How do I convert a .mov file to .mp4?

There are a lot of converter tools. But I fear there are a lot of virus infected ones. How would you convert a movie .mov file to .mp4?



It's open source, free and its libraries are what Handbrake (and others) use to encode MPEG file formats. If you are going to have to use their software anyway, why not get it from the source?

You can download it from here: http://ffmpeg.org/download.html

Once you have it installed, just issue the command in Terminal:

ffmpeg -i input.mov output.mp4

Where input.mov and output.mp4 are the actual file names and paths of the files you want to convert from and to respectively.

I used to use Handbrake and VLC in the past to do this sort of thing, but ever since I discovered FFMPEG command line utility, I have no need for either apps any longer.

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  • 5
    works on mac os high sierra, without the -o flag before the output name – sirvon May 15 '18 at 16:43
  • I have downloaded it too, but how do I make it work on my Windows system? – Ole Petersen Oct 23 '18 at 7:30

'.mov' and '.mp4' just refer to 'container file formats'. What you have to take into account is the encoding format of the video and audio data contained in the file. Usually, you want an .mp4 file for sharing or playback on player devices. Such .mp4 files are usually expected to have the video track encoded in the H.264 compression format, and audio track in the AAC or the MP3 format.

Depending on the original creator application settings, the video and audio in the .mov file may already be compressed with H.264/AAC codecs. In this case, you don't need to 'convert' (transcode) it, as this process would compress the video data again adding generation loss because of the lossy compression methods used by the H.264 and AAC codecs. Instead, you can rewrap the contents into an .mp4 container file without re-compressing the video/audio data itself. This is also faster than transcoding.

So, first check what video/audio codecs (compression formats) were used: Open the .mov file in QuickTime Player and press Cmd-i to bring up the Inspector window.

If the Inspector shows H.264 and AAC, download the freeware tool MPEG Streamclip from http://www.squared5.com/svideo/mpeg-streamclip-mac.html (It's a long-standing, malware- and adware-free application. Just don't use any other download site.) Open the .mov file with MPEG Streamclip and choose File > Save as… (Cmd-Shift-S). In the Save dialog, choose 'MP4' from the drop-down menu.

(If your OS X is configured not to open apps that are not downloaded from the AppStore, right-click the MPEG Streamclip application icon and choose 'Open' from the menu.)

If the Inspector shows that other codecs than H.264 and AAC were used, please post the detailed codec info here, so that a more precise answer can be given as to how to work with that.

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Thanks to @Allan's solution, but if you dislike the terminal you may try "Miro Video Converter".

It's based on FFMPEG but with a beautiful UI.

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  • Not sure why this was downvoted with no comment, but +1 for an excellent GUI solution. – Allan Jun 17 at 10:09

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