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Jun 21, 2013

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X

by Stephen Ashby

Use our top 10 tips to make the most of QuickTime’s brilliant features for Mac

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS XQuickTime is one app that people easily forget about in OS X. The video and music player is often only opened by accident, or to watch a quick clip taken on a phone or video camera before it is imported into iMovie or Final Cut Pro X for editing. However, QuickTime is surprisingly powerful, and while most people think it’s just a simple player app, it has a number of features that could easily make it a mainstay in your Dock.

Whether you’re using it to quickly trim and combine clips, or just need to remove the audio from a video for later use, QuickTime can help. There are options for exporting your movies in various formats, and, in Mountain Lion, the app has a number of multi-touch controls to make navigating around your clips even easier. It’s much more powerful than people realise, so here are some quick tips to get you started with the brilliant app.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X1 Just a trim, sir?

If you just want to quickly trim a clip down from three minutes to 30 seconds, you don’t need iMovie. Open the clip in QuickTime then click the Edit menu. Select Trim and thumbnails will appear at the bottom of the clip. Drag the yellow box over the portion you want to save, then click Done to see the rest disappear.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X2 Clip combinations

QuickTime also allows you to quickly combine two or more clips into a single movie. Open your starting clip, then find the clip you want to add to it in Finder. Drag and drop it directly into the QuickTime window and it will appear at the bottom of the window. You can drag it around to place it wherever you want, then click Done.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X3 Take a recording

If you’re looking for a quick way to record what you’re doing on your Mac fora screencast, or just for general interest, QuickTime is all you need. In the menubar choose File and you’ll see three options: capturing what you’re doing on-screen, recording through the iSight camera or recording audio through the built-in mic.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X4 Multi-touch controls

If you have a Trackpad with your Mac, or just use a Magic Mouse, you can use touch gestures to navigate more quickly. If the video you’re viewing is paused, a swipe left or right will scrub through the timeline. If the movie is playing, dragging across
the window will rewind or fast-forward at varying speed levels.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X5 Sharing made simple

The Share button is now present in almost every built-in Mountain Lion app, and QuickTime is no exception. Click it and you’ll be able to quickly upload your video to a number of your favourite social networks, as well as emailing or sharing it via AirDrop. It’s a fast and simple way to share without needing to search menu options.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X6 Scrub more precisely

If you need to pick out a particular frame of video from your clip, you can slow down the scrubbing speed easily. Click and move the position marker in the timeline, then hold it still for a few moments. After a couple of seconds, lines will appear on the timeline. Dragging the marker now will advance the clip more slowly and accurately.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X7 Slower fast-forward

When you hit the in-app fast-forward button, your movie will advance at 2x, 4x or 8x the standard speed. However, if you hold down the Alt or Option key as you click it, the speeds will be increased at a more manageable rate of 0.1x. So, the first time you click it, the video will play at 1.1x the speed, then 1.2x, and so on.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X8 To the very end

In older versions of QuickTime, there were buttons within the user interface dedicated to quickly skipping to the start or the end of the selected video. In the latest version of QuickTime the functionality is still there, but to do this you’ll need to hold down the Alt or Option keys again and hit the left or right arrow on your keyboard.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X9 Audio level trimming

Trimming a clip is simple enough, but if all the thumbnails of your video are similar it can be hard to tell what is going on. To see the audio track, select Edit>Trim, then navigate to View>Show Audio Track. This will let you cut the clip based on the waveforms of the audio rather than a thumbnail. It’s a little known feature, but a very useful one.

Top 10 QuickTime tips for Mac OS X10 Export audio only

The previous tip is extremely useful when combined with this one. When you choose File>Export you can select the file type that is to be exported. Click the drop- down box at the bottom of the Export window and choose Audio Only to grab just the sound – perfect for music videos or voice-overs for other movies you make.

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    • sandy

      Thanks very much for this information. I recorded myself but was unable to email the video without loading the brief clip to my desktop and then putting it into the cloud for a friend to see. The regular email part of QuickTime player did not open the clip in Apple’s mail program. Any suggestions on how I can get that to work. I’m using OSX 10.8.3. Thank you.

    • Stephen Ashby

      Hi Sandy,

      It is possible that the file was simply too large for Mail to send – video file are naturally much larger than other files, and many email providers will limit the file sizes you can send. Try recording a very short clip and see if the email option is available. Let us know how you get on!


    • sandy


      That was the issue, I’m sure. The clip was about 51mb and Google mail was having none of it and told me so; I think their limit is about 30mb. I haven’t tried with a shorter clip yet but what fun is that? I wanted to send a message and not a cough. Thanks for getting back. Cheers, Sandy

    • Thank you! Exporting audio only took less than 5s for a 1h long movie 🙂