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Want to crop a video or movie in iMovie on the iPhone or iPad? Cropping a video in iMovie allows you to essentially zoom in on a movie, either to crop out unnecessary elements, to reframe the video to put emphasis on something else, or to zoom into what you’d rather the video highlight. Cropping is different from trimming a video which is used to shorten the total length to cut out extraneous content.
iMovie for iOS allows you to crop videos, but it’s not particularly obvious, as there is no crop button, and instead the iMovie for iOS app indirectly refers to the crop capability by calling it zoom. And like many other features of iOS, the function to crop video in iMovie on the iPhone or iPad is hidden behind a few layers of interface abstraction that can be easily overlooked, or remain totally unknown to many using iMovie, leading many iPhone and iPad users to believe that there is no crop functionality in iMovie for iOS. But not to worry, you can crop a video in iMovie directly on your iPhone or iPad, and you won’t need to download any third party apps to do so.
How to Crop / Zoom a Video in iMovie for iPhone or iPad
This works to crop / zoom any movie you can import into iMovie on iOS. The screenshots here demonstrate this on an iPhone with iMovie rotated sideways into landscape mode, but aside from the appearance it’s the same in landscape or iPad too.
- Open iMovie in iOS if you have not done so already, then tap on the “Projects” and click the big plus sign “+ Create Project” button
- Select “Movie” from the options
- Select the video you want to crop from your iOS library so that it has a little blue check mark on it, then tap on the text “Create Movie” button
- iMovie will open the video into the project, now tap on the video timeline / scrubber section
- An additional toolbar will be revealed, along with a tiny magnifying glass in the corner of the video, tap on that tiny grey magnifying glass in the corner to enable the crop / zoom feature of iMovie in iOS
- When the magnifying glass says “Pinch to zoom video” you can now use a pinch or spread gesture on the movie preview to zoom and crop the video, do that until the video is cropped / zoomed sufficiently to your needs
- When satisfied with your cropped / zoomed video, tap the grey “Done” text button
- Now you can save and export the freshly cropped movie from iMovie and save the video to the iPhone or iPad camera roll, so tap on the Sharing / Action button that looks like a box with an arrow flying out of the top
- Select where you want to save the video to, or how you want to share it, in the example here we are choosing “Save Video” which saves the cropped movie to the iOS Camera Roll in Photos app (yes your videos in iOS will be stored in the Photos app)
- Choose the size you want to export the video, remember HD video sizes are larger but higher quality compared to the other video exporting settings
Now you can return to the Photos app and go to your Camera Roll or to the Videos folder of Photos to find the freshly cropped / zoomed video you just saved and exported.
It’s noteworthy that when you’re saving the video initially, the thumbnail may not show the cropped / zoomed video, but despite not showing that the video has been cropped or zoomed in that thumbnail when you look at the actual saved and exported video, it will be cropped. You can see this in the example screen shots of the video cropped in this tutorial, which shows a worn out “E” key on a Mac laptop.
It’s also important to point out that cropping or zooming a video will result in some loss of quality, with more loss of quality happening the greater the zoom or crop, because you are essentially shrinking down the available pixels used in the video to highlight them.
Being able to crop and zoom a video is obviously useful for many reasons, particularly if you recorded a movie on the iPhone or iPad but find that it’s not particularly focused on a subject, or if you decide you’d like to change the focus of the video itself. Another useful feature is trimming a video in iOS which you can do directly in the video viewer of Photos app, or by using the same general principals in the iMovie for iOS app.
If you’re an Apple user with a variety of devices, you may already know how to crop a video in iMovie for Mac, which is a bit more intuitive thanks to the obvious crop button. Alas, iMovie for iOS has no such obvious Crop button and instead hides it as a “Zoom” feature that is really quite subtle without it being pointed out to the user or explained, as we do in this tutorial. So if you have hunted around in iMovie for iPhone or iPad for a cropping feature and not found one, don’t feel bad, it’s really quite hidden, much like the ability to rotate a video in iMovie on iPhone or iPad is hidden as basically an invisible gesture within the app. Perhaps a future version of iMovie for iOS will make a more obvious Crop Video feature available in iMovie or even in the default Video viewer of Photos app (like the crop photos feature of iOS that already exists), but until or if that ever happens, you can remember to use the Zoom button and pinch gestures to crop a video in iMovie for iOS instead.