Hidden Features in QuickTime Player

Posted on by Larry

OK, I confess. I’ve ignored QuickTime Player since it was first released as QuickTime Player X with the original release of macOS X. When the new version was compared to the features, power and flexibility in Quicktime Player 7 Pro, the new version failed just about everywhere.

However, recently, I was exploring the menus in QuickTime Player and discovered that, over the years, Apple has added significant features that make it worth reconsidering – even for us QT 7 snobs.

In fact, the new version can do many things that the old version couldn’t; though, to be truthful, the old version still wins in several areas.

NOTE: When I say “new,” I mean the version of QuickTime Player shipped with the current version of the macOS. And, while the old version still has a few tricks up it’s sleeve, in the next OS upgrade or two, the old version is will stop working because it is only a 32-bit application. So, change is coming.

Also, more changes are coming with the upcoming release of macOS Mojave, which adds video editing capability to QuickLook. I’ll cover that when the new OS is released.


The new QuickTime Player can record your screen (File > New Screen Recording) or record a movie from an attached iPhone, iPad or the built-in camera on your Mac.

To record a movie from your iDevice:

To record the screen of your computer:

NOTE: This file is saved as an H.264 QuickTime movie with AAC audio. This quality is fine for illustration and emailing. However, if you produce screen captures professionally, recording in a higher-quality format, such as ProRes 4444 and Linear PCM audio will yield better results for editing and distribution.


In addition to recording, we can use QuickTime Player for simple movie editing. Specifically, we can use it to:

The secret is in the View > Show Clips command.

Footage courtesy: Anne L. Gibson, Toucan Productions, Inc.

To split a single movie into multiple clips:

To rearrange clips:

NOTE: Press Option while dragging to make a copy.

To trim a movie or a clip:

NOTE: To make more precise adjustments, click and hold the yellow handle to see pseudo-timecode. Hours, minutes and seconds are accurate. However, actual frames are replaced by hundreds of a second.

Using the Edit menu, you can also rotate the selected clip in 90-degree increments; which, frankly, is stunningly weird when you play it back; but perfect for handling vertical iPhone videos.

You can also use QuickTime Player to append multiple clips together, though, truthfully, we have much more control over this process in a standard video editing application.


Footage courtesy:  John Putch “Route 30, Too!” (www.route30trilogy.com)

The View menu allows us to display subtitles and, if provided, switch between languages.

The Movie Inspector (Shortcut: Cmd + I) provides a very useful summary of the tech specs of a clip. I find myself using this all the time to verify clips and compression settings.

We can also use QuickTime Player to share movies and, when we do, QuickTime Player creates a version of the movie that is optimized for the destination we select. Pre-selected choices include:

However, what you may not know is that you can create custom sharing destinations for a wide variety of other destinations by choosing the More option in this popup menu.

NOTE: More does not exist in the File option in the Menu Bar, only in the playback controller.

The More option actually opens a System Preference (called “Extensions”) that allows you to customize the Share destinations across multiple apps.


The Export menu allows us to resize the movie to something smaller (which preserves image quality), as well as extract just the audio from a clip.


There are still things the current version of QuickTime Player doesn’t do, or doesn’t do well when compared to QuickTime Player 7 Pro. For example:

Still, the usefulness of QuickTime Player has significantly improved over the years and, if you haven’t looked at it recently, the time has come to give it a second look.

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24 Responses to Hidden Features in QuickTime Player

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  1. Fernando says:

    Still missing being able to copy new sound from a sound file in to a QT movie.
    Or I can’t find how to do it on current version (QT Player 10.5, on OSX 10.14 Mojave)
    This is very deceiving, even annoying; it is a very basic feature present on very old QT Player versions… just copy the sound file and paste it to the movie at start, come on.
    If I’m wrong, please tell me the way.

    • me says:

      Yeah, what he said!!! Apple has steadily been going downhill over the years and screwing up so many good things. Don’t even get me started on iMovie. It was awesome as iMovieHD 6 but I hate it now. Ok, sorry, I got myself started. I could go on and on about dumb little things that they have done that are completely annoying but it would get boring. Suffice to say I am not a fan anymore and I used to love apple.

      • Paddy Mac says:

        You should try the new FCPX – I left FCP in 2012 or so and just returned. I am finding it 5x faster than Premiere to use and all the tools for audio adjustment and just great.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    I use QT nearly every day to film my guitar playing so I can see what worked and what didn’t, some of the music is fast and by the time I realize I hit the wrong notes I am into the next bar. Like filming a golf swing can improve your game, it really helps me to watch my hands when I can slow things down.
    I read the other comments, Aubrey had mentioned the same issue I find very annoying. I can split the clip only once. My files are nowhere close to GB sizes.

    I just went and looked at the help page, knowing I was missing something. It will split multiple times. At any point in the timeline, you can choose Edit >Split Clip to split the *selected* clip.

    You need to select the clip you want to split. I overlooked this.

    I always keep a copy of any version software I install. Like QT7. I have upgraded things before to discover that they hobbled or removed features. I keep old machines around in my studio to run the stuff I paid a lot of money for. It worked when I set it up and it still runs today.

  3. Tim Lookingbill says:

    How am I getting in Inspector a 32-bit Integer (Big Endian), Stereo-L/R, 44.100kHz .mov file recording the sound off a YouTube video feed using Soundflower and Quicktime player 10.0 (131) at Maximum Quality on a 2010 MacMini in Mac OS 10.6.8?

    Does this mean I have a 32-bit Analog to Digital hardware converter? Or is this software upconverting or interpolating from internet 16bit to 32bit? Thanks for the feedback.

    • Larry says:


      The source format of an audio file does not determine how you can record it, but it DOES determine the quality of the recording. For example, if you start with a 16-bit master, recording at 32-bit, which is native for the Mac, still yields 16-bit quality – the extra precision is just “zeroed out,” meaning it has not impact on the audio.

      And, yes, in order for ANY computer to record audio, there needs to be an analog-to-digital converter in your system. If you are using the mic/line input, the conversion is handled by the operating system.


  4. Kathryn says:

    How can I get quicktime to allow direct upload to youtube of a video longer than 15 minutes? I already have youtube set to allow longer clips, but quicktime won’t let me. So frustrating.

    • Larry says:


      I’m confused by your question. Why are you using Quicktime, instead of a Browser, to upload to YouTube. QuickTime is a media format, not an uploader.


  5. John Reddick says:

    I’m trying to figure out how to record high-quality audio from the internal sound when I create a screen recording. I’m playing a slideshow in Photos and doing a screen recording with QuickTime Player 10.4. This provides much better video than the version exported from Photos. But the audio sucks, I suspect it is just picking up what it “hears” through the internal microphone. There are only two audio source selections – internal microphone and none. Any way to route the internal system audio to the screen recording?

    • Larry says:


      The internal mic is a general purpose mic, not designed for high quality. To get the best sound, buy a separate mic – I use a headset and use that for your screen recordings. I’ve used one for years and it yields great results.


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