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Best Video Format for YouTube

Want to always woo your audience with every interesting video content you gather? Perhaps, you’re still new in this niche?

Any YouTube creator will want to make sure they are only providing high-quality content for their viewers. And, keeping with the ever-evolving video requirements is highly crucial. Yes, we’re talking about YouTube video formats! Using the wrong one would make uploading a failure and would look your content par. Here, we will go into the best format for YouTube plus some useful information for you to ponder on. So, ready to dive in?

First things first…

What is YouTube Video Format, and Why Does it Matter?

It is a form of video file format that aims to store online video data on a laptop or computer. Also considers an encoding method that elects how much jiffies needed for storing a video frame. While it won’t strongly affect the overall quality of your video, there are slight differences. It usually consists of two parts:

  • Codec which compresses and decompresses the video file, hence, making it more manageable; H.264 is the most popular codec typically used in HD videos
  • Container which includes metadata, video, and audio; often documented in a few file names like MOV, AVI, and 3GP (also used in other social media networks such as Facebook)

File formats differ from one another. Some can make a bigger file size and take a video than others. The way in which they organize content has a bit distinction too. Different types of file containers and formats could and could be well-matched with specific types of players.

Part of getting the best format for YouTube uploads is knowing the audio and video settings, including duration, size, resolution, and aspect ratio. Let’s get to know them below.

YouTube Video Size

quality video hd

What exactly is the updated and accurate size for YouTube videos?

Verified YouTube accounts can upload videos up to 128 GB/12 hours. If you happen to exceed the maximum upload size, you’ll be required to compress them or thin out some parts to ensure a successful upload. Most people these days prefer watching short chunks of content. Thus, stick with the recommended file size to increase or keep your engagement rates high.

How can you change the video sizes both on mobiles and desktop?

For mobiles, you need to open your content first and then click on it to see the icons. You’ll see 3 dots that are vertically aligned, tap them. Click on “Quality” in the menu. Lastly, select the quality you like. While for desktops, you must tap the YouTube Settings icon once you have opened your video. Similar to mobile, hit on the “Quality” button within the menu. Choose your desired resolution where you want to stream the content. 720 resolutions and above are HD videos. You’ll easily spot the high-definition tag since it is placed next to the videos.

How about when resizing YouTube videos?

To do this, simply load the video you have, hit the options button, and then change to your preferred resolution. Now, trim and remove those parts you don’t need by clicking cut on the horizontal bar. Lastly, choose varying codecs and alter your video in a more efficient format.

YouTube Video Dimensions and Resolution

You can upload as many videos as you like on YouTube, sure. Though, just ensure you’re following the correct dimensions to avoid potential issues and, of course, get the best quality content your audience deserves. In this case, here are the different dimensions which YouTube only allows for users to follow.

  • 426×240 pixels (240p)
  • 640×360 pixels (360p)
  • 854×480 pixels (480p)
  • 1280×720 pixels (720p)
  • 1920×1080 pixels (1080p)
  • 2560×1440 pixels (1440p)
  • 3480×2160 pixels (2160p)

The smallest video dimensions are 426×240, while the biggest dimensions are 3480×2160. YouTube video resolution is crucial as it determines how well the content performs in the devices of searchers. That’s why you should persist with HD videos. For instance, 1080p YouTube resolution recorded videos provide quality playback no matter what device is being used. On the other hand, low resolutions may look absurd in big screens and minimize the quality. 480p is the standard definition, while both 720p and 1080p are the maximum resolution for video uploads in HD.

YouTube tends to make variations for the other video dimensions off your original file’s back. Hence, it’s best to upload your content with the highest dimensions in your chosen format as possible. In other circumstances, you might notice that your video is low on upload. There’s nothing to worry about.  Your content will be fully accessible to stream in low resolution and on an extensive array of devices once the upload flow is finished. Usually, higher resolutions (e.g., 1080p) may take further time to process.

YouTube Aspect Ratio

aspect ratio

When we say the YouTube aspect ratio, it denotes the video’s proportion. The standard ratio both for mobile and desktop is 16:9 and 4:3. This is especially ideal for smartphone users as it makes sure you can gauge the video to full screen without compromising its quality. Thus, they’ll find it easier to see and engage with your posts. Though for a 4:3 ratio, there will be black letterbox bars on either side.

