There are quite several video formats to choose from, and selecting the best one can be a bit of a nerve-wracking task. That’s partially because there isn’t a format that’s objectively the best. It will often depend on your needs.

Maybe a certain video compression platform provides specific formats or maybe you plan to upload your videos somewhere online that works better with some than others.

Two basic concepts will help you understand this. The first is a codec, which does the encoding and compression of your video. Next, there is the container that stores audio, video, subtitles, and other associated metadata. Once the codec does its job, the result is stored in a media container, and the result is what you know as a file format.

Choosing Your Preferred Video Format

Choosing Your Preferred Format

Again, if you came here to find the best file format overall, such a thing doesn’t exist. As you choose, ensure you are thinking about efficiency and what works with whatever platform you intend to use.

For example, you should bear in mind that every video-sharing site doesn’t accept every format. So, you would either want to use one that’s very common, or you can simply check out the site and see what the accepted formats are.

Three Common Video Formats to Remember

As someone who is going to be working with different formats, it does help to remember the ones you are probably going to be seeing quite a bit.


MP4 has been around since 2001, making it one of the file format trailblazers. Today, it’s one of the most popular options, which is why you’ll find that it is likely supported by whichever platform you use.

It’s efficient because it stays small while maintaining good quality, and the container stores text, images, video, and audio well.


Even if you have seen the MOV format before, you may not realize that it’s the brainchild of Apple. It’s also been around a while, but the intention was for QuickTime player support. The ability to store a variety of media types often makes it desirable.


MKV stands as one of the most versatile options on the market with containers that support just about any audio or video format you can think of. Additionally, constant updating means that your files will always remain current from a technological capability perspective.


Recommended Video Formats for Typical Needs

So, now that you have an idea of what video formats are and the main ones to keep in mind, what about some practical advice on what to choose in specific scenarios?

Best Video Format for YouTube

As you think about the best video format for YouTube, you need to remember what it means to be a content creator. You must deliver the highest possible quality using YouTube’s specifications.

The site will tell you that the MP4 format is recommended with an H.264 container and an AAC-LC audio codec. Other properties such as the frame rate, resolution, and aspect ratio matter too, but are beyond the scope of what is being mentioned here.

Note that your MOV videos can be used too, but again, are not recommended. MKV is unsupported and will require conversion before uploading.

Best Video Format for Other Online Videos

When it comes to video hosting platforms beyond YouTube, choosing the right video format is crucial. For example, you already know that MP4 is a pretty universal format, so the chances are that it’s a safe bet.

MKV allows you to store unlimited tracks, and if supported, should be your choice if you have a series of menus, chapters, audio options, and more to store.

For full-length movies or anything that requires iOS compatibility, MOV is probably your best option.

The Bottom Line

No video format has supremacy in the online world. However, some platforms will restrict compatibility and some formats offer greater benefits in certain situations. It’s up to you to evaluate both sides and select the format that yields the most optimal result.

By Streamvi

Streamvi is the go-to service for anyone who wants to easily upload, share, and compress their videos. With our friendly interface and powerful compression capabilities, Streamvi takes the hassle out of storing and sharing your videos online.