How to convert video to and from MP4 on a Mac
MPEG-4 or MP4 video files can be viewed on any platform and multimedia device, including Apple products. To be sure that your movie will play back on your iPad, iPod Touch, or Sony PSP, you may need to change the initial format of your files, e.g., to convert video to MP4 on a Mac. However, you can use a video converter to change the format – for example, if the video file you want to transfer to your device is large and there’s not enough free space left.
Our picks for the list of video converters to MP4 for Mac are:
- Movavi Video Converter
Ultra-fast converter with simple interface, plenty of formats to choose from, and helpful editing tools.
- Movavi Free Video Converter
A free version of Movavi Video Converter. It doesn’t feature editing and SuperSpeed conversion, but has all the formats available.
A simple tool that doesn’t require installing. It works best for individual small files.
A media player with editing and converting features. It may not be as simple as the previous picks, but it plays the majority of existing file formats.
- MacX Free MP4 Video Converter
MacX Free MP4 Video Converter lets you convert MP4 on a Mac in just a couple of clicks. Can target portable devices and convert from DVD disks and folders.
A DVD-ripping tool with additional conversion features. It can estimate the size of your final file before converting.
In this article, you’ll find a review of the 6 programs for converting video files. You will also learn how to choose a Mac MP4 converter and will find information about the MP4 format and answers to frequently asked questions.
Movavi’s MP4 converter for Mac
Best for: simple interface and fast speed
With Movavi Video Converter for macOS, you can easily convert to MP4 on your Mac, optimizing resolution and file size. Thanks to support for all popular formats, you can use the program to convert MOV, MKV, FLV, M4V, MTS, VOB, WebM, WMV, and AVI to MP4, rip unprotected DVDs, or extract sound tracks into MP3 audio files. The software offers a lot of editing options as well. The guide below explains how to change a video format on a Mac in 5 simple steps.
Step 1. Download and install Movavi’s MP4 converter for Mac
Download Movavi Video Converter, open the .dmg file, and install the software according to the instructions in the pop-up window. Then run the program.
Step 2. Open the files for conversion
Click the Add Media button, select Add Video, and add the files you want to convert. Note that the program enables you to convert multiple files in one go.
Step 3. Choose the output format
Go to the Video tab, click on the desired format category, and select the appropriate preset from the list. You can also find ready-made presets for mobile devices in the Devices tab. If you want to change the default parameters for resolution, audio bitrate, etc., you can click the Cogwheel button below the list of formats and make the necessary adjustments there.
Step 4. Trim your video (optional)
You can also trim your video if needed. To do this, click the Edit button and select Trim. Place the cut marker where you want your video to finish and click the Cut button. Now select the fragment you want to cut out and hit Delete. Then hit Save and Close.
Step 5. Convert the video to MP4 on your Mac
Now you can choose the destination folder by clicking the Save to button. Now click the Convert button to process the files and wait until the encoding is finished. The output folder will open automatically unless you've unchecked this option before you started.
Free MP4 converters for Mac
If you need to know how to convert video on Mac, this list of free converter software will help point you in the right direction. There are a number of programs that contain an MP4 converter for free on Mac computers, and we've gathered some of our favorites for this list. Each product is on the list because we believe it to perform well at its intended goals. How well these programs rank against each other will depend greatly on your own experience, goals, and preferences. Therefore, we ask you to keep in mind that the MP4 converters for Mac presented below are listed in no particular order. Because they are all free, we recommend that you try all of those that appeal to you and decide for yourself which suits your needs better.
Best for: getting the experience of a fully-fledged converter for free
This free version of Movavi Video Converter is still packed with features. You'll be able to convert to and from nearly any media format you can think of, including video, audio, and image formats. There are over 200 presets available to tailor your conversion to the device of your choice, or you can let the software try to auto-detect the device. Because many conversions don't turn out the way you intended, this MPEG-4 converter for Mac lets you convert a small sample of the video first so you can see what the final results will look like before committing to the settings.
How to convert a video to MP4 with Movavi Free Video Converter
- Open Movavi Free Video Converter.
- Click on Add Media in the top left corner of the window and then click on Add Video to select the video files that you'd like to convert.
- In the Video tab, find the MP4 format and click on it. A set of presets for MP4 files will open. Choose the one that best suits your needs.
- Click on the Convert button to begin the conversion. When the conversion is finished, a folder containing the converted files will automatically open.
