Top 5 Free Video Converters for Mac

Here are the top 5 best free and easy Mac video converter programs that will convert video into the format of your choice for free.

Digital video file conversion is a crucial component of many a filmmaker’s workflow these days. And there are tons of video converter apps out there for for the Mac, many of which are free, and some are paid but priced all too high. Here I’m cutting through the chafe and giving your five of the best video converter apps that are completely free.

You’ll never be left with a useless video file or unreadable movie format again, so the next time you download a movie in an unusual format or copy one from that old Windows PC and think it can’t be opened or is unwatchable on that iPad, think again and use one of these free apps to get it converted on your Mac.

Handbrake: The Advanced Conversion Tool

Handbrake is a powerhouse swiss army knife for video conversion and supports just about any conceivable format as input and exports to the most useful formats of MP4 M4V, MKV, and MPG. Originating as a DVD ripper, it has been around for ages and has now evolved into an excellent all-around video converter tool with tons of features and advanced options. All the expected conversion features are there if you want to keep things simple, but advanced options lay right under the hood, where you can add subtitles to video, add new audio tracks, change the video codec type, set and customize frame rate, adjust chapters for DVD or BluRay conversions, apply filters to denies and decomb videos, and so much more.

Download Handbrake from the developer

Handbreak is a very powerful converter app, but at it’s most basic usage:

  • Bring any file into Handbrake, or select a video source (file, DVD, Bluray, etc)
  • Choose a “Device” as the output format from the left side list of: Universal, iPod, iPhone & iPod touch, iPad, Apple TV, Android, Android Tablet, OR pick “Normal” or “High Profile” for standard video conversions
  • Fiddle with the complex settings if desired, otherwise just click “Start” to convert the video

Handbrake is really fast, but ultimately the speed of all of these converter utilities depends on the speed of your Mac, and the length of the video. If it seems like conversion is taking forever, consider quitting out of other apps to free up processing power and system resources to get the job done quicker.

Miro: The Easy Video Converter

Miro makes video conversion extremely simple, and for those who want ease of use it’s hard to beat. Miro accepts tons of popular video formats including FLV, AVI, MKV, MP4, WMV, XVID, and MOV, and it also supports batch processing of groups of video and movie files, even if they’re different formats. If you are just looking to make a movie compatible with the myriad of other devices out there, it’s a great simple choice.

Download Miro Converter from the developer

Using Miro for conversion is drag & drop simple:

  • Drag and drop videos into the Miro window
  • Select a device to convert it to, then click the Convert button to be on your way

Miro takes the technical names and confusing aspects out of conversion as much as possible, instead referencing the intended viewing devices rather than movie format types and resolutions. You’ll find support for Apple TV, Universal, iPad, iPad 3 (HD), iPhone, iPhone 4 (HD), iPhone 5 (HD wide), iPod nano, iPod touch, Android devices from HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sanyo, or any other device by video size, Kindle Fire, PSP Playstation Portable, MP4, Ogg Theora, and WebM HD & SD.

QuickTime: Convert Video Without Downloading Anything

Did you know QuickTime, the video player bundled in OS X, can also function as an excellent easy to use video converter? You can use it to turn videos into iPad compatible formats, but it can do much more than that, and whether you’re trying to get a video ready for any iOS device or PC, it works just fine. Plus it’s already bundled with your Mac, so you don’t have to download anything else or fiddle with much to get it working.

Converting a video with QuickTime Player is as easy as re-saving a file:

  • Open the video to convert into QuickTime Player
  • Pull down the File menu and choose “Export” (or Save As)
  • Choose the desired movie file Format from the drop down menu and click “Export” to convert the video

It’s obviously convenient to have a conversion option sitting on all Macs, but QuickTime Player does have a few downsides. Mostly, it’s that QuickTime has limited codec support, and while you can choose different resolutions (480p, 720p, 1080p) and file formats (different iOS devices, Mac, or generic PC), don’t expect to open a WMV file or any obscure video formats with it. Also, there is no batch processing option like there is with Handbrake and Miro. But if you’re just looking to convert a .mov or .mkv, you’ll do just fine with it.

