The 10 Most Common Video Formats and Its Features

You can spend as much time and effort as you want to create amazing video content, but it won’t mean anything if you can’t get it to people in a way that they can watch it. This makes choosing the correct video file format incredibly important. Video formats are not as straightforward as many other types of computer files. What is MP4? What is the difference between H.264 and DivX? Find out what video file codecs and containers are, and the most commonly used video format types.

What is the format of a video?

The importance of video formats is the result of two main factors.

First, video files are significantly larger than most files you’re likely to save, and as video resolutions continue to increase, file sizes only increase. The format you choose will play a huge role in determining the final size of your video file.

The second is that the videos have many different parts that need to be brought together in the final package. It not only has the actual video part, but also the audio streams and additional information , such as closed captions, metadata, in some cases menu structures, and more, all of which have to work together.

Your final video format takes both components into consideration. There’s a codec, which compresses (and decompresses) the video, and a container that bundles everything together and makes it work with whatever video player you’re going to use.

Remember, codec plus container equals video file format .

When someone asks what format a video is in, they often want to know what container and codec was used to make it, and possibly what standard it’s encoded with, unless of course the video is from the Middle Ages. Then they usually want to know what kind of videotape it’s stored on and hope they can find something that can still play it.

And the video codecs?

codec is the order used to design the data in an audio or video file in such a way that it can be used to play, edit, or switch to other codecs (transcoding). Codecs are used to organize media data, but that data is kept inside a container. There are many different types of video and audio codecs, and each has its own advantages.

A codec is used to compress and then decompress a video file. This compression can be lossy or lossless.

Lossy compression creates smaller file sizes, but omits some data, resulting in lower video quality. This is especially evident with repeated compressions that lead to cumulative loss of significant amounts of data.

Lossless compression , on the other hand, keeps all the data in the original file. This provides higher video quality and prevents progressive degradation of multiple saves. However, you end up with larger files.

Not all codecs are supported by all video players . When deciding which codec to use, you should consider compatibility as well as the trade-off between video quality and file size.

Video files are made up of 2 parts: a codec and a container.

video codec is a protocol for encoding and decoding video. Common codecs include H.264, MPEG-4, and DivX. A well-designed codec has a high efficiency or ability to preserve quality while reducing file size.

The container format is a definition of how the file’s metadata and data is structured, excluding how the video is actually encoded (which is determined by the codec). The container file contains the metadata and compressed video data that is encoded by the codec. The container format is also more generally called “the format” and is reflected in the file extension.

Common container formats include .AVI, .MP4, and .MOV. Container formats can be paired with different codecs that influence what devices and programs the file will be compatible with.

Types of video formats and features

The file extension of a video usually refers to the container. Some containers have codecs that they almost always use and other containers are often used with many different codecs.

There are many types of digital video formats ; we have tried to list the ones you are most likely to encounter.


This type of video format is one of the most widely used formats today, especially when it comes to sharing content online. In fact, YouTube recommends uploading files in .mp4 format for the best video quality.

In addition to video and audio data, it can also be used to store things like subtitles and still images. It is usually combined with H.264 or H.265.

Videos using the .MP4 container can have relatively small file sizes while maintaining high quality.


One of the oldest and most universally accepted standard video format types is .AVI. You can use a huge variety of codecs, resulting in a huge variety of different file configurations. While .AVI videos can be played in a wide range of players, file sizes tend to be large, making them less than ideal for streaming or downloading. It’s a great option for videos you plan to store on a computer.

Microsoft developed and released this with Windows 3.1 a long time ago. AVI files were once a workhorse of digital video. Its popularity has waned, but you’ll find plenty of legacy AVI files all over the web.


The MKV professional video format is an open format, for which you do not have to pay rights, and whose full name is Matroska, like the traditional Russian dolls.

MKV emerged at the end of 2002 and has become popular thanks to the fact that within a single MKV file we can store, together with the audio channel, several channels or audio tracks and several subtitle tracks.

Just like MP4, it provides very good audio and video quality in a small space. And as a curiosity, the WebM format that allows you to integrate online video via HTML, is inspired by Matroska.


Among the types of video formats that exist , FLV was created for Adobe’s Flash player, .FLV videos were extremely common for several years thanks to their very small file size and a wide range of browser plug-ins and video players. third-party Flash video. Recently, there has been a significant decline in Flash videos. Flash video is still there, but just barely.

The use of these file formats has rapidly declined as Flash has become less popular, especially after Flash support for iOS devices ended. Using these formats is only recommended if you need to support a legacy system that can only accept this type of file.


Within the types of video format for Apple, it is the best. Apple developed the .MOV container for use with its Quicktime player. Videos using .MOV generally have very high quality, but also quite large file sizes. Quicktime videos don’t have as much compatibility with non-Quicktime players, although there are third-party players that will read them.

This format is useful if you intend to archive a high-quality video on an Apple computer.


Windows Media Videos tend to have the smallest file size, which makes them a good choice if you need to send them via email or other methods with file size limits. However, this comes with the trade-off of having a significant drop in quality. A common use of .WMV is to email video previews to clients.

