“What is MP4 Format” Answered

MP4 is one of the most popular and preferred multimedia formats due to its wide compatibility and ability to store high-quality video, audio, and subtitles in smaller file sizes, In this article we will answer all possible queries about what an MP4 is, how to open one, the pros and cons of the format, and more!

Table of Contents:

What is MP4 File Format?

Let us begin with how it all started, MPEG-4 Part 14, or MP4 format was developed by engineers and scientists at Moving Picture Experts Group in the late 1990s based on the QuickTime File Format (.MOV) developed by Apple.

It started gaining prominence in the early 2000s as it offered efficient compression techniques that produced high-quality videos in smaller file sizes and the ability to hold video, audio, and subtitles in the same file.

The MP4 files were widely supported by different media players and operating systems and go-to format for video sharing and distribution these factors made the MP4 a universal format.

In 2024, if you pick up a phone or a camera to shoot a video, it will probably be a .mp4 video file, and the videos on various streaming platforms like YouTube and Netflix will be in MP4 format. MP4 can also hold 360° and VR Videos.

How Do I Play an MP4 File?

Most devices will have preinstalled media players like Media Player (Windows) or QuickTime (Mac), supporting the .mp4 file format. You can simply double-click on the MP4 file to open and play the video.

In cases where there is no media player to open an MP4 file, you can install any of the above or VLC Media Player as it’s a very good open-source multimedia player that supports MP4 and other video file formats as well.

Though everything may seem perfect, there are downsides to the MP4 file format as well, Continue reading the next section to know more about it.

Disadvantages of MP4 Format

Just like life, It’s not all sunshine and rainbows; there are hurdles you must be aware of if you’re a video editor or content creator when choosing MP4 formats for your video.

  • Lossy Compression: The lossy compression techniques used in MP4 may be efficient but the video quality will be sacrificed, while modern video codecs like H.264 and HEVC minimize this loss but it would be noticeable.
  • Editing Difficulties: Editing an MP4 video can be challenging when they are encoded with advanced codecs like H.264 or HEVC and if you wish to color grade the video you might need to choose a different format to get the desired results.

If these drawbacks bother you then you can choose to convert the MP4 file to different video formats as well.

Also Read: How to Fix VLC Not Playing MP4 Video File?

Alternatives to MP4 Video File

When there is a need or wish to convert a .mp4 format to a different format, you can choose any of these formats

  • MOV: Often used by Apple devices, known for good quality but can be less compatible with some players.
  • MKV (Matroska): A flexible open-source container format that can hold various video and audio codecs, like a multimedia Swiss Army Knife.
  • AVI (Audio Video Interleaved): An older Windows-associated format with a simpler structure than MP4.
  • WebM: An open-source format designed for web video, often smaller in size than MP4 with similar quality.

How? Read the next section to explore different easy-to-perform MP4 video file conversion techniques.

How to Convert an MP4 File?

Here are reliable ways, in that particular order, that you can follow to convert MP4 to a different video file format.

ALSO: In case you wish to convert MP4 to MP3 (audio) or MP4 to GIF (image) file format, you can do so using the below-mentioned solutions.

  • Online conversion tool: Simply search for “online video converter” and choose a website that’s trusted and has good reviews, Some popular ones are Zamzar, CloudConvert, FreeConvert.com, etc.

Simply upload the file, choose the output format, and download the converted video.

  • Video Conversion Software: Choose a reliable video converter software that can either be paid or free, install it on your computer, and convert the MP4 video files to any other video file format.

Some popular options include Handbrake (free), Freemake Video Converter (free), and Adobe Media Encoder (paid).

Remember: Converting MP4 to any other video file format will not improve the video quality. Even if it does, the improvement would be minimal.

Do you ever wonder what to do if your MP4 doesn’t play? We’ll help you out.

Bonus: What to do When MP4 won’t Play?

There could be several reasons like corruption or a damaged MP4 header for MP4 videos not playing, or having audio sync issues, or any other issues.

To repair damaged MP4 videos, you can opt for a reputable video repair tool to fix your videos easily.


MP4 is currently the most preferred multimedia format and is expected to dominate various areas because it uses the H.264 codec, which is continually improving. Advances in compression techniques like H.266/Versatile Video Coding (VVC) will make MP4 even better.

With that, we conclude the article, hoping it has answered your question, ‘What is an MP4 file format?'”