Best Free Software to Split, Trim or Join Video Files

 
Introduction

Splitting, trimming and joining video files can be done losslessly and very fast if you use good tools. Why not simply use Windows Movie Maker I hear you ask? Well, one of my friends just tried using Windows Movie Maker to remove ads from one of his TV recordings: after setting up the editing operations, it took another 30 minutes to process the file... and even then the result was not so great. So, I showed him how to do the job losslessly in less than a minute using a good standalone trimmer.

Good quality free splitters, trimmers and joiners can usually perform their tasks more efficiently than an all purpose video editor and without the need to re-encode your source videos. They're generally quicker and easier to use for any of these basic video editing tasks:

  • Splitting—to chop a video into smaller pieces so as to extract or copy specific scenes or to upload to the Internet (to YouTube, for example). Each of the split files can be played back.
  • Trimming—to cut out unwanted sections, such as ads in a TV recording.
  • Joining—to merge video files together. This only works when the video files have a similar format (same resolution, bitrate, etc). If you have ever downloaded a long video in smaller parts (such as video01.wmv, video02.wmv, video03.wmv), a joiner will put the pieces back together again in no time.

Some of the splitters, trimmers and joiners reviewed here are much lighter than all purpose video editors and have the advantage of carrying the same codecs you have in your source video files. Although a full video editor has the advantage of convenience, in some cases it may take more time and produce poor quality output as a result of lossy re-encoding or inappropriate settings.

When recommending the free software in this category, we take into consideration the following basic requirements:

  • Ease of use: convenient and precise selections, cutting out or trimming choices, keyboard shortcuts.
  • Performance: fast and accurate results without re-encoding videos unnecessarily.
  • Input formats: the more the better. Some freeware only accept one or two formats when others accept many more.
  • Features: some tools specialize in one job, others may allow you to split, join or trim videos within a single program.
 
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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Discussion
Best Tools to Split and Join MP4 Files

Avidemux is a free video cutting and joining software. It supports formats such as mp4, mpg, avi, ogm, mkv, flv. It is relatively simple to use as well, making it the best when splitting files in mp4 format. 

Installing the software is very straight forward, so there should be no issues with that. The program has a clear toolbar on top with all the important buttons - Open, Save Video, Load / Run Project and even a Calculator.  After a file has been opened, choose markers 'A' and 'B' to select portions of the video you wish to delete (deletion is done using the 'Del' key, which is very convenient). The best way to do this is to locate the beginning of the section you wish to keep and click the 'B' marker - the previous portion is then marked with blue, allowing you to delete it. And best yet, one can cut to the last second before the desired section, thereby ensuring none of your precious moments are lost. Then, just click Save Project As before you Save Video. 

Here again, Avidemux has several tools to benefit its users. There are preset output formats under the 'Auto' tab - these include Apple Ipod, Iphone, Sony Playstation Portable, DVD and Microsoft Zune. But be wary, the program does have a habit of crashing, so always remember to save your project before you save the video.

Aside from these preset formats, one can also choose the video and audio format for the video from the dropdown menus on the left-hand side.

However, despite all its merits, Avidemux does have its fair share of drawbacks that should be kept in mind. One, most video formats loaded on the program open with an error message such as 'H.264 detected' and the like. But this warning is only to do with the playback within the program - it does not affect the video output.

Another problem is that in copy mode the program requires the edited video to begin on a I-frame (or keyframe). This isn't always possible, and even when one does begin on a I-frame, it may not be the frame the program requires and hence, the video will not be saved. This is a little inconvenient, because you do not always want to have to choose separate formats for both video and audio. 

What Avidemux gets right is that it successfully cuts mp4 and mkv files, which is hard to find. 

It also has the ability to join videos, which is convenient when there are several different sections of one large file that one needs to cut out and then put back together. But keep in mind that to join video files the size and formats of the different sections need to be the same.

