What Kinds of Formats Can You Upload to YouTube?


After you shoot a video with a digital video camera or a cellphone, or edit a video on your computer, you might wonder what format you can use to upload it to YouTube. A number of video formats work for different devices and applications, such as Windows or Mac computers, cellphones and Flash websites. YouTube accepts a variety of video formats that you can upload.

About YouTube

  • YouTube is a free online service for hosting videos. Anyone can sign up for a YouTube account and upload videos for others to browse, search for and watch. Some people enable commenting on their videos, which lets viewers engage in a conversation about what they see.

Video Formats

  • You can upload videos saved in a wide variety of video formats to YouTube, including MPEG; AVI; 3GP, a format used to play videos on cellphones; MP4, a format used for iPod and PSP; WMV, or Windows Media Viewer; MOV, a Mac format; H.264 and FLV, Adobe's Flash video format. If your video is not saved in an accepted format, YouTube recommends that you use the free FFmpeg video conversion application, which is available at the FFmpeg website (ffmpeg.org).

YouTube Video Format Recommendation

  • To export a video from a video editing application or convert it to a format that YouTube accepts, YouTube recommends that you save or convert the file to MPEG4 video, using MP3 audio, which you can do with the free FFmpeg application if your video editor or video camera doesn't have that capability.

Optimizing Video

  • While you might be tempted to compress your video file to make a smaller file size, YouTube recommends that you upload your video in a format as close as possible to the original source, because videos lose quality as they are re-encoded. You can submit videos with a resolution as high as 1,080p, as of the date of publication. If you shoot a video in widescreen format, you should leave it widescreen instead of trying to convert it to 4:3 aspect ratio. YouTube also recommends that you keep the frame rate the same as the original, such as leaving a video at 24 frames per second instead of upsampling it to 30 frames per second.

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