File formats can be frustratingly fussy, and this ugly fact never rears its head more than when you’re trying to convert a file from one format to another. For instance, look at what trouble that people run into when they’re trying to turn an MOV video file into an MP4 file on their Mac. Just from the number of queries that show up in Google, it’s easy to see that this seemingly innocuous process is still potentially difficult to perform. The fact that we’re neck-deep in the digital era hasn’t really remedied the fact, so today, we’re going to walk you through some quick ‘n dirty solutions that will help you to change MOV files into MP4 files from the comfort of your Mac computer.
When you think about all of the cross-platform accessibility that allows us to move between different types of hardware on a regular basis, you’d think that we would have a baseline denominator that allows us to easily switch the formats of files based on the software that we’re using to access them.
Or, maybe even better, if a greater number of the media applications and programs that we use could read a more diverse helping of file formats. It can be a bit frustrating that one of the first things you’ll often learn about a new piece of software is all of the formats that it can’t handle. There’s nothing worse than being made immediately aware of the limitations of a new piece of software.
When you bought your Mac computer, you probably did so under the impression that it “would always work.” That seems to be the trend going with Apple’s hardware and software anymore, and fortunately, that’s almost always the case. It does always work until you run up against the barriers established by stubborn file formats.
“Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.”
― Martin Fowler
One of the primary video media players that come baked into Mac computers is Quicktime. More than just a video player, it also allows Mac users to capture whatever is happening on their screen at a given time, effectively turning it into a video file. This is a genuinely handy feature, especially for videographers that like to design software tutorials and other things that would require active recording of your screen’s activities.
The only frustration in the process becomes apparent when you save those video files. See, Quicktime tends to save its output as MOV files, and there aren’t many other software applications that play nicely with it. At least, not as nicely as they do with the more frequently used MP4.
In the following guide, we’ll give you some handy resources that will allow you to convert your video files in a pinch. We’ll try to prioritize free options, because who doesn’t like saving a buck or two when all you want to do is change the format on a couple of video files?
What is MOV?
Perhaps most frustrating about this entire thing is the fact that MOV and MP4 files aren’t a hell of a lot different from each other. They both perform relatively the same tasks and are only separated due to minor differences in the way that the files are respectively structured. They’re also separated by their origin, which is somewhat telling, considering the operating system that we’re working with in this article.
The MOV file type originated on Macs, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that media software designed primarily for Apple computers is going to use it. While MOV might have originated on Mac, however, it has now migrated to Windows, and like most other file types, there are plenty of ways that you can access and utilize it, no matter which operating system you’re working on.
MOV is a file type that’s designed to contain multiple formats of data. It contains video, audio, and subtitle data necessary for displaying videos and can also contain 3D graphics information in larger file sizes.
What is MP4?
Remember how I said that MP4 and MOV are frustratingly similar?
- MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is another container format that’s designed to hold all of the necessary data to play videos.
- It contains video information, audio information, and the data necessary for video subtitles.
- It can also contain still images, making it useful for menu-based, interactive videos with reactive elements.
- The common file-types .m4a and .m4p are also types of MP4 files.
- Those tagged as .m4a are audio-only, compressed using specific codecs for lossless sound.
- Those with the .m4p designation are protected by digital rights management (DRM) encoding, which limits the ways in which the file can be accessed.
- Usually, .m4p files are used to protect copyrighted video and audio.
MP4’s similarity to MOV isn’t an accident. It’s based on the MOV file structure but is a bit more streamlined for easier use with a wider variety of media.
How Do I Convert MOV to MP4?
So, where does that leave us in terms of converting from one file type to another? You’d think that similarities between the two would make it easier, but the reality is that video file conversion usually requires specific, dedicated software that’s been designed specifically for this purpose.
It also often means that you’ll have to look to third-party resources to do it, which can be frustrating for Mac and PC users alike, who don’t want to shuffle through Google search results while they look for a software solution that’s both safe and reliable. Fortunately, we’ve saved you much of the trouble that you’d encounter while digging around for the right program and have provided several options below.
Know, however, that converting video files isn’t quite as easy or fast as converting image files. Since video files are typically much larger, it’s not really feasible to use an online resource that doesn’t feature some type of downloadable software–most connection speeds and third-party servers aren’t built for the type of internet traffic that converting large files through a browser app would bring.
Therefore, if you want to convert file formats, you’re going to have to go the software route.
Receiving glowing feedback from a CNet editor is usually a sign that a program is on the right track. If you’re a Mac user with the aforementioned video conversion needs, then Any-Video-Converter can probably handle anything that you throw at it.
The software is good for more than just MOV to MP4 file conversion; it can handle most video file formats, and as long as your hardware is up to snuff, it can handle rather large files without any trouble.
Of course, the most appealing part of this is the fact that it’s entirely free. You’ll have to deal with some lightweight advertising, but being able to have such a handy, free software solution makes that somewhat less of a bother.
Though there are plenty of alternative resources out there that will allow you to convert video files, I have to give personal accolade to HandBrake, my favorite of the bunch. Perhaps it’s just my own penchant for open-source programs, but this software is so thorough and competent that you may find yourself never using anything else. Like Any-Video-Converter, it can handle practically any format you throw at it.
HandBrake is also regularly updated, and multiplatform as well. It runs just as well on Linux and Windows as it does on Mac. In addition to that, the program has a vast support network (as many open-source programs tend to) through which you can fix just about any problem that you’re having with the software. Oh, and I believe we failed to mention that it’s free.
This is more than just our obligatory App Store offering, for sake of working on Apple hardware. The fact that it’s distributed on Apple’s own app platform should be proof enough that you can trust it, but on top of that, this app works like a charm. Recently updated to incorporate 4k video compatibility, this is a deceptively powerful little app that can easily convert MOV files to MP4.
Moreover, it can do most of its work in the background, and if you have more than one video you want to convert, Free MP4 Converter allows you to queue them up, for sake of ease. A plethora of positive customer feedback speaks to this being a fairly reliable resource, so if you’d feel best using an app that came from Apple’s own App Store, then this is the choice for you. Like the other two options above, Free MP4 Converter is also free.
Though there are other alternatives available, these three should have you ready and able to convert your MOV files to MP4 with little trouble at all. Finding the right software to do so on a Mac can seem like it might leave you wading through potentially hazardous download links, so just click through using those we’ve provided for a safe experience. If you still have any questions about the process of converting MOV video files to MP4, let us know in the comments below!