Starting with iOS 13, Apple introduced a robust suite of video editing tools to its Photos app. The majority of editing tools were only available for photos in iOS 12 and older, but iOS 13 leveled the playing field so that even a beginner can fine-tune videos like a pro before sharing.
Prior to iOS 13, the built-in Photos app for iPhone had provided a wide range of image editing tools. It not only included important features such as automatic enhancement, cropping, straightening and application of filters, but it also had more powerful tools for adjusting lighting and color. Videos, on the other hand, could only be trimmed.
To make matters worse, if you use iCloud Photos, you could not crop the original video in older iOS versions. Therefore, a second copy of the video must be made, cluttered in your library and take up precious cloud storage.
Photo app extensions helped fill the gap, including Apple̵7;s iMovie, which made it possible to crop the original clip, delete audio, add filters, and add text and music to the video. Even with additions, however, there was never anything in photos that were as powerful and easy to use as what Apple provided for photos – until iOS 13.
With iOS 13 and later, videos now have access to almost all the same powerful editing tools as images, including a new video-only feature to remove audio. The new tools work over all types of video, up to 4K at 60 fps and slo-mo clips in 1080p at 240 fps. Depending on the type of videos you edit, you may finally be able to release third-party video editors that you previously trusted.
Start editing a video
To start using the video editing tools in iOS 13 and later, in Photos, select the movie you want to edit and then press the blue “Edit” button at the top right. Once you have made changes using any of the tools below, click the yellow “Done” button to save your changes. The white “Cancel” button deletes all unsaved changes.
In iOS 13.3 and later, when you tap “Done”, you have the choice between “Save video” or “Save video as new clip.” The former overwrites the current file (but you can undo all changes) while the latter creates a completely new one. For some reason, iOS 13.0 to iOS 13.2.3 removed the new clipping option, which was available in previous iOS versions.
Feature 1: Trim video (iOS 5 and later)
Just like in iOS 12 and older versions, you can cut movies from both the beginning and the end. To shave some images from the beginning, drag the left arrow on the timeline to the right. Once you start dragging it, the gray section of the video is grayed out and the rest have a yellow mark. The preview will be adapted to the frame under your finger to help you measure where to stop. Repeat with the right arrow to trim the end.
Feature 2: Mute (iOS 13 and later)
If there is background construction noise, ambient talk from being a public place, or other distracting sounds in your video, iOS 13 lets you avoid it. There is no way to adjust the volume levels or reduce background noise, but you can remove the sound completely. Click on the yellow speaker icon at the top left. When it is gray with a line through it, the audio track disappears after the file is saved.
Feature 3: Crop & Rotate (iOS 13 and later)
Apple’s iOS 13 provides several new tools to change the shape of your videos, from basic options like cropping and rotating to more advanced tools like mirroring and skew. To access these new features, select the harvest icon, the last icon in the toolbar.
By default, you will crop in a freeform shape, then grab a corner handle on the video and pull inward and repeat for the other corners until it is cropped to your liking. You can also pinch and zoom in on the image to select a new crop area.
By tapping the icon next to the ellipse, you can lock the aspect ratio to a variety of options, either in portrait or landscape views. These include the original aspect ratio, square, 9:16 (or 16: 9), 8:10 (or 10: 8), 5: 7 (or 7: 5), 3: 4 (or 4: 3), 3: 5 (or 5: 3) and 2: 3 (or 3: 2). When locked, hold a corner to hold the aspect ratio in place, and you can still pinch to zoom to change the crop as well.
You can “Restore” the crop if you do not like your changes, which is especially useful for free-form pruning. And you can tap the aspect ratio icon again to return to the other editing tools.
In the upper left corner, click on the square icon with a curved arrow at its corner to rotate the video. Each time you press it, the video will rotate 90 degrees clockwise.
When you take a selfie with your iPhone – a photo or video selfie – the preview makes it seem like you are looking in a mirror and adding a certain acquaintance because that’s how you always see yourself. But when you take a photo or video selfie, the results are released to show the mirror’s point of view. In other words, how someone else would see you in person, which is useful because texts and symbols would appear as they should instead of backwards.
