Video File Formats: Everything You Need to Know

Jean updated on Dec 13, 2023 | Home > Glossary and Terms

Nowadays, videos play an indispensable role around the world. People watch online courses, record Zoom meeting videos, and make TikTok videos or YouTube videos to record their life, work, or other interesting and meaningful moments. It can be said that videos are filled with people's life. So, when we talk about videos, we have to know the term "video file formats." This article will show you the definition of it and tell you some common types of formats. Now, let's get started!

What Are Video File Formats

According to Wikipedia, a video file format is a type of file format for storing digital video data on a computer system. Lossy compression is most often used to store video in order to minimize file size.

what are video file formats

There are two parts to any video file: a container and a video codec. Music, video, subtitles, and other metadata are all stored in the video format. A program called a video codec is used to encode and decode multimedia data, including audio and video. While creating a video, an audio codec does the same with the sound, while a video codec does the same with the video. The synced video and audio are then saved in a file format media container after being encoded.

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Common Types of Video File Formats

1. MP4

MP4 is a kind of digital multimedia container format that can be used to store audio and video, as well as some other data like images and subtitles.

mp4 video file

It is the most widely used video file format nowadays and is supported by all browsers and the majority of devices. Most likely, you've already used MP4 in some capacity. H.264 is the most widely used codec inside the MP4 container.

2. MOV

MOV file format is developed by Apple, which can support Quicktime Player. Usually, MOV files are large video files that have a higher quality than MP4 video format files or other video file types. When people edit videos, they often choose MOV to edit high-quality videos. After editing videos, it is suggested to transfer to other formats to save time and memory space.

3. AVI

AVI is also a unique video file format to provide high-quality videos and audio files. It is often used in YouTube videos and TV production. Users do not need to decode the files to watch videos, but each minute will take up a large gigabytes of space. Therefore, AVI is not suitable for web use.

4. WMV

WMV is Windows Media Video, a video file format developed by Microsoft and used in Windows systems. It is not compatible with Apple and Linux devices. However, it has been used for the web by many people in some situations as it has small sizes for excellent quality.

How to Choose the Right Video Format

When you are choosing video file formats, you can refer to the below situations:

  • If you are creating videos for online watching, you can choose the best choice: MP4 or WEBM.
  • If you want to make high-quality home videos and not upload them to any platforms, then MP4 or AVI will be your better choice.
  • If you hope your videos can be compatible with Windows systems, then it is suggested that you choose WMV.


In a word, this article has talked about much about video file formats. It is believed that you can learn some helpful information from this article. Please share it with more friends to learn about types of formats if you like it!


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Updated by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

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