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.
We’ve got two ways to show you how to rotate a video in Windows. The first is to use the VLC video player. Rotating a video is a bit more complicated in VLC, but it’s a lighter weight download and the chances are you might already have it installed.
The second way is to use Windows Movie Maker. It’s the simplest way to do it, and we once recommended it if you needed to rotate a bunch of videos. Windows Movie Maker is no longer officially available for download, but we still have the instructions if you happen to have it installed.
How to Rotate Videos with VLC
VLC is a free, open-source media player that has built-in codec support for just about every video format out there and it’s available on every platform. It’s pretty much our preferred video player around here. Rotating a video in VLC is not quite as simple as doing it in Windows Movie Maker, but if you’ve already got VLC, you may as well use it.
First, open your video in VLC. As you can see, our example is 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” window, on the “Video Effects” tab, click the “Geometrotry” tab and select the “Transform” check box.
Select a rotation from the dropdown menu (we’re rotating ours by 180 degrees) and then click “Close”. You could use the “Rotate” tool if you want, but selecting a transform from the dropdown is simpler if you just need a basic rotation.
The video should now be correctly oriented. You can watch it right away if you want.
This change isn’t permanent, though. You’ll need to save this video in its new orientation for that. Open Tools > Preferences (or press Ctrl +P), and at the bottom of the preferences window, enable “All” settings. With all the settings shown, drill down to the “Sout stream” heading (it will be under “Stream output”), and then click on “Transcode.” On the right, select the “Video transformation filter” option (this replaces the “Rotate video filter” option from older versions of VLC) and then click “Save.”
Next, open VLC’s “Media” menu and select “Convert/Save.” In the “Open Media” window, click the “Add” button and choose the file you just rotated.
Next, click the “Convert/Save” dropdown at the bottom of the “Open Media” window and select “Convert.”
Click the “Browse” button under Destination in the Convert window that appears. Select a save location, type a file name, and then click “Save.”
You shouldn’t have to change anything else. The default conversion profile should work well. Just go ahead and click “Start” to convert and save the file.
Note: If you have issues with audio after rotating the file, click the wrench-shaped “Edit Selected Profile” button to the right of the Profile box here. On the Audio Codec tab, select “Keep original audio track.” This time, VLC won’t try to transcode (convert) the video’s audio and will use the original audio. We didn’t have to do this, but at least one reader did—it depends on the file you’re converting.
You can now open your new movie file in any video application and it should play with the correct orientation.
Note: When you’re done rotating videos, you’ll need to go back into the VLC preferences and revert the options back to their defaults.
How to Rotate Videos with Windows Movie Maker
Update: Windows Movie Maker is no longer available for download. We’re including the original instructions here in case you still have it installed.
Windows Movie Maker is part of the Windows Essential 2012 suite of apps. Though it’s a bit out of date and no longer officially supported, you can still download the Windows Essentials 2012 offline installer (that’s a direct download link that weighs in at 130 MB). Many of the apps still work just fine—including Windows Movie Maker. And you’ll be able to install only the apps you want. Widows Movie Maker is probably the easiest option if you’re just after a way to rotate your videos and maybe do some mild editing.
If you want something a little fuller-featured and modern—and that’s still free—you might want to give DaVinci Resolve a look. We’re going to use Windows Movie Maker in our example here, but the basic process will be similar in most video editing apps.
When you start the Windows Movie Maker 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.
Like we mentioned earlier, using VLC to rotate videos is a little more cumbersome than using a program like Windows Movie Maker. If you just need a video or two edited and you already have VLC installed, by all means go ahead and use it. If you need to rotate a number of videos, you’ll save some time and hassle by downloading something like Windows Movie Maker or another dedicated video editor.