List of video file formats: definition, attributes, usage

Whether through your work or personal life, you have likely come across the concept of a video file format and dealt with more than one. But how many are there, and what does each one do?

Though there are several types of video file formats, we look at the most common ones, their attributes and how they are used.

Sign up to our newsletter

What Is A Video File Format?

A video file format stores digital video data on your computer system, from your smartphone to your laptop or any device you use.

Video is almost always stored in a way that reduces overall file size. A video file typically consists of a container of visual data in a video-coding format with its audio data in an audio-coding format.

Different video formats are used for various reasons, each with various benefits and issues.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Video File Format?

Though every type of video file format has its use, some more common ones are often used due to their accessibility and benefits.

While you may have only heard of a few of these, anyone familiar with modern technology has likely used them all at one point. Here are some of the most common types of video file formats:


MP4 is arguably the most popular video file format and is potentially the most universally recognizable.

This useful type of video format is favored by big tech companies, meaning a lot of operating systems use it as a default. It’s compatible with most devices and stores video, audio and text files using the MPEG-4 encoding process.

Usage: MP4 is often used online, as most browsers and apps accept it. The resolution issues sometimes faced by those using MP4 are less of a concern on these formats, as some users will view them on a smaller screen.

Video file format


This is a video format created by tech giant Apple. It uses MPEG-4 encoding, much like MP4 but was invented for different purposes.

MOV was initially created for an Apple product, QuickTime, a discontinued software that supported playing, streaming and encoding various digital media formats. MOV videos are known for being of a higher quality, which makes them favorable in many industries, such as film and media.

Usage: Now, MOV still has a variety of uses without QuickTime. This is due to its ability to hold several different video formats, which Apple originally intended for user ease. MOV is primarily used for storing and streaming video content on Apple devices like iPads, iPhones and more, but it is also compatible with editing software, perfect for film enthusiasts.


On the other side of the tech world, there is WMV. This stands for Windows Media Viewer, and these files, much like MOV, have excellent video quality and large file sizes.

Microsoft created WMV, and it was developed so that users could compress videos for the Windows Media framework.

Usage: These videos can be used for online streaming and were adopted by physical video formats such as DVD and Blu-ray Discs compatible with media players.


AVI, or Audio Video Interleave, works well with almost every web browser on devices such as Windows, Mac and other PCs.

Like WMV, AVI was also created by Microsoft and has one of the best qualities among video formats available. However, this means file sizes are usually much bigger, meaning AVIs are more complex to send than other formats.

Usage: Though sites like YouTube support it, AVI works better on a bigger screen. Those looking to enjoy a high-quality video on their TV should look at the AVI video format.



With a much longer name than the others, which stands for Advanced Video Coding High Definition, this video format is a video coding program.

This file type was initially created for camcorders for companies like Panasonic and Sony.

Usage: This video file type is excellent for compressing storage without impacting the quality too much.

How To Choose A Video File Format That Works For You? What to Consider?

With a lot of different types of video formats, it can be hard to know which one to choose. There are certain questions that you can ask yourself, though, to determine which is best for you at the moment. Here’s what you need to consider when choosing a video file format:

Does It Meet My Needs?

Although each video format was created for the same purpose, each has its benefits and downfalls. Assessing your video needs is the best way to find a suitable format for you.

For example, you may be looking to upload a video to your website and, therefore, would benefit from a video format that loads quickly and only takes up a little space. This will load quickly for visitors to your website and draw their attention.

On the other hand, if you're looking to play a video on a big screen and aren't concerned about storage too much, you'll be looking more for a format like AVCHD or another that works similarly.

Does It Meet My Needs?

Is It Compatible?

You might find a video format that suits your needs, only to discover that it isn't compatible with the device you want to use.

For this reason, checking if a video file format is compatible is crucial before you continue. A quick internet search will help determine whether your device works with your intended video format.

Is It Easy To Use?

Some video formats are certainly more user-friendly and easier to find than others. Though the benefits of a particular video format might outweigh how hard it is to use, it's a reasonable consideration.

If you aren't very familiar with a particular technology, it's safer to go with a popular video format such as MP4. While you may lose out on something like the resolution, it might be much easier on your side to choose a more straightforward format.

Sign up to our newsletter

Final Thoughts

With such a wide range of video file formats out there, it can be hard to know where to start. These popular video file formats are used for different purposes, each having its benefit depending on your video needs.

Having a better understanding of the different types and what they are used for can help you get to grips with using videos to your benefit.

Newsletter Signup


DEXON Systems

+36 23 422 804
+36 23 445 199

Latest Blog