What is the Highest-Quality Video Format for YouTube?

MP4 is the highest-quality video format for YouTube. YouTube recommends that the MP4 video format displays videos at higher quality. YouTube further suggests using the h.264 video codec with a 16:9 standard ratio aspect and  AAC-LC audio codec. For the highest quality videos with a better viewing experience, it is advisable to use original videos with high HD resolution. However, besides the MP4 video format, other formats such as MOV, AVI, WMV, FLV, WebM, 3GPP, and MPEG-PS are compatible with YouTube.

Key Takeaways

  • The recommended highest-quality video format for YouTube is MP4.
  • The MP4 video format can save subtitles and still images besides video storage.
  • MP4 file format packages various media file types, including videos, images, 3D imagery, and audio.
  • Alternative YouTube video formats include AVI, MOV, FLV, and MPEG-PS
  • Ensure your video sizes comply with YouTube guidelines for a better viewing experience.
  • MP4 file format delivers interactive elements to the viewer due to its ability to package multiple media and complex metadata.
  • MP4 format offers strong compression; hence it is the best for streaming and downloading videos.

The 5 Highest-Quality Video Format for YouTube

Choosing the suitable video format for YouTube can be tricky, as various options are available. With so many choices, deciding the best for you and your needs can be challenging. This blog post will discuss the highest-quality video format for YouTube and the pros and cons of each option.

We’ll also look at tips and tricks to ensure you get the best quality out of your videos. Whether you’re new to YouTube or an experienced creator, this post will help you determine the best format for your videos.

1.     MP4 Video Format

The MP4 video format is the most favored and widely used container format, synonymous with portable devices and internet streaming. Besides using MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) for video storage, you can also save still images and subtitles in this format.

MP4 video format is suitable for downloading and streaming videos because it provides strong compression while maintaining high quality. This format packages several media types, including 3D imagery, videos, images, and audio.

The format’s ability to package multiple media types and complex metadata enables it to deliver interactive elements to the viewer effortlessly.

MP4 Pros

  • All operating systems support the format. Also, MP4 is compatible with electronic devices and media players such as VLC.
  • It provides various variants, such as .m4a for audio files and .m4v for visual bitstreams.
  • It provides strong and better compression while maintaining video quality.
  • It supports metadata.
  • It enables the packaging of video content with 3D visuals, user navigation options, and interactive elements.

MP4 Cons

  • Sometimes a video might fail to sync with the audio due to codec compatibility issues.
  • MP4 worries publishers as it enables the illegal distribution of copyrighted content.
  • Editing and playback of an MP4 file demand immense processing power as it might contain metadata and various types of multimedia content.
  • The MP4 format is lossy, therefore, not suitable for high-definition videos.

2.     AVI Format

Audio Video Interleave (AVI) is a multimedia container that saves synchronized files with video and audio playback. This format uses the DivX codec. Avi retains the alpha channel, meaning it provides high-quality outputs.

The compressing capability of AVI is superior to other formats, but it’s unsuitable when you have limited storage because AVI’s average sizes are massive (2 or 3 GB/ minute).

AVI Format Pros

  • AVI format files are playable with Microsoft and non-Microsoft operating systems.
  • The format has high-quality audio fidelity.
  • AVI format provides higher compression capabilities, making it popular for creating short movies and promos.
  • AVI maintains quality, making it excellent for master files.
  • Many individuals can open files in AVI format because you don’t require a specific device or software to run the file.

AVI Cons

  • AVI can’t support subtitling, where the playback device combines the video content and subtitle while the media plays.
  • Uncompressed AVI files are large.
  • Over-compressing AVI files might lead to a loss in video quality.
  • The format does not support user interactivity.

3.     MOV Format

the highest-quality video formats for youtube

MOV, also known as QuickTime format, is compatible with Macintosh and Windows platforms, and Apple developed it. The MOV format can hold multiple video types and multimedia files.

The MOV format enables you to edit videos easily and sets them apart from the rest in various tracks that allow the container of multiple data types.

MOV Pros

  • You can easily combine MOV with other formats.
  • The format has a smooth and attractive design; hence it takes little memory.
  •  MOV enables you to edit videos to a high-quality standard easily.
  • It uses advanced H.264 technology to compress HD videos.
  • It allows browsers’ integration to enable playback from windows directly.

MOV Cons

  • MOV format can lose data.
  • The format is troublesome with large videos.
  • MOV requires additional codecs to execute playbacks.
  • The format requires installing extra tools that may need frequent updates, thus consuming system resources.
  • Most devices and platforms do not support the format.

4.     FLV Format

Adobe uses the FLV container file format to deliver synchronized video and audio content. The format thrives in distributing video content over the internet via Adobe player, using version six and later versions.

Pros of FLV File Format

  • FLV has a higher browser penetration and is installed in most end-user computers.
  • The FLV files have better compatibility and consistency; thus, it works well with Linus, Macs, and PCs while maintaining quality.
  • FLV has advanced features that work well with interactive content.

FLV Cons

  • Reduced quality due to the conversion of files to FLV format: This is because the format is not widely distributed, necessitating format conversion.
  • Publishing content in FLV format takes more time than in other formats.

5.     MPEG-PS File Format

MPEG-PS, also known as Program Stream, is a file format container utilized for multiplexing digital, audio, and video. The format is mainly used for HD DVDs and DVDs.


  • The MPEG-PS file format is well-supported in most video players and browsers.
  • It uses an advanced compression algorithm.
  • The MPEG file format supports streaming; thus, it is a better choice for video distribution.
  • It produces better-quality videos.


  • MPEG file format is poor for video editing as it lacks flexibility.
  • It is time-consuming since a finished file requires to be re-edited and re-encoded.

The Recommended YouTube Video Size

Besides using the best format to create and upload your YouTube videos, you must ensure that your videos are of better quality. YouTube video Size and resolution play an integral role in determining the overall quality.

Below are the guidelines that YouTube has given regarding the best video size;

DimensionResolution  Quality
3840p × 2160p  2160p    4K Video
2560p × 1440p1440p    2K video
1920p×1080p1080p    Maximum video resolution recommended for YouTube
1280p ×720p720p    Minimum video resolution recommended for YouTube
854p× 480p480p    Standard definition recommended for YouTube
640p × 360p360p    For YouTube videos embedded on websites
426 × 240p240p      Minimum video size for YouTube: works well with slow internet

Note: Even though YouTube accepts all the file sizes above, it could be helpful if you optimize your videos by using larger dimensions and resolution to ensure;

  • Better viewing experience.
  • Better video quality and resolution.
  • Better sharing experience on social media.




Leave a Comment