How to Crop a Video on Mac | iMovie, QuickTime, FCP X, Photos

By Cecilia Hwung | Last Update:

Summary: This is a well-rounded tutorial of how to crop a video on Mac. We wrap up top 4 ways to crop videos in iMovie, QuickTime Player, Photos and Final Cut Pro X, and thus make video cropping on Mac a fuss-free work for you.

Bet you have been upset when the crowds got into your scenery footage, downloaded a movie with black bars that didn't fit the screen, or made mistakes while shooting and wanted to delete certain segments in the final product. Any of these problems can be solved easily by cropping the video with the assitance of the best free video cropping software on Mac. Now, let's straight to the tutorial of best Mac video croppers.

How to Crop a Video in iMovie

Apple proprietary video editor iMovie crops videos on Mac intuitively and quickly. It easily helps you crop a vertical/square video for social media sharing, remove undesirable parts, or highlight a frame to draw your audience's attention.

You can find it in Finder > File > Application. If not, download and upgrade iMovie in the App Store manually.

Step 1. Start a new project and import a video/videos to iMovie.

Open iMovie, and click the + icon in Projects to create a new project or open an existed one. Then load a video from a camera or a folder on your Mac after clicking the import icon.

Import Video to iMovie to Crop
Import Video to iMovie to Crop

Step 2. Cut out the clip that you want to crop in iMovie.

Right-click on the start and end points of the clip, then hit Cut to trim out the footage that you want to crop.

Step 3. Crop the video clip.

Hit the crop icon on the upper side of the preview window. Choose Crop to Fill, and drag the crop windows or grab the handle of any corner to crop the footage.

Crop to Fill - iMovie
Crop to Fill - iMovie

Note: Crop in iMovie just changes the size and center of the frame. The aspect ratio of the cropped video is always at 16:9.

Optional 1. Crop Style - Ken Burns

iMovie features 3 cropping styles. Ken Burns is named after an American documentarian. It is an effect of panning and zooming. In Ken Burns mode, you need to crop out a start and an end frame, then it will zoom in or out between these two areas.

Ken Burns - iMovie
Ken Burns - iMovie

Optional 2. Crop Style – Fit

Another style is Fit, which does not crop the clip, it just makes the clip fit the full width and height of the whole video. If you want to undo any cropping, it helps you restore the original video on Mac.

Step 4. Export and save the cropped video to your Mac.

When you complete the cropping task, hit the output icon in the right upper corner. And choose a file to save it to your Mac.

Export Video - iMovie
Export Video - iMovie

How to Crop a Video on Mac Using Final Cut Pro X

Another video cropping software for Mac is Final Cut Pro X which is more professional and ships with versatile and precise cropping tools. Even you crop a video exaggeratedly, you can fix the distortion in this professional video editor.

Step 1. Import a video to Final Cut Pro X on your Mac.

Launch FCP X, and click New Project to create a new project. Go to File > Import > Media to select a video to crop. Then drag the video to the timeline to crop.

Import Video to FCP X
Import Video to FCP X

Step 2. Enable the Crop Feature in FCP X.

Click the crop icon in the lower-left corner of the viewer, and choose Crop (or Shift+C). A crop window will pop up, then just drag edges to choose which area to display, then hit Done.

Crop Video on Mac with FCP X
Crop Video on Mac with FCP X

Note: There are 3 different modes of crop in Final Cut Pro X on Mac.

  • Trim mode keeps the original aspect ratio, and it will auto add black borders to fit the project.
  • Crop expands the cropped clip to the entire frame. But you need to correct the distortion manually when the cropped clip obviously does not fit the frame.
  • Ken Burns is also available in Final Cut Pro X. you just need to set a start and an end frame, it will zoom in or out between these two clips like in iMovie.

Step 3. Save the cropped video in FCP X.

Navigate to File > Share > Master File. Choose a destination for it. Then finish the export settings. Hit Next to export.

Export the Cropped Video on Mac - FCP X
Export the Cropped Video on Mac - FCP X

Final Cut Pro X VS iMovie: Cropping Video on Mac

The most frequently used video editors on Mac are doubtlessly iMovie and Final Cut Pro X. There's no point in judging either iMovie or FCP X is better. After walking through the whole cropping process above, you must have an idea that they have different pros and cons in video cropping. Have a quick look at their brief comparison.

  Final Cut Pro X iMovie

OS

macOS 10.14.6 or later

macOS 10.14.6 or later and iOS 13 or later

Price

$299.99

Free

Crop mode

Trim, Crop, Ken Burns

Fit, Crop, Ken Burns

Operation

Drag edges, set the value of each edge

Drag and drop

Aspect Ratio

Flexible

16:9

Black Background

in Trim mode

in Crop mode

Crop Distortion Correction

Yes

No

Auto-reframe

No

No

Compared with FCP X, iMovie is easier and fast to learn. It also has a mobile version on iOS devices so that you can crop videos right after shooting. If you are a video editing pro, you can enjoy more precise cropping and more editing features in Final Cut Pro X.

Even you are a skilled pro, cropping videos with fast changing frames is not that easy. Like say, crop out a skiing person in your video. The crop window has to be moving along with the person accordingly, so you have to crop video in iMovie or Final Cut Pro X frame by frame. But now new techs come up to solve it. Adobe announced the auto-reframe effect in 2019 to track along with the moving object and crop it at a certain aspect ratio automatically.

noticeAdvance Notice

A free video editor from Digiarty is expected to be launched this year. This software will also ship with intelligent motion crop feature and relieves users from tedious cropping tasks. Videos you shoot for sports, kids, animals or any footage contains fast moving objects can be cropped out for sharing and editing in minutes. Just stay tuned and test it first once it launched.