Best for: Converting video files one at a time or in batches online without downloading any software to your computer
CloudConvert is a good option for people who want an MP4 converter for Mac online. Because it’s a web app, it doesn’t require users to download software or find a compatible version for their system. The advanced settings in the app also allow users to control different aspects of their conversions and output files, such as resolution, aspect ratio, and codec.
How to convert an MP4 video with CloudConvert
- Go to CloudConvert.
- Click the Add Files button and select the file(s) you want to convert.
- Open the Convert to dropdown menu and select MP4.
- If you want to control other presets, click on the wrench icon and choose the settings you want.
- Click the red Convert button.
Best for: multi-tasking (if you need a player, converter, and video editor)
You may have heard of VLC Media Player before, it's one of the most popular media players around due to its ability to open almost any file format you throw at it. The capability has made it a standard part of most Linux distributions and a favorite among both Mac and Windows users where the native media players are often lacking support for a few popular codecs.
What you might not have known though, is that VLC is also capable of converting to and from that wide array of formats that it supports, making it great for use as a Mac MPEG-4 converter. The reason you might not know that is that it isn't really designed as a video converter, so the process isn't as intuitive as you may like and the conversion process can be slower than a dedicated video converter would be.
How to change a video format on Mac with VLC
- Open the VLC program.
- With the VLC program active, open its File menu on your Mac's menu bar.
- Click on the Convert / Stream option. You'll find it near the bottom of the menu. Alternatively, you can hit Shift-Command-S on your Mac keyboard to open the dialog.
- When the Convert / Stream dialog opens up, you can drag and drop the file you want to convert where it says "Drop media here." There is also a button in that section you can click on to open your media file manually.
- With your media file open in the Convert / Stream dialog, it's time to convert the file. From the Choose Profile section, pick the format and preset that you'd like to convert your file to. There are two options for MP4 files; one for video and one for audio.
- If you'd like more control, you can click on the Customize button next to the presets dropdown. From here you can choose different codecs and output formats.
- Click on the Save File option and select the location you'd like your converted file to be placed in. The file will then be converted into the new format and saved at that location.
Best for: Converting videos to MP4 format on Mac for playback on iPhones, iPads, PSP, and other devices
MacX Free MP4 Video Converter is a free MP4 video converter for Mac. If you’re looking for an MP4 converter for Mac that lets you convert to multiple formats for different devices and video publishing platforms, this may be an option for you. In addition to video conversion capabilities, it also allows users to extract audio files and convert video files to MP3, as well.
How to convert an MP4 video with MacX Free MP4 Video Converter
- Download, install, and open MacX Free MP4 Video converter.
- Click + to load the video you want to format, or drag and drop the file into the converter.
- From the dropdown menu, select MP4 as your output format.
- Click Browse to choose the destination where you want to save your output video.
- Click Run to save your converted MP4 video.
Best for: ripping DVDs and converting to MP4
Just as VLC is primarily known as a media player, HandBrake was primarily known as a DVD ripping tool. It includes some nice DVD-specific features such as chapter selection and basic support for extracting subtitles. It can also function as a general Mac MP4 converter as well, and as DVDs become less popular, that aspect of the software is coming to the forefront.
One outstanding feature of HandBrake is the option to use a bit rate calculator that will estimate the size of your file before you convert it. This way, you can be sure your file will stay under these size limits you need while obtaining the maximum quality for those limits. The software can be a bit buggy, however, and the interface is outdated.
How to convert a video to MP4 on Mac with HandBrake
- Open HandBrake.
- When the program opens, click on the Source menu option.
- Select the Open File option and choose the file you'd like to convert to an MP4.
- Click on Browse next to the Destination field near the top of the interface and choose where you'd like to save your new MP4 file.
- Make sure that Container Format in the Preset section underneath the Destination field is set to MP4.
- Change whichever options you may want to in the settings section on the lower part of the screen.
- Click the Start button to begin the conversion process.
How to choose an MP4 converter for Mac
There are a lot of converters out there, so you might wonder how to decide which software to use. Below you’ll find criteria that will likely be helpful in your quest to find the best MP4 converter for Mac.
There are many different target devices out there that you may want to view your converted files on. Because each device has its own set of best settings for things like resolution and bitrate, creating an optimal conversion between file formats can require a bit of technical knowledge. It isn't realistic that everyone should have to go out and learn technical specifications for their target devices, so many of the programs on the market that do video conversions also come with presets to target the most popular devices. The best video converters to MP4 for Mac are going to be the ones that have plenty of presets to account for these devices. You should look for software that has as many presets as possible, as this will provide you with the maximum utility. However, at the very least, you'll want presets for the devices you own and will be targeting with your conversions.
