How to Make Your Video Fit the YouTube Widescreen Player

Have you ever spent hours sweating over every last detail of a screencast video, only to discover that when it plays on YouTube, it appears with ugly black bars on either side of the video? Annoying!

Well, this is easy to fix, but it requires some knowledge about the aspect ratio of your video and how it relates to the player on YouTube. If you want more information about screen resolution and aspect ratios, I wrote a rather popular post on this very topic awhile back.

For information specific to making your videos fit well on YouTube, take a look at this 4 minute video with information and instructions on how to size, crop and scale your ScreenFlow video so that when you upload it to YouTube, it will fill the screen perfectly – no ugly black bars.


  1. This video has the black bars! 🙂

    This has been one of the reasons why I host my videos on Vimeo, as they support various aspect ratios. Well, and the embedding options for Plus members are great.

    A feature that could do a lot of good in ScreenFlow would be the ability to set your canvas to a certain aspect ratio and export to an exact aspect ratio, as using the percentage parameter during export often leaves your video without an exact 16:10 ratio.

    By the way, the animation looks great!

    • Lynn Elliott

      HI Ray,
      Thanks for the feature request. How would you envision that working? Would ScreenFlow prompt you resize your screen resolution before you start recording? Or are you just referring to sizing the canvas?

      And, actually, my video when viewed on YouTube fits perfectly. Unfortunately, the player I have embedded in my WordPress blog is a little different– such is the complexity of video 🙂

  2. Thanks for the info, but as for the YouTube player & black bars— if you use the advanced (aka custom) YouTube sizing, you won’t have black bars. —Just never use the “preset” sizes. On any YouTube video, click SHARE / EMBED… then in the custom box, enter the width of the target content area on your site. If your blog’s content area has a width of 600px, then enter 600 in the width field. The height will be automatically set. The ratio is determined based on the original video that was uploaded to YouTube. (screenshot: )

    Also, if you’re working with commercial video, Wistia can’t be beat. I have a Wistia account, and could give a screencast tour if you’re interested in seeing what’s behind the login screen. 😉

  3. I found this helpful, except it looks like you have to do this for EVERY clip in your project. I resized aspect ratio and had to adjust the scale of each clip. Is there anyway to make it apply to all clips or can I just create 1 clip once I’m done editing?

    • Lynn Elliott

      If all your individual clips are the wrong aspect ratio… then you’d have to resize each one, or they will be cut off on either the top/bottom or sides. If size your canvas at the beginning, then you can adjust each clip, if necessary. Alternatively, you could export your project as a .mov (keeping your clips un-resized), then import that .mov into a new project. In the new project, size your canvas to the appropriate aspect ratio, and then you can adjust your one .mov clip to fit.

  4. I was tearing my hair out trying to find how to get rid of the black curtains that appeared every time I uploaded a video from SF to YT until I found your article…many thanks. I also discovered how to crop my canvas which was very useful.

    Funny thing is when editing in iMovie I didn’t have to adjust ratio for the video to appear full screen in YT. I’d use it instead however with SF I can place the text anywhere on the canvas.

  5. David

    Hi Lynn. Very helpful. Is there any advantage to actually cropping your video. I assume if you don’t, what’s left outside the canvas won’t make it into the exported video. Is there a specific reason to crop?

    e.g. In the video above your final step is to crop the top and bottom but that wouldn’t have been in the final export anyways. Am I missing something?


    • Lynn Elliott

      Hi David,
      You are right – anything that appears outside the canvas will not be make it into the exported video. So, you don’t really need to crop it to the canvas size. I guess I’m just anal that way 😉 I like things neat and clean!
      Thanks for the comment,

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