Rotating videos

When I was young, some of my favorite times were spent visiting my grandparents. We didn't visit often because they lived quite a ways away in Los Angeles and it was a 2 day drive just to get there. All I could think about on the drive down was how wonderful my grandmother's homemade lemon meringue pie was going to be, the fun I would have playing with my cousins, and how awesome it was going to be to visit Disneyland!  My grandparents have long since passed away but I am able to reconnect with those memories by looking at all the old photos. Better yet, because my grandfather was kind of the techno-geek of his day, I also can watch the old home movies he took.

These days no one takes 16mm movies any more and even nice quality video cameras are gathering dust. Most people just use their cell phones to take videos of family events and special occasions. Since a cell phone is easier to hold vertically a lot of the video plays sideways and unless you have software that came with your PC or Mac to rotate it, you end up with video that hurts your neck to watch. I'm going to show you how easy it is to rotate that video so you can start sharing it without embarrassment or a visit to the chiropractor.

The first thing we need to do is open iMovie and start a new project.

Once iMovie is open you need to add the movie that you need to rotate. A lot of Mac users with small compact cameras download their photos and videos to iPhoto. This is a great place to store all your photos and videos in one place and since iPhoto and iMovie talk to each other it's easy to edit any video stored in iPhoto with iMovie. look at the bottom of the iMovie screen in an area called the "Event Library." You should see "iPhoto Videos" listed. Just select it and all the videos in iPhoto will show up to the right of the Event Library.

If you don't store you movies in iPhoto it's still easy to edit them in iMovie. Open iMovie and use File -> Import Movies… select the video you want rotated and import it. If it's a large video iMovie can take a few minutes for the full video to import.

Once you have your movies loaded your iMovie window should look like this:

You now need to add it to your "Project Library."  This is just a matter of dragging or copying from the "Event Library" to the "Project Library."  That's the upper left part of the iMovie window.  It sounds easy but sometimes dragging can be difficult to do and cause you to pull your hair out when it seems like the cursor has a mind of it's own. If that happens to you don't worry. Just select the movie in the "Event Library"  and use the standard Mac copy keystroke of Command + "C". Click into the Project Library window and use Command + "V" and it will be pasted into your project.

Now deselect the clip from your Event Library, and select the copy in the Project Library. Make sure it's outlined in yellow. 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.

That's it!! 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 and save your movie. 

Now you are ready to upload your movie to Facebook or YouTube and show it off to all your family and friends. They will thank you for helping to reduce the number of chiropractor visits since they now don't have to crane their neck to view your videos. 

Here's the finished project showing my own little Ninja Warrior in action. I think the head butt in the middle is classic.  Enjoy!

Update 5/6/2013

I've written another post about rotation of video here. Although iMovie will do the job there are now several stand alone applications that are even easier to use. 


  1. That was an awesome step by step, thank you so much!

  2. Finally. I have been looking online everywhere to see how to rotate and SAVE the video including the rotation to my hard drive. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for the tutorial! Now, is there any way to save my videos in iPhoto after I've fixed them?

    1. Kellie - After you have rotated your video, exported and saved it just drag and drop to iPhoto to add them to an album. Or you can use "Import to Library" in the File menu. Tres easy!