Types of Video File Formats and How to Change Them

by / ⠀Blog / November 30, 2023
Types of Video File Formats

In our increasingly digital world, video content is everywhere — from social media to professional filmmaking. Understanding different video file formats is not just a technical necessity, but also a critical skill for effective media management and distribution.

Whether you’re a content creator, a media professional, or just someone who enjoys sharing videos online, knowing about various video formats and how to convert them can make a significant difference in how the audience receives and enjoys your content.

What is a video format?

A video format is essentially a container that holds audio, video, and sometimes subtitles and metadata, encoded in various ways. Each format has a specific structure and is designed for different uses. To get from one format to another, for instance, if you want to convert videos to MP4, you need to have a video file converter.

Common types of video formats

The landscape of digital video includes a wide array of file formats, each with its own strengths and ideal use cases. Below are some of the most common formats you’ll encounter:

  • MOV: This format, developed by Apple, is a staple in the Apple ecosystem, often used for sharing videos between Mac systems. MOV files are known for their high quality, which makes them a preferred choice in professional video editing. However, this quality often results in larger file sizes, which can be a drawback for storage and sharing.
  • AVI: A Microsoft creation, Audio Video Interleave is a format that’s compatible with both Mac and Windows systems. While it’s been around for a long time and various devices and software support it, AVI files often have limitations in terms of quality and compression. This means they can be large without offering the same quality as newer formats.
  • WMV: Another Microsoft-developed format, Windows Media Video is commonly used for streaming videos online. It is optimized for high-quality playback on Windows systems, but may face compatibility issues with non-Windows devices without additional software.
  • MKV: Matroska Video is a free and open-standard container format, which means it can hold an unlimited number of video, audio, and subtitle tracks in one file. It is highly versatile and is often the format of choice for storing high-definition videos, including movies and TV shows.
  • FLV: Created by Adobe, Flash Video is a format particularly used for streaming videos online, especially in the era of Adobe Flash. Its main advantage is small file sizes, which makes it suitable for quick loading and web content streaming. However, with the decline of Flash, its usage has decreased in favor of more modern formats.
  • WebM: Developed by Google, WebM is a format designed specifically for the web. It offers high-quality video playback and is supported by most web browsers, making it a popular choice for online video streaming. WebM files are known for their efficiency in terms of quality-to-size ratio, which is beneficial for both creators and consumers of web-based video content.

Most common type of video format — MP4

Without a doubt, MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is the most popular video format today. It’s used for everything from corporate videos on YouTube to streaming. MP4 offers a good balance between quality, compatibility, and file size, making it an ideal choice for both personal and professional use.

Additionally, its compression algorithm supports a wide range of video and audio codecs, allowing for more versatility in terms of content creation. What’s more, MP4 files can also contain subtitles and metadata, ensuring users have quality playback, organization, and sharing.

What makes MP4 stand out is its ability to play on almost any device and platform, whether it’s an iPhone, a Windows PC, or an online service. This universal compatibility makes it the go-to choice for creators and users alike.

How to change video format?

Changing the format of a video file is a process known as conversion, and it’s quite straightforward. Here are the general steps how to change a file type you should follow:

Step 1: Download and install a reputable video file converter. Alternatively, you can convert a video online, which may have some limitations in terms of file size and quality, but is generally easier and faster.

Step 2: Open the converter and select the video file you want to convert. Most converters, both desktop and online ones, allow you to add multiple files at once and convert them in batches. You can also drag and drop the files into the converter.

Step 3: Choose the desired output format. Different converters offer various options for output formats, so be sure to select the one that suits your needs. Some video converters also allow you to adjust the quality, resolution, and other settings before converting.

Step 4: Click on the “Convert” or “Start” button, and wait for the process to finish. The time it takes to convert a video depends on various factors such as file size, length of the video, and your computer’s processing power.


Understanding video file formats is a key skill in our multimedia-driven world. Whether it’s choosing the right format for a project, ensuring compatibility across devices, or managing file sizes for online uploads, a solid grasp of video formats and how to convert them can greatly enhance your media handling capabilities. Remember, the right format preserves the quality of your content and determines its accessibility and reach.

About The Author

Kimberly Zhang

Editor in Chief of Under30CEO. I have a passion for helping educate the next generation of leaders.