Video File Formats

The Most Common Video File Formats

Videos are a brand new source of information in today’s digital age. Answers to day-to-day questions, training, and education are all available in the form of video. 

In addition to being a source of entertainment, video is also an effective online marketing tactic. 85% of marketers believe that video is the ultimate way to grab attention online. 

Today, people watch videos on their laptops, tablets, smartphones, and desktops. The video clips being watched have a specific type of file format. If you wish to stream videos or upload a marketing video across digital platforms, you must know about the popular video formats. 

What is a video file format?

A codec and a container are two components of video files. A video file format is a container responsible for storing video, audio, subtitles, and other metadata. On the other hand, a codec encodes and decodes video, audio, and other multimedia data. 

When creating a video, an audio codec encodes and compresses the audio file while the video codes do the same with video. Then, the encoded audio and video are synchronized to be stored in a media container called the file format. 

Commonly used video file formats 

  1. MP4

MP4 is a video file format that has been around for over ten years. As a result, it is ubiquitous, and almost all well-known video player software can easily play MP4 videos. 

Apple developed MP4, and it gained popularity with the iTunes player. Its containers use MPEG-4, H.265, and H.264 codecs. You can even use the file format to store audio and image data. 

The advantage of the MP4 video file format is that it provides premium quality video with a smaller size. Also, it delivers lossless compression, and video quality is not affected even after several editing and file saving. 

Facebook, YouTube, and other popular streaming websites support the format. 

  1. MOV

Like MP4, MOV is a video file format developed by Apple. Apple’s QuickTime video player used this format, and it was specifically designed to deliver videos of the highest quality. However, in terms of size, the format can be costly because it does not compromise quality. 

Compared to MP4, the MOV format files are larger. Also, the format is not as widely used as MP4 because of its limitation that all video players cannot play MP4 files. Thanks to the release of the QuickTime player for Windows, the format is no more a video file format compatible with only Apple. 

However, if you want your video files to be shared and streamed across various platforms and don’t want your files to be huge in size, you can learn how to convert MOV to MP4 here It will come in handy when you need to play files on platforms that don’t support MOV files. 

  1. FLV

FLV or Flash Video Format is another commonly used video file format, and Adobe Systems developed it. The video format can be played with Adobe Flash Player, and it can even be added or embedded as a plugin to your web browser. 

FLV video files can be played easily in web browsers and also in good video players. It supports HE-AAC audio compression format and H.264 video codec. 

  1. AVI

AVI or Audio Video Interleave is one of the most common and oldest video formats developed by Microsoft in 1992. It supports a broad range of codecs, and this is why it’s so popular. 

Since the AVI file format was introduced in the 90s, it wasn’t specifically developed for Internet video transmission. The files are comparatively larger than new video file formats. Also, the format isn’t preferred for streaming or Internet upload purposes. If you want to store files on your personal storage without compromising video quality, the AVI file format is ideal. 

  1. WMV

WMV or Windows Media Video is a video file container and a codec format. It was developed by Microsoft primarily to be hosted on streaming applications and websites on the Internet. It creates video files that are small in size compared to other video file formats. WMV formats are used to share videos via emails and other platforms with video file size limitations due to its small size. The drawback of the WMV format is that it isn’t a lossless format, and the quality is not at par with other lossless codecs. 


You must choose a video file format based on your specific needs. The format you choose should cater to your video quality requirements and make it easy to download, share, and stream the video. Furthermore, take into account how you would want your video files to be viewed.

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