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How to Compress a Video on Mac: 3 Best Ways

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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Have you ever found yourself stuck in front of your Mac screen for hours, waiting for a video to upload? Heavy video files take a long time to upload and occupy precious storage space. But compressing these videos often results in sacrificing quality.

In this guide, I’ll share the best methods to shrink those hefty files while maintaining visual quality. Whether you’re a content creator or simply want to share memories with the family, get ready to unlock the power of video compression by learning how to compress a video on Mac.

What Is Video Compression?

what is video compression on mac

Video compression is a process that reduces the size of a video file without significantly sacrificing its quality. This technique encodes a video file in a manner that reduces its size while maintaining an acceptable level of visual quality.

It involves applying various algorithms to eliminate redundancies in the video data, making it easier to store, upload, and transmit videos.

How Does Video Compression Work on Mac?

Understanding video compression is key to effectively reducing file sizes while maintaining quality. The process is similar to optimizing photos on a larger scale. By compressing videos, you remove some information from each frame, much like photo optimization.

To achieve video compression, three primary factors come into play: resolution, bitrate, and encoding.

  • Resolution refers to the number of pixels in each frame, such as the 1080p HD resolution (1920×1080). Matching the video resolution to the viewer’s screen size ensures minimal reduction in quality.

I don’t recommend going below 1080p, but if your audience has 4K screens, you can consider using a resolution of 3840×2160, but not higher.

On a Mac, you can check your display resolution by following these steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the menu bar and select About This Mac.
click apple icon and select about this mac
  1. Click More Info.
click more info
  1. Then, navigate to Displays.
select displays
  • Bitrate is another crucial factor to consider. For HD videos, YouTube recommends a bitrate of 8 Mbps, while 4K videos require a range of 35 to 45 Mbps. It is advisable not to go below these specified numbers to maintain satisfactory video quality.
  • Lastly, encoding plays a significant role in video compression, although it can be complex and perplexing. For simplicity and effectiveness, I recommend using the H.264 encoding and an MP4 encoder. These standards are widely recognized and offer reliable compression for video files.

How to Compress a Video on Mac

Now that we have a fundamental understanding of video compression, let’s explore the best methods to compress a video on Mac.

Method 1: Using Mac’s Built-in Compression Tools

When it comes to compressing videos on Mac, why look any further than the tools already at your fingertips? Your Mac comes equipped with built-in tools that allow you to compress videos without third-party software.

Below, I’ll share step-by-step instructions for leveraging the native compression features, empowering you to transform your large video files into more manageable sizes and freeing up valuable storage space on your Mac.

Let’s look at two popular options: QuickTime Player and iMovie.

1. Using QuickTime Player

quicktime player on mac

QuickTime Player is a household name for video playback on Mac. But did you know this versatile media player can also work wonders when it comes to video compression? With its intuitive interface and straightforward functionality, QuickTime Player allows you to effortlessly reduce the size of your videos without compromising quality.

Here’s how to use QuickTime Player to compress your videos on Mac:

  1. Launch QuickTime Player on your Mac and open the video you want to compress.
open quicktime on your mac
  1. Go to the File menu and select Export As.
click file and select export as
  1. Choose a suitable format for your compressed video, such as 480p or 720p.
  2. You can also trim the video and make additional adjustments before exporting.

2. Using iMovie

imovie built in app on mac

iMovie is a comprehensive video editing software and a powerhouse in the world of video editing. Known for its robust features and user-friendly interface, iMovie is not just for creating cinematic masterpieces but also for reducing video sizes without compromising their quality. 

Here’s how to use iMovie to compress a video on Mac:

  1. Launch iMovie on your Mac and create a new project.
open imovie on your mac
  1. Import the video you want to compress into your project.
click create new in imovie
  1. Drag the video clip to the timeline.
  2. Go to the File menu and select Share > File.
click file select share and tap file
  1. Choose a suitable resolution or quality option, such as 480p or 720p.
  2. Click Next and follow the prompts to save the compressed video.

Method 2: Using Third-Party Software

If you require more advanced video compression features or additional control over the compression process, third-party software can be an excellent option.