This is the opposite end of the spectrum from presets. Mac MP4 converters may be used to target a specific device, and the software used should certainly make that option as easy as possible for you. But there may be times when you want more specific control over how the output file is generated. There is a lot of flexibility in the MP4 codec, Mac power users will want to be able to extract as much of that flexibility as possible. For that reason, a good Mac MP4 video converter will also have the option to adjust all of the important settings manually if needed. This will allow the converter to be fast and convenient when it needs to be, but also powerful and flexible when that need arises.
Sometimes, when converting a video, you actually need more than just to change the video format. For example, when converting a DVD video, you might need the program to read extra data such as alternate audio tracks and subtitles. Some programs are only able to extract the video files for conversions. Others may offer the ability to take the core video and convert it to audio only. The best solutions out there will allow you the greatest flexibility to rip any aspect of the DVD that is possible for conversion.
Are free programs good enough?
A free MP4 converter for Mac will probably get the job done, depending on your requirements and the quality of the program. Many free programs, however, have either limited feature sets or are more difficult to use than they need to be. Free programs are generally created in a very utilitarian fashion and are not as focused on ease-of-use as commercial programs like Movavi Video Converter are. We've mentioned Movavi Free Video Converter on the list already, so you'll be able to get a good idea of what benefits you'll get from the paid software by downloading and playing with that. If your needs are very basic, or if it isn't something you'll be using very frequently, you may be fine using free versions and upgrading only when the restrictions or hassles necessitate it.
What is MP4?
Although most famous for video, the MP4 standard is actually a media container that can contain any type of media. Audio only files with the .M4A extension are also commonly seen. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed the MP4 format using the QuickTime File Format from Apple as a base. The group added explicit support for MPEG features such as Initial Object Descriptors to the QuickTime File Format.
The MPEG format is perhaps most popular now for MP3 audio files, but has its start in the MPEG-1 video standard created back in 1993. MPEG stands for Moving Pictures Experts Group, the organization that developed the standard. MP4 is short for MPEG-4 Part 14, which is the actual specification that describes the standard.
|File extension||.mp4, .m4a, .m4p, .m4b, .m4r, .m4v|
|Video-encoding formats||MPEG-4 or H.264|
|Developed by||International Organization for Standardization|
|Device and OS compatibility||All Windows-based devices, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, game consoles like Xbox and Playstation|
Frequently asked questions
How to play MP4 on a Mac?
You can open MP4s on your Mac using the default player if the videos are compressed with the MPEG-4, MPEG-2, or H.264 codec. If you want to play an MP4 file encoded with a different codec, you’ll need to install a player that supports that codec, or simply convert the file to the MOV format.
Why can't QuickTime Player open MP4 files?
Don’t know how to play MP4 on a Mac? Try to open your video with QuickTime Player. An MP4 file can be encoded with various video and audio codecs, and QuickTime Player supports some of them. So in case your video is encoded with supported formats, playing MP4 on your Mac is possible with QuickTime Player. However, you might need to install a special codec component if the codecs used in your MP4 file are not compatible with the player. Alternatively, you can use Movavi Video Converter to change the MP4 codec from H.263, H.265, MJPEG, or ProRes to the MPEG-4 or H.264 codecs supported by the QuickTime Player.
Does iMovie support MP4?
You can play MP4 in iMovie, but there are certain MP4 codecs this Mac program supports: MPEG4/AAC or H.264/AAC. MP4 files compressed with other codecs are not compatible with iMovie.
Which is the best video format for Mac?
The best video format for Mac is MOV – a native format for QuickTime Player. MOV files are supported even on older versions of macOS. Newer versions also support MP4’s MPEG-4 and H.264 codecs.
How do I convert MP4 to QuickTime?
To convert MP4 to MOV for QuickTime with Movavi Video Converter, follow the instructions below.
- Download the program.
- Add the videos you want to convert.
- Select the appropriate MOV preset.
- Click the Convert button.
For a more detailed version of the guide, follow the link below:Go to the full version of the guide
Why can't I play MP4 files on my Mac?
If you cannot play an MP4 file on your Mac, it most likely means that the video uses a codec not compatible with the device. Try transcoding it to a more widely used code, such as H.264.
Was the article helpful?
Sign up for news and special offers