I’ve been sharing a lot of funny videos of my kids on social media. Which is great, except they tend to have a few seconds (or longer!) where nothing’s happening and sometimes I have to ask people to stick it out for the funny part. Is there an easy way I can trim a MOV video on my iMac before posting it so it starts right out with the good stuff?
I’m glad you asked this question. I see a lot of videos that people post and too many of them have 5-15 seconds of nothing happening until finally the funny bit occurs at the end. Who has 10 seconds to waste on this sort of thing? 🙂 Sometimes it’s for dramatic effect, a sort of visual “wait for it… wait for it….” style, but a lot of times it does seem like the person sharing the video just didn’t know how to get rid of the opening part where nothing was actually happening. This can happen on both ends of the video too, of course, but it seems like it’s the opening portion that’s more commonly needing a trim.
There are a lot of pro level video editing programs you can get on your Mac system to accomplish this simple editing task – I use Final Cut Pro X myself – but it turns out that there are also two programs included with MacOS X that can tackle the job. You’re thinking “ah! iMovie!” but the one I’m going to demonstrate is even more humble than that and works identically on iOS devices too: Quicktime Player.
Let’s go through the steps with a video I needed to trim, a clip of my Husqvarna Automower automatically trimming my lawn. Think “Roomba for the yard” and you’d be on target. Here’s the full 33-second video I recorded that needs to be trimmed down by at least 50%:
Watch the whole thing and you’ll notice that around halfway through I zoom in to a closeup on the mower and the framing improves significantly. I want to start out at this zoomed in portion, so trimming the start point is required.
To open up the video clip in Quicktime Player I need merely to double-click on the MOV file on my MacBook Pro.
The video opens up with a floating control window overlaid:
You can ignore this control window because all the video editing capabilities of Quicktime Player for Mac are accessible through the Edit menu:
As highlighted, choose “Trim…” (or use the keyboard shortcut of Command-T if you prefer). Notice that QuickTime Player can also rotate and flip videos, adjust alignment and even merge multiple clips into a longer video through “Add Clip to End…“. Heck, you can strip it down to just the audio track or, if you prefer, just the video track. For our task, however, “Trim…” is the tool needed.
That floating control window is replaced by the video trim window:
Since it’s not entirely obvious how it works, the trick to trimming your video is to click-and-drag either the left “handle” to adjust the start point or the right “handle” to adjust the end point. Handle? It’s the two vertical lines on the thickest part of the yellow bar. Apple has done one of its nifty little interface tricks here too: As you move the handle, it zooms into a more detailed view of the video so you can slowly move and choose the exact frame you want.
I use this feature to move forward 16.26 seconds into the video, to where the camera zooms and the mower spins around to return. That looks like this on screen:
All of this is happening while I’m still holding down on the mouse button (or trackpad). Remember, this is a click-and-drag process.
Once I release the mouse control the main window updates to show the current (start) frame and two buttons show up on the right side:
I can click on “Trim” and chop it down, but it’s good to look at the end frame of the video too. Is it too long? Does it end with a jerk or other weird motion because you didn’t press the stop button quickly enough? No problem! To fix those sort of errors, click-and-drag the end handle to make sure it ends on the frame desired, not where the video stops.
As with the adjustment to the start frame, Quicktime Player will zoom in so you can have fine control over the exact frame. It’s quite easy once you get the hang of it. This looks like a great end frame:
As before, once I release the mouse button / trackpad, the window changes to show the segment of the entire video that’s selected for the trim and the Trim button:
A click on “Trim” and a new video is created in the program called “Untitled”. More importantly, it’s shorter than the original, as you can see with the start/end timings. Compare the below to the original 33 second version. Much better, trimmed over 50% of the footage!
The trimmed video looks good? Then it’s time to save it with a new filename. That’s done, as always, with File > Save… which prompts for a new filename just like any other Mac program:
You’ve seen that dialog box before, I suspect!
Anyway, that’s the task. Now here’s the final, trimmed video, straight from QuickTime Player:
That’s how it’s done and, just like most video footage recorded, you can see that by chopping out that first few seconds of video, the result is quite a bit better, tighter and more compelling. Now you know, you can start trimming your own videos too.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Macs and video for a long time. Please check out both my Mac help area and my YouTube help area while you’re visiting the site. Thanks!