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How to Compress a Video

Create files small enough to share online

Videos can be huge files. Compressing them makes it easier to send them to friends and family, share them on social networks, and save space on your phone. This is also easy to do.

Why compress video?

Video compression is useful for several reasons. If you want to upload and download videos online quickly, compression reduces file size and makes the process easier, especially on social media. If your video can only be viewed on devices with limited storage, compression can help save space. If you want to send the video via email or social media, compression will help you meet the file size limit.

How Video Compression Works

The video you are recording may be compressed. Unless you record video with a professional cine camera, most video equipment, whether it’s your smartphone, DSLR, or camcorder, compresses video when you record it with software called codecs.

Codecs can be “lossy” or “lossless”. For example, YouTube uses the H.264 lossless codec. The codec takes each frame of the video and divides it into a grid. Then compare the grids. If the information in the grid has not changed, these blocks will not be loaded during playback of lossless formats, nor will they be completely discarded by lossy formats.

Lossy codecs can reduce video to a smaller size, but with a loss of quality. Lossless sacrifices space for quality, although it can produce a surprising reduction. As a general rule, modern devices use lossless codecs for recording, and you can decide when recording and editing whether or not to compress further.

before compressing the video

As with any camera, there are certain steps that need to be performed before you can start shooting.

Shoot in bright places, especially in direct sunlight. The brighter the video, the more information the codec has to use. Avoid shadows and dark subtle shades if possible.

Think about what your video will look like. For example, if you’re viewing on an older tablet screen, choose a resolution of 1080p.

Knowing that you are compressing your video files to the smallest possible file size saves pre-recording time and lossy codec rendering time, and reduces the risk of errors.

Reduce your video to only the most relevant parts using a simple editing program. Even lossless codecs can pack shorter videos into a smaller space.

Compress Video in Windows 11 and Windows 10

Windows 11 and 10 come with an app called Video Editor (formerly Movie Maker) that lets you create simple videos. This is a convenient way to quickly compress video on Windows. Another advantage is that it exports a copy of your project instead of destroying your files, so you can go back and try again.

Compose videos by uploading them to the app and modifying them to your liking.

In Windows 11, select: end video In the upper right corner.Select in Windows 10 exit

Export button in Windows 10 Video Editor

You’ll see a range of options: Small, Medium, and Large (or Low, Medium, and High). Choose the one that best suits your needs.

Small, Medium or Large export options for Video Editor on Windows

Compress video on iOS and macOS

iMovie comes standard on macOS and iOS. Follow the steps below to get started with iOS.

End the movie and touch the button exit icon, located in the middle of the row.

Play save video

Choose a size from the menu.

iMovie on iOS, share button, saving video and output format

The macOS version of iMovie works the same as the iOS version, with some differences.

After editing the movie, select share in the upper right corner of the iMovie screen.

Share button in iMovie for macOS

choose file such as exports.

Type file export in iMovie for macOS

Choose the format you want to export the video to. The lower the number, the smaller the file size, but the higher the compression ratio.

File size of iMovie export

Your Mac will save the exported file where you say it is, just like any other saved file.

Compress video on Android

While Android apps themselves aren’t standardized, most modern Android devices include a basic video editing tool in the Gallery app, with some compression options.

Open gallery application and select a video.

select edit function, usually word edit or a pencil icon.

Play solution either exit and select a resolution from the menu.

Edit, Resolution and Options buttons in Android Gallery app

Compress video with website video editor

Video editing sites also offer compression options. However, they may compress the video during export.As a general rule, when you are done with a project, select a export video either end video and choose from a list of options. For example, here’s a selection from Clipchamp.

Clipchamp video compression options

Look for the stars next to higher resolution options – these are paid features on this particular site. You may have to try multiple sites to find one that offers better compression for free.

Content

How to Compress a Video

Create files small enough to share online

Videos can be enormous files. Compressing them makes them easier to send out to friends and family, share on social media, and save room on your phone. It’s also simple to do.

Why Should You Compress Video?

Video compression is useful for a number of reasons. If you want your videos to upload and download quickly online, compression reduces the file size and makes that an easier process, especially on social media. If your video will only be watched on a device with limited storage, compression can help you save space. And if you want to send videos via email or over social networks, compression helps you meet any file size limits.

How Video Compression Works

The video you’re shooting is probably compressed. Unless you’re filming a video with a professional cinema camera, most video devices, whether they’re your smartphone, your DSLR, or your camcorder, compress the video as you shoot it using a piece of software called a codec.

Codecs can be “lossy” or “lossless”. For example, YouTube uses lossless codec H.264. The codec takes each frame of a video and divides it into a grid. It then compares the grids. If the information in the grid hasn’t changed, those squares aren’t loaded during playback in lossless formats, or discarded entirely with lossy formats.

Lossy codecs can squish a video down to a much smaller size, but it comes at a loss of quality. Lossless sacrifices space for quality, although it can achieve surprising reductions. As a general rule, modern devices shoot using a lossless codec and let you decide whether to compress it further when you’re shooting and editing.

Before You Compress Video

With any video camera, there are certain steps you should take before you start filming.

Shoot in places with lots of light, particularly direct sunlight. The better lit your video is, the more information the codec has to work with. If possible, avoid shadows and subtle grades of dark colors.

Consider how your video will be seen. For example, if you’re going to watch it on an older flatscreen, choose 1080p resolution.

If you know you’re going to crush video files down to the smallest possible file size, shooting with a lossy codec beforehand saves time in rendering and reduces the risk of errors.

Use a simple editing program to cut your video down to only the most relevant parts. Even lossless codecs can pack shorter videos into much smaller spaces.

Compressing Video in Windows 11 and Windows 10

Windows 11 and 10 come with an app called Video Editor (formerly Movie Maker) that allows you to make simple videos. It’s a useful way to quickly compress video in Windows. Another advantage is that it exports a copy of your project, instead of destroying your files, so you can go back and try again.

Assemble your video by uploading it to the app and putting any touches you want on it.

On Windows 11, select Finish Video in the upper-right corner. On Windows 10, select Export.

You’re presented with a set of options: small, medium, and large (or low, medium, and high). Choose the one most appropriate to your needs.

Compressing Video in iOS and macOS

iMovie comes standard in both macOS and iOS. Starting with iOS, follow the next few steps.

Finalize your movie and tap the Export icon, which is in the center of the row.

Tap Save Video.

Choose a size from the menu.

The macOS version of iMovie works similarly to the iOS version, with a couple of differences.

after editing your movie, select the Share button in the upper-right corner of the iMovie screen.

Choose File as the export.

Select the size you’d like to export your video as. The smaller the number, the smaller the file size but the more the compression.

Your Mac saves the exported file wherever you tell it to, just like it does with every other file save.

Compressing Video in Android

While Android apps are not necessarily standardized, most modern Android devices include a simple video editing tool in the Gallery app with a few compression options.

Open the Gallery app and select a video.

Choose the edit function, usually the word Edit or a pencil icon.

Tap Resolution or Export and choose a resolution from the menu.

Compressing Video With a Website Video Editor

Websites that edit videos also offer compression options. However, they may compress the video as part of the export process. As a rule, once you’re finished with your project, select a button marked Export Video or Finish Video and choose from a shortlist of options. Here, for example, are Clipchamp’s choices.

Notice the stars next to higher-resolution options: These are paid features on this particular site. You may need to try out several sites to find one that allows better compression for free.

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