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Difference between MOV and MP4: Which to use?

Rob Parsons Updated on Apr 15, 2022 4:22 PM

About MP4

MP4 (MPEG-4, Part 14) is a digital multimedia format which incorporates video and audio as well as subtitles and images into one container. As a more compatible format than any other format, it is used on a broad range of devices, players and other applications and is commonly used to stream videos online, which makes it easy to distribute. MP4 features a high degree of compression rate and small file size while still retaining good quality.

About MOV

MOV is a QuickTime file format that employs proprietary compression algorithm developed by Apple. It is used to store movie and video files and other data in the QuickTime program. QuickTime MOV files contain many tracks and each track is responsible for the storage of each type of data, including video, audio and text, etc. All these tracks are maintained in a hierarchical structure. Both Macintosh and Windows systems support this format.

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Difference Between MP4 and MOV

Encoded with the same codec MPEG-4, MP4 is similar to MOV. Actually, MP4 was developed on the basis of MOV file format. Both are lossy and can be used in the QuickTime environment. Whether you convert your files to MOV or MP4 (check a tutorial about conversion from .mov to .mp4, or MP4 to MOV), both formats produce the same video quality if using the same codec. However, there are some slight difference between these two formats.

As an international compression standard, MP4 is more well-received than MOV because the former has more tagging options and is employed in most platforms outside of Mac systems, whether it be operating systems, media players (Video for Windows) or other desktop applications (DirectShow). In contrast, the proprietary issues for MOV is a significant obstacle, which limits its scope of application. Therefore, MP4 is more flexible than MOV.

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Which to Use? MP4 or MOV?

Both are just containers (aka wrapper) so the choice to go for which option depends mainly on where you use these two formats.

If you are working on Mac, MOV is safer and more efficient because MOV is supposed to be of high quality, whether it is used for playback or editing in professional editing program.

If you are working beyond Mac systems like Windows. Ubuntu, Linux, MP4 turns out to be a wise option because of its wider supports from various players and multiple bits of data.

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