Let’s explore two popular choices: HandBrake and Adobe Media Encoder.

1. HandBrake

HandBrake is a free and open-source video compression software that offers extensive customization options. With HandBrake’s extensive array of customizable settings and advanced compression algorithms, you can effortlessly reduce the size of your videos while maintaining exceptional visual quality.

Here’s how to use HandBrake to compress a video on Mac:

  1. Download and install HandBrake from the official website.
download handbrake from its official website
  1. Launch HandBrake and click Open Source to select the video you want to compress.
click open source in handbrake
  1. Choose an output format and adjust settings such as bitrate and resolution to reduce the file size.
  2. Optionally, apply filters or make other advanced adjustments.
  3. Click Start to initiate the compression process, and wait for the compressed video to generate.

2. Adobe Media Encoder

adobe media encoder built in app on mac

Adobe Media Encoder is a professional-grade software that allows for efficient video compression with an extensive range of format options. Designed for content creators and video professionals, Adobe Media Encoder provides a comprehensive suite of tools to compress your videos on Mac with utmost precision and efficiency.

From choosing the optimal codec and adjusting bitrate to customizing output settings, Adobe Media Encoder puts you in complete control. Here’s how you can use Adobe Media Encoder to compress videos on Mac:

  1. Download and install Adobe Media Encoder on your Mac.
  2. Launch Adobe Media Encoder and import the video file you want to compress.
  3. Choose an output format or preset suitable for your needs.
  4. Adjust settings such as bitrate and resolution to achieve the desired file size.
  5. Optionally, explore additional features like video filters and watermarking.
  6. Click Encode to start the compression process, and patiently wait for the software to generate the compressed video.

Method 3: Online Video Compression Tools

If you prefer a convenient, web-based solution, there are several online video compression tools available. Let’s explore two popular options: WeCompress and CloudConvert.

1. WeCompress

WeCompress is a user-friendly online platform that enables you to compress videos without software installation. With just a few clicks, you can upload your videos to WeCompress and let its powerful compression algorithms work their magic.

Follow these steps to compress a video on Mac using WeCompress:

  1. Visit the WeCompress website in your web browser.
wecompress homepage
  1. Drag and drop the video file you want to compress onto the upload area or click the + button to browse for the file.
  2. WeCompress will automatically start compressing your video.
  3. After compression, you can download the compressed video to your Mac.

2. CloudConvert

CloudConvert is a versatile online file conversion platform that also offers video compression capabilities. With CloudConvert, you can harness the power of the cloud to reduce the size of your videos effortlessly.

Follow these steps to compress your videos using CloudConvert:

  1. Visit the CloudConvert website in your web browser.
file converter homepage
  1. Click Select Files to upload the video you want to compress.
  2. Choose the desired output format and customize compression settings like bitrate and resolution.
  3. Start the compression process by clicking Start Conversion.
  4. Once the compression is complete, you can download the compressed video to your Mac.

Compress Videos on Your Mac Like a Pro

Compressing videos on your Mac is an essential skill that allows you to save storage space and optimize video sharing across various platforms. Here are some more tips to get the most out of your MacBook:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can video compression affect the overall quality of the video?

    Yes, video compression affects the overall quality of the video. It involves a trade-off between file size and video quality. However, with careful settings and appropriate formats, you can achieve a good balance.

  2. How much can I reduce the file size of a video through compression?

    You can reduce the file size of a video, ranging from 40% to 80% through compression. However, the extent of file size reduction depends on various factors, such as the original video’s resolution, codec, and desired output settings.

  3. Are there any risks of losing data or damaging the video during compression?

    No, there are no significant risks of losing data or damaging the video during compression. When performed correctly, video compression should not result in data loss. However, it’s always recommended to keep a backup of your original video files.

  4. Can I compress videos without losing the original resolution?

    Yes, it is possible to compress videos without losing the original resolution or at least minimizing the loss of resolution. The key is to find a balance between reducing file size and preserving video quality. However, some degree of quality reduction may still occur.

Hashir Ibrahim


I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.



Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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