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What is MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14)

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


MP4, an abbreviation for MPEG-4 Part 14, is a compressed file format created by Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and is based on Apple QuickTime MOV format finalized in 2003. It's a multimedia container format that includes not only videos, but also audio, images and subtitles. Usually, MP4 files with video and audio are save with the official .mp4 extension, though, the .m4a extension is used for audio-only files. See Also: Difference Between MOV and MP4


MP4 files can be played with a lot of video players on computer like Windows Media Player, Real, VCL Player, QuickTime Player, etc and mobile devices like Apple's iPhone, iPad, iPod touch as well as a wide lineup brands of Android phone & tablets including Samsung, Sony, LG, ZTE, Huawei, Motorala, etc. It's also commonly used for sharing high streaming video quality on the Internet or networking websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. with better quality yet smaller file size.

Widely Supported Codecs

MP4 file, as a container, doesn't have a method of coding the video or audio, but it relies on the certain codecs which dictate how the audio or video will be coded and compressed. Here are several common codecs that are supported:

  • Video — MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264) and MPEG-4 Part 2
  • Audio — AAC, MP3, ALAC, SLS, TTSI and ALS
  • Subtitles — MPEG-4 Time Text

MP4 vs AVI

Microsoft's AVI format is an uncompressed video format and thus the video saved in .avi is in extremely large size, which makes it in poor used for distributing video via the Internet or potable media players, especially if you're in an Apple ecosystem. In such case, converting AVI to MP4 is a nice option so that you can share the interesting video clips with others.

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