How to Compress a Video on a Mac – 6 Best Ways [2024]

Here’s how to compress a video on a Mac with Movavi Video Converter:

  1. Download and launch the app.

  2. Add your video to the program.
  3. Select presets and start the conversion.

Edited by Ben Jacklin
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In this guide, we’re exploring how to compress a video on a Mac. If you are dealing with video files a lot, you will know that they can be huge and demanding on storage space either in the cloud or on your computer. To compress a video file on Mac means reducing the video file size, Mac users have a few different options when it comes to software solutions. Below, we explore which is the best solution. There are inbuilt video compressors for Mac and software that come in the operating system by default, but this isn’t necessarily the best way to approach compression, and you might find it simpler using an online converter or some other software.




macOS 11.5.1 and higher

3. VLC

macOS 10.7.5 and higher, Windows, Linux

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  • All the products covered in this article have been tested by our team.

  • When testing, we compare key characteristics, including supported input and output formats, quality loss when converting, and other significant features.


Way #1. How to compress a large video file on a Mac with the Movavi converter

People want to know how to compress video files on Mac without losing quality, and the answer to that is using software like Movavi. Movavi Video Converter can work in over 180 different file types, converting the original file into a smaller file and shrinking it in a way that doesn’t lose quality. You also get a massive amount of control over the video, and as well as choosing the file format and quality you convert to, you can also edit the video. For example, you may trim the start and end of a video in order to create a more streamlined and efficient file. Even if you don’t cut the video, you can reduce video size on Mac by switching to a different file type or compression.

Learn more about Movavi Video Converter

Step 1. Install the software

Download and install the Mac version of Movavi Video Converter.

Step 2. Load the video

You can simply drag and drop the video file that you want to convert into the window, and this will load the video file.

Step 3. Select presets

Under the Video tab, you will get a vast selection of presets, allowing you to choose the correct settings to shrink video file size on Mac. The software will show the estimated file size and will enable you to select the compression rate.

If you want to reduce the MP4 file size on your Mac even further, click the estimated output size and choose the desired value.

Step 4. Compress

Hit the Convert button on your Mac video converter; this will send a new, compressed file to the Movavi Library folder or whichever other folder you have set as the default.

Way #2. How to compress a video in iMovie

iMovie may be the first choice for people looking into how to make a video smaller on Mac as it will already be installed on your Mac’s OS by default. The software is not purely about conversion; it is actually a video editor and has many presets to allow anyone to use it to compress video.

The best things about using iMovie include the fact that there is no additional software to install. It’s already there on your computer and may even be a default method of compressing video on Mac. This also means there is no additional cost attached to the software.

It’s not perfect, though. The software isn’t the quickest way to compress video on Mac, and the conversion can take a long time. On top of that, the interface can feel intimidating if you don’t know anything about video editing. It is, after all, a video editing software solution first and foremost.

Step 1. Load and edit video

Import your chosen video, and if you are comfortable doing so, you can also decide that you are going to edit it, such as topping and tailing the video to reduce the file size.

Step 2. Share the video

You need to click Share within iMovie, which effectively means save or convert, but the button is labeled Share as you can share your videos directly to YouTube, for instance.

Step 3. Adjust the settings

You can change the Resolution and Quality settings in order to reduce the file size of MP4 on Mac or any other mainstream video file type. The software will show you an estimation of the video file size before you export.

Step 4. Export and save

Choose an appropriate place to save the file when you press Export. This might just be on your desktop, and you can then move the file to wherever you want it, such as cloud storage or an external hard drive.

Way #3. How to compress a video with VLC on a Mac

VLC is open-source software that can be used for a variety of video uses, including compressing videos on Mac without losing file quality. VLC is a video player first and foremost, so some people are surprised to learn about the fact it can be used to convert and compress.

The best things about VLC include the fact that it is totally free to download, working just as well as a Windows or Mac video compressor. It also has a number of different presets that take away the technical jargon, meaning it is suitable for people who don’t know a lot about video files and formats. Settings like “Video for YouTube” allow you to select an easy profile to reduce video file size on Mac.

The cons of the software include the fact that it is harder to do any in-depth editing. It’s just a video player, first and foremost. On top of that, you have less control over the specific settings and no estimated file size before you convert. This is how to compress videos on a Mac in VLC:

Step 1. Download and install

Download and install VLC Media Player. It’s free and open-source, so it won’t request payment.

Download VLC

Step 2. Load and edit video

Import your chosen video by going to File, and then Convert/Stream. Click the Add button and navigate to the video in question.

Step 3. Adjust the settings

Click Customize. You can change the Resolution and Quality settings in order to reduce the file size. On VLC, you can use the Profile dropdown menu, which gives you preset profiles to allow you to save the file as the correct size.

Step 4. Select destination folder and save

To compress MP4 on Mac or any other file type, select your destination folder, where the file will export to. You can then press Save, which will begin the process.

Way #4. How to compress video files on a Mac with QuickTime Player

The QuickTime software also comes pre-installed on a Mac, and QuickTime Player has historically given people the option to compress videos on Mac. It is primarily a viewer rather than editing software, but like VLC, it has the ability to compress.

