Both MP4 and MOV use MPEG-4 video encoding, but MP4 has wider support across more devices.
MP4 is a multimedia file storage format – most often used for storing video, but also used for other media types. MP4 is widely used and works with a wide range of devices. Technically, an MP4 is a digital container file, which means it contains compressed video data and other associated data necessary for playing the video, but the MP4 is only a wrapper around the video, not the video itself.
MP4 files are typically more compressed and thus smaller than other video file types. The video content within MP4 files is encoded with MPEG-4, a common encoding standard.
MOV is another type of digital container file for videos and other multimedia. MOV is also known as QuickTime File Format, or QTFF. Apple developed MOV for use with the Apple QuickTime Player. Like MP4 files, MOV videos are encoded with the MPEG-4 codec.
A digital container file (not to be confused with container computing) is a wrapper for data and metadata that belong together. Think of it as a filing cabinet, with different digital container formats (such as MOV or MP4) representing filing cabinets of different sizes that organize their files in different ways.
For instance, a typical MP4 file contains video tracks, audio tracks, and metadata about both. "Metadata" is information about the data that helps computers find the right data – just as a library card catalog offers information about a book but is not the book itself.
The main difference between these two container formats is that MOV is mostly for use within Mac environments. MOV is a proprietary Apple file format for QuickTime, while MP4 is an international standard. On a Mac, MOV and MP4 are basically interchangeable, and either type of file will play easily. But on other types of devices, video MOV files need to be converted to MP4s or another file format.
MP4 are typically more compressed and smaller in size, while MOV files are often higher in quality and larger in size. MOV files are better for video editing on a Mac, since they're specifically designed for QuickTime.
Most platforms for uploading video files for online distribution support both formats. YouTube and Vimeo accept both MOV and MP4 files, as well as other file formats. Wistia accepts MOV files but recommends using MP4 files.
Cloudflare Stream also supports both MOV and MP4 formats. Cloudflare Stream is an on-demand video streaming platform that leverages the Cloudflare global network, which spans 200 cities in more than 100 countries, for fast and efficient video distribution. Cloudflare Stream includes video storage, encoding, and a customizable player for embedded video.
The full list of video file formats that Cloudflare Stream supports is: MP4, MOV, MKV, AVI, FLV, MPEG-2 TS, MPEG-2 PS, MXF, LXF, GXF, 3GP, WebM, and MPG.
Once a video is uploaded, Cloudflare Stream encodes it with the H.264 codec, which is compatible with both HLS and MPEG-DASH, with adaptive streaming levels from 360p to 1080p. Learn more about Cloudflare Stream.
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