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Tutorials + Resources

An Introductory Guide to Video Editing with OpenShot

OpenShot UI

OpenShot: Basic Video Editing

Joshua Tuthill | May 2020

Whether you're hoping to edit short TikToks, or longer Youtube videos, OpenShot is a useful and simple software to use for all your needs. It is a freeware software available on multiple OS.


Opening OpenShot

OpenShot Logo

1. To find Openshot,  search for Openshot in your Start Menu or find the installed shortcut that matches the symbol here:




2. When opened, it should look like this.OpenShot UI


Setting Up a Profile

It is important to set up a profile for you video project in Openshot that matches the videos size and FPS (Frames Per Second)

To set the projects profile, left click the film frames at the top of the program window.

Profile Button


A new window should pop up with different options for your project profile.

Profile Pop up menu


Select the profile the most closely matches your materials attributes.

Importing Media into OpenShot

  1. Import menuOnce you've opened a new project, you will be taken to a screen where you can see various ways of importing media into your project. You can import both video files and audio files into your project.
  2. In order to import video files you have four options; File>import media, Click the green plus sign in the toolbar at the top, or right click in the Project files Window. Alternatively, drag the files into the OpensShot browser, in order to import them more quickly.
  3. The files should now be in your Project File window. From here you can add the imported files to your in two ways. Drag and drop or right click and select “add to timeline”


If you use the “add to timeline” options a new pop up menu will appear. Add to Timeline pop up menu

  •     This menu allows you to multiple clips on your timeline
  •     Add fade and other transitions
  •     Add zooms
  •     Select which tracks you want your media to be on.
  •     This is a great option for working with still images in a sequence/presentation


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Save often and keep all of your imported media files in one folder director

The Properties Panel

Properties Panel

OpenShot utilizes a properties panel to make adjustments to different properties to your media file. You can open the properties panel by selecting view in the top menu bar and then highlight views and select “Advanced View”. Alternatively you can right click on a file and select “File Properties”



Property Panel Selection

The properties panel is where any fine tuning of your clips, transition, and effects will happen. Make sure to select the clip that you want to work with before changing any properties. The selection menu at the top of the properties panel will display the current selected clip. It also allows you to select another clip.

Understanding your Timeline Layout


There are several elements to a Timeline. I'm going to break down the visual cues for some of the more common and useful parts of a video.




Video files

Video ClipThese are marked by a thumbnail of the content. Video files will contain a film reel on the thumbnail while images will not. These video files can be tied to their own audio within the video, or they may be silent video clips. The difference between a video clip with its own sound, and one without its sound is shown here.

Split Video and Sound trackThere are two ways to view the sound wave forms for video clips. First is to change the display settings by right clicking the video file>Display>Show Waveform.

The Second is to split the sound by right clicking the video file>Separate Audio>Single or multiple clips

Note: Splitting the audio clip is a great way to allow yourself the ability to edit the audio of your clip without having to edit the video itself.


Overlayed video clipsYou can overlay multiple videos by stacking video clips on top of one another in the timeline.


    Media higher on the timeline will be on top
    You will only be able to see layered media if the top most layer is positioned or utilizes an Alpha channel for transparencies.



Audio files

Displayed Music TrackThese are usually represented as a musical note as a thumbnail or if the file includes an album cover in the metadata it will display that.


Displayed sound wave trackYou can see the waveform representation of the audio by right clicking the file on the timeline and selecting Display>Show Waveform. The waveform marks the frequency and volume of the audio in the clip.

These audio files can be easily layered, to have several layers of sound happening all at once. You can adjust the volume controls by right clicking on the media file>Volume



These are depicted by little green marks on the media file in the timeline, as seen below.


Keyframe menuKey Frames also highlight the attribute you are working with in the Properties panel. They change from Blue to Green when your play head is on a key frame.

Keyframes are a way to control the attribute of a selected media’s property. If you want only twelve seconds of your audio, right in the middle of your audio to be quiet, for instance, you can adjust that by using a few keyframes to toggle only part of your audio to be quiet.

Keyframes allow you to control various aspects of your media. You can make a picture rotate in, do a manual dissolve using the alpha channel, and take greater control over the different effects that are available.


