I have an MP4 file of a screen recording that I need to crop down. How can I accomplish this without using expensive tools like Adobe Premier or Final Cut? I prefer ffmpeg because I have used it before.


Use the crop filter:

ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -filter:v "crop=out_w:out_h:x:y" out.mp4

Where the options are as follows:

  • out_w is the width of the output rectangle
  • out_h is the height of the output rectangle
  • x and y specify the top left corner of the output rectangle

Original image

original image
Original 320x240 image

Example 1


To crop a 80×60 section, starting from position (200, 100):

ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -filter:v "crop=80:60:200:100" -c:a copy out.mp4
  • The audio is stream copied in this example, so re-encoding is avoided.

Example 2

bottom right quarter

To crop the bottom right quarter:

ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -filter:v "crop=in_w/2:in_h/2:in_w/2:in_h/2" -c:a copy out.mp4

This is the same as:

ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -filter:v "crop=320/2:240/2:320/2:240/2" -c:a copy out.mp4

Which is the same as:

ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -filter:v "crop=160:120:160:120" -c:a copy out.mp4
  • You can refer to the input image size with in_w and in_h as shown in this first example. The output width and height can also be used with out_w and out_h.

Example 3

20 pixels from the top, and 20 from the bottom

Crop 20 pixels from the top, and 20 from the bottom:

 ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -filter:v "crop=in_w:in_h-40" -c:a copy out.mp4
  • The filter will automatically center the crop if x and y are omitted such as in this example.


You can take a crop (heh heh) and preview it live with ffplay:

ffplay -i input -vf "crop=in_w:in_h-40"

This way you can experiment and adjust your cropping without the need to encode, view, repeat.


  • crop filter documentation

  • Default encoder for MP4 is libx264 (H.264 video) or mpeg4 (MPEG-4 Part 2 video) depending on your ffmpeg build. See FFmpeg Wiki: H.264 Video Encoding Guide for more info.

  • Instead of cropping and re-encoding, consider cropping upon playback. This is possible with any player worth using.

  • Ancient ffmpeg builds used -croptop, -cropbottom, -cropleft, -cropright options instead of the crop filter. If this is the case for you then get a modern ffmpeg. Development is very active and there is no reason to use an antique.

  • 3
    This works with 'avconv' now. – Joce Sep 16 '15 at 13:52
  • 3
    worth to mention this technique (with the crop filter) re-encodes the video, see stackoverflow.com/questions/33378548/… if re-encoding matters for you – abernier Oct 14 '17 at 9:58
  • 1
    edited to change the outdated -filter:v to the more up to date and simpler to type -vf. Cheers! – Elder Geek Dec 15 '17 at 0:35
  • 5
    If you're trying to remove black bars around your video (piallarbox, letterbox, windowbox etc.) use cropdetect first to have ffmpeg print cropping parameters for you: ffmpeg.exe -i vid.mp4 -vf cropdetect out.mp4 – Shayan Sep 6 '19 at 21:38
  • 1
    For those who wonder, -vf is an alias for -filter:v. – Rastapopoulos Jan 10 '20 at 10:53

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