Quicktime does give some basic choices for lowering a video size on Mac and taking up less space, and you can export the video to smaller file sizes. You get fewer controls than you would with other native software such as iMovie. Below is our guide on how to compress video files in QuickTime Player.

Step 1. Import your video

In the File menu, select the Open File option and locate the video file you wish to compress.

Step 2. Adjust the export settings

Before you export your video, select the export settings. Click Export As and then select the appropriate option.

Step 3. Save the result

Save the compressed video file by clicking the Save button.

This is it! QuickTime is probably the most straightforward free video compressor for a Mac you can find.

Way #5. How to compress video files on a Mac without losing quality with Online Video Converter

You don’t necessarily have to download any software or use the inbuilt software for compressing video files on Mac as you can use online tools for conversion. Most of these online tools allow you to perform a video compress on Mac or Windows, as it takes place in your browser, so it doesn't matter which operating system you are running. Let’s take a look at Online Video Converter.

Online Video Converter offers a fast and efficient way to compress video files on Mac without having to download any software. It is designed for popular conversions such as MOV to MP4, M4V to MP4. On top of this, it can be used to compress MP4 on Mac or any other mainstream video file format. You don’t even have to change the file format to a smaller file in order to make video files smaller on Mac, as you can use the same output file format, merely changing the other settings to shrink the file.

Using the Online Video Converter to compress a movie on Mac couldn’t be simpler. 

  1. Go to the converter’s website.
    Open Online Video Converter 

  2. Click Add Your Media and select the file for compression. 

  3. Choose the format you want to export to. 

  4. Open Settings and select a smaller video resolution than in the original file. 

  5. When you’ve set it up, you can hit the Convert button. The video will be saved to your Downloads folder.

Way #6. How to compress a video on a Mac with FreeConvert

FreeConvert is another good solution for Mac and for other operating systems. It is designed to use either H.264 or H.265 compression and allow you to get a smaller file size without losing quality to an extreme level. This is an excellent option for people who want to do all of the conversion online, and it can work perfectly within most modern browsers.  Because this software has been designed exclusively to lower the size of files, it is really easy to compress a video. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to the FreeConvert website.
    Open FreeConvert 

  2. Click Choose Files and select the video file that you want to convert or reduce in size.

  3. Alter the settings as needed and then click Compress Now to start the compression.

  4. When ready, the status will change to Done and you can click Download and wait for your file. 

How to choose software to compress video size on a Mac

Whether you’ve got a huge MOV file or you are looking into how to compress an MP4 file on Mac, the choice of the method you use should be suitable for your operating system, requirements, and technical knowledge. There is no point in trying to enter complex settings to reduce the file type if you simply don’t understand what any of them mean. For this reason, some of the simpler options like Online Video Converter might be a more suitable option for most people to get started.

If you already know a little about video editing, or you have any knowledge of file types and compression, then an option like Movavi Video Converter or iMovie will allow you to make more changes, and both even include their own editing platforms so that you can actually make changes to the video length. This can be useful if you want to trim the start or the end of the video in question, another way you can make video files smaller on Mac. These software solutions also allow you to make unlimited conversions, whereas some of the options, like FreeConvert, significantly restrict the level at which you can convert, as file types and the number of conversions you can carry out are capped on free plans.

Media player with the compression feature


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Desktop app for fast compression and conversion

Movavi Video Converter

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Online tool for compressing small files

Online Video Converter

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Tips for compressing videos on a Mac

Having the right video software and actually knowing how to compress MP4 on a Mac are two different things. The following tips can help you to make sure you get it right every time, rather than ending up losing the quality as you compress your video. If you aren’t going to keep the original, higher-quality video, then it is even more essential that you compress professionally and ensure that you keep the quality levels high and don’t lose a lot of data.

  • Compress the video to smaller-sized files in order to preserve quality. The H.265 and H.264 video formats are a brilliant way to compress without losing a lot of data. Compression technology has continued to improve. MOV and M4V files can also be helpful.
  • Adjust the quality of the engine in order to alter the size of the file and the compression. You can lower the quality to an extent without noticing much of a difference when watching the video.
  • Start by lowering the bitrate by 20-50%, and if you can, you can also lower the resolution. For example, if you are only going to be viewing a video on your phone, you probably don’t need the maximum resolution available.
  • Make sure you don’t use any settings that you don’t fully understand. While this can be tempting if you’re a beginner, doing a bit of research can help you to ensure that you don’t use any file formats or compression settings that will damage the video or warp the resolution or sizing is vital.
  • Stay away from watermarked services. Some free compression services either online or available as apps will watermark the video in the process. This means that when you go back to the video in the future, you’ll be stuck with a logo in the corner. It’s worth paying for software that means this isn’t the case rather than having this permanent mark left on your beloved videos.
  • If you can, always keep a copy of the original somewhere, even if you burn it to DVD or keep it in the cloud or on an external hard drive.

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