MPEG Streamclip

This is my converter of choice and it has never let me down. It’s hard to believe that MPEG Streamclip is free to use, such is its power and range. It can convert just about anything from DV to AIFF and it even handles audio too. There are a lot of preferences for professionals but its straightforward enough for beginners to use too. I find it invaluable when needing to convert footage for editing.

Download MPEG Streamclip from the developer

How to use MPEG Streamclip Mac

  • Drag and drop the file you want to process on top of the main window.
  • Then select the modifications you want to perform to that specific video.

Once a video is loaded you can view and modify things like the Video PID, Audio PID and Audio mode as well.

Those of you who nominated it pointed out that it may not be the newest video conversion app out there, and it may not be the prettiest, but it gets the job done and can convert just about anything to just about anything else quickly, easily, and without complaining—and that’s what’s important.

ffmpegx

If drag and drop is your thing, then ffmpegx is for you. Unlike MPEG Streamclip and HandBrake, ffmpegx doesn’t allow you to see or preview video but it does support simple dragging and dropping of files into the interface for conversion. It couldn’t be much easier. It is however very complicated if you beyond that and only experts will need many of the preferences it allows you to configure.

Download ffmpegx from the developer

You can go right to the source and grab it for free for whatever platform you’re using. It makes converting, streaming, and even recording audio and video super-simple and fits in nicely with other applications and operations. Best of all, it’s being actively developed, so even if the others in the roundup fall by the wayside, FFmpeg will probably live on.

Mac Video Converters: What to Look For

You have special issues to take into consideration when choosing a Mac video converter application. Many video file formats aren’t compatible with Apple applications or products, so converting to the right format is vital. During our review process, we found several key features you’ll want to look for when selecting your own Mac video converter.

Features

  • Any Mac converter worth its salt should be able to perform basic tasks like converting an AVI to an MP4. The best Mac video converters do much more. Features like batch conversions, the ability to download videos from popular sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo, and basic video editing tools all elevate a simple converter to a useful application that’s worth the money.
  • The best Mac video converters can also optimize files for specific devices such as smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles. They should also enable you to create files specifically designed to be shared online.

Compatibility

  • There are a lot of video formats out there, and it’s not uncommon for even the lowliest video converter to be able to create any popular file type. The best Mac video converter software should have comprehensive file compatibility for both standard and high-definition videos. It should also be able to create device-specific files for both popular and obscure brands.

Ease of Use

  • Converting video files used to be a complicated task. These days, it should be a relatively simple affair. A good Mac video converter should have an intuitive drag-and-drop interface and a large device-specific preset library. The combination of these features enables you to start the conversion process within less than a minute of launching the software.

Help & Support

  • Even the simplest software should have a good deal of customer and technical support available. The manufacturer’s website should provide a support section that lets you find answers to FAQs, and email support in case you have a less common problem. The best applications even provide live chat services for the fastest possible support.

At the end of the day, video file conversion should be simple, fast and effective. The best Mac video converter software makes what used to be a time-consuming chore into something you can take care of in just a few minutes.

Best Alternative Choice: Brorsoft Video Converter for Mac

Brorsoft Video Converter for Mac (compatible with Mavericks and Mountain Lion) is a powerful and professional video player, editor, and conversion tool for Mac. It offers an easy way to transcode video/audio among AVI, WMV, MKV, MP4, XAVC, XAVC S, MXF, MTS, TiVo, MOV, FLV, 3GP, VOB to fit various multimedia devices or to edit with iMovie (Apple Intermediate Codec), Final Cut Pro (ProRes), Avid (DNxHD), Premiere (MPEG-2/WMV), FCE and more on Mac (Mavericks) with fast conversion speed and highest quality.

It did bring us a slew of amazing features besides its excellent video converting ability, fast speed, original output quality and no-brainer interface. Just import the video, choose the output format from the Format window, and press the “Convert” button, you can get the video converted.

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