How to Crop a Video in QuickTime Player

As the name suggested, it is a media player. But it can also record, edit and share audio/video files. Many Mac users are wondering whether they can crop a video in QuickTime Player or not. In fact, its editing features are limited to trimming and rotating. QuickTime cannot crop videos like iMovie or Final Cut Pro X. But you can crop QuickTime video length with the tutorial below.

Step 1. Open a video with QuickTime Player.

Go to File > Open a video file.

Step 2. Trim out the unwanted footage.

Go to Edit > Trim. Then drag the yellow bar to trim video length.

Step 3. Save the clip.

Navigate to File > Save to export the video clip.

QuickTime Crop Video on Mac
QuickTime Crop Video on Mac

Can't crop a video in QuickTime Player? Try QuickTime Pro.

All you have learned above is just trimming the video length. If you desire to get rid of the edges of a video, upgrade your QuickTime Player to QuickTime Pro, and install Photoshop on your Mac. By associating with a Photoshop mask, it achieves cropping a video with the following steps.

Step 1. Create a JEPG image of the video.
Take an image from the video that you want to crop a video in QuickTime Pro on your Mac. And export it as an Image Sequence in .jpg format.

Step 2. Create a Mask in Photoshop for your QuickTime video.
Open Photoshop. Go to Edit > Copy, and paste the image to Photoshop. Select the area that you want to keep by the Photoshop Rectangular Marquee tool, and fill it with black. And then invert to the rest area and fill it with white as a mask. Then save the file as a GIF or TIFF file.

Create a Mask in Photoshop
Create a Mask in Photoshop

Step 3. Apply the mask to the video in QuickTime Pro.
Open the video and the mask in QuickTime Pro. Go to Window > Show Movie Properties > Visual Settings, and add the mask file.

QuickTime Pro Visual Settings
QuickTime Pro Visual Settings

Step 4. Save the cropped video.
By applying the mask file, the extra area will be hidden. Finally, go to File > Export to output the cropped video on Mac.

I have to admit that it's a little complicated. And you don't need to invest too much energy in such a simple feature. Moreover, Apple stops selling QuickTime Pro since 2017. It's only workable for users who have already installed it on Mac.

But don't be upset, because there are many free alternatives to QuickTime Pro, like say VideoProc. With an intuitive cropping UI, you can easily drag and resize the crop window to remove annoying edges or redundant parts in your video at any aspect ratio and preview in real-time.

VideoProc Crop Video on Mac
VideoProc Crop Video on Mac

VideoProc - Best Video Cropping Software for Mac

  • 7 smart cropping modes that supports 16:9, 4:3, 1:1, letterbox, free form, etc.
  • Fast and smooth video cropping on Mac with its special full GPU acceleration tech.
  • Compatible with more than 370+ video formats, MOV, FLV, MP4, WMV, etc.
  • Versatile video editing tools: cut, trim, filter, merge, stabilize, denoise…

How to Crop a Video on Mac Using Photos App

Can I crop a video in the Photos app on Mac? Honestly, it's only alble to crop photos instead of videos. But you can trim off the beginning or the end of a video in it, just the same as QuickTime Player. Hit the settings icon, the choose Trim to cut out desired clips.

Mac Photos App Crop Video
Mac Photos App Crop Video

Can't crop a video using Photos on Mac? Try it on your iPhone.

Although Photos on Mac can't crop videos for you. It is endowed with massive editing features on iPhone. Cropping videos on iPhone in Photos app makes things much easier. You're allowed to reframe the video at both a freeform and a certain aspect ratio, including 1:1, 16:9, 7:5, 4:3, etc. So it's a nice workaround to switch video cropping to your iPhone, then if necessary, send it back to your Mac via AirDrop.

Note: The crop feature in Photos is only available on iOS 13 or later, so keep your iPhone or iPad updated.

FAQ about cropping video on Mac

How do I crop a square/vertical video using iMovie?

Let's make it clear at first that iMovie can't make any square or vertical video. But here are some tricks on what you can crop square/vertical videos on your Mac for Instagram and Facebook.

1. Export the edited video from iMovie, then import it to Keynote (requires macOS 10.14 or later).

2. Navigate to Document > Slide Size, and customize the size, e.g. 1080 x 1080 for a square video, 607 x 1080 for a vertical video. Drag the video to adjust the position and reframe it.

3. Then change the background color in Format > Background. You can also add texts and graphics (.png) if you have a background for your video.

4. Go to File > Export to QuickTime, finish the export settings to get the square/vertical video on Mac.

How do you crop multiple clips in Final Cut Pro X?

It's a hassle to crop video clips one by one. FCP X has a lifesaving setting to apply the crop to multiple clips selectively. First, crop one of these clips, and press Command+C and right-click on the clip. Next, go to Edit > Paste Attributes > Tick Crop, then press Command and click on the clip that you want to paste the Crop. Done!

Can you crop a video in iPhoto?

iPhoto is a built-in app to organize videos and photos on Mac OS X exclusively. It is capable of trimming videos, but can't crop videos on Mac. What's more, it has been discontinued since 2015. Now iPhoto users have to migrate to Photos app on Mac.

Conclusion

In fact, among these Mac video cropping tools, only two of them can crop the footage for you, iMovie for free use, and Final Cut Pro X for advanced cropping. As for Photos and QuickTime Player, I have to say, they are good media viewers and trimmers, but not video croppers on Mac.

Our free non-linear video cropping software released this summer will be surely easy and professional for motion crops. Please stay tuned. Before that, you can try VideoProc to pre-experience fast and intuitive video cropping on your Mac.

About The Author

Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

Home > Video Editor > Crop Video on Mac