Mac Tip: Crop Video Edges & Change Aspect Ratio Without Third-Party App

There are several ways on the Apple Mac to adjust the length of a video or cut out individual sections. But what if you want to crop the video not only in length but also in height and width? If you want to remove black bars on the sides of the video or want to change the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 4:3 or 1:1, then there is a solution for that too. While for the video length Apple's own solutions QuickTime Player and iMovie are useful, another app is used for cropping video edges and changing the aspect ratio on the Mac: Photos.

Cropping a video, i.e. redefining the aspect ratio, can be done on the Mac with on-board tools. The usual video programs such as B. iMovie, while not a viable option, but Photos provides all the necessary tools.
Cropping a video, i.e. redefining the aspect ratio, can be done on the Mac with on-board tools. The usual video programs such as B. iMovie, while not a viable option, but Photos provides all the necessary tools.

The limitations in QuickTime Player and iMovie

While you're in QuickTime Player adjust the length of the video by removing segments at the back and front, so there are no options to change the aspect ratio. Even in iMovie, this is not possible without major detours. Although there is a "crop" tool in the clip selection, it is more of a digital zoom or area selection. 

Because the aspect ratio (e.g. 16:9 for landscape format videos) remains the same while you adjust the image section, which is then dragged to the appropriate size. In the end, you keep the aspect ratio and get a video that tends to be blurrier. Because a smaller amount of pixels is pulled to the original resolution.

In QuickTime Player you can only adjust the length at the beginning and end of the video. There is more cropping and editing in iMovie, but you can't change the aspect ratio.
In QuickTime Player you can only adjust the length at the beginning and end of the video. There is more cropping and editing in iMovie, but you can't change the aspect ratio.

Adjust the height and width of a video in the Photos app

As with editing photos, screenshots and other images, there are numerous options available in Apple's own Photos app under macOS for adjusting video files. Note, however, that some functions and the arrangement of certain options with macOS 13 Adventure are new to it. In macOS 12 Monterey and earlier they may not be available (as indicated).

So now, to adjust the aspect ratio of a video in the Mac Photos app, open the video file in this software. If you use the app by default to import your photos and videos from iPhone and iPad, then the video is probably already there. If, like me, you don’t use photos otherwise, simply drag and drop the video file into the open app. So it will be imported and ready for editing.

If you have successfully pushed the video into the Photos app, proceed as follows:

  1. Select (double-click) the video so editing options appear in the top right corner
  2. Then click on the "Edit" button in this selection
  3. Now select the third tab called "Crop" in the top middle
  4. Either freehand the frame to the new aspect ratio or select an aspect ratio (16:9, 4:5, 5:7, 4:3, 3:5, 3:2 or your own input) on the right
  5. Complete the processing with the "Done" button displayed at the top right
In the Apple Mac's Photos app, select a video and click the Edit button. You are already on the right track to adjusting the height and width of the file.
In the Apple Mac's Photos app, select a video and click the Edit button. You are already on the right track to adjusting the height and width of the file.
Cropping has nothing to do with the video editing, i.e. the length of the video. In the Photos app on Mac, this represents the aspect ratio adjustment in the video file.
Cropping has nothing to do with the video editing, i.e. the length of the video. In the Photos app on Mac, this represents the aspect ratio adjustment in the video file.
Once you have completed the editing, the video will be available in the new format. However, the original file continues to exist in the background. To continue using the cropped video, you still have to export it.
Once you have completed the editing, the video will be available in the new format. However, the original file continues to exist in the background. To continue using the cropped video, you still have to export it.

Save video in new aspect ratio by drag and drop

If you don't just want to leave the height and width adjusted video in the Photos app, but also use it as a file on the Mac or elsewhere, then that's of course possible. The easiest way to export the video in the new aspect ratio is drag and drop. 

So hold the video with the left mouse button and drag it from the Photos app to the desired folder or to the desktop. It may take a moment before the file appears in the destination. Because it has to be exported first.

By the way, you can call up the file information there and check the new image size to understand the processing that has been carried out. So my 1.920 x 1.080 video that I converted to 4:3 now has a resolution of 1.440 x 1.080 pixels.

Save video in new aspect ratio via Export function

If you want to make additional settings or if drag & drop doesn't work for you, you can use the Export menu in the Photos app. To do this, select the video and click on in the menu bar filing -> Export... -> 1 Export video. Alternatively, you can use the key combination Shift+Command+E after selecting the video. Whatever you do, you will now be presented with some export options.

If you don't want to change the underlying resolution, just remove pixels that fall victim to edge cropping, then select the highest film quality.
If you don't want to change the underlying resolution, just remove pixels that fall victim to edge cropping, then select the highest film quality.

Important: At the top you can select the film quality. This is given in a number of pixels (480p, 720p, 1080p or 4K) and describes the height of your video. If you only want to adjust the video edges and don't want to change the overall resolution, select the appropriate size here (in the example given, this would be 1080p) or simply the largest option (4K). In this way, the original resolution is used as the initial value. 

Do you want to adjust the resolution in addition to cropping the edges, e.g. B. to reduce the file size, then of course you can do that with this selection. For my 4:3 example, selecting 720p as "Movie Quality" would drop the resolution from 1.440x1.080 pixels to 960x720 pixels. In addition, as shown in the screenshot, you can choose other options, such as integrating / removing metadata and the name and location of the file. Once you have set everything according to your wishes, click on the "Export" button.

Good luck!

Did you like the article and did the instructions on the blog help you? Then I would be happy if you the blog via a Steady Membership would support.

1 comment on “Mac Tip: Crop Video Edges and Change Aspect Ratio Without a Third-Party App”

Post a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked with * marked

In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.