.MP4 File Extension

MPEG-4 Video

Developer Moving Picture Experts Group
3.9  |  2785 Votes
Category Video Files
Format Binary

What is an MP4 file?

An MP4 file is a multimedia file that stores a movie or video clip and may also contain subtitles, images, and metadata. It is one of the most common formats used for distributing video online, whether it be streaming or sharing videos.

More Information
Screenshot of a .mp4 file in Apple QuickTime Player 10.5
MP4 file open in Apple QuickTime Player 10.5

The MP4 format is developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and was released in 2001. It is based on the QuickTime File Format (QTFF) used by .MOV and .QT files.

MP4 is short for "MPEG-4 Part 14," and is a container format that can store video, audio, subtitle, and image data in separate tracks. Each track, or data stream, may be encoded with different codecs:

  • Video data - May be encoded in various codecs, such as MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264/AVC), MPEG-H Part 2 (H.265/HEVC), and MPEG-4 Part 2.
  • Audio data - Primarily compressed with AAC compression, which is the same type of audio compression utilized in .AAC files. ​
  • Subtitle data - Primarily saved in the MPEG-4 Streaming text format, which is also known as MPEG-4 Part 17 and MPEG-4 Timed Text (MP4TT).
  • Metadata - May be saved in various standards, including the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) format.
💡 The .mp4 file extension indicates that the MPEG-4 file stores video, and most likely, audio. If the MPEG-4 container only stores audio, the file extension will most likely be .m4a.

Popularity of MP4 files

Much of the MP4 format's popularity can be attributed to the Apple iTunes Store since the format was used for distributing much of the media downloaded from the store. Now, the MP4 format is commonly used for distributing video online and is supported by a wide range of video programs and various hardware devices.

How to open an MP4 file

Most popular media players can play MP4 files. Microsoft Movies & TV (Windows), Microsoft Windows Media Player (Windows), Apple QuickTime Player (macOS), MPlayer (multiplatform), and VLC media player (multiplatform) are popular applications for playing MP4 files.

iOS and Android users can play MP4 files in the OS's default video players by double-tapping the files. Users looking for more advanced playback options can play MP4s in VLC for iOS or VLC for Android.

How to convert an MP4 file

Various media players and video editors, including VideoLAN VLC media player, Corel VideoStudio, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, and Handbrake, can convert MP4 files to other formats.

For example, VLC media player can convert MP4 files to the following formats:

  • .WEBM - WebM Video
  • .TS - Video Transport Stream
  • .ASF - Advanced Systems Format
  • .OGG - Ogg Vorbis Audio
  • .MP3 - MP3 Audio
  • .FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Codec
  • .WAV - WAVE Audio
Open and view .MP4 files with File Viewer Plus.Free Download

Programs that open or reference MP4 files

Updated March 22, 2022

Verified by FileInfo.com

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