How to Crop a Video in iMovie on Mac

iMovie has a cropping tool that allows you to crop your video clips. You can access this tool by navigating to the editing toolbar located above the viewer. With the cropping tool, you can adjust the frame size, and also explore various cropping styles to experiment with.

Hi, I’m Nancy, and I have several years of experience creating projects on iMovie. In this article, I’ll guide you through the steps to crop your videos and address some common questions related to video cropping in iMovie.

Let’s get started.

How Do You Manually Crop in iMovie?

If you want to manually crop your video clip in iMovie, there are two methods available that utilize different cropping settings. Follow the steps below to learn how to crop in iMovie.

Method 1: Crop the video clip in the browser

To begin, import all of your video clips into the media library. Before adding a clip to the timeline, you can crop the clip in the browser by selecting it and navigating to the editing toolbar.

Select the Cropping tool and click on the Crop button. This will allow you to manually adjust the cropping box by dragging its sides to fit the desired area of the video you want to keep. Once you’re satisfied with the cropping, click on the Apply button to save the changes.

Cropping your video will essentially alter its aspect ratio. Once the video clip has been cropped, you can add it to the movie timeline at the bottom.

Method 2: Crop the video clip in the timeline

Add a video clip to the timeline and select the Cropping tool. This time, instead of seeing the Crop button, you will see the three cropping Styles: Fit, Crop to Fill, and Ken Burns. To crop the video, simply drag the corners of the cropping box as desired. 

It’s important to note that the cropping box is constrained to a 16:9 aspect ratio. Cropping the video clip only removes specific parts that you wish to exclude and does not alter the overall aspect ratio of the movie.

How Do You Crop and Rotate in iMovie?

To edit a particular clip, select it and navigate to the Cropping tool. Once you’ve made your cropping adjustments, you can use the rotate buttons which have arrow icons to either rotate the clip clockwise or counterclockwise.

How to Stop iMovie from Cropping Automatically

If you upload a video clip that has a different aspect ratio than iMovie’s default of 16:9, you may notice that it gets cropped automatically.

This is because iMovie crops videos to maintain a consistent aspect ratio, which helps to enhance the video playback quality across various devices. To disable the automatic cropping feature in iMovie, follow these steps:

Launch iMovie on your computer, then click on “iMovie” in the menu bar. Next, select Preferences, and then in the Photo Placement dropdown menu, select Fit.

Once you’ve made this selection, iMovie will stop cropping your videos automatically and instead display them at their original size.

Why is Cropping Not Working in iMovie?

The cropping tool in iMovie has some limitations. For example, if you have a vertical clip and you want to crop out the 2 black bars, you won’t be able to do it in iMovie. 

To change the aspect ratio to a vertical format of 9:16, you’ll need to export your video and use another editing program that can handle resizing. 


Here are the frequently asked questions about how to crop in iMovie.

Where is the Crop Tool in iMovie?

The cropping tool is located in the editing toolbar above the viewer. It’s the third button on the toolbar.

Does Cropping Distort My Video?

When you crop a video, there’s a chance that it may distort your clip. By cropping you’re essentially removing pixels from the original frame, which can lead to a loss in video quality. Similarly, if you enlarge or zoom in on a video clip, it can also decrease the quality and clarity of the original footage.

How to Resize My Video Without Cropping?

To resize a video without cropping, you can simply change its aspect ratio. The aspect ratio determines the shape of the video frame and is determined by the ratio between its width and height. This method is useful when you need to resize a video quickly to a specific aspect ratio while maintaining the original content.

Final Thoughts

And that’s it! Cropping a video in iMovie is a quick and easy process. Personally, I prefer to crop my videos in the browser before adding them to my movie.

This way, I can see exactly how the crop will affect the video and make any necessary adjustments before adding it to the timeline. However, whichever method you choose, iMovie’s cropping tool allows you to customize your video clips.

I hope this guide has provided you with a better understanding of how to crop your videos in iMovie. If you have any other questions regarding editing in iMovie, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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