Cropping a video on Windows sounds like an easy task, and what we have in mind is the analogy of cropping a picture: drag the box, define the area to crop, done!
However, when you start to find a free video cropper tool, you might be surprised that such a seemingly easy function is missing or not intuitive to use in many tools. For instance, some video croppers ask you to enter numbers to define the cropping area. It is ridicules especially without a previewer. How do you know how many pixels to crop in order to remove the area you don't want?
What is your requirement to crop a video?
- Crop an unwanted area of a video without changing format or losing quality
- Crop a landscape video to horizontal (vice versa), or 16:9/4:3 to 1:1 square video
- Crop a video but don't change aspect ratio
- Crop a video but don't change resolution: crop and zoom in
- And more...
Any of your need to crop a video on Windows 10 will be covered in following tutorials. If you also have a Mac device, you can read tutorials on how to crop a video on Mac, where 4 ways are covered, including using iMovie, FCP, QuickTime...
And a bonus interesting way to crop video flexibly without distortion.
How to Crop a Video on Windows 10 with Movie Maker
Many tutorials claim that Windows Movie Maker can help you to crop a video, but when you follow the guide step by step, you will find that they are actually talking about trimming.
In fact, Windows Movie Maker does not have a cropping tool, but you can circumvent it. The workaround is to zoom in on a video in movie maker, so that even if you didn't CROP the unwanted area, the result video still fulfills your needs, to some extent. The same goes to the Photos app, which has a hidden video editing function. It works more or less the same.
Since WMM is discontinued. You need some effort to get Windows Movie Maker back on Windows 10.
Step 1. Launch Windows Movie Maker.
Step 2. Drag your video into the working area, and click animations.
Step 3. Select the first effects from the Zoom in section.
Step 4. Make sure to select the duration to be a long time so that the effect covers the entire video.
Step 5. Playback and check if the unwanted areas are cropped by zooming in.
Tips: Since the zoom-in is a process, the beginning part of the video will still stay not cropped, you can then trim off the beginning part, so that the rest of the video is displayed zoomed in.
How to Crop a Video on PC with VLC
Cropping a video on Windows 10 using VLC is complex. If you are expecting a workflow like: import video > drag the cropping frame to decide image area > export cropped video then VLC is not the tool you are looking for.
For one thing, you need to manually set how many pixels you want to crop from four sides. But the problem is, most of us won't know the number to set, because it is counterintuitive. Plus, there is no visualized way to adjust a frame to crop a video in VLC, meaning you cannot preview the cropped video in VLC.
If you are still curious, or maybe you are a VLC hacker, then here are the steps:
Part 1. Manage cropping settings before importing the video (Step 1 to Step 7)
- Step 1. Open up VLC, go to Menu > Tools > Preferences (Ctrl+P)
- Step 2. Go to the bottom left to tick show settings > All, so that you can find all the settings in the tree structure.
- Step 3. On the left panel, scrolling down to find Video > Filters > Croppadd.
- Step 4. Click on Croppadd, and you shall see the boxes that allow you to set numbers. The numbers indicate how many pixels you want to crop from top, bottom, left and right.
- Step 5. When you finish setting the number, scroll back and click on Video > Filter.
- Step 6. Tick the box Video Cropping Filter (or termed as Video Scaling Filter in other VLC versions). Click Save.
Part 2. Import a video to crop (Step 8 - Step 10)
- Step 8. Add video you want to crop by dragging the video into the working area, or go to menu > Media > Open file.
- Step 9. Click the fixer icon next to the red cross. Go to Video codec > Filters, and tick Video cropper filter (or Video scaling filter in other VLC versions). Click Save.
- Step 10. Click browse to select the output format and destination folder, and hit Start to begin cropping a video in VLC.
Due to limited space in this article, we didn't expand this VLC method with pictures for each step. If you are willing to try out the 10 steps, click and read how to crop a video in VLC with pictorial instructions.
How to Crop a Video on Windows 10 in the Easiest Way
If you want to crop a video as easy as cropping a picture, with a cropping frame that allows you to adjust size, i.e. to indicate areas to keep or crop, this method is a life-saver.
- Tool to use: VideoProc, a lightweight and powerful video editor.
- System requirement: Windows7/8/10 (also have a Mac version).
- Can an old computer/low spec computer run the program?
Yes. VideoProc only requires the minimum 1GB RAM and 200MB hard disk space. Even an old notebook can effortlessly run it without a glitch.
