How to Crop / Zoom a Video in iMovie for iPhone or iPad

Jul 13, 2018 - 8 Comments

How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

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.

This tutorial will show you how to crop a video on the iPhone or iPad using iMovie. If you happen to be interested, Mac users can perform a similar cropping video action in iMovie for Mac.

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.

Before getting started, be sure you have iMovie installed on your iPhone or iPad, and that the video or movie you want to crop / zoom is on the device itself.

  1. 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
  2. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  3. Select “Movie” from the options
  4. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  5. 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
  6. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  7. iMovie will open the video into the project, now tap on the video timeline / scrubber section
  8. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  9. 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
  10. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  11. 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
  12. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  13. When satisfied with your cropped / zoomed video, tap the grey “Done” text button
  14. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  15. 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
  16. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  17. 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)
  18. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

  19. 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
  20. How to Crop or Zoom a Video on iMovie for iOS

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.

The cropped or Zoom a Video saved from iMovie into the Videos section of Photos app

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.

Example of a cropped zoomed video from iMovie for iOS

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.

If you like to tinker with videos in iOS, you might also appreciate knowing about adding text to videos with iMovie for iOS and rotating videos in iMovie for iOS too.

Do you know of any other helpful tips or tricks to crop videos in iMovie on iPhone or iPad? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments below!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Margreet Anceaux says:

    ‘Not particularly obvious’ is an understatement – couldn’t find it anywhere. Thanks so much for your tutorial!

  2. Sami says:

    Absolutely! This helped so much!

  3. Bonnie says:


  4. Bobby Charles says:

    Everything is difficult for me on my iPad now. Never used Apple before and there’s some problems with interface for me. But I’m close to enjoy it. All my photos and videos I edit with Movavi. Hope it will help someone!

  5. troy DZ says:

    thanks this worked greatly!

  6. Soup says:

    Great instructions!

  7. Catherine Syme says:

    Hi. I figured this out today but I wonder if it is possible to change the aspect? I am creating a video for a facebook ad and they suggest a square aspect. It looks like you can’t change this with the app – I can change it once I am on the FB ads manager but then it cuts out a lot of my text so that doesn’t help.

  8. Tim Keys says:

    I have several keys that look like this. Any good options to fix these on a late 2013 macbook pro?

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