August 15

Merge multiple video files using the free version of QuickTime

f you’ve always wanted a simple way to combine movies into a single file, look no further than QuickTime Player. There’s no need to buy the Pro version — the bundled free version is fully capable of handling the task.

A lot of times when you’re dealing with video you run into a situation where you want to merge a movie file with another but aren’t concerned with things like transitions or titles. Using a video editor like iMovie does the job but it’s far too much effort for something so simple. Luckily, hidden in the standard free version of Apple’s QuickTime Player is the ability to drag & drop video clips together.

To start off, open a video in QuickTime. Now position the program’s playhead where you would like your next video clip to be inserted. It can be at the beginning, anywhere in the middle, or right at the end. Once you have done that, locate your second movie file in Finder. Select the file and drag & drop it right onto the QuickTime window. Playing the whole movie will reveal that the clips have now been combined and are acting as if they were a single video. This trick can be applied with any number of files — you’re not limited to just two.

Here’s where things get kind of tricky. Since only QuickTime Pro has the ability to save movies from the File menu, we don’t have the luxury of using that option here. Instead, you have to close the video. Only then will you be greeted with the option of saving your merged file. Click the Save button and, in the dialog box that comes up, choose “Save as a self-contained movie.” It gets messy if you don’t choose this setting, so make sure you don’t skip it before continuing. Click Save once more and you will have a merged movie created entirely with the free version of QuickTime!

One last bit of information for anyone who is curious… you can combine any video format that QuickTime supports (both out-of-the-box and with the help of plugins like Flip4Mac and Perian). So a .mov file can be dragged on top of a .avi file, a .mp4 can be merged with a .wmv, and so on. Varying video resolutions can also be combined, although the smaller file will be anchored to the top-left corner with black filling the rest of the frame. It would be nice if it scaled to fit the larger video’s resolution, but that’s getting picky. Free is free, right?

Another Method …

This is another series of tips from Mac Kung Fu, the new book containing over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for OS X Lion.
QuickTime Player is actually a cut-down version of the (not free) QuickTime Pro, but it’s pretty powerful in its own right. For example, you can edit movies within QuickTime Player, at least in a primitive way, as follows:
Open the movie in QuickTime Player and click Edit->Trim. The timeline will now change to a frame display of the movie, surrounded by a yellow boundary box.
Click and drag the boundary box on the left and right sides to cut out any material at the beginning and end you wish to lose (unfortunately, it’s not possible to cut sections out of the middle of the file—for that you’ll need a more sophisticated editor like iMovie).
If you want to view the audio track of the file, click View->Show Audio Track. This switches the frame display to one showing the audio waveform, so you can edit perhaps based on quiet or loud episodes.
Once you’re done, click the Trim button.
Trim Movies

You can trim the edges off any movie file using QuickTime Player
You can also combine two or more movies into one file. To do so, open the first of the movies in QuickTime Player, then locate the next in Finder and drag and drop it onto the QuickTime Player window. It will appear in the timeline view at the bottom as a separate clip, and you can drag and drop it to the beginning or end of the existing movie file. You can add more clips in the same way and reposition them by clicking and dragging. When you’ve finished, click the Done button, then close the file to bring up a Save dialog box.
When you’ve finished trimming or merging movie files, click File->Close. This will bring up a prompt asking if you want to save the file. Unfortunately it’s not usually possible to simply save the file in its original format. Instead it must be exported in an Apple-compatible format. The safest bet is to select the 720p option from the Format dropdown list in the dialog box, unless you know the movie has a smaller frame size. The 720p option will retain the existing resolution of the movie provided the frame size isn’t larger than 1280 × 720, although it will downsample a 1080p movie (to edit a 1080p movie, you’ll need a higher-end solution such as iMovie, as mentioned earlier).


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