What Is an MP4 File and How Do I Play One?

What Is an MP4 File and How Do I Play One?

What Is an MP4 file?

An MP4 file is a multimedia file used for storing, sharing, downloading, and streaming video clips from the internet. It is a versatile file type that can store video, audio, images, and even subtitles. MP4 video files are one of the most common file formats used on the internet today. 

To get a bit technical, MP4 stands for MPEG-4 Part 14. It is based upon the Quicktime File Format (.mov), and version 1 (named MPEG-4 Part 12) was released in 2001. The most recent version, MPEG-4 Part 14, was released in 2003.

The MP4 format should not be confused with the MP3 format though. MP3 files contain audio only. So, if you find yourself asking the question, “Is MP4 video or audio?”, remember that MP4 files can contain both audio and video, while MP3 files cannot.

What Can I Do with MP4 files?

MP4 files are one of the most popular file types for video on the internet today and for good reason. While there are many technical advantages of MP4 files over other video filetypes, the most convenient advantages lie in the ease of storing, sharing, and editing these files.

  • Storage - MP4 files can be stored on just about any modern digital device you use daily, such as computers, phones, and tablets. MP4 files are also highly compressed, which allows for a smaller file size compared to other multimedia file formats. Even though file sizes tend to be smaller, this does not have a negative impact on file quality, as most of the original quality is retained.

  • Sharing - MP4 video files can easily be shared on the internet with friends and family. Depending on the size, files can sometimes be sent through email, or alternatively, uploaded to a cloud file sharing service such as Dropbox or even to Youtube for all to see.

  • Editing - The big advantage of MP4 files is that you can edit your video. You cannot directly edit a DVD. Years ago, the big electronic companies and movie studios developed a universal standard for the DVD disc. DVDs are encrypted, making it nearly impossible to edit. Why? The movie studios didn’t want people to make illegal copies of or edit the content. 

Editing MP4 file on tablet

Editing MP4 files is possible on computers and even tablets

Editing an MP4 file can be a simple process with so many tutorials available to watch online these days, but first, you will need editing software installed on your computer.

If you have a Windows 10 or above computer, you can use the free built-in video editor. For more tech-savvy users, there are more powerful, paid options available such as Adobe premiere pro. For Mac users, iMovie is the built-in option, or for more advanced editing options, there is Final cut pro.

How Do I Open an MP4 File?

Opening and playing an MP4 file on your computer is a straightforward process. Simply double-click on the file you wish to view, and your computer will usually be able to decide which application will open and play the video file. 

Since most computers already have some type of media player installed, the MP4 file should open and play automatically. For Windows users, this is Windows Media Player, and for Mac users, this will be Quicktime. 

If your file does not automatically open, you can download the free, cross-platform software VLC media player, follow the instructions to associate the program with the .mp4 file extension, and you should be able to open and play your files then.

Can I Convert My Old Home Movies to MP4 Files?

If you have a collection of old home movies recorded on videotapes or old film reels, chances are you have no way to view them. The good news is that you can indeed convert home videos into MP4 video files to save, view, and share with your family. It is also a smart and safe idea. As videotapes and film reels age, it gets harder to preserve the content stored on them.

For tech-savvy individuals, converting home movies to digital can be a fairly straightforward DIY project. If convenience and safety are a priority, choosing a professional video transfer service like Nostalgic Media is the way to go.

At Nostalgic Media, we have over 30 years of professional experience in video production and photography. We understand just how important preserving aging family memories are, and that the best way to future-proof these memories is by converting them to MP4 video files.

When you choose Nostalgic Media to convert videotapes and film reels to digital, you can rest easy knowing that your family treasures are being transformed into safe, long-lasting MP4 video files to view and share with family for years and years to come.


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