Experts recommend not adding horizontal black bars before uploading the content. Otherwise, these will be all around your video and look quite awful. You can use an app such as Freemake to crop black bars.

How about for other ratio aspects?

Sure, that’s possible too. However, you will need to add padding for the best viewing experience (example 9:16 ratio). The padding could either be dark gray when the dark theme is activated or white by default. There’s also a 1:1 aspect ratio. Although here, the content’s width and length are identical – creating a perfect square.

Aside from the size, dimension, resolution, and aspect ratio, users should not overlook the importance of frame rate as well. It could make or break your content. It’s advisable to use not more than thirty frames per second (fps) and beyond. Still, you can opt to use for up to sixty fps and notice no difference at all. Also, have custom-built thumbnails on your YouTube account. This might be better than using screen grabs.

They should feature a 16:19 aspect ratio with a 1280×720 image size. The tiniest thumbnail size, usually distinguished, is 640×360 pixels. Formats such as .bmp, .png, and .jpg are also accepted. You can use a drag and drop design software to create distinguishable, uniform thumbnails. Doing so will help your channel achieve a nifty look in addition to establishing brand awareness.

Best Video Format for YouTube

So, what’s the best video format you can use for your next uploads? Take a close look at them below!

  • MP4 or MPEG-4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)

It is extensively supported by an assortment of the most well-known digital services you can find on the market. These include Xbox 360, Apple TV, and iPad, plus the new HTML 5 tech backs it. Offline programs and editing software even popularly accept MP4. With this, you can still photo and store audio files, aside from video files. It makes use of a distinct compression for audio and video tracks. What makes it one of the most recommended YouTube video formats is that it’s relatively smaller. Though, rest assured the quality will remain above average even when compressed. It doesn’t require a huge file size as well, compared to other video formats. But on the downside, it only has fewer features.

  • MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor)

Developed by Apple, MOV aims to store text, audio, and video effects – being compatible with an impressive number of digital sharing platforms (e.g., YouTube, Mac, and Windows thanks to the QuickTime Player version). This multimedia container is undeniably one of the best-looking video formats for YouTube due to its high-quality. It also features encoding such as 3GPP and MP4. It tends to take up more space on computers, though.

  • AVI (Audio Video Interleave)

While it is the oldest formats available, AVI still shows no signs of stopping down. It was built and designed by Microsoft with some outstanding edge among competitors. The files are saved with massive sizes to ensure high-quality contents constantly. AVI also works well with most operating systems and devices, including Linux, Microsoft, and Mac. But like MOV, it uses up more space too. Plus, some users may find it quite infuriating to choose aspect ratios by hand.

  • WMV (Windows Media Video)

It is also developed by Microsoft that serves as the major video format backed by the Windows operating system. Mac users depend on it for playing WMV videos by downloading the WMV player. This format is a bit similar to MP4 in the sense that it offers smaller sizes but with better compression capacities. But on the negative side, it might not be easily fitting with Apple products, plus the video quality can be quite low. WMV is not generally ideal for YouTube, though you can upload content on the platform using this video format. People usually use it for email messaging purposes these days.

  • FLV (Flash Video Format)

Considers as the most versatile YouTube video format, FLV is specifically built for Adobe Flash Video Players. It is programmed using software to make playing files with web browser plugins and Adobe Flash Player highly possible. It is also smaller and more compressed than MP4 – which promotes quick downloading. This supports both advanced downloads and streaming.  While these do sound promising for creating your next content, it doesn’t support most mobile devices like iOS.

  • AVCHD (Advanced Video Coding, High Definition)

Sony and Panasonic built this video format explicitly proposed for digital camcorders. A perfect option if you love shooting regular high-end content. AVCHD is power-driven by H.264/MPEG-4 video compression technology, which enables YouTube creators to store hours of first-class videos with just a small amount of data without worrying about how good it will look like in mobile and computers. Available both in HD and standard variations as well as supports 3-dimensional video.

