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How to convert an MOV file to MP4 on macOS

QuickTime is the stock video player on macOS and it’s one of the least popular apps that Apple has developed. That said, up until Sierra, it had one saving grace; it could convert a MOV file to an MP4 file. That feature is gone now so if you’re running a macOS version that is Sierra or later, you don’t have a simple way to convert an MOV file to MP4. You’re going to have to use iMovie. It comes pre-installed on most recent versions of macOS so you should already have it on your system. Unfortunately, it’s complicated to use so much so that it might be enough to send you looking for an alternative. Here’s how you can use iMovie to convert an MOV file to MP4.

Convert MOV to MP4

Open iMovie and create a new project. Add the MOV file to the project’s library by dragging and dropping it on to the My Media area. Once added, drag & drop it onto the timeline. That’s all you need to do.

You can now export the file as an MP4 file. Go to File>Share>File.

In the panel that opens, select a resolution and quality for the video. Do not select ProRes because you’ll end up with an MOV file again. All other qualities will give you an MP4 file. Click Next and give your file a name and save it wherever you like.

The process isn’t complicated but iMovie is hardly intuitive to use. The feature that lets you convert a file to an MP4 file is hidden under a ‘Share’ option. You wouldn’t really expect to find a save feature there.

MOV files can be converted using online apps but if you explore the export option, you will be able to change the quality freely and select any resolution you want. You get an estimate of the output file’s size and it will change to match the quality you’ve set. It’s handy if you need the file to be below a certain size. As for the ‘Compress’ option, you can choose whatever you want. It won’t change the format.

As to why you need to convert MOV files specifically to MP4 files, it’s because the built-in screen recording utility on macOS saves the recordings as MOV files. MOV files aren’t as universally supported as MP4 files, in fact, they don’t even come close. Additionally, these files tend to be larger in size and if you have a size limit to be careful about, the MOV file can be a problem.

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