Edit And Combine Movies In QuickTime Player [OS X Tips]

Edit And Combine Movies In QuickTime Player [OS X Tips]Want to quickly edit a movie file but can’t be bothered battling with the complexity of iMovie or Final Cut Pro? Here’s how to use QuickTime Player, included with every Mac, to trim movie files and merge movie files together.

This is another series of tips from Mac Kung Fu, the new book containing over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for OS X Lion. 

QuickTime Player is actually a cut-down version of the (not free) QuickTime Pro, but it’s pretty powerful in its own right. For example, you can edit movies within QuickTime Player, at least in a primitive way, as follows:

  1. Open the movie in QuickTime Player and click Edit->Trim. The timeline will now change to a frame display of the movie, surrounded by a yellow boundary box.
  2. Click and drag the boundary box on the left and right sides to cut out any material at the beginning and end you wish to lose (unfortunately, it’s not possible to cut sections out of the middle of the file—for that you’ll need a more sophisticated editor like iMovie).
  3. If you want to view the audio track of the file, click View->Show Audio Track. This switches the frame display to one showing the audio waveform, so you can edit perhaps based on quiet or loud episodes.
  4. Once you’re done, click the Trim button.
Edit And Combine Movies In QuickTime Player [OS X Tips]

You can trim the edges off any movie file using QuickTime Player

You can also combine two or more movies into one file. To do so, open the first of the movies in QuickTime Player, then locate the next in Finder and drag and drop it onto the QuickTime Player window. It will appear in the timeline view at the bottom as a separate clip, and you can drag and drop it to the beginning or end of the existing movie file. You can add more clips in the same way and reposition them by clicking and dragging. When you’ve finished, click the Done button, then close the file to bring up a Save dialog box.

When you’ve finished trimming or merging movie files, click File->Close. This will bring up a prompt asking if you want to save the file. Unfortunately it’s not usually possible to simply save the file in its original format. Instead it must be exported in an Apple-compatible format. The safest bet is to select the 720p option from the Format dropdown list in the dialog box, unless you know the movie has a smaller frame size. The 720p option will retain the existing resolution of the movie provided the frame size isn’t larger than 1280 × 720, although it will downsample a 1080p movie (to edit a 1080p movie, you’ll need a higher-end solution such as iMovie, as mentioned earlier).

  • Jeff Kash

    Great tip. Thanks for posting it.

  • KeirThomas

    Cool, glad that you like it!

  • ErgoOrgo

    Thanks so much for this tip – I will need to try this out soon.

    It’s a great little hidden way that OSX has both handy editing functionality built in (like merging pdfs in preview) but also how it is merging with iOS. It would be great if saving videos could be done without requiring re-encoding (like with pictures and pdfs) but you can’t have everything.

  • Toonscraft1

    How about if I wanted to join a Movie file and a Audio file?

  • Flavia Kajoba

    How come when I add the clips QuickTime cuts off the end of each one? The audio plays fine but the video itself is shorter. I lose my transition screen from one video to the next and it’s important to have it there.

About the author

Keir ThomasKeir Thomas (http://keirthomas.com) is the author of Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for Mac OS X Lion. He's also the author of over 10 other computing titles.

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