iPhone XS, XR, X owners: This iOS 13 trick makes videos fill your screen

Say goodbye to black bars!

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
2 min read

With iOS 13 you can crop videos to actually be wide enough to fill your entire phone screen.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you own an iPhone XS , XR or X, you can look forward to a much more fulfilling video experience soon. In iOS 13 , Apple's next major iPhone software update, videos you film will finally be able to fill the entirety of your screen. I stumbled upon a hack, albeit a very film nerdy one, in Apple's new video editing tools. 

You can either download and install the iOS 13 beta now, by the way. Or you can wait until fall for a finalized version.

When you record a video with your iPhone X , XR and XS it won't play back across the entire screen. Instead, there are digital black bezels on either side. The problem arises because the screen on the newest generation of iPhones is wider than the standard 16:9 aspect ratio that video is recorded in. You can always pinch and zoom during playback to see a more "zoomed in" look, but this isn't ideal.

The best features in iOS 13 and iPadOS public beta

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I recommend cropping your video wider with iOS 13's new edit tools. YouTubers such as Marques Brownlee and Jonathan Morrison crop their videos wider to take up more of your screen. Plus, as cinema shows us: Widescreen films look more epic.

With iOS 13, every tool and effect that you've been able to use to edit photos is now available to tweak a video's exposure, color, sharpness and crop. And it's the crop tool in particular that helps us achieve a wider video. Just like you might crop a photo to make it square or make it more narrow, you can now crop videos to fill up more of your screen. And if you don't want to see the notch, you can crop the video so that it's wider but not wide enough go to the corners.

Here's how you can make your videos wider with iOS 13.

  1. Open the Photos app and go to the video you want to crop.
  2. Tap on the Edit button at the top right of the screen, then tap on the Crop tool.
  3. Slide the top of the crop box down a hair and slide the bottom of the crop box up a hair. You're basically eye-balling this since the iPhone doesn't offer a constrained crop that's exactly the size of the screen.
  4. Tap and hold on the video to adjust its position within the crop box since you're trimming a tiny sliver off the top and bottom.
  5. Hit Done once you like the crop and wait for the video to save.

Now any time you play the video on your iPhone it will take up most of the screen. Hopefully, Apple will update the crop tool with more constrained ratios specifically made for video like 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 or just 19.5:9, which is the actual aspect ratio of an iPhone XS screen.

If you're interested in iOS 13 on iPhone, check out CNET's stories on a cool hidden Wi-Fi tool and how to keep your location secret.

Watch this: iOS 13 beta's best tricks to try