You've perfected your latest video and are ready to share it via email, but when you hit Send you get an error message that the file size is too large. What do you do?
Videos have become easier for the average user to make, and they're now a vital part of many organizations' marketing, training, and sales. Whether it's because of the video length or higher quality resolution, it's common for video files to be too big for most email programs.
That doesn't mean you should give up on sending video files; it's just important to know the right way to do it. Read on to learn all about how to email large videos.
Why so many video files are so big
Higher camera resolution on phones
There was a time when videos shot on cell phones were small and grainy. But as the capabilities of the photos app on your phone have increased, so has the quality of its videos—and better videos take up more file space.
Increased use of video editing programs
It's becoming easier for users to edit raw video footage—adding soundtracks or titles, improving the quality, and even doing color correction. But those edits add data, making the final video file even larger than the original.
What is considered a large video file?
In simple terms, the higher the resolution and the longer the footage, the bigger the file. For security reasons, email providers limit the size of files that can be sent over their servers. So how big is too big? Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all guideline.
Each service has their own file size limit
Each service has their own limit for a file that's too large to email. For example, large videos sent via Gmail must not exceed 25 MB. Outlook limits mail attachments to 20MB. Other services—like Yahoo! Mail—use the same limit as Gmail, at 25MB.
Different file formats mean different sizes
Depending on how your video is produced, the file may be in one of many different formats. MP4 is a common format for videos on the web, while videos in AVI format are easy to share among computer platforms. MOV format videos are usually very high quality, but are not always compatible from one system to another. You can find more information on video file formats in Mailchimp's helpful guide. Choose the right video format for how you intend to use the file—as corporate training, to share information among departments, or on your social media. If quality isn't your top concern, a format that takes up less space makes file sharing easier.
Why is it difficult to send large video files?
Internet connection speeds are always getting faster, but trying to send large video files still takes time and internet speeds can vary, so it's important to make sure both the sender and the recipient can transfer the file as efficiently as possible.
Storage space—particularly on large companies' servers—can seem almost infinite, but there are still limits. And large files can consume your own disk space, even if they are in your Sent folder. Most services offer users as much space as they need, allowing them to pay for access to more storage capability. However, paying for the storage needed for large files can become expensive.
Phone vs. computer in sending large video files
While you may have professionally shot and edited videos that are being sent from a computer, the popularity of videos shot and even edited right on cell phones mean that sending files directly from the phone becomes important as well.
Whether you have an iPhone or an Android device, you can send a large file through the phone's browser using the same tools found on a desktop or laptop computer. It's also possible to send big files via Bluetooth directly to another smartphone or mobile device. iPhone users can use the AirDrop function to share files with others who are nearby, and there are built-in tools to let users upload large files directly to iCloud.
If you want to send a large video file from your computer, there are tools that make it easy. On a Mac, Mail Drop will create a link to the file in iCloud. If you use Gmail, a Google Drive mail icon makes it easy to share files. In addition, most cloud services offer both web-based and app interfaces—just use your mouse to drag a file into the service you're using and create a shareable link.
Methods for sending large video files
If email isn't the best method for sharing your video files, there are other options. If two users are on the same network, sending large videos is especially easy. But it's possible even if the recipient is on the other side of the world.
Upload to a cloud service
Rather than attaching the video file to an email message, users can upload the video to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive and provide the recipient a download link to access the video directly. This takes advantage of the large storage capacity of cloud storage options and makes it easy to share access to the files uploaded by the original user.
Most services allow you to drag and drop files right into the cloud folders or choose files from your own drive to upload. Read on to find out which accelerated cloud solution might be right for you.
Google Drive is Google's cloud storage service and is a popular option to share large video files. All users with a Google account receive 15 GB of completely free storage and can purchase a larger storage space quota for a monthly fee.
For those with a Gmail account, there's a handy Google Drive button in the email window itself to insert a Google Drive link to uploaded files. There's also a Google Drive Chrome extension available to facilitate access. Google Photos is another feature, which allows users to upload videos and share them from the site.
airdrop and icloud
If you use Apple devices like an iPhone or a Mac computer, Apple's AirDrop transfers large files over Bluetooth if another user is nearby and has AirDrop enabled. In addition, Apple's Mail Drop service uses iCloud to make the video available there, allowing the recipient to download it.
Dropbox is another popular cloud storage service that supports sending large files. Dropbox offers a free version that provides up to 2 GB of storage and is accessible to Windows and Mac users alike.
OneDrive is Microsoft's cloud storage space and also offers a free account option with 5 GB of storage—enough to upload and send a large video file many times over.
In addition to cloud storage services that can accommodate all file types, some sites are designed specifically for hosting and sharing videos. For example, sites like YouTube, Dailymotion, and Animoto may be good choices if you also want to make videos available to the public.
Compress the file
For anyone who wants to send larger files directly rather than link to cloud services, there are other options to shrink the size of the file you're sending or to send multiple videos at the same time.
Compression can reduce the size of a large file to make it easier to send. It includes a variety of techniques, some of which are "lossless" (preserving the video data to keep the quality high) and some of which are "lossy" (removing data from the file to reduce the file size).
For senders who are less concerned with video quality (such as for a draft version of a product) or who don't want to send files that will be too large for the recipient after they're unzipped, lossy compression can be a good solution.
There are free services that will make compression simple and allow you to send large files easily.
Zip the file
A zip file is a type of compression that doesn't result in a loss of quality and can drastically reduce the size of high-resolution or long videos, making sharing files via email much easier. Unzipping files is a simple process. The recipient simply has to click on the zipped folder to unzip it and access the files inside.
Use a UDP file transfer
User datagram protocol (UDP) is an especially efficient way of transferring a large video file by breaking it into smaller packets. It has the advantage of picking up right where the transfer left off if the connection drops.
Use an FTP server
File transfer protocol (FTP) has been a popular method for sending large files for decades. Instead of delivering files directly to the recipient's email, FTP requires the transmission of the files to a centralized server. The server acts as an intermediary to download and upload files. It can be more reliable—although slower—than UDP when you need to send large video files.
USB flash drive
Sometimes it doesn't make sense to send large files. If both sender and recipient are in the same place or if internet connections are unreliable, saving a large video file to physical media like a USB flash drive might work best. There are numerous flash drives with storage capacities of up to 1 TB of data, which allow users to save a big file that exceeds email file size limits.
Edit the video itself
If emailing the video file itself is your preferred solution, another option is to edit the video to bring it under the maximum file size for your email service.
Reduce the video quality
Because it's so easy to produce high-quality videos, most of the time users default to the highest resolution settings possible. Depending on the purpose of the video, that may not be necessary.
If it's a video that doesn't need to be high resolution, consider adjusting the camera setting or lowering the resolution using editing software to reduce the video size. It results in a lower-quality image, but often the difference isn't even noticeable.
Lower frame rate
Another way to reduce the file size of a large video file is to choose a lower frame rate. The frame rate is the number of still images per second that make up the video to give the impression of continuous movement. The higher the frame rate, the smoother and more realistic the video footage.
Most cell phone cameras default to 30 frames per second (FPS) but can be adjusted to, for example, 24 FPS. Frame rate can also be adjusted in most video editing programs.
Cut the video length
Naturally, longer videos have larger file sizes. If the video can be trimmed without losing vital information, this can result in a smoother file transfer. Video editor programs exist right on the phone itself or can be accessed as a free service online.
Whether you use Mail Drop, Google Drive, iCloud Mail, Google Photos, or another service, you have many options to send large video files easily. So get creative with your next video and be confident that you can send a large video file through file sharing, editing, or whatever method makes the most sense for you. You'll never worry about file size limits again!