How to compress a video file: reducing video file size with tools

You’ve probably already encountered problems with large video files, such as error messages when you try and send them as email attachments, or a lack of storage space on your PC. Don’t worry though. You simply need to use a tool or program that compresses the video files to make them smaller (without any noticeable reduction in quality). There are lots of different options, so we’ve put together this guide to help you find the right solution.

Why should I compress my video files?

The local storage space available on today’s computers is more than adequate for most users. However, compared to documents and image files, videos take up a lot of space, so if you have lots of video files, you might still find that your hard drive fills up pretty quickly. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you need to start deleting all of your videos. There are lots of tools you can use to reduce the size of video files so that they take up less space.

It’s also worth compressing video files if you want to upload them or email them to somebody else. Smaller files upload faster and won’t exceed the attachment limit set by your email provider.

Tip

Thanks to the high-resolution cameras found on today’s smartphones, more people are producing high-quality video content. If you fancy getting into video production yourself, there are lots of beginner-friendly video editing programs available for cutting and editing video recordings.

How to compress video files

If you want to reduce the size of a video file, you’ve got two options:

  1. Online tools: Online tools don’t have to be installed, so you can get started straight away.
  2. Downloadable software: One advantage of using downloaded software (whether paid or free) is that it works even if you don’t have an internet connection.

The following sections give an overview of a few of the tools that are available and explain how to use them to compress video files.

Compressing videos using online tools

The simplest and fastest way of compressing a video file is to use an online tool. For this, you’ll need a working internet connection, but you won’t need to install anything on your computer.

Let’s start by looking at two free online tools: Clideo and Wondershare.

Clideo: Online video compression with minimal loss of quality

Clideo is an online video compression tool that automatically sets the best parameters to minimize loss of quality. To compress a video, simply go to the Clideo website and follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “Choose file” button. Browse to the file location and select your video, then click on “Open”. Alternatively, you can drag and drop your video file onto the tool interface.
  2. Clideo will automatically start uploading your file. There is a progress bar to show you how long the process will take.
  3. Once the upload is complete, the tool will automatically launch the compression.
  4. Click on “Download” to save the video on your computer, or select one of the other options (Dropbox or Google Drive).
Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Modern user interface ✘ Original file size limited to 500 MB
✔ Secure encryption ✘ Compressed files contain a faint watermark
✔ Preview available before download  

Wondershare: Online compression of videos with no watermark

Wondershare is a company that offers a whole range of multimedia products. One of these is a free online video compressor that can handle all standard video formats. It has one significant advantage compared to other tools in that it doesn’t embed a watermark in the output file. Here’s how to compress a video using Wondershare:

  1. Drag and drop your video file into the upload area, or click on the button to select a file from your computer.
  2. Configure the resolution and format in the output settings. Click on the “Compress” button to launch the process.
  3. Save the compressed video file on your computer or in your Dropbox.
Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Can also be downloaded ✘ No link to Google Drive
✔ Possibility of configuring settings  
✔ No watermark  

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Free software for compressing video files

Although wireless coverage is available in most places these days, you might not always have an internet connection – especially if you’re often on the move. If that’s the case, or if you regularly need to compress videos, it’s best to install a video compression program. We’ve selected three handy programs that will allow you to reduce the size of video files any time, even without an internet connection.

VLC Player: Compression of any file format

VLC Player is a popular media player that supports many different file types, including some less common ones. But what lots of users don’t know is that VLC can also compress video files. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Go to the “Media” tab and select “Convert/save…
  2. Click on “Add…” and locate the video you want to compress.
  3. Click on “Convert / Save” to confirm your choice.
  4. Configure the other settings if necessary (otherwise you can skip this step).
  5. Choose where you want to save the compressed video file.
  6. Click on “Start” and wait for the program to complete the compression.
Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Very versatile tool ✘ No media management features
✔ Supports many file formats ✘ Outdated interface
✔ Good output quality  
✔ Compatible with all operating systems  
✔ Optional compression settings  

A step-by-step guide to compressing video files using VLC Player is available here:

In order to protect your privacy, the video will not load until you click on it.

Freemake Video Converter

Freemake Video Converter lets you specify the exact size of the output file. It’s a free tool, but on the other hand it inserts a distracting watermark into all of the compressed files. To compress a video file using this tool:

  1. Left-click on the “Video” button and select your video file.
  2. Select the output format.
  3. In the window that opens, define the video resolution. The smaller the resolution, the smaller the final file will be.
  4. Click on the “Convert” button to launch the process.
Tip

Reduce the video resolution as little as possible, otherwise you risk compromising on video quality.

Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Supports lots of formats ✘ Videos contain a watermark
✔ File size can be specified ✘ Only compatible with Windows

Paid tools for compressing, producing, and editing videos

If you want to create and edit videos yourself and compress them, it’s worth paying for a suitable piece of software. Two of the most popular video cutting and editing programs are MAGIX Video Edit Pro and Filmora. They can both compress existing videos too. Let’s take a closer look.

MAGIX Movie Edit Pro: Professional video editing for beginners

The user interface and features of MAGIX Video Edit Pro can be adapted to match your experience, making this a great tool for pros and beginners alike. The least expensive package starts at $70 and includes 900 effects, templates, and transitions plus many other features. Here’s how to compress a video using this software:

  1. Import your video file.
  2. Go to “File” > “Export movie” > “Video as MPEG-4…” or “Video as HEVC”. In both cases, the software will export your video as an MP4 file.
  3. In the export window, select one of the preset configurations, or set the resolution and frame rate manually.
Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Well-organized interface ✘ Lots of features are only available in the more expensive versions
✔ Relatively inexpensive  

Filmora: Compression of videos using the free trial version

Filmora is another professional video cutting and editing program that is suitable for beginners. The free trial version includes all of the features of the full version, but it embeds a watermark in the output files. However, it can still be a useful solution if you want to compress video files. Here are the instructions:

  1. Import the file or drag and drop it into the program.
  2. If you want, you can edit the video or cut sections out to reduce the file size.
  3. Once you’re happy, click on the “Export” button. Click on “Settings” if you want to adjust any parameters.
  4. Decrease the resolution, frame rate, and other settings to reduce the size of the output file.
Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Can switch between beginner mode and pro mode ✘ Watermarks (in the free version only)
✔ Relatively inexpensive  

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