  • MKV (Matroska Video)

This is a very popular YouTube video format container for so many reasons. Aside from being an open and free source, MKV also provides an ample of excellent added features that any users would surely want to take advantage of. It supports almost all codecs and incorporates unlimited audio, video, and subtitle tracks in a single file. What’s more, it features numerous languages. The downsides, though is that MKV is not well supported by some devices and programs and not as universal as AVI does. But certain users claim that it can be more future-friendly compared to AVI.

  • 3GP (3rd Generation Partnership Project)

3GP  is also known for its exceptional video quality in a range of devices, including 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile phones. Originally designed to disperse audio and video files between the 3G systems and the internet. Here, the saved files are stored as video streams in MPEG 4 or H.263. And just like MP4, this YouTube video format executes MPEG 4 compression.

Choosing the Best Video Formats Based on Personal Needs

personal needs
Choose based on your personal needs

As have mentioned earlier, video formats are not compatible with all online platforms. This is specifically true if we’re going to talk about playback and production. You may deal with incredible issues while trying to output, input, download, and upload files. Hence, the quest for the best YouTube video format seems interminable. How do you know what’s best for you?

The right format can be those with maximum compatibility, with the most features, or those with the merely smallest sizes. It all depends on what you need. Today, you’ll find several trade-off variations on video resolution, compatibility, and file size with so many codecs and containers available.

Keep in mind that the video format you choose plays an essential role in helping your account maintain higher engagement. Good quality content keeps the audience watching for a long period. Hence, it’s always important to choose the right format for each video you display. Plus, you surely want a format that is supported by major players. Take WMV and MP4, for instance. They can guarantee that your viewers will enjoy and even share your video.

How to Enable Long Videos on YouTube

As long as your account is verified, YouTube will not limit your content’s capacity. Otherwise, you’ll only fail in the end. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the upload page of YouTube –
  2. At the page’s bottom, click “Increase your limit.”
  3. YouTube will set some steps to verify your account using a mobile phone. Make sure to follow them thoroughly.
  4. A text message will be prompted, containing the verification code. Key in and click “Submit.” Though, you can also opt to get an automated voice message on your phone.
  5. Your YouTube account will now be confirmed. Any videos longer than fifteen minutes will be synced to the platform.

Ensure you are using the latest browser version to upload up to 20GB files. You can upload as extreme as 128GB YouTube videos with a full duration of eleven hours.

When planning to upload HD video, it must be MPEG 4 files at 1080 pixels or 1280×720 resolution along with 2GB. Also, the content must be shot at 24 to 30 FPS and be under 15:59 minutes. In case MPEG 4 doesn’t suit your video preference, you can use other formats like MOV, WMV, AVI, or others. Just make sure YouTube recognizes it.

How long should YouTube videos be?

The audience on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is quite different from those on YouTube. Since this online platform is popularly known for providing quality content, you can expect them to sit and watch longer at their expense. Well, of course, providing the content is very interesting and engaging. Still, you should consider those who mostly favor watching shorter versions. A six to eight-minute makes for a perfect length. Remember that quality still dominates than quantity. Do not persist just for the sake of watch time. You can split your videos into two parts, though. Doing so will lessen their boredom and, instead, have the inquisitiveness to finish viewing your post.

Final Words

With millions of people going digital for various purposes, from acquisition to transactions to pure entertainment, now is the best time to explore what social media networks have in store for you. When it comes to making videos, YouTube is undeniably the trusted platform boasting billions of active users worldwide. When implemented right, you can reach out to this gigantic audience and improve your brand.

Although, it could be challenging to upload YouTube videos, especially for those who are not yet fully familiar with YouTube’s current and advanced requirements, which include knowing the best video format. Determining which is “best” solely depends on your need. Let’s say you want the smallest amount of data while maintaining the quality of your content to some degree, then H.264 format might be the ideal pick.

May this information has fed up your curiosity and later lets you achieve a successful YouTube content project!

Tanya Charlotte

Enthusiastic about Internet and online marketing, YouTube and social media to be exact, love to learn new things everyday, I also have a dog and two cats which I can't live without. You can train with me at the GYM 4 times a week and I'll never pass a good movie on Friday nights.