How To Rotate Video Files on Your Mac and PC

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how to rotate a videoIt’s an error made by many. When filming with your cellphone, or even a real video camera, you’re not always thinking about ‘orientation’ – whether you’re filming in portrait or landscape.

Some devices take into account every flick of your wrist, but most don’t, and you end up with a video that’s rotated by 90 degrees.

Learning how to rotate a video again is not as easy as you’d think. The entire video has to be converted. Below are two ways to convert these videos – on Mac and Windows – using only standard applications that you should be able to find on every computer.

How to Rotate a Video File On Windows XP

Windows Movie Maker was installed as one of the default applications up until Vista came out. This part of the article details how to use the ‘old’ version of Windows Movie Maker, if you’re still using Windows XP.

Start by opening your video in the application via File -> Import To Collections… To be able to use your video, you’ll need to drag it from your collections to your storyboard, the big blue strip pictured at the bottom of the enclosed screenshot.

how to rotate a video

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On the left hand side of the screen, select Edit Movie -> View video effects. On the right side of the screen, you can now see numerous video effects, including various rotations. Drag the correct rotation onto your video in the storyboard to apply.

Go to File -> Save Move File… to export the project.

Rotate Video On Windows Vista/7

Windows Live Movie Maker, the successor to Windows Movie Maker, has been made remarkably easier to use. Rotating a video in it is hardly a bother. If the application has not yet been installed on your PC, you can download it for free from Windows Live Essentials.

rotate video file

Once you’ve opened your original video file in the application – which can be done by either using the File menu, or via drag and drop – the hardest part is already over. Simply click one of the rotation buttons from the ribbon on top of the screen, and select an export profile to the right.

Rotate Video On Mac OS X

This tutorial on how to rotate a video works the same for iMovie ’08 and iMovie ’09. If you’re still stuck with iMovie ’06, you’ll need to use a third-party plug-in.

Another point of conflict is the video format. Some of the more obscure ones, like 3GP, aren’t supported. A shame, because these are actually used quite regularly for mobile compression. For these files, you’ll first need to convert them to another file format. This can be done in QuickTime X, via File -> Save for Web.

Alternatively, you can use a third-party file converter like ReduxEncoder, or an online convertion tool like Zamzar.

rotate video

Use File -> Import Movies… to select your converted video. iMovie will analyze the video and generate thumbnails, so this can take a few minutes for larger video files.

rotate video

Before we’re able to use the video, you’ll need to add it to your Project Library from your Event Library. Just make sure you select the whole clip, and drag it over to the other side of the screen.

how to rotate a video

Now deselect the clip from your Event Library, and select the copy in the Project Library. To rotate your video, open the Crop menu, make sure it’s set to ‘Fit’, and use the rotate buttons. When you’re sattisfied, press Done.

how to rotate a video

You’ll notice that you’re video has now been rotated in your Project Library. To export it, go to Share -> Export Movie… or press cmd+E.

how to rotate a video

As with Windows Live Movie Maker, you can also upload your rotated movie directly to YouTube, or your personal MobileMe Gallery.

Do you have any other tips and tricks on how to rotate a video file or movie? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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Comments (11)
  • Jim Dows

    Have just used iPhoto to rotate and crop the idea as per your instructions, worked brilliantly, thank you

  • MJ

    Hi Simon, I tried the crop thing but I can’t make the crop tool bigger or longer… Will look for iMovie tutorials. Thanks!

  • Simon Slangen

    If you want to retain your original aspect ratio, select Crop -> Fit instead of Crop -> Crop (image). Turning the video is still done the same way.

    EDIT: Also, when exporting the video, use Share -> Export using QuickTime…, and change the export dimensions in Options -> Size. Hope this helps. :-)

  • MJ

    Hi, thanks for the tutorial! Really great. I was able to rotate all my videos. My problem now is how to delete the black areas in both sides… can this be done? When I post the video to my blog, the video takes too much space and most of it with the black areas. Any advice would be great!

    • Simon Slangen

      If you want to retain your original aspect ratio, select Crop -> Fit instead of Crop -> Crop (image). Turning the video is still done the same way.

      EDIT: Also, when exporting the video, use Share -> Export using QuickTime…, and change the export dimensions in Options -> Size. Hope this helps. :-)

    • Rares

      I’m taking the hard way when it comes to see how image is projected on bigger screens. I work much with projectors and when it’s come to calculate how big is your image projected on the screen, I’l always calculate by keeping aspect ratio for the image (most important).
      You can calculate by aspect ratio formula: AR = Width / Height.
      Or you can try online tools, like this ninjaunits.com/convert-pixels-inches/

  • Brittany

    Thank you!!!

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.