Video Transitions:Transitions on the timeline

These are depicted by blue rounded rectangles on the timeline

Transition options

OpenShot has a wide assortment of transitions options that you can use for your video project.

You can add the transitions to your timeline by left clicking and dragging the transition to your desired clip.

You can also select a clip and drag into onto the beginning/end of another clip to create a dissolve between the two clips






Title menu


Text can be added into an OpenSoot by utilizing the Title option.

To open up the title customize menu. Select the title menu from the top or hit Control - T (windows)



Title menuThis will open up the Titles window panel.

Within this panel you can customize your title with various different options.

You can choose the font type. The color and background color.

This is also were you type your title or text utilizing the “Line 1” field.

Your newly created title can be added as an overlay over an existing video or on an empty slot of our timeline. This is useful if you want to add text as if it is a caption or a label to what is happening on screen or if you want to create a title screen.

Title in windowJust drag the newly created Title from the project files panel onto your timeline.

Note: Your title can be manipulated via the properties panel as if it was the same as a video clip or image. You can also add transitions and effects to your create title.

Additional Tips

Some more basic edits that can be helpful for creating the perfect short video edits!


Color-gradingColor grading menu

If you want to mess with the saturation, brightness or values of your video, Open Shot makes it very easy. Simply press the "effects" icon above the timeline screen as shown here to open up the panel.

There are 3 effects options for color grading your footage.



Color Grade effect onBrightness and Contrast - Allows you to adjust the brightness and contrast of the frame’s image.

Hue - Adjust the hue/color of the frame’s image.

Color Saturation - Adjust the color saturation of the frame’s image.



Color Grading properties menuTo use these effects you simple drag and drop the effect onto the clip you want to adjust.After the drag and drop the clip thumbnail on the timeline will now include a small circular letter representing the effect.


With the effect selected you can adjust its properties in the properties window.

Clip Speed

Sometimes, if you're thinking of making a timelapse video, or you want to slow down an action shot within your editing, you'll want to mess with the speed of the video, to display differently. OpenShot allows some control over the speed of a video clip

Right-click on the video file you want to change its speed , and select "time" from the dropdown menu. Then select Slow or Fast and select the amount you want to change the speed by.

Time adjuster tab

You can also change the speed by adding keyframes to the “Time” property in the Properties Panel.

Exporting OpenShot projects as .mp4

Export button

Exporting to .mp4 Format


To export your OpenShot project as a .mp4 video file first left click the red circle at the top of the window or go to File>export.


A new window should appear that will allow you to customize your export settings. It will look like this:

Export MenuYou can make some modifications to how you would like your project to be exported. It is recommended that most of the time you do not need to change any of these values and follow the settings that fits your videos profile.

Hit the Advanced tab for more customizable export options.

Useful Resources for B-Roll

It isn't always easy finding a pool of places where free videos or audio can be found without needing to pay royalties, but this will hopefully give you a places to start off with!

Name (Link) Type Description
Pixabay Videos Free-to-use website with thousands of stock videos. Download does not require joining their website. Pay attention to whether attribution is required, on a case-by-case basis. 
Purple Planet Songs Free-to-use website with hundreds of royalty-free songs. Download does not require joining their website. All free songs taken from Purple Planet MUST be properly attributed. However, if you pay for a license, you no longer need to attribute. 
Pexels Videos Free-to-use website with hundreds of community-submitted videos. Download does not require joining their website. No attribution required. 
freesound Sounds Free-to-use website with thousands of community-submitted sound-effects and noises. You must register with their website to download audio. Pay attention to whether attribution is required on a case-by-case basis. 
Zapsplat Sounds Free-to-use website with thousands of professional stock sounds. You must register with their website to download audio. All free sounds taken from Zapsplat MUST be properly attributed. However, if you pay for a license, you no longer need to attribute. Sound/Video Free to use website with thousands of archival materials for use. Please check for attribution requirements.
Videvo Video Videvo has a library of stock media content that includes over 15,000 free stock footage and motion graphics clips and is continuously adding more content.
Smithsonian CC0 Media The Smithsonian offers a variety of CC0 media assets provided openly on their website.