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, 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.
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 — though these are our preferred methods.
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 bare-bones editor that allows you to trim, crop, and layer video effects for a more hands-on approach.
Handbrake seemed to be on its last legs back in 2006 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 folks 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 a 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.
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 cleanand 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.
Cloud Convert (web-based)
Not everyone wants to download a stand-alone application to fulfill their converting needs. Thankfully, Cloud Convert is one of the best online tools for simple downloads and conversion. The web-based software currently handles 218 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 stand-alone 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 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.