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What Are the Different Types of Video Formats

There are different video types to be aware of, whether you’re uploading to a website or creating a short film. Learn about the types of video files here.

Videos play a crucial role in today’s world, so knowing about the different video types is essential, whether you’re uploading a video to YouTube or learning about video marketing. There are several benefits to creating video content — it’s an attention-grabbing format, you can pack a lot of information into a video, and videos tend to increase conversion rates.

Creating great video content is difficult for several reasons, but it’s partially due to the different types of video files. Each video file format has its pros and cons; some formats are smaller so they load quickly while others are larger and offer higher quality. Choosing the right file types for videos is essential for everything from social media content creation to email marketing.

So, how do you know which video types to choose for your videos? In this guide, we’ll break down the different types of video files and the pros and cons of each. We’ll also talk about how to determine the format of a video and what to look for in a video file format. Keep reading for a full breakdown of different video types.

What is a video file format?

A video file format is an extension at the end of a video file, such as AVI, MP4, or MOV. These file formats may vary in several ways, including file size, compression, encoding, and compatibility. You might want to choose the format with the smallest file size for some projects, but resolution and video quality might be more important in other cases. Anybody who creates video content should have a basic understanding of the different types of video files.

What are the different types of video files?

There are lots of different video types, but there are 7 that you really need to know if you’re creating video content. Any time you save a video, you’ll have to choose between these different types of files. From email marketing and social media to YouTube, these are some of the most commonly used file types for videos.

1. MP4

MPEG-4, also known as MP4, is the most common file type for videos. The MP4 format is the standard format for web videos because MP4 videos are high-quality with relatively small file sizes. Not only is MP4 the standard for the web, but this video format is also used for TV. If you’re adding a video to your website or uploading a video to YouTube, using an MP4 video format is a safe bet.

The only real downside to the MP4 format is the fact that the encoding and decoding processes require a lot of resources. While the actual file sizes are small, compressing the video when you save it is demanding on your PC. When people watch these videos, they have to be decompressed in real-time for maximum quality.

2. MOV

The MOV file format was designed by Apple to support the Quicktime player and is used primarily for video editing. People don’t typically publish MOV videos directly to the web or send them in emails because of the large file size. However, this large file size means that MOV files typically offer higher quality than MP4s and other video types. People use MOV files in the editing stage because you want to edit with the highest-quality version of your video. However, once editing is complete, you’ll have to compress it and format it for the web, which can take up time and memory space.

3. AVI

AVI files are unique because they offer very high-quality audio, which is a feature you don’t get in some of the other video types. Because AVI files offer excellent video and audio quality, file sizes are typically much larger. This is an even bigger concern when you’re using lossless AVI files that haven’t been compressed; you don’t need to decode these files to watch the video, but each minute of video results takes up gigabytes of space.

AVI files can be used for YouTube as well as TV production, but they’re not great for web use because of the large file size.

4. WMV

WMV, or Windows Media Video, is a video format that was developed by Microsoft for use with Windows operating systems. Because WMV was created for Windows, Apple and Linux devices don’t typically offer out-of-the-box support for WMV playback. However, WMV files offer excellent quality with small file sizes, which makes them a popular choice for web use in some cases. That being said, compatibility with Apple and Linux devices is a concern.

At the end of the day, WMV isn’t a standard format as a result of its lack of compatibility with certain operating systems. There are some niche uses for WMV files, but MP4s reign supreme for web use.


AVCHD is a format that was originally developed by Sony and Panasonic for camcorders. This file format is designed to capture a high-quality version of a video directly after it’s been recorded, that way you have a high-resolution video you can use when you’re ready to edit your video. While AVCHD videos typically offer slightly higher quality than MP4 videos, MP4 file sizes are smaller. As a result, many newer camcorders actually record MP4 videos instead of using the AVCHD format.

6. WebM

The WebM format was developed by Google and released in 2019 as HTML5 grew in popularity. This video format is specifically designed for the web, but the biggest issue it faces is a lack of support. WebM videos have an extremely small file size without sacrificing too much in terms of quality. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer and Safari don’t offer support for WebM videos unless you use additional plugins. The result is that MP4 is still the champion in terms of the best web video types.

7. FLV

There was a time when Flash video (FLV) was the most common video type, but that’s no longer the case since Flash Player was discontinued at the end of 2020. Flash Player is no longer included with popular web browsers, and anyone who tries to play an FLV video on the web will see an error message instead of the video. You can still use a third-party video player to open FLV videos on your phone or computer, but you can’t use them for the web. Essentially, there’s no reason to spend money creating Flash videos anymore.

What is the most common type of video file?

The most common type of video file is the MP4 format. When you want to add videos to a campaign, embed a video on your website, or upload a video to YouTube, MP4 is the ideal format. The biggest reason for the popularity of the MP4 format is the combination of high quality and small file sizes.

What features should you look for in video files?

Having a basic understanding of video types and what separates them can help you choose the right format for your videos. Here are some of the things you should look for when it comes to video file formats:

  • Container: The video container is what contains everything that makes up your video, including the audio and video content, metadata, and more.
  • Codec: Codecs determine how videos and audio are compressed, which affects the file size and quality. There are separate codecs for audio and video compression.
  • Frame rate: The frame rate, shown in frames per second, describes how often a new frame is shown. A higher frame rate typically results in a smoother video.
  • Frame size: This is the size of each individual frame measured in pixels, which is connected to the resolution and aspect ratio.
  • Resolution: The resolution of the video is the number that describes its quality, such as 1080p and 4k. Different resolutions use different numbers of horizontal lines and pixels to create images.
  • Aspect ratio: Aspect ratio refers to the width versus the height of a video. Common aspect ratios include 4:3, 16:9, and 21:9.
  • Bitrate: Bitrate essentially refers to the quality of a video, with a higher bitrate resulting in a higher-quality video.

How do you find the format of a video file?

If you want to find the format of a video file, there’s a simple process. However, the process is slightly different based on what type of device you’re using.

On a Windows PC, right-click the video file and select “Properties,” then click on the “Details” tab. This will tell you the video and audio codec, file format, and more.

On a Mac device, right-click your video file and select “Get Info,” then navigate to “More Info.” This will show you the file type, codecs, and more.

Key takeaways: Types of video files

From knowing when to use videos in an email marketing campaign to choosing the right file types, video marketing can be difficult. With a little research and hard work, you can create high-quality video content that helps boost your business.

With Mailchimp, getting the most out of your marketing campaign is easy. Mailchimp offers simple marketing tools that you can use to build your online presence and drive more traffic to your website. Try Mailchimp today and see how we can give your business a helping hand.

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