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Computers

How to Export a Video or Audio File in QuickTime

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

iTunes Movie Trailers is a great little side project of Apple’s. It provides the Internet with previews of films to come, and box office information. The best part is that you can download any video hosted on the site using QuickTime. It’s just two clicks away. But Apple doesn’t tell you how to download videos, it just gives you the belief that you can only play them. There is a way to export videos and audio from QuickTime, though, and today I’m going to explain the process.


The Content Type

You can download a trailer here, export it to iTunes, and then watch it on your iPad.

You can download a trailer here, export it to iTunes, and then watch it on your iPad.

QuickTime is similar to VLC: it can play different types of media. The app allows you to record video using your iSight camera or another webcam; audio can be recorded with any microphone; and there’s even a screen capture setting if you’re making a tutorial like this one. With all these ways of capturing content, exporting what you create is very important.


Step 1: Create or Open Some Media

Before you can export video or audio, you need to either create one of these or open a file someone has already made. You can find a full list of the filetypes that QuickTime supports on Apple’s website. Note that even though AVI is on the list, it doesn’t always work. You may encounter issues with the encoding used by the person who sent you the file.


Step 2: Choose an Export Option

Exporting a trailer is limited to one option, but it works with everything of Apple, so that's not a problem.

Exporting a trailer is limited to one option, but it works with everything of Apple, so that's not a problem.

There are three ways to export a video in QuickTime: a general file export to your hard drive, an option that sends the content to the Web, iTunes, or iMovie, and a full sharing menu that includes Flickr, YouTube, and Vimeo. (You will need to sign up for account to use the video sharing services, if you don’t already have one.)

The Basic Local Export

Exporting a screencast is limited to four formats.

Exporting a screencast is limited to four formats.

In the File menu, the first option to save your video file is Export (CMD + Shift + S). It’s not a menu or anything fancy, but rather a Finder popup that allows you to name your file and then save it as a format of your choice. If you’re downloading an iTunes Movie Trailer, there’s only one option: QuickTime Movie.

Exporting a video recorded in QuickTime includes more options.

Exporting a video recorded in QuickTime includes more options.

However, if you’ve recorded a nice video blog entry, the full list of options is made available to you. Choose from Movie; 480p; 720p; iPod touch & iPhone 3GS; iPad, iPhone 4 & Apple TV; and even Audio Only. There’s no iPhone 5 option because it would involve cropping.

All videos will be exported as either .mov or .m4v, the latter being for iOS devices and Apple TV and the former for everything else.

Audio

With audio exporting, there's only one rational option to choose.

With audio exporting, there's only one rational option to choose.

Exporting audio is a bit strange. You can’t just click the Export button and select MP3, M4A, or another popular type of audio format. Instead, there are two options: QuickTime Movie and Audio Only. Since there’s technically nothing more than a black video with an audio recording, it doesn’t make much sense having a video export option. And Audio Only is just M4A. There’s no option to change the way QuickTime handles this type of file, sadly.

The Export To Submenu

Also in the File menu is Export To, a submenu that includes Web, iTunes, and iMovie sending options.

Web

Save a file — or a range of them — that are optimized for the Web.

Save a file — or a range of them — that are optimized for the Web.

If you opt to send a video to Web, QuickTime will give you the option of cellular, WiFi, or broadband optimization. The app shows you a list of the bit rates for each compression method, and all of them use H.264. This export option is useful if you’re uploading the video to a personal website.

iTunes

Push a video to iTunes for quick sync to an iOS device.

Push a video to iTunes for quick sync to an iOS device.

The iTunes option simply sends the file to iTunes and adds it to your library. All of this is transferred in the background so you won’t notice a thing. If you are exporting audio, clicking the iTunes option will transfer an M4A file immediately without asking about formats. However, with videos there are three options: iPod & iPhone; iPad, iPhone 4 & Apple TV; and, of course, Mac & PC (which isn’t available for videos recorded with iSight). In the bottom of the export window the size of the file will be displayed, along with a bit of information on the format.

iMovie

iMovie makes things a bit more complex.

iMovie makes things a bit more complex.

Lastly, the Export To > iMovie option. When selected, QuickTime will prepare a .mov file to copy to /[Username]/Movies/iMovie Events/iMovie Drop Box. The app will warn you that the video may be converted to a “preferred format” so iMovie can open it. Click Share to proceed and boom!

The second step in an iMovie export is to open the app itself.

The second step in an iMovie export is to open the app itself.

Sadly, iMovie, like iTunes, doesn’t open automatically. You’ll need to open the app and wait for the “Drop Box Items Waiting” prompt, then click Import to finish things.

The Share Submenu

Sharing a video to YouTube may be faster here than in the browser.

Sharing a video to YouTube may be faster here than in the browser.

After you’re finished filming a video with your iSight camera, it’s time to export it to your YouTube account. That’s where the Share menu comes in. You can access it by clicking the share button on the QuickTime menu bar when you hover over a video or by navigating to File > Share. Here you will be given the option to send your video to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr. You’ll need to sign in to your account to do this, and the process varies depending on the service. YouTube linking is in-app, but Vimeo and Flickr require you to open System Preferences to sign in.

Tip: You cannot share audio to the aforementioned services. It can only be distributed through AirDrop, email, and iMessage.
An example of search engine optimization at its finest.

An example of search engine optimization at its finest.

When things are all set up, you’ll find that each service has a different set of sharing parameters. Flickr, for example, requires a title and description, but tags are optional. YouTube, on the other hand, requires a category and tags. To each its own — have fun!

Once you finish all the necessary data input, click Upload to share the video with your followers.


Putting It to Practical Use

I've found that QuickTime exporting can be a very useful thing for audio recordings and little video snippets here and there. My question for you, though, is will you use it? If so, in what way? Let us know in the comments below.

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