April 12, 2020

409 words 2 mins read

Mac Os X Command Line Tools to Edit Media

Mac Os X Command Line Tools to Edit Media

Sometimes it is quite convenient and quick to edit media files (for eg. resize images) via command line. Below are such helpful tools for Mac OS X.

Table of contents

  1. Images
  2. Videos
  3. Audio


Mac has an inbuild CLI tool called sips. It modifies the images in-place. To save the updated image in a separate copy, use --out [outfilename] in the command.

Re-size image

sips -z [height] [width] file.png: Re-sizes image to specified dimensions, which may alter the actual aspect ratio.

sips -Z [heightwidth] file.png: This maintains the aspect ratio and [heightwidht] value will be the maximum value that can be for the height and width of the image (the other dimension will get set acc to its aspect ratio).


sips -z 640 480 file1.png
sips -Z 640 file2.png

You can view the current dimension details of an image by looking at the image’s info.

Rotate image

sips -r [degrees] file.png


sips -r 90 file.jpg --out rotatedfile.jpg

Other options:
-f [horizontal or vertical]: Flips the image
-c [pixelsH pixelsV]: Crops the image to height and width
Check out all the options available by doing sips --help


For video editing via command line, you’ll have to install a tool called ffmpeg which will make your life easier.

You can install using Homebrew:

$ brew install ffmpeg

Change format

Eg. convert mp4 to mov

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 output.mov

Tip: You can also make gifs from video using this command

Change resolution / dimension

Eg. Change video resolution to 1280x720. Can be used to reduce the resolution and therefore the size

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:a copy -s 1280x720 output.mp4

Trim video

Eg. 1) Trim from 00:00:10 to 00:00:20 (hh:mm:ss)

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -ss 00:00:10 -to 00:00:20 -c copy output.mp4

Eg. 2) Trim ten seconds starting from 00:01:00

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:av copy -ss 00:01:00 -t 10 output.mp4

Extract audio from video

ffmpeg -i clip.mp4 -vn audio_only.mp3


We are going to use the same command line tool ffmpeg to edit audio files too. If you don’t have it, install it via Homebrew.

$ brew install ffmpeg

The commands are same as the commands for editing the videos actually.

Trim audio

Eg. Trim from 00:00:20 to 00:00:40 (hh:mm:ss)

ffmpeg -ss -i input.mp3 00:00:20 -to 00:00:40 -c copy output.mp3

Change format

Eg. convert mp3 to wav

ffmpeg -i input.mp3 output.wav

That’s all for now. Hope you find these useful and get comfortable and quick with editing media files via Command Line.

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