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.

Option 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

Option 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. Crop the video in Final Cut Pro X.

Option 1. Enable the Crop feature.

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.

Option 2. Enable the Smart Conform option.

Smart Conform is the newly-added feature in Final Cut Pro 10.4.9. It applies machine learning to auto analyze and crop the dominant motion into vertical, square, or other size for social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Right-click on the original project, and choose Duplicate Project As option which brings the setting windows. Choose vertical or square in the video format option. Check Smart Conform. Hit OK and wait for it to analyze timeline clips. Then you'll get a cropped video.

Enable Smart Conform to Crop Video into Vertical - FCP X
Enable Smart Conform to Crop Video into Vertical - FCP X

Tips: You are allowed to check media outside the crop boundary and reposition the crop effect in the Transform feature by dragging the crop windows easily.

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

Yes. In Final Cut Pro 10.4.9

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 frames with fast moving subjects (e.g. a skiing person) is not that easy. The crop window has to be moving along with the person accordingly, so you have to crop the video frame by frame. In 2019, Adobe announced the auto-reframe effect to track along with the moving subject 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 subjects 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.

Note

Obviously, 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.

How to Crop a Video on Mac in the Easiest Way

We have to admit that there is no perfect native video cropper for Mac. iMovie is free and easy but has limited aspect ratio. FCP X is powerful but expensive. As for QuickTime Player, it doesn't feature any cropping tool in its editing toolkit. But don't be upset. Here comes VideoProc to your aid. 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 it in real-time.

VideoProc - Best Video Cropper 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…

Step 1. Download and install VideoProc to your Mac.

It is compatible with all recent Mac computers, from macOS X Leopard to Big Sur. (Also available for Windows.)

Step 2. Import your video to VideoProc.

Launch VideoProc and choose "Video" in the main UI. Click "+Video" and choose the video you want to crop from your Mac, or you can simply drag the video file into this software.

Load Video to VideoProc
Load Video to VideoProc

Step 3. Enable its crop tool and drag to reframe the video in different aspect ratios.

Click "Crop" in the editing toolbar, and then tick the box before "Enable Crop". VideoProc presets 7 cropping modes for you, square, letterbox, 16:9, and so forth. You are also allowed to resize the frame at a free form, just to drag the cropping window as you like.

VideoProc Crop Video on Mac
VideoProc Crop Video on Mac

Step 4. Export the cropped video from VideoProc to your Mac.

When you finish cropping, click "Done" to get back to the editing UI. Select a folder to save the video. Enable high quality engine to prevent quality loss during the output rendering. Finally, hit the "RUN" button to export the cropped video clip.

How to Crop a Video on Mac Using Photos App

Can I crop a video in the Photos app on Mac? In the previous version of Photos, you could only preview and trim videos. Now, Apple makes big updates in macOS Big Sur (aka macOS 11). Editing capabilities of the Photos app are largely expanded, including cropping, filtering, and color adjusting powered by machine learning. If you know how to crop a video on iPhone using the Photos app, it is easy for you to do the same thing on Mac.

Step 1. Open your video in Photos.

Make sure that you have updated your Mac to Big Sur public beta (The official version is expected to be released this fall.) Then open one video in this app.

Step 2. Go to the video editing interface.

Click Edit on the right upper corner. Then you'll be navigated to the brand new video editing interface.

Step 3. Crop the video.

Hit Crop on the upper side of the preview window. Choose an aspect ratio. 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. Then drag each corner of the box to crop out a certain area.

Mac Photos App Crop Video
Mac Photos App Crop Video

Step 4. Save the video.

Hit the Done button on the upper right corner to save the cropped clip.

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 some of them can crop the footage for you, iMovie and Photos for free use, and Final Cut Pro X for advanced cropping. As for QuickTime Player, I have to say, it is a good media viewer and video trimmer, but not video cropper 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.

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