To get started, download VideoProc by clicking the green button below.
Step 1. Click Video on main screen > add your video > Select target format.
If you want to crop without conversion, select the same format as your source video.
Step 2. Click Crop.
You can preview the cropped video with the previewer, and make adjustment accordingly.
Step 3. Tick Enable Crop, and adjust the frame by pressing your mouse and drag.
When you finish cropping, click Done and Run to export the footage.
Q1. Can I crop 16:9 video to 1:1 square video?
Yes. After enabling crop in VideoProc, click the preset to select 1:1 from the dropdown menu.
Q2. Will there be black bars after cropping the video?
It's up to you. If you think black bars are unsightly, make sure not to tick Expand Video, which will add black bars to two sides of the video.
A little more explanation: Let's say you have a 1920*1080 video (aspect ratio 16:9), and you crop it to a square video (resolution 1080*1080, aspect ratio 1:1), then:
- If you uncheck Expand Video: the exported video will be 1080*1080;
- If you check Expand Video: the exported video will be 1920*1080, but the video content is square-shaped, with black bars on the left and right side.
How to Crop a Video on Windows 10 Using VSDC
Most non-linear editing software have the cropping function, since it is an essential part of video editing, just as cutting, rotating, trimming, etc. The only question is, is it worth the time and effort to launch up the program? It is the same analogy as we won't bother to open Photoshop only for cropping a picture and export it.
VSDC can do much more than cropping, and that might be overkill if you need a simple video cropper. Check these steps to see if VSDC is what you are looking for.
To get started, visit the developer's page to download VSDC.
Step 1. Open VSDC, and click Create blank project. It helps VSDC to automatically save your draft editing.
Step 2. Import your video. You can either drag and drop the footage onto the timeline, or click import content before creating the project.
Step 3. Click the cropping tool on the top left, and you shall see the cropper window pop up.
Step 4. You can adjust the border freely by dragging your mouse.
Tips: If you want to keep the aspect ratio of the cropped video to be the same as the original one, press down shift from the keyboard while dragging the mouse.
What is auto cropping in VSDC?
This function helps you to remove black bars automatically from a video. One thing to notice is, it also crops some content area. Why? Because this auto-cropping function is design to crop and fill the cropped video to full screen. If you only want to remove black borders without cropping the video content, free mode is more preferable.
Cropping Your Footage in Olive Video Editor
Olive Video Editor is an open source NLE still in its alpha stage. It's young but quite promising according to experienced editors and hobbyists, and it constantly updates. If you are familiar with Premiere Pro, you could instantly pick up Olive video editor to crop your video clips and photos on the timeline.
If you don't have an adventurous soul to use an alpha version, there are other free video editing software work similarly in terms of cropping.
Before we get started, one thing to notice is the difference between using a simple video cropper (simple utilities) and using a video editing software (fully-fledged NLEs) to crop a video clip. Unlike a light weight cropper that directly exports the resulting video as it is, Olive and other NLEs have different workflow, and that's NLE-innate.
Let's say you shot a 1920x1080 vlog, and there are something in the background you prefer removing. With a simple video cropper, you might just randomly crop some area from the left part and export, resulting in something like 1769x1080. While in non-linear video editing software, the underlining logic is different. If you don't care there are black bars after cropping and exporting, you can go ahead without bothering changing resolution in sequence settings.
Step 1. Launch Olive Video Editor and create a new project (Ctrl+N).
Step 2 . Go to New > sequence to create a new sequence (Ctrl + Shift + N)
Step 3 . Import your video into the resource bin at the top left section, and then drag the clip into the timeline.
Note: Though you can directly drag the video to the timeline, it is a good habit to first import it into the resource bin. You would know the benefits when you have multiple clips to edit.
Step 4. Click the effects icon, and go to Distort > Crop.
Step 5. Within the effects control panel, scrolling down to find the "crop" control, and make sure the box is ticked. Now you can set the value to crop from left, top, right and bottom.
Notes: if you directly export video after step 5, you will find there are black bars surrounding your video. Because the resolution is still 1920x1080, and some parts are cropped without zooming in to fill the screen. If you prefer not to have those black bars, you shall scale up the video.
This method is less flexible comparing Adobe Premiere, especially as Premiere now supports auto-reframe to crop motion objects intelligently. But you cannot ask for more as the editing program is free to use.
Which tool is your favorite? Do you have any special needs to crop a video on Windows 10? None of the above methods fulfills your needs? Share with us your ideas.