelastic mechanics of thin metal films employed in metalic microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The deflection of microbeams is controlled with a mechanical micro-clamp, measured with digital holographic microscopy and processed with global digital image correlation (GDIC). The GDIC processing directly incorporates kinematics into the three-dimensional correlation problem, describing drift-induced rigid body motion and the beam deflection. This yields beam curvature measurements with a resolution of <1.5×10-6µ m-1, or for films thinner than 5µ m, a strain resolution of <4µe. Using a simple experimental sequence, these curvature measurements are then combined with a linear multi-mode time-dependent anelastic model and a priori knowledge of the Young's modulus. This allows the characterization of the material behaviour in the absence of an additional explicit force measurement, which simplifies the experimental setup. Using this methodology we characterize the anelasticity of 5µm-thick Al(1wt%)-Cu microbeams of varying microstructures over relevant timescales of 1 to 1×105s and adequately predict the time and amplitude response of experiments performed for various loading conditions. This demonstrates the validity of the methodology and the suitability for thin film mechanics research for MEMS development. © 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.