How-To Geek

How to Rotate a Video 90 Degrees on Windows

If you’ve ever recorded a video on your smartphone, only to find it sideways or upside down, then you know how frustrating it can be to watch it later. If you use Windows, there are a couple of excellent ways to fix this problem.

Many people recommend the free VLC video player to watch the video in the correct orientation, but the finished product isn’t permanent. If you want to rotate and save your video so that it always plays in the correct orientation, we recommend using Windows Movie Maker. There are other software programs out there, which purport to be “free”, but we can’t attest to their safety.

For the sake of simplicity and saving time, Windows Movie Maker is the way to go. It might be a little dated, but it is still available and it just plain works. So we’ll discuss that before explaining the temporary VLC method.

How to Rotate Videos with Windows Movie Maker

If your computer doesn’t have Windows Movie Maker, you can download it here, as part of the larger Windows Essentials 2012 (we told you it’s a little dated) package. When you start the installation process, you should elect to “Choose the programs you want to install”.

Unless you’re interested in the other applications in this package, then go ahead and deselect everything except Photo Gallery and Movie Maker.

Once Movie Maker is installed, go ahead and start it and you will see the following window.

There’s quite a bit going on here, but for our purposes, the rotation process is really quite painless. We’ve already saved our sample movie that we want to fix to our Desktop folder. We’ll just drag that file onto our Movie Maker window to import it.

If you’re unsure which way to rotate your movie, then go ahead and play it for a few seconds to give you an idea. As you can see, ours needs to be rotated 90 degrees to the left.

On the Home ribbon, in the “Editing” section, you will see two buttons, “Rotate Left” and “Rotate Right”.

We’ll go ahead and click “Rotate Left” and note that our video is now oriented the correct way.

We’re not finished quite yet, however. We still need to save our video. The easiest way to do this is to click on the “File” menu and select “Save movie”. You’ll be given a lot of settings to choose from. In this case, we’re going to make it easy on ourselves and select “Recommended for this project”.

If you want, you can save your new movie as a new file, or you can overwrite the old one however, but we don’t recommend you do this unless you’re overwriting a copy of the old one. You don’t want to overwrite the original file unless you’re absolutely sure this new movie is as good or better. Otherwise you could downgrade or possibly erase an invaluable memory that you can never retrieve.

For this example, we’re just going to save it as “My Movie.mp4” to our Desktop. You can obviously give it any name and save it wherever you like.

Your new movie file will be processed and saved in the location of your choosing. You can now view it correctly in your default video player.

If you’re not pleased with the results, then you can go back and save it again using different settings.

How to Rotate Videos with VLC

As we mentioned in the beginning, there are other ways to rotate videos on Windows, VLC being the one that is mentioned most often. This method isn’t nearly as easy and the only way to make the change permanent is to jump through a bunch of hoops. Nevertheless, let’s run through the basic procedure just in case you already have VLC installed, and don’t want to download Windows Movie Maker at this very moment.

First, open your video in VLC. As you can see, it’s upside down, so we’ll have to flip it.

Open the Tools menu and select “Effects and Filters” or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+E.

In the Adjustments and Effects menu, click on the “Video Effects” tab, and then check “Transform”.

We just rotate our video by 180 degrees and click “Close”. You can also use the “Rotate” too, but transform is simpler because you just choose your new orientation from the dropdown menu.

We now see that our video is oriented correctly and we can watch it without needing to stand on our heads.

As we said however, this change isn’t permanent. To save this video in its new orientation, you have to first open Tools > Preferences (Ctrl +P), and at the bottom of the preferences window, enable “All” settings.

With all the settings shown, find the heading call “Sout stream” (it will be under “Stream output”), then click on “Transcode” and choose “Rotate video filter” from the selections to the right.

Finally, click “Save”.

Next, click open VLC’s “Media” menu, then “Convert/Save” (Ctrl+R), and click “Add…”. Now, choose the file we just rotated.

Click on the “Convert/Save” button at the bottom of this dialog and then “Convert” (Alt+O).

Select a destination and file name to which you want to save your new file.

You shouldn’t have to change anything else. The conversion profile by default should be correct so you can go ahead and click “Start” and the file will be converted and saved.

You can now open your new movie file in any video application you choose and it should play at the correct orientation.

We should note however, that you will need to go back into the VLC preferences and revert the options back to their defaults. Like we said, it’s kind of a pain, which is why we feel Windows Movie Maker is the best way to go about quickly rotating and saving videos.

Also, there may be other programs, which claim to be free may have strings attached, such as toolbars, adware, or other nasty addons. Therefore, when all you want to do is just quickly rotate a video on Windows, there’s simply no easier way than with Windows Movie Maker.

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and died-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.

  • Published 03/16/16
  • Tom Wilson

    Which brings us to the golden rule of recording videos on smartphones:

    Never record vertically.

  • Allen Hauser

    Especially cause it looks ugly. Some Youtube videos are like that I dislike them.

  • Chuck Fullmer

    For earlier versions of Windows hold down the Ctrl key and orient the screen using the arrow keys. For Windows 8.1 and 10 Right click on the desktop and select Graphics Properties, select Display and use the Rotate.

  • Tom Wilson

    That's actually an Intel graphics driver thing, and it's Control-Alt-Arrow. Still works in Windows 10, if you have hot keys turned on in the Intel graphics options.

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