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Posted on June 10, 2022

Video Formats – Meaning, types and everything you should know

Every video clip you watch on your smartphone, computer, television, or tablet has a unique file format. You must grasp how each video format works if you want your videos to function well on any platform. A video format for web development, for example, will differ from the format you use for social networking. Continue reading to learn how to select the best format for you.

What is a Video File Format?

Any video file has two components: a container and a codec. The video format is the container for music, video, subtitles, and other metadata. A codec is a program that encodes and decodes multimedia data like audio and video.

A video codec encodes and compresses the video, while an audio codec does the same with sound while making a video. The encoded video and audio are then synced and saved in a file format media container.

What Are the Most Common Video Formats?

Here are the most common digital video formats and how one can frequently use them:


The most prevalent video file format is MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14). MP4, Apple’s preferred format, is compatible with most other devices. It stores video, audio, and text files using the MPEG-4 encoding process but has a lesser resolution than others. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram videos look great in MP4.

MOV (QuickTime Movie) 

Although MOV (QuickTime Movie) files store high-quality video, audio, and effects, they can be fairly large. MOV files were created by Apple for QuickTime Player and use MPEG-4 encoding to play with QuickTime for Windows. Facebook and YouTube both accept MOV, which works great for viewing TV.


The WMV (Windows Media Viewer) files, like MOV files, have good video quality and huge file sizes. Microsoft created WMV for Windows Media Player. Apple users can see these videos because YouTube supports WMV, but they need first download Windows Media Player for Apple. Remember that WMV does not let you choose your aspect ratio.

Audio Video Interleave (AVI)

AVI (Audio Video Interleave) works with practically every web browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. Audio Video Interleave, which Microsoft created, has the highest quality but also the largest file sizes. YouTube supports it, and it works nicely for watching TV.


Advanced Video Coding High Definition is a high-definition video coding program. These files were created for Panasonic and Sony digital camcorders, and they compress for convenient storage without sacrificing quality.

FLV, F4V, and SWF

Although the FLV, F4V, and SWF (Shockwave Flash) video codecs were created for Flash Player, they are frequently used to broadcast videos on YouTube. iOS devices do not support Flash.

MKV player for MAC

Matroska Multimedia Container happens to be a free and open-source multimedia container format that was developed in Russia. It can play almost any codec, although many programs don’t support it. If you plan to watch your video on a TV or computer with an open-source media player like VLC or Miro, MKV is a good choice.


These formats are ideal for embedding videos on your personal or professional website. They have to load quickly and stream smoothly since they are small files.


MPEG-2 with an H.262 codec is the way to go if you want to burn your video to a DVD.

How to Choose a Video File Format

You should select a file format based on the quality of your video. The video should meet the minimum quality requirements, but no more. Downloading, converting youtube to text, sharing, and managing high-quality videos are difficult. It would be best to consider how you intend to view the video files. All browsers, applications, or devices do not support a specific video format. If you encounter compatibility issues, using a reliable video converter can help ensure seamless playback across various platforms.

Consider the following scenarios before deciding on a video format:

  • Choose a file format for online videos that are supported by the majority of web browsers. Your video will be played natively in the browser this way. Browser-friendly video formats include MP4 and WEBM.
  • Choose a format with high-quality video that has a decent possibility of being used in the future for home video recordings. Enterprise-controlled proprietary file formats are less future-proof than open-source file formats. That category is well-suited to MP4 or AVI formats.
  • Choose a format that is compatible with Windows for Windows apps. WMV is an excellent option. In this instance.

Difference Between a Video Codec and a Video Container, and a Video File Format

Here are the differences:

Video File Format

The Video File Format is made up of 2 kinds: 

  • a codec
  • and a container.

Video Codec

A video codec (the name codec originates from “enCOde / DECode”) is a protocol for encoding and decoding video. H.264, MPEG-4, and DivX are examples of common codecs. A well-designed codec has high efficiency or the capacity to maintain quality while shrinking the file size.

Video Container

The container format specifies how the metadata and data in a file are organized, not how the video is encoded (which the codec determines). The metadata and compressed video data encoded with the codec are stored in the container file. The file’s extension reflects the container format, also referred to as “the format.”.AVI,.MP4, and .MOV are common container types. Container formats can be combined with a variety of codecs to determine which devices and programs the file is compatible with.

How to Change a Video Format

To alter the format of a video, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Open Format Factory
  • Step 2. Select a suitable video format from the Video section on the left panel, and your video files will be converted to that format.
  • Step 3: Select the media file you want to convert with our free video converter by clicking the Add File button, then click the Open button. After that, you can choose video quality and size from the Profile drop-down menu if you want.
  • Step 4: To begin the media file converting process, pick the OK option and then the Start button. You may also use third-party video converters with no watermark to save your file in another format quickly.

How do I Know The Format of a Video File?

Right On Mac, do well to right-click the video file as you click “Get Info,” after which, underneath, there’s “More Info,” you ought to see both the video and audio codec. 

On Windows, do well to right-click the file while you click “Properties”. Right under the “Details” tab, you get to see the file format and codecs made use of.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many types of video formats are there?

Here are the most regular video file types are:

  • WEBM.
  • MPG, . MP2, . MPEG, . MPE, . MPV.
  • OGG.
  • MP4, . M4P, . M4V.
  • AVI, . WMV.
  • MOV, . QT.
  • FLV, . SWF.
  • AVCHD.

Which is the best video format?

Regrettably, there is no such thing as a “best” video format. The optimal video format for you is determined by how you want to balance video quality and file size. Some codecs are exceedingly tiny and ideal for streaming video over the internet, but they are of poor quality. Other formats are high-quality and ideal for commercial videography, although they are somewhat huge.

What’s the difference between an MP3 and an MP4?

These two file types are fundamentally distinct, despite their similar names. MP3 is an audio-only container that stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer III. This format compresses audio files to make storing sound bites and music easier and more versatile. On the other hand, an MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is a multimedia container that can hold audio, video, still images, subtitles, and text.

What’s the difference between a MOV and an MP4?

MOV is a video file type created exclusively for Apple’s QuickTime player. This huge format is ideal for video editing or watching on a larger screen. MP4s are a universal file format that can be played on almost any streaming platform, and their compressed nature makes them smaller and easier to manage. It’s common to have to convert videos from MOV to MP4 in order to distribute them. 

What’s the difference between WebM and MP4?

When uploading videos for streaming, use webM as its widely supported in HTML5 and is compatible with all modern browsers. Choose mp4 if you need a higher quality video and want your video to work with more browsers.

How do you convert popular file types?

You may effortlessly convert MP3 audio files and voice overs to MP4 video material with Premiere Pro. Drag and drop them into your editing timeline to include them in your most recent video creation. It’s also simple to convert videos between different file types, such as from MOV to MP4. You can add practically any sort of video file to your project timeline and then export it in the format you want.


There are various video file types you should expect you will come across as a developer managing audio/video content in your application, as well as, .WEBM, .OGG, .MP3, .MP4, and more. Similarly, when you sell online courses, understanding these video formats is crucial to ensure your content is accessible and engaging for your audience. The key to handling the various video formats perfectly well is dependent on your ability and knowledge of the video formats.

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