.MP4 File Extension

MPEG-4 Video

Developer Moving Picture Experts Group
3.8  |  2874 Votes

What is an MP4 file?

An MP4 file is a video saved in the MPEG-4 format. In addition to a video and accompanying audio, MP4 files may contain subtitles, still images, and video metadata. Because MP4 files are quite common, you can play them in most popular media players.

More Information

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

Since its release in 2001, MPEG-4 Part 14, better known as MP4, has become one of the most common formats used to store movies and video clips. Notably, users often share and stream MP4 videos online. Therefore, many users receive MP4 files when downloading videos from the internet.

The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) developed and maintains the MP4 format. It is an extension of the QuickTime File Format (QTFF), used by .MOV and .QT video files. Like those types of files, MP4 files can contain video, audio, subtitles, and other data. Each of these different data streams may be encoded with different codecs, as detailed below:

  • Video data - May be encoded using various codecs, such as MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264/AVC), MPEG-H Part 2 (H.265/HEVC), or MPEG-4 Part 2
  • Audio data - Primarily compressed with AAC compression, which is the same audio compression used by .AAC files ​
  • Subtitle data - Typically 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 formatted using various standards, including the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) format

While MP4 files technically do not have to contain both video and audio, they usually do. MP4 files that contain only audio typically use the .M4A extension. Likewise, MP4 files that contain only video sometimes use the .M4V extension (though this extension is more commonly used by copy-protected iTunes video files).

How to open an MP4 file

You can open and play an MP4 file with most popular media players, including Microsoft Movies & TV (Windows), Microsoft Windows Media Player (Windows), Apple QuickTime Player (macOS), and VLC media player (multiplatform). On most PCs, you can simply double-click an MP4 file to play it in your default media player.

Similarly, iOS and Android users can double-tap MP4 files to play them in those platforms' default media players. Users looking for more advanced playback options can play MP4s in VLC for iOS or VLC for Android.

How to edit an MP4 file

Several popular video editors allow you to import and edit the video an MP4 file contains. For example, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve (multiplatform), Adobe Premiere Pro (Windows, Mac), Corel VideoStudio (Windows), and Apple Final Cut Pro (Mac) can all import and edit MP4 files.

How to convert an MP4 file

Many media players and video editors, including VLC media player, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, and Handbrake, allow you to 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
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Programs that open MP4 files

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The FileInfo.com team has independently researched the MPEG-4 Video file format and Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS apps listed on this page. Our goal is 100% accuracy and we only publish information about file types that we have verified.

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