This Shortcut shrinks your huge 4K Christmas videos

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Now this is a big video.
Now this is a big video.
Photo: DRs Kulturarvsprojekt/Flickr CC

“This is going to be the best Christmas video ever!” you tell yourself. You have an iPhone XS, it’s set to 4K at 24 frames per second, and you’re framing your shots like a pro. Smart HDR will illuminate the smiles on the faces of your nieces and nephews, and stabilization will take care of your hangover jitters.

“Oh man, I can’t wait until these morons see this in their iMessages, using iOS 12’s great Share Back feature,” you think somewhat uncharitably, while squeezing a handy link into your thoughts.

Then reality grabs you. That 5-minute 4K clip of the angels ripping their way through a forest’s worth of wrapping paper is over 1.5GB. There’s no way you can share that on your parents’ crappy internet connection. Why oh why didn’t you shoot at 720p? Luckily, Shortcuts is here to save the day. Again.

Metapho

The majestic Metapho.
The majestic Metapho.
Photo: Metapho

Step one is not to shrink those videos. First, we want to know what we’re dealing with. For that, my tool of choice is Metapho, a Universal app that shows you all the metadata in a photo or video. Usually I use it to strip out that metadata before sharing an image, but it’s also great for viewing metadata.

You can use Metapho from inside the Photos app, using the share sheet, but even an iPhone XS gets stuck “preparing” the image. Much better is to launch Metapho, and just tap the images in its grid. You’ll soon see how much space your 4K videos take up. A five-and-a-half minute 4K 24fps clip will weigh in at 1.5GB. That’s way too big.

Metapho

Price: Free

Download: Metapho from the App Store (iOS)

How to shrink a video with Shortcuts

This might be the shortest shortcut I’ve written about. Take a look:

Short and sweet.
Short and sweet.
Photo: Cult of Mac

 

My Shrink Video shortcut is set up to run from the Today View widget. You could run it from the Photos library itself, but you’ll be hobbled by the same “Preparing file” delay I mentioned above.

This shortcut runs best as a Today View widget.
This shortcut runs best as a Today View widget.
Photo: Cult of Mac

When you run the shortcut, it opens a photo-picker panel to let you choose multiple items. Tap the videos you want to convert, and tap Done. You’ll then be prompted to choose a size for the resulting conversion. If you prefer, you can set this step ahead of time. You could have it always convert to 720p, for example.

I like to choose for each conversion, so I can tailor it to the final use. If you’re airdropping to a 13-inch iPad Pro, for example, you might want a large video. If you’re going to share the video over WhatsApp, small is best.

Delete what you don’t need

When you’ve picked, tap done, and the videos get converted. It’s surprisingly fast on newer devices. And if you’re shooting 4K video, you probably have a newer device.

The results are saved to the Photo library, but if you like you could add them to an album of your choice.

And that’s it. Now, if you stop here, you have the problem of all those new videos clogging up your iPhone or iPad. Consider deleting whatever you don’t need. And in future, you can just choose to shoot a smaller clip to begin with.