Best Tools to Split, Trim or Join WMV / ASF Files

AsfBinWinAsfBinWin, the graphical user interface version of the AsfBin command line utility plus preview capabilities, is a clear winner in this category. This lightweight portable is free for non-commercial use and will cut or join wmv files very well. Better still, it can often fix and re-index wmv files that are corrupt or contain some errors.

The controls are both sensitive and user friendly: there's a primary slider to take you to roughly where you want to cut, and then a second slider allows fine tuning down to a single frame. Indeed, the ability of AsfBinWin to re-encode locally makes precision cutting possible—so you can cut the video exactly where you need to. 

Although the developer's website does not specifically mention trimming, you can actually do this: just select the section(s) you want to cut away, click the "Insert" button, followed by "Invert Ranges", and then press "Cut/Copy/Join".

In addition to wmv and asf video files, this handy little portable can also cut, merge, trim and fix wma (audio) files. AsfBinWin can normally handle any video file encoded in wmv3, mp42 and mp43 video formats with precise cutting enabled (the default setting). However, if you want to use this utility for other formats, you might find you have to disable precise cutting in the Advanced Settings to avoid a scrambled result. But overall, AsfBinWin is a remarkably reliable and efficient little package which does what it just about says on the tin. See also How to split, trim and join wmv video files with AsfBinWin?

Best Tools to Split and Join AVI Files

To be added...

Other Video Splitters, Trimmers or Joiners
  • AoA Video Joiner is a useful tool to join multiple video clips of: avi, mpeg, mov, wmv, Flash Video (flv), mp4 and 3gp together into one large movie. The frame size is predetermined by the software. Re-encoding is often required.
  • Free Video Joiner easily joins various video files and outputs to: avi, wmv, mov, mp4 and other file formats based on your selected multimedia device. Re-encoding is needed with frame size following the first video file you add.
  • Freemake Video Converter is quality software to convert multimedia files from one format to another with codecs of your choice suitable for your computer, mobile devices or uploading to the Internet. Trimming and joining functions are included while re-encoding is applied.
  • Format Factory, good software for converting multimedia files from one format to another. It has options for cutting or joining videos but the process is slow as a result of re-encoding.

 

To be reviewed:

Video Cutter/Splitter

  • SPG Video Splitter, split: mp4, 3gp, wmv, mov, avi / divx, mpeg, flv, mkv, vob / mpeg2 files with same quality, preset or custom settings.
  • MPEG Streamclip, cutting mpeg files and transport streams at keyframe level. Supported output formats: mp4, mov, avi, divx and dv. Required QuickTime or QuickTime Alternative.
  • Free Video Cutter
  • SolveigMM AVI Trimmer + MKV, trim avi and mkv files, easy to use, no encoding/decoding processes, no video/audio degradation and out of sync problem.

Video Joiner

Video Cutter and Joiner

  • Machete Video Editor Lite, combines the functionality of both video splitter (cutter, trimmer), video joiner (for joining multimedia files with exactly the same formats), without the need to re-encode video or audio streams. Only supports avi and wmv files in the current Lite version.
  • VirtualDub, remove segments of a video clip and save the rest, without recompressing. Video not scaled to windows on playback.
  • Media Cope, incorporated SPG video splitter, joiner and other modules.
  • Movica
  • Mpg2Cut2
  • YAMB, MP4Box UI, joining and splitting, includes other tools such as mux and extract streams. No video preview.

