How to Convert MOV Video Files to MP4, AVI, or WMV Format


When creating home movies with a digital camera, the output file format is sometimes wrong. For example, the digital camera is only capable to record in MOV video file format, but your TV is only capable to play MP4, AVI, or WMV video file formats. This is exactly what happened to me recently.

Video File Conversion

There are many ways to convert video files from one format to other formats.

Just by doing a quick Google search, you end up with links to MovAvi or QuickTime. And, obviously, a gazillion online conversion services.

When converting a lot of data, it really doesn’t make sense to use any online services. They will be slow and unreliable. And depending on your internet connection plan, you may end up paying a large internet bill to your ISP (Internet service provider).

Using commercial products might be an easy way to do things, but you will need more than one software product to convert to various video file formats. And most software creators limit the free use of their products, so again, in case you have a lot of video data to convert, you will need to pay up.

The best way, in my opinion, to convert video files to multiple formats for free is using FFmpeg.

Using FFmpeg

To weigh all possibilities, I converted a 1-minute long MOV video file that was recorded at 29 fps (frames per second) to three other video file formats: MP4, AVI, and WMV.

To do this, I used the completely free and open-source FFmpeg software package.

After downloading the FFmpeg package, you need to unzip it. I recommend using the 7-zip tool for your unzipping needs.

You need to copy the executable file called ffmpeg.exe located in the ffmpeg/bin/ subfolder wherever the movie file you want to convert is located.

Then launch Command Prompt via Start > All Programs > Accessories.

In the Command Prompt window, first navigate to the location of the video files and ffmpeg.exe, then type and enter the following commands:

I used the same FFmpeg command to convert the MOV file to all three other video file formats.


The quality of the output video file goes down as the number after -q:v goes up.

Video File Conversion Results

The AVI file was created almost 7-times faster than the MP4 file. But the AVI file created was 3-times larger than the MP4 file.

The WMV file was created 3-times faster than the MP4 file, but still more than 2-times slower than the AVI file. And the WMV file was even larger than the AVI file.

Here are all the results presented in a single table:

File Format File Size Increased/Decreased Conversion Time
input file mov 96,243,792 bytes -
output file mp4 59,955,524 bytes -37.70% 122 seconds
output file avi 162,320,668 bytes +68.70% 18 seconds
output file wmv 186,570,991 bytes +93.90% 42 seconds

Video File Conversion Recommendations

When converting video files, you clearly need to set your priorities.

If you have a lot of free time and not enough hard drive space or other digital storage space, then convert your video files to MP4 format.

If you have little free time and lots of hard drive space, then convert your video files to AVI format.

If your TV is only capable to play WMV video files, then convert your video files to WMV format.

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