Implementing Trimming (macOS)

Implement a QuickTime media-trimming experience in your macOS app.


You use AVPlayerView to provide a playback experience like that of QuickTime Player in macOS. However, AVPlayerView not only provides the QuickTime playback interface, but it also provides the QuickTime media-trimming experience.

Single image with multiple video frames selected and Trim button in an enabled state.

Verify that Trimming Is Allowed

Before attempting to put the player into trimming mode, verify that trimming is allowed by querying the player view’s canBeginTrimming property. This property returns false if you’re playing an asset delivered over HTTP Live Streaming or if the asset is content protected. If you’re presenting a menu item to initiate trimming, a good place to perform this check is in the validateUserInterfaceItem(_:) method of NSDocument, so that the menu item can automatically be disabled if trimming is disallowed.

override func validateUserInterfaceItem(_ item: NSValidatedUserInterfaceItem) -> Bool {
    if item.action == #selector(beginTrimming) {
        return playerView.canBeginTrimming
    return super.validateUserInterfaceItem(item)

Enter Trimming Mode

After you’ve determined that the media supports trimming, you call the beginTrimming(completionHandler:). This method takes a completion block that you use to determine whether the user completed the trim or canceled the operation.

@IBAction func beginTrimming(_ sender: AnyObject) {
    playerView.beginTrimming { result in
        if result == .okButton {
            // user selected Trim button (AVPlayerViewTrimResult.okButton)...
        } else {
            // user selected Cancel button (AVPlayerViewTrimResult.cancelButton)...

Transcode the Trimmed Asset

Because AVAsset is an immutable object, you may be wondering how its duration is changed when you click the Trim button. Trimming relies on a feature of AVPlayerItem to adjust the presented time range. AVPlayerItem provides the reversePlaybackEndTime and forwardPlaybackEndTime properties that set the in and out points for a media item. It doesn’t change the underlying asset, but essentially changes your effective view of it. To save the results of the user’s trim operation, you export a new copy of the asset, trimming it to the specified times. The simplest way to do this is to use AVAssetExportSession, which provides a simple and performant way for you to transcode the media of an asset. You create a new export session, passing it the asset to export along with a transcoding preset to use.

// Transcoding preset
let preset = AVAssetExportPresetAppleM4V720pHD
let exportSession = AVAssetExportSession(asset: playerItem.asset, presetName: preset)!
exportSession.outputFileType = AVFileTypeAppleM4V
exportSession.outputURL = // Output URL

This example uses a preset to export the media as a 720p, M4V file, but AVAssetExportSession supports a wide variety of export presets. To find out what export session presets are supported for the current asset, you can use the session’s exportPresets(compatibleWith:) class method, passing it the asset you want to export. This method returns an array of valid presets that you can use in your export.

Select the Trimmed Asset

To export only the content the user trimmed, you use the current player item’s reverse and forward end-time values to define a CMTimeRange to set on the export session.

// Create CMTimeRange with the trim in/out point times
let startTime = self.playerItem.reversePlaybackEndTime
let endTime = self.playerItem.forwardPlaybackEndTime
let timeRange = CMTimeRangeFromTimeToTime(startTime, endTime)
exportSession.timeRange = timeRange

Export the Trimmed Asset

To perform the actual export operation, you call its exportAsynchronously(completionHandler:) method. Check the status of the export session in the completion handler and handle completion and failure cases.

exportSession.exportAsynchronously {
    switch exportSession.status {
    case .completed:
        // Export Complete
    case .failed:
        // failed
        // handle others

See Also

Trimming Playback Content

var canBeginTrimming: Bool

A Boolean property that specifies if the current player view’s media can be trimmed.

func beginTrimming(completionHandler: ((AVPlayerViewTrimResult) -> Void)?)

Sets the player view’s controls panel into trimming mode.

enum AVPlayerViewTrimResult

Constants that specify what the user’s action was when trimming the media in a player view. See beginTrimming(completionHandler:) for more information.