But if you prefer the video selfie to be displayed when you took it, you can return it. To do so, tap the icon that looks like a split triangle with a double-sided arrow above.
Below the video (in portrait orientation) or to the right (in landscape) you will see the “Straighten” tool, whose icon is a circle with a horizontal line through it, already selected. Move the slider left or right to flip the video anywhere from a negative 45-degree angle to a positive 45-degree angle.
To reset the effect, either move the slider back to the small white dot, press the effect icon (which preserves your last angle if you want to go back) or press “Reset” upwards.
Next to the “Straighten” button there are buttons for “vertical” and “horizontal” skew. The vertical is a trapezoid with a vertical line through it, while the horizontal is a trapezoid with a horizontal line through it. If you use the slider for either, you will skew the perspective of the video vertically or horizontally.
An example of when this is convenient would be if you want to mimic the Star Wars opening’s scan for text on the screen, albeit to a lesser extent.
To reset the effect, either move the sliders back to where the small white dots are, tap the effect icon (which preserves your last angle if you want to go back), or press “Reset” up.
Feature 4: Add filters (iOS 13 and later)
You can now add a little emotion to your videos with one of nine filters, which are different options than those provided by the iMovie Photos extension, which has ten additional filters you can use on top of the new ones in iOS 13.
To access the filters, tap the filter icon (the three overlapping circles) in the toolbar. A series of thumbnails are displayed for each filter that you can browse. Each thumbnail shows a quick preview of what it would look like in the current image of the video. The filters include:
- Live: Illuminates the video and accentuates the highlights There are also Lively warm and Lively cool options to give the video a yellow and blue color respectively.
- Dramatic: Darkens the video and accentuates the shadows. Also includes Dramatically hot and Dramatically cool alternative.
- Mono, Silvertone and Noir: Different black and white effects.
In addition, each filter has a slider underneath to change how intense the filter is, so you can adjust them further.
Feature 5: Make adjustments (iOS 13 and later)
Apple’s iOS 13 provides almost all image adjustment options for video as well. The only one missing is “Brilliance.” To access the adjustments, tap the adjustment icon (a circular steering wheel with dots around) in the toolbar.
The first option is “Auto” enhancement (the wand icon), which tries to find out what is in the video and adjust the settings to an optimal look, but you still have to move the slider to see something happen. It generally does an excellent job, but if you want to fine-tune things a little more, there are many more options to the right of the enhancement tool. These options include:
- Black dot
- Noise Reduction
Each of these includes a slider below to change the intensity of the effect, so you can get your video just right. Like the straight and skewed tools, the effect of each of these adjustments can be undone by either moving the slider back to the small white dot or by pressing the adjustment effect icon. The latter will preserve your last slider, so you can tap the icon again to return to it.
Feature 6: Use Photo Extensions (iOS 8 and later)
Which can be done since iOS 8, movies can be edited with app extensions for Photos. Apple’s iMovie is the most notable for videos, but there are third-party apps that also offer extension.
To access these extensions, tap the ellipsis icon (•••) at the top right. In the activity view, you see a list of apps that you have installed on your iPhone that support photo extensions. However, you may need to press “More” to turn them on. If there are none, you will not see any apps listed.
Tap any of them to load the extension, and when you’re done making changes, press the “Done” button to return to the Editor-in-Chief.
Function 7: Compare with original (iOS 13 and later)
No matter what edits you have made with the tools above, you can quickly compare them to your original video by tapping the video itself. Press again to view your changes.
Function 8: Return to the original (iOS 8 and later)
One of the most powerful features of the Photos app is that editing is not destructive. To return to the beginning, press the “Edit” button to open the editor, then press the red “Restore” button followed by “Restore to original.” All your changes will disappear and you will have your video just as it was when you started.
The updated Photos app is a game changer for video editing. It gives every iOS user a set of easy-to-use yet powerful video editing tools without having to find third-party apps to do all the work.
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