Video files come in a variety of formats, from MOV, MP4, FLV, and more! Which video format should you choose?

There are dozens of file types, but they all share certain characteristics. For example, a .mov file uses Quicktime or Apple H264 codecs (AVC) for compression, whereas a .mp3 file uses AAC audio.

While every file type has its pros and cons, .MP4 is the most common because it supports a wide range of multimedia devices. In addition, it’s simple to edit and convert between various file extensions.

Below, we will look deeper into these video file extensions.

Best Video File Extension to Use

1. .MP4

One of the most popular file extensions used for videos today is .MP4, which stands for MPEG-4 Part 14 Advanced Simple Profile. It was released by the Moving Picture Experts Group on February 6, 2001, as an extension of their earlier MPEG-4 Part 4 standard. The original name for this file format was ISO/IEC FDIS 14496-12:2001, later changed to MPEG-4 Visual Part 12.

This new video format allowed users to create more realistic computer animation without requiring expensive hardware. However, when introduced in 2005, .MP4 had limited playback support. This did not last long though, as soon after it was adopted by the W3C as part of HTML5.

So why use this file extension instead of other formats?

Well, you can play any video file using the web browser. But if you want your videos to be downloaded, converted, or played offline on mobile devices, then .MP4 is the best option available.

2. .MOV

Moving Picture Experts Group is a non-profit organization that started its life in 1988. Its goal was to develop ways of organizing and compressing digital images so that they could easily be stored on floppy disks and transferred over networks where bandwidth was scarce.

Today, however, the group has found themselves working with a completely different problem – how to make good use of the increasing amount of data required to store high-quality, high-resolution digital photos and movies.

The result is .MOV or Motion JPEG 2000. The Moving Picture Experts Group created this file format in 1999 as a way to compress HD pictures. This means that the quality of .MOV is higher than the older, less efficient.JPEG format.

Since .MOV was designed specifically for storing HD footage, it’s important to know that .MOV is not just about picture files. You can also add sound (.AAC or Ogg Vorbis), text, time codes, subtitles, metadata, etc. to your movie along with any embedded media.

3. .FLV

Flash Video was developed by Macromedia as a way to deliver streaming media content online. Originally, Flash Video was used by companies like NBC, ABC news, and Disney to give visitors access to live events.

At present, people still use it to stream YouTube videos, but there are many more options out there now. For instance, you can embed .FLV content on websites such as Dailymotion, Metacafe, Veoh, Yahoo!, MySpace, AOL, Windows Live Spaces, or even Facebook.

4. .SWF

Flash SWF was originally developed by Adobe Systems as a way to display dynamic content on web pages. Although it initially focused solely on graphics, it quickly evolved into being able to display nearly anything including text, sounds, animations, video clips, and even programs that run within itself.

That said, this powerful feature set comes at a price. When Flash SWF was first released in 1998, it cost $20 per player (which was a lot back then). And although it has since come down in price, you might find it difficult to find free players.

There are plenty of reasons why Flash SWF is considered outdated. First off, the technology behind it doesn’t offer cross-platform compatibility. That means that Flash SWF will only work properly on computers running Microsoft Windows or Apple OS X operating systems. On top of that, Flash SWF isn’t very flexible either. As great as it was in the days before the release of .HTML5, Flash SWF doesn’t support new features like HTML 5 Video or Canvas 2D drawings.


These four formats have one thing in common; they all contain some form of information. So when it comes to choosing which type of container to use, take comfort in knowing that once you choose one, you won’t be looking at the same issue again.