How to Text your iPhone’s Video Clip if the File is Too Big

Your only hope to successfully share your video via text is to compress it into a smaller version. Here’s how I did that to a video of my son practicing the piano.

If you shoot a 4K video on your iPhone and then attempt to text it to someone, you’ll likely run into the problem of a file-size limit. That happened to me recently when I was asked to capture my fifth-grade son practicing a piece of music for his piano teacher to review.

Fortunately, my son’s piano lessons have been proceeding just fine over the past year of Covid as a virtual learning experience, courtesy of FaceTime and two iPhones. Unfortunately, this recording ended up running six-minutes long, and I had forgotten to reset my iPhone to shoot video at a lower quality. The result was the creation of a massive 2 GB file.

That’s way bigger than what you can text or email from an iPhone. And as it turned out, my clip would still have been too large to send even if it was recorded at my iPhone’s lowest quality setting of 720p.

Compression Required
Sure, there are ways to upload a large video file to the cloud and then create a download link to send to your recipient. Apple offers iCloud Mail Drop (5 GB file-size limit). And of course, there are other cloud solutions.

But you’re still sending over a massive file for someone else to download. I would suggest that’s not good digital etiquette. Unless your recipient specifically needs your video at its original quality, the decent thing for you to do is to first compress the file into a smaller version for viewing.

Unless you trim your video’s length, you’ve got to find a way to shrink your file before sending it along.

AirDrop
So, my solution was to use Apple’s AirDrop tool to wirelessly send my video from my iPhone to my iMac (There’s no file-size limit.)

Then, I opened up the video clip on my iMac in QuickTime and simply exported a copy in a smaller size from the drop-down menu (480p).

Finally, I dragged the new, compact file into the Messages app on my iMac and ‘texted’ the video to my son’s piano teacher. This kept our video sharing in the same digital ecosystem as we’ve previously been using.

There are other video compression tools available for a Mac (such as the Compressor app), but QuickTime will usually do the trick.

iMovie
If you don’t want to move your file over to a computer and instead prefer to do the compression work on your iPhone, you can easily use iMovie.

Just bring your original video into the iMovie app and then immediately move to export a new file (unless you first want to perform some editing tweaks).

  • Click the blue “Options” tab and select either 360p or 540p resolution.

And then, voilà! You can send your smaller file along.

There are also third-party video compression apps for an iPhone in the App Store, but I suggest you simply stick with iMovie for your basic compression needs.

Less is More
None of this guarantees that your new file will be small enough to text or email. But if the length of your original video is just a couple of minutes, you should be in good shape.

Unless you’re using a cloud-sharing solution, a best practice for any video recording plan that requires sharing your clip is to limit the length. Everyone has space limitations on their smartphones and nobody will enjoy having to manage a huge video file.

Keep it short. Keep it small. And don’t forget to compress it!