How to Crop a Video For Different Platforms

A Guide for iPhone, Android, and More

Making your video stand out in 2024’s crowded media landscape requires more than just pressing record. Your subject might be exciting, your message moving, your content unmissable, but if you’re not using editing tools to refine and highlight the essence of your footage, you’re likely leaving potential impact on the table.

Enter video cropping, the act of trimming your video picture to suit your creative and technical needs. This simple step is essential to maximizing your video’s performance and audience impact. The technique is easy enough to understand, but it’s not always clear how to crop for your platform of choice, or what technical and creative details you should consider when cropping.

In this guide, we’ll explore why cropping is crucial and how to decide on a cropping ratio, as well as share step-by-step instructions on how to crop videos on iPhone, Android, and desktop platforms

Looking to take your video content to the next level? Be sure to check out our other guides for expert insight into succeeding on YouTube, learning from TikTok, strategizing for LinkedIn, and much more. 

Why Crop Your Video?

You worked hard on your footage and you’re proud of the results. So why crop at all?

The Purpose of Cropping

At its core, cropping is about storytelling. Ask yourself how you can most effectively convey your message given your platform, and then consider how cropping will support your objectives.

1. Platform Optimization

Cropping tailors your video to fit the platform. Ensure your aspect ratio matches the platform’s optimal requirements to avoid black bars and highlight your subject, enhancing visual appeal and professional polish.

For example, if your video is meant to be experienced on a phone or tablet, you’ll want to crop your video to be 9:16 in most cases. This will allow them to take up the full screen and be as visually appealing as possible for a variety of mobile platforms, including Instagram Stories, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts. On the other hand, if desktop is your video’s destination, choose a 16:9 crop instead to fill out computer screens.

2. Audience Considerations

Your video crop should also be informed by a deep understanding of your audience’s preferences and viewing habits. 

For example, to appeal to young men with an interest in e-sports livestreams, consider a horizontal crop optimized for YouTube. Time-tight professionals will likely appreciate short-form vertical content for quick viewing. A younger demographic might be most reachable with a hybrid approach with 9:16 vertical videos for Instagram Stories and shorter 4:5 crops for in-feed posts.

3. Creative Expression

Cropping can help your video reach viewers by maximizing its creative and expressive potential. 

  • Guide attention. Focus on key details to emphasize subjects and frame out distractions. 
  • Refine composition. Reframe shots for maximum impact, such as using the rule of thirds for a balanced composition or creating a modernist frame using negative space. 

By thoughtfully cropping your video, you can better tell your story, engage your audience, and achieve a polished, professional look. 

Now that we’ve clarified our why, let’s dive into how!

Cropping Video on iPhone

Cropping on iPhone can be done easily through the iOS user interface.

1. Start by selecting the video you would like to crop, then pressing edit in the top right corner of your screen. 

2. From there, press the crop symbol in the bottom right corner.

3. From here, you can crop as you see fit, but you’ll want to use standardized formats in most cases. To access these, press the aspect ratios icon near the top right corner of your screen.

4. Now you have options. Swipe along the bar near the bottom of your screen to see the various aspect ratios on offer. You can switch between horizontal and vertical aspect ratio options using the flat and tall rectangles right above. 

5. Once you’ve found the right ratio for your video, pinch the image until you land on the perfect composition. You’ll notice that the iOS Photos interface helpfully displays a grid so that you can employ the rule of thirds and create a balanced image.

6. Once you’re happy, press done! Your video is good to go. 

Cropping Video on Android

Cropping video on Android will require an app with that capability. We recommend using Google Photos as it’s free, easy to use, and likely already the default photos app on your Android.

1. Open Google Photos and select your video.

2. Press the scissor icon near the bottom left corner of the screen. 

3. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a menu of different elements of your video you can edit. Swipe right along the bottom menu until you see “Aspect ratio.” Select this option.

5. Now it’s time to pick your crop. Swipe along the menu right above the  “Aspect ratio” button you just pressed. When you find a crop ratio that suits your video, press it.

5. Drag and pinch your video image until it’s in a perfect position for your aspect ratio.

6. When you’re ready, press save at the top right corner of your screen.

Cropping Video on Mac

Cropping video on your Mac can be accomplished easily through the Photos app.

1. Open your video in the Photos app. If you don’t see it there, you might need to import it by going to File > Import.

2. With your video opened, click Edit in the top right corner.

3. Click Crop near the top of your Photos app interface.

4. Choose your crop from the Aspect menu on the right side of your window. You can switch between vertical and horizontal crops using the rectangle options at the bottom of the menu. 

5. After you’ve created your crop, click Done at the top right corner of the window, and that’s it!

6. The last step is exporting your video by going to File > Export. The available resolutions are located under the Movie Quality menu in the following window.  The right choice will depend on the resolution of your footage and its eventual platform, but generally web videos should be exported at 1080p if your resolution is higher than 1080x1080.

Cropping Video on Windows

Windows users will have to rely on one more app than Mac users, but don’t let that daunt you! The process is still simple enough.

1. Open up your video in Media Player. Click the ellipsis at the bottom right corner of your window, then click “Edit with Clipchamp.” If you already have Clipchamp, the program will open. If you don’t, then the program will download.

Climpchamp is a free Microsoft video editing software that will be required for the following steps. 

2. Once in Clipchamp, choose your crop. You can access the options by hovering over the aspect ratio at the top right of the user interface (21:9 in the example image below). 

3. Once you’ve chosen your desired aspect ratio, crop away! 

4. When you’ve cropped to perfection, click Export at the top right corner of your window. And you’re done!

A Simple but Powerful Tool

Mastering the craft of cropping will give you a powerful and essential tool in your video arsenal, enabling you to deliver a polished, engaging, and platform-optimized experience to your audience. As you continue to create, experiment with different aspect ratios and compositions to discover what resonates best. 

If you’re looking for expert advice on enhancing the impact and performance of your videos, don’t hesitate to reach out. Filmkraft is a NYC-based video agency with a deep bench of professionals who are happy to assist. Reach out today.