Over the years, the WMV format has grown to include support for 720 and 1080 high-definition video. To complicate matters, files ending in .wmv are usually stored in an .asf container.

Windows Media Video has never been one of the most supported video format types outside of Microsoft products, but it is the preferred video codec for PowerPoint.


DivX, along with the open source version XviD, is an older codec that is designed to maximize video quality at the expense of significantly larger file sizes. It is a normal video format that is still used in a variety of business settings where there is less concern about file size, such as when videos are stored and transported directly on hard drives.


It is another of the most widely used types of video format, known as MPEG-4, H.264 uses lossy compression and is a universal video format in common use today. The codec is widely supported and used in video production, publishing, and distribution. Many camcorders and DSLRs record in H.264. It is the standard for Blu-ray discs, as well as for many web video servers. H.264 is more efficient for compression than MPEG-2 and typically offers better video quality at the same bit rate.

One of the benefits of H.264 is that you can use it at very low and very high bit rates. H.264 will send highly compressed, low-resolution video over the web and then happily encode your HD movie at super-high bit rates for delivery to an HDTV.

This codec is often used with .mp4 and .mov containers.


When Divx ceased to be so popular, it gave way to XviD, surpassing it due to its better quality, becoming more famous because it was supported by many DVD players.

At present, although there are other types of more powerful video formats, this compression is still used since its performance and compression speed is very good.


An RM file is a media file saved in the RealMedia media container format developed by RealNetworks. You can store audio only in RealAudio format, video only in RealVideo format, or both RealAudio and RealVideo. RM files are commonly used to stream content over the Internet, such as video and Internet radio.

Real Player uses the RM format to play audio and video files on all operating systems, including Linux, Mac, and Windows.

How to change the format of a video?

There are many times when you need to change kinds of video format to play or edit it. But how to change the file type of a video? Here are 6 video converters that will help you change video format to dvd or hd .

It is also possible to download player of all kinds of video format for free .

Format Factory (Win 10/8/7/Vista/XP)

Format Factory is a free, ad-supported media converter. This free video converter allows you to convert all types of video, audio and image files. Support many different video formats including MPG, MP4, MP3, AVI, 3GP, OGG, BMP, WMV and more.

Unfortunately, its installer includes potentially unwanted programs. For example, when installing Format Factory, it asks you to install Chromium Browser and Search Manager extension for Chrome. And its interface now seems outdated.

MiniTool Movie Maker

When it comes to changing video format, MiniTool Movie Maker Free Video Converter is recommended here.

With this tool, you don’t need any video editing experience to easily change the file type of your video because it offers wizard-like interfaces. Also, this free tool supports almost all video formats including WMV, MP4, AVI, MOV, F4V and more.

iMovie (Mac)

You may have heard of iMovie, an easy-to-use video editor for Apple devices. iMovie is known for its creativity and functionality.

With iMovie, you can easily edit and watch videos. Of course, you can convert some video formats to MP4.

Video Converter (Android)

To change video format on Android, you can try to use Video Converter Android.

This tool can help you convert to MP4 or H.264 or MPG of the most common video formats while keeping the original video quality.

You can reduce the size of the video file to send via SMS, etc.

VLC Media Player

VLC media player, a free and open source portable cross-platform media player, can also help you change the video format.

Online Video Converter

Last but not least, there is online VideoConverter as some users want to change video format without installing any software. (OVC) is a free online media conversion web application that is fully compatible with all modern browsers. This free online video conversion tool allows you to quickly and easily convert any video link or file from one format to another without installing any software.

OVC offers super-fast, high-quality conversions to many audio formats including .mp3, .aac, .ogg, .wma, .m4a, .flac, .wav audio, as well as video formats including .mp4, .avi , .mpg, . mov, .wmv, .flv, .m4v, .webm, .mkv and .3gp.

OVC supports a wide range of online video portals including YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo.

What is the safest video format?

Among the types of video format that we have told you, which is the best?

In 2020, .MP4 and H.265 are a good option, but H.264 is also still good if you’re worried about compatibility. These are preferred by sites like YouTube and are commonly available from video cameras.

What is the best video format ? The decision on the best file format is based on your specific needs. Keep in mind your audience and how your videos will be viewed.

Unnecessarily high-quality video files can be difficult to move, share, convert, and manage. Also, how the video files will look is important. Not all programs, browsers, and devices can open a specific video format. Consider a couple of scenarios:

  • If the video will be viewed on the web, choose a format that is compatible with most browsers. This way, your video will be able to play without downloading the file and using a separate player. Video formats supported by the browser include MP4 and WEBM.
  • If you are archiving a home video, choose a format that is of high quality and has a good chance of being played in the future. Open source formats are more future-proof than proprietary formats controlled by a specific company. Formats that fit this category are MP4 or AVI (using an open codec).
  • If you work at a company that uses older Windows computers, you should choose a format that is highly compressed and compatible with Windows. In this case, you’ll want to use a WMV file.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.

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