Tested and not recommended:

  • Easy Video Splitter splits large avi, divx, mpeg or wmv / asf file into video clips as claimed. Outputing a small file in error when tested.
  • Easy Video Joiner joins avi, mpg, rm, wmv / asf and other popular audio files into one file. Experienced errors in joining avi files on testing.
 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Avidemux
4
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Splitter/ Joiner for mp4, mkv, avi. Easy to use for beginners. Several output format are preset. Fair quality output.
Video and audio playback is poor when editing. Liable to crash. Inability to save video in copy mode.
http://avidemux.sourceforge.net/
2.6.4
21.74 MB Win 32 exe
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Linux, BSD, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows

v2.6.4 released 09 May, 2013
View the changelog here

AsfBinWin
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Formats - Wmv, asf and wma. Splitter/trimmer/joiner. Video preview. Fine tuning controls. Frame-accurate cutting. Can fix and reindex almost any file (very useful for recorded live streams). Easy to use for beginners.
Selection for videos to join could be easier, output name could use the input name instead of "out.asf" by default.
1.8.2.903
262.25 KB
Free for private use only
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
XP, Server 2003, Server 2008, Vista, Win7

Don't forget to click "Preview" for the preview window, and "Save each segment to a separate file" for splitting. Older computers may require installation of MFC 9.0 libraries (download from here). View the version history here

 
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Tags

best, top, free, video, cutter, trimmer, joiner, merger, splitter, editor, mp4, mpg, wmv, software, freeware, how to cut split trim merge video files

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Comments

by Niefer on 13. April 2014 - 18:04  (115665)

Just download the latest ffmpeg.exe and then use Windows command line:

ffmpeg -i InputFile -vcodec copy -acodec copy -ss 00:12:34.567 -t 00:34:56.789 OutputFile

This command cuts a part of InputFile without re-encoding.

-ss 00:12:34.567 is start time
-t 00:34:56.789 is duration

by neo76 on 26. June 2014 - 18:42  (116939)

The video was copied nicely but there is no audio. Even though VLC shows the audio codec.

by GrumpyBunny on 7. June 2014 - 8:29  (116661)

+1 to this.

Less than 1 meg in size, quick and no loss. The only downside is there is no user interface and some people may be put off by entering commands manually but I love it.

by Beddhist on 3. December 2013 - 4:12  (112726)

I tried Avidemux. Apart from crashing when trying to play an avi it failed to join them correctly. Playing back two joined files the sound repeated, then broke up, the video stopped. After trying a few things I gave up.

Next I tried Machete Lite and it worked right first try. The only problem: when I saved the joined video file it overwrote the existing first file without warning.

by puzzlermc2 on 17. November 2013 - 18:34  (112297)

Can someone please explain why the resulting file after joining two videos is so much larger than the sum of the original sizes?

by dhughens on 26. October 2013 - 18:10  (111778)

"All Free Video Joiner" contains RelevantKnowledge. They are up front about it in the "I Agree" box. It is described, in flowery terms, as data collection for everyone's benefit. I did not install "All Free Video Joiner" and do not know if the product will work after deletion of RelevantKnowledge.

by Anupam on 27. October 2013 - 8:19  (111794)

Thanks a lot for informing us.

I tried installing the program. While installing, you can decline Relevant Knowledge, and the software will be installed. Still, I noticed that in Program Files, or Application Data, rkverify.exe gets copied, which is identified as a threat file generally. Therefore, it's better to remove the software altogether from the list.

Thanks again.

by GeorgeH on 5. May 2013 - 4:41  (107468)

I'm not sure if Avidemux is the best video joiner but I have to say that it is not easy to use. It has help information which left me even more confused. In order to understand how to join video files, I had to read this web page:

http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/337246-how-to-join-files-in-Avidemux

Avidemux did however help me to understand the problem that other video joiners were having. Without knowing it, I was attempting to join video with different aspect ratios. I found that other video joiners would squeeze or stretch one of the videos to make it have the same aspect ratio as the other video. Avidemux would simply refuse to join the files saying they are not the same size. Ideally, a video joiner should provide the user with an option to either put black bars on the sides or top and bottom as needed, or to crop one of the videos. If there is only one option, it would be to add black bars. Stretching or squeezing the video is completely unacceptable. I tried joining 3 videos of the same aspect ratio with Avidemux and it joined them. Unfortunately when I opened the output video file with my video player, I could not advance the video by moving the slider to the right. The video would just freeze up and not advance. I was play it back at normal speed but nothing else.

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