What good is having a super-compressed MPEG4 video if you can’t watch it on whatever device you choose? Sure, that movie may look phenomenal in high-definition on your desktop — especially if you’ve opted for one of the best 4K monitors available — but it can be a pain to watch on your home console, tablet, or smartphone. Luckily, quality video converters have been around for several years, allowing users to convert their precious video footage into a number of desirable formats. Best of all, most of them are completely free.
Most video converters require the user to upload their files and select an appropriate output setting before choosing a save location within their computer’s directory. The best pieces of software, however, also pave the way with intuitive features, consistent updates, and a large toolbox of options.
Below are our picks for the best free video converters, so you can free yourself from the ball-and-chain formats of yesteryear and convert video so that it’s playable on practically any device you choose. When you’re done, be sure to check out our picks for the best media players and the best free video-editing software.
Any Video Converter (Windows/MacOS)
Any Video Converter (AVC) is a fantastic piece of freeware that can handle conversions to everything from DivX and MPEG4, to VOB, and more than 60 other input formats (including 4K) all within an attractive and minimalist interface. The software also features user-defined video outputs, as well as batch processing for converting multiple files simultaneously, and saves all converted video to a pre-designated folder for quick access and organization.
AVC can directly extract and convert audio from any given video into a limited number of formats, including MP3, AAC, WAVE, and others. Plus, the program allows you to download and convert YouTube and Google videos by simply pasting the specified video link into the download box and clicking a few buttons.
Although conversion speeds leave something to be desired, and the built-in DVD burner is a bit finicky, the resulting video quality is excellent, especially when paired with the barebones editor that allows you to trim, crop, and layer video effects for a more hands-on approach.
Freemake Video Converter (Windows)
Freemake is one of the best free video converters available today. Not only does it support more than 500 different video formats, it also allows you to download videos directly from most social media platforms and various video-sharing sites. It supports plenty of devices, too, allowing for quick and intuitive transfers, not to mention options for 4K resolution.
There are also plenty of tools for cutting and rotating videos, embedding and converting them with subtitles, and carrying out a host of other useful actions. Plus, the software features one of the friendliest interfaces we’ve seen.
While Freemake does a lot right, there are a couple of things you should know. First, you’ll need the .NET Framework 4.0 Client Profile to successfully download the software — Freemake isn’t the only one with such Client Profile requirements, so it’s always smart to double-check this. You’ll want to check for updates with this one, as Freemake is regularly updated to patch problems and add new format options.
DivX Video Converter (Windows/MacOS)
The DivX video converter has a lot of useful, built-in options for inputs and outputs, along with editing tools for tweaking the videos you’re looking to convert. Although the software is a little pushy in trying to drive you toward upgrading to the premium version, the free one works rather well. The interface is clean, too, and gives you deep options for outputs.
When adding files, you can do so from a local drive, or import them directly from Blu-ray discs. The software also supports Google Drive and DropBox, for those looking to edit files that are stored remotely. An assortment of output profiles provide a number of predefined options, and you can further customize the resulting file if you prefer — there are options for selecting the resolution, altering the aspect ratio, and changing the bit rate, among others.
With support for both Windows and Mac operating systems, DivX is one of the more well-rounded converters on our list.
Handbrake seemed on its last legs back in ’06 when the software’s initial creator, Eric Petit, dropped off the face of the Earth. However, software development carried on with the help of a few ambitious folk who were driven to update and revise the existing software for a changing world.
The open-source video converter now boasts one of the most expansive software packages for ripping and converting video files for playback on a number of popular devices, including iPhones, the AppleTV, and Android tablets. The interface is sleek and well-designed, with plenty of menu tabs for advanced features, all housed within traditional UI that anyone familiar with Windows or MacOS will be able to understand.
Handbrake also doesn’t feature any ads or bundled adware, though the Mac iteration of the software was under attack last year. Conversion speeds can also drag, and the software certainly isn’t light on system resources. Other noteworthy features include an abundance of video-editing tools for splicing, adjusting frame rate, and adding subtitles and assorted video effects. You can even view the results in a live preview window before they officially take effect.
Handbrake can’t be topped when it comes to converting files to MP4 or MKV format, but, unfortunately, it also isn’t for those unwilling to learn the software.
MediaCoder is a capable program loaded with terrific conversion features, if you’re willing to delve headfirst into the software. Whether you want to batch process a number of AVI files to MPEG, or compress files for a reduced memory footprint, MediaCoder can handle it (albeit with a throwback design). The software supports QuickSync, NVENC, and CUDA encoding for high-speed work, and can rip multiple types of video from cameras.
You can find additional settings for modifying the output — including those for converting video to grayscale and quarter-pixel — as well as bitrate adjustments for both the audio and video components of your file. Speed and quality are top-notch, allowing for quick conversions with an emphasis on maintaining the original quality across formats.
MediaCoder is an exceptional piece of software, but it’s geared more toward the tech aficionado as opposed to the first-time user trying to make a zippy conversion.
A word of warning, however: The download page for the software is covered with phoney “download” buttons, so take care to click the correct one.
Cloud Convert (web-based)
Not everyone wants to download a standalone application to fulfil their converting needs. Thankfully, Cloud Convert is one of the best online tools for simple downloads and conversion. The web-based software currently handles 214 different formats that go far beyond video (including docs, images, ebooks, and more). Batch converting and folder monitoring are included, and the API allows you to plug these abilities into a number of applications if you already have a preferred video/audio software hub.
The entire conversion process takes place in the cloud and output settings — like aspect ratio, codec, bit rate, and resolution — can also be tweaked from the app’s web interface prior to conversion. Cloud Convert will even automatically email you or drop the resulting file in your Google Drive or Dropbox account in lieu of saving it to your computer.
The software lacks the speed of standalone programs, but it’s more than proficient in converting a range of files without ever deviating from the smooth interface and easily-navigable design that have made the software one of the best available.
Online-Convert is one of the most robust converters currently available. The software’s streamlined homepage makes the available conversion options immediately apparent, providing you with a slew of tools for converting video, audio, images, documents, ebooks, and other files. The video component of the site also houses options for converting files to FLV, MP4, MOV, and more than 20 other popular formats (including multiple game consoles). There are even additional options for changing the resulting screen size, audio quality, bit rate, and other minor components.
If you aren’t sure about a conversion, you can also use the search function in the upper-right corner of the page to quickly check if Online-Convert is capable of making your desired conversion. If it’s not, the developers invite you to write in with conversion suggestions they may be able to implement in the future.
While most users will experience little trouble uploading and converting video files, the site does require you to opt for a premium membership if you need to upload a file larger than 100MB or simultaneously convert four files at once. Nonetheless, the site is stable, relatively devoid of ads, and provides a wide variety of format options without requiring you to download additional software or unwanted browser extensions.