How To Edit Videos On Your iPhone

Make your own videos with your iPhone and a few cool apps

Editing iPhone Videos
image credit: Kinson C Photography/Moment Open/Getty Images

Having an iPhone in your pocket means you can record great-looking video at practically any time. If you've got a 5S or newer model, you can also record cool-looking slow-motion video.

But what good is being able to record video if you can't edit it? Luckily, there are video editing features built into the Photos app that comes with the iOS. These features are pretty basic – they really just let you trim your video to the sections you like the best – but they're good for creating a clip that's ready to be shared with your friends via email or text messaging, or with the world on YouTube and Vimeo.

The Photos app isn't a professional-level video editing tool. Don't expect to add sophisticated features like visual effects and sound editing. If you want those sorts of features, the other apps discussed at the end of the article are worth checking out.

Requirements

In order to edit videos on the iPhone, you need an iPhone 3GS and newer running iOS 6 and higher. Pretty much every iPhone user meets those standards these days, so you should be good to go.

How to Trim Video on an iPhone

In order to edit a video on the iPhone, you'll need to have some videos in the first place. You do that using the Camera app that's built into the iPhone. This article explains how to use the Camera app to record video.

Once you've got some video, follow these steps:

  1. If you just recorded the video using Camera, tap the box in the lower left corner and skip to step 4.

    If you want to edit a video taken earlier, or aren't in the Camera app, tap the app to launch it. 
    • Next, tap Camera Roll (in iOS 6 and lower) or Videos (in iOS 7 and higher). Browse until you find the video you want to edit.
  1. Tap the video you want to edit.
  2. Tap Edit in the top right corner.
  3. The interface you see depends on what version of the iOS you're running. In iOS 7 and 8, there's a timeline bar showing the frames of your video at the top of the screen. In iOS 9 and up, that bar is at the bottom. No matter which version of the iOS you have, you'll see a small white bar resting on top of the timeline bar at the left. Drag the bar to move forward and backward throughout the video. This lets you quickly get to the part of the video you want to edit.
  1. To edit the video, tap and hold either end of the timeline bar (look for the arrows at each end of the bar). The bar will turn yellow.
  2. Drag either end of the yellow bar to cut out the parts of the video you don't want to save. The section of the video shown within the yellow bar is what you'll save. You have to save continuous chunks of the video. You can't stitch together two separate parts of the video
  3. When you're happy with your selection, tap Trim or Done (it differs depending on your version of the iOS). If you changed your mind, tap Cancel.
  4. A menu pops up offering two options: Trim Original or Save as New Clip. If you choose Trim Original, you cut from the original video and will permanently delete the sections you remove. If you choose this, be sure you're making the right decision: there's no undoing it. The video will be gone.

    For more flexibility, choose Save as New Clip. This saves the trimmed version of the video as a new file on your iPhone, allowing you to view the new clip while leaving the original untouched. That way, you can return to it to make other edits later.

    Whichever you choose, the video will be saved to your Photos app where you can view and share it.

Sharing Edited Videos from Your iPhone

Once you've trimmed and saved the video clip, there are a number of options for what to do with it.

You can sync it to your computer. But, if you tap the arrow button at the bottom left of the screen, you'll have the following options:

  • AirDrop — Share the video directly to another iPhone user nearby via AirDrop, a wireless file-sharing feature. Just tap the name and photo of the person you want to send it to.
  • Message — Choosing Message will import the video into the Messages app and let you send the video as a text message.
  • Mail — Choosing Mail will import the video in the built-in Mail app; address the email as you would any other email and send it. 
  • Online Video Services — Share your new video on YouTube, Facebook, or Vimeo by tapping those buttons. When you do that, your iPhone automatically formats the video for those sites and posts it to your account (this requires you have an account with whatever site you're sharing to). 
  • iCloud Photo Sharing — Share the video with people using iCloud by tapping this button. Write a message to be shown along with the video and then choose a person to with whom to share the video.

Other iPhone Video Editing Apps

The Photos app isn't your only option for editing video on the iPhone. Some other apps that can help you edit videos on your iPhone include:

  • iMovie — Apple's iOS version of its versatile and powerful desktop iMovie program. Choose visual effects, add on-screen text, and include music. US$4.99
  • Magisto — This app applies intelligence to automatically create an edited video for you. It also adds visual themes and music. Free, with in-app purchases
  • Splice — This editor, now owned by GoPro, gives you separate tracks for video and audio to make more complex videos. Add onscreen text, voice narration, and animations. Free
  • Videoshop — Add audio, voiceovers, onscreen text (including animated text), and special effects like slow motion, fast motion, and reverse video in this app. $1.99

Editing Videos With Third-Party Apps

In iOS 8, Apple added a component that allows apps to borrow features from each other. In this case, that means that if you have a video-editing app on your iPhone that supports this, you can use features from that app in the video editing interface in Photos. Here's how:

  1. Tap Photos to open it.
  2. Tap the video you want to edit.
  3. Tap Edit.
  4. At the bottom of the screen, tap the three-dot icon in the circle.  
  5. The menu that pops up lets you pick another app, such as iMovie, that can share its features with you. Tap that app.
  6. That app's features appear on the screen. In my example, the screen now says iMovie and gives you that app's editing features. Use them here and save your video without ever leaving Photos.