Shotcut: Quick Video Trimming Using an Open Source App That Works

Graphic artists, technical writers, or most anyone else eventually looks for a movie editor. There are many decent ones out on the market, and with a price. But if you’re looking for an open source application, the options seem limited.

Windows users have the best chance at finding free software, but often with its own price when it comes to “add-on” installation packages. Linux and Mac users can usually find something adequate to help them get the job done. So, I recently set out to find a basic video editor for my Linux machine.

I downloaded quite a few applications, tried them out, but with varying degrees of success: Pitivi, Avidemux, Cinelerra, Kdenlive, and others. Some had pretty good reviews and my expectations were initially high, but the problems that occurred for me were that some apps froze or others simply crashed.

Then I came across two video editors that worked, both open source cross-platform applications. Blender, for one, is a sophisticated 3D computer graphics and animation program. Shotcut is simpler to use and more in line with basic editing that I was looking for. Although it’s simpler to use, Shotcut turned out to be a feature rich application.

Shotcut installation

A couple of ways to download/install Shotcut:
a)  Linux: sudo apt-get install shotcut
b)  Linux/Mac/Windows download page:

Note: The screenshots below are from my Linux desktop. A Mac or Windows machine will have a slightly different look, closer to your own desktop environment.

Fig. 1

Shotcut’s features for this demo

Numbered arrows for reference:
1. Beginning End Point
2. Scrub Bar
3. Export panel button
4. Export/Encode File (save) button
5. Close Menu button
6. Jobs panel


1. If you must close a panel, use the Close Menu button [X]. Double clicking on a menu button doesn’t close it. However, using the top menu will toggle the panels: Main Menu >View > Export (for example).
2. You can revert back to the default layout at any time: Main Menu > View > Restore Default Layout.

Quick trimming in Shotcut

1. Open Shotcut.

2. Open the video file to be edited either by a) the menu’s “Open File”; or, b) Drag the video file onto the working space. The video will start automatically. Press the space bar to pause or start the video.

3. View the video quickly (“skimming”) by moving the Scrub Bar along the time line. Or, hold down the Shift key and move the mouse across the screen (Scrub Bar will follow).

4. Move the End Point(s) to where you want to trim the video. There’s no need to “cut” the video. Encoding saves the video edited to where the end points are set.

5. Click on the round Export panel button to open the Export/Encode panel. The Format panel opens next to it.

Fig. 2

6. Choose the video format (Fig. 2) in the left Encode/Export side panel.

7. Continue with changing the aspect ratio, codec, audio format, and other settings if needed.

8. To encode/save the file to its new format, press the lower Export/Encode File button (Fig. 2, No. 4). A save dialog box appears for the new filename. The new file format (extension) is set per your settings.

9. Hit Save. The Jobs panel appears and displays the progress of the files being saved. Wait until finished.

Fig. 3

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