Are you struggling to find the best video file format for your video content? Or do you want to know how the video formats work and how compatible they are with leading digital platforms and devices?

If you nod yes to both questions above, you are at the exact spot. Keep scrolling down, and you will soon be a pro at choosing the best video format for your video clips.

Why do file formats matter for a video?

Video is a great marketing tool in the current digital age, and there’s no denying it. With more and more online consumers leaning on videos for their purchases, every marketer must leverage videos. But choosing the wrong file format can backfire and hamper your brand’s image. Amidst the several video format options available, we have compiled the 7 best that you may utilize based on different situations.

Before we move on to the file formats, let’s understand what a file format is. Let’s begin.

What is a video file format?

A video file format is a file type that stores digital data (subtitles, audio, video, or other metadata and standards) used to create a particular video. A video file comprises two main components: a codec and a container. A video format is considered the container, and multimedia data (like audio and video files) are encoded and decoded by a codec.

7 commonly used video file formats list with extensions

There are almost more than 30 plus video file formats available currently. We have listed some of the best and most commonly used video file formats and their extensions. Let us explore in detail.

  1. MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14)

    Introduced first in 2001, MP4 is the earliest and most widely used video file format in our list. It can perfectly store video and audio files, subtitles, and still images. The popularity of MP4 lies in the fact that most of the leading digital platforms support this format, making it a universal file standard for video. MP4 compresses HD video into a smaller size while retaining the original quality of the video.

    MP4 is one of the common video file formats that work great with web-friendly and portable videos; it also is ideal for recording, sharing, or viewing live streaming videos and uploading video content on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.

    File extension: .mp4

  2. WMV (Windows Media Video)

    A product of Microsoft, WMV is probably one of the best video file formats for online purposes, thanks to its incredible compression capability. It supports 1080p quality.

    Since it is a product of Microsoft, Windows users can play videos saved in WMV format on Windows Media Player. Mac users can simply download a media player compatible with WMV to play the videos.

    File extension: .asf

  3. MOV

    The MOV format was developed by Apple for QuickTime Player and is an extremely high-quality video format. This makes the MOV files too heavy taking up substantial memory on any computer.

    Though created by its prime competitor, Windows supports MOV files as it has a version of QuickTime Player. This makes MOV files compatible with Windows. It can store high-quality video, audio files, sound effects, subtitles, time codes, and other media data. Facebook and YouTube both support MOV files. For TV viewing, too, MOV is an excellent option.

    File extension: .mov

  4. FLV

    FLV is a video file format specifically designed for Adobe Flash Video Players. This format was developed as soon as Adobe Flash Player was released. FLV contains video data streams, a short header, synced audio files, and other metadata. FLV files are usually small, which makes them perfect for the internet.

    What is more extraordinary about FLV is that it is ideal when there is slow internet connectivity to play or upload videos. If your brand targets an audience that streams a lot of online videos, especially on YouTube and Google Video, then FLV is your go-to file format for saving your video file. The only shortcoming of FLV is that it is incompatible with iOS devices and some other mobile devices.

    File extension: .flv, .f4b, .f4a, .f4p, .f4v

  5. WebM

    WebM format first introduced by Google in 2010 and intended for use with HTML5. The thought process behind developing WebM was to make video streaming possible on most smart devices, like smartphones, tablets, desktops, laptops, smart TVs, etc. It is open-source and supported by all the leading major browsers, such as Opera Mini, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and the like. It works great with browser-embedded videos owing to its compatibility with HTML.

    One of the great things about this format is that it requires significantly less computer power to compress or unzip video files, which makes it an excellent choice for large distribution and embedding videos online. Many digital marketers and SMEs use this WebM for this added advantage.

    File extension: .webm

  6. AVI (Audio Video Interleave)

    Four years before Microsoft launched MP4 (as discussed above), the tech conglomerate introduced another file format to the world – the AVI! This makes AVI the oldest video file type and one of the most versatile. It was more of an answer to Apple’s MOV (as discussed above) and amazingly retains itself among the top 7 formats for video files that content creators still use. AVI, or Audio Video Interleave, is compatible with more or less every browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux machines, works fantastically with YouTube and TV viewing, and offers the highest quality file sizes.

    The only downside of AVI is that the files are too heavy. Hence, people are likely to store AVI video files on their computers rather than stream them online or download them. The universal compatibility of AVI with most websites and video editing software makes it a fantastic choice for video editors across the globe.

    File extension: .avi

  7. MKV

    Named after the Russian stacking dolls – ‘Matryoshka, MKV is an open-source format developed in Russia with the full name Matroska Multimedia Container. As the name suggests, MKV can contain unlimited video or audio tracks, just like the dolls are stacked into each other.

    This file format is one of the best for storing numerous different codecs and types of information (video, audio, and subtitles) inside one container file. Besides, MKV will store each audio option as a separate track if a video clip has audio options in different languages. The video files always remain updated, as MKV was designed to be future-proof. MKV is also extremely adaptive and widely used by content creators. Interestingly, in 2014, Windows announced it was providing technical support for MKV.

    File extension: .kv, .mks, .mk3d, .mka

5 Free online video converters

This is a bonus section specially compiled for all video content creators. Here’s a list of some of the best online video converters that will help them find the right tool for their video post-production purpose.

  1. Any Video Converter

    Formats supported: MKV, MOV, MP4, WEBM, FLV
    Pricing: Free

  2. Hamster Free Video Converter

    Formats supported: 3GP, MP3, MP4, AVI, MPG, FLV
    Pricing: Free


    Formats supported: MP4, AVI, MKV, MP3, AAC
    Pricing: Free

  4. Freemake Video Converter

    Formats supported: AVI, WMV, MPG and MP4
    Pricing: Free

  5. Avidemux

    Formats supported: AVI, FLV, MP4, MPG, MPEG, OGM, TS
    Pricing: Free


Choosing the best format for your video files can seem like a daunting task. But once you grasp a thorough knowledge of the file types and which should be used when, this task will eventually become effortless. The flexibility that MP4 offers, the universality of AVI, the highly compressed factor of WEBM, and the storage capacity of MKV for numerous codes and information – the choice is yours as to which one would be your pick.

The above formats are supported by many of the famous video hosting platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Take a moment and think about where you want to upload your video, for online streaming, on social media platforms, or for a movie. You will get your answer.

You can always consult an expert video editing company for more professional guidance. Good luck!

Christa Elrod linkedinDribbbleBehance

Christa Elrod serves as a senior graphic designer at ProGlobalBusinessSolutions. She is a creative designer with robust skills in typography, UI/UX designs, printing designs, video post-production, and 3D designs. Possessing years of experience across diverse industries, Christa loves to educate fellow designers with her experience and domain knowledge.