2020 Best Formats for YouTube Upload, Download, Record etc.

Bianca Willis Bianca Willis 2020-09-20 06:00:46 Tag:

What’s the best YouTube format(s) for uploading, downloading, converting and recording?

Not all people get familiar with media formats or even the encoding things, so this article comes in handy to help both entry-level YouTube film makers and general viewers to do things more easily by listing some top or say popular file formats for YouTube upload, download, convert, as well as record.

Best formats for YouTube upload/download/convert/record

Part One: Best YouTube Upload Formats

YouTube, compared to common video hosting sites, has a relatively wider video support. Now let’s firstly take a look at all YouTube-friendly formats. Since it only welcomes video clips and is uninterested in audio ones, you won’t see any audio formats suggested in the next part. Before that, you should know that the maximum video upload length is 128GB or that of a 12-hour video. And only after you have verified your account can you break the default 15-minture ristriction.

● Officially Listed Video Formats & Codecs for YouTube Upload

Container Codec/Standard
MP4– a general container format
MOV– a QuickTime container format
AVI– a general container format
WMV– a typical Microsoft container format
FLV– a typical container format for Internet video
WebM– a Google-sponsored container format
MPEGPS – a container format
3GPP – an umbrella term for many standards
MPEG4 – an encoding standard
ProRes – an Apple format
DNxHR – a video codec
CineForm – a video codec
HEVC/h265 – a video codec

● Officially Recommended Encoding Settings for YouTube Upload

You can get a glance at the following advices before you starting any video creation. Also it’s OK to ignore it and only follow your original parameters because as long as the formats and codec is suitable for YouTube share, YouTube (Studio) will automatically adjust it to a proper status.

Content Recommended settings More details
Container format MP4
Video codec H.264 Progressive scan (not interlacing one); 2 consecutive B frame; Closed GOP/GOP of half the frame rate; Variable bitrate/VBR; 4:2:0Chroma subsampling etc.
Video frame rate Anyone among 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60 etc. Interlaced video will be deinterlaced to progressive one like from 1080i 60 to 1080p30
Video resolution Up to 4K/2160p
Video aspect ratio 16:9
Video bitrate Differs from video resolution, frame rate and dynamic range. e.g: 35-45 Mbps for 4K @24-30fps video; 53-68 Mbps for 4K @48-60 fps;
8 Mbps for 1080p @24-30fps video; 12 Mbps for 1080p @48-60 fps;
5 Mbps for 720p @24-30fps video; 7.5 Mbps for 720p @48-60 fps…>>Check out more here
Audio codec AAC-LC Steteo (+ 5.1) Channels; 48khz/96khz sample rate
Audio bitrate 128 kbps for Mono
384 kbps for Stereo
512 kbps for 5.1

If your self-produced media footage is not among above mentioned formats e.g mswmm, wlmp, msdvd, MP3, and WAV, or it doesn’t meet other upload requirements like exceeding the size/duration limit, you will receive a “Video failed to upload” error message. At this time, you will have to do file conversion or edits in strict accordance with YouTube’s principle.

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Part Two: Top YouTube Download Formats

There are several mainstream downloadable formats for YouTube videos ripping: MP4, WebM, FLV, 3GP, MP3, M4A etc.

There’s no exact answer to the question “which format is the best one to download/convert YouTube video” because each one may have different file format requirement. However, theoretically, if the target YouTube video source has what you need, directly downloading it from YouTube’s server, without any transcoding handle, is the go-to choice.

Then how to check and download originally available media source from YouTube? I recommend using free command line tool called “youtube-dl” that’s enjoyed by numerous customers. To successfully leverage this program, you should install related Python and ffmpeg versions on your computer rightly. Below are their official download links that are 100% safe and clean.

youtube-dl: https://youtube-dl.org/
Python: https://www.python.org/downloads/
ffmpeg: https://ffmpeg.org/download.html

Check available download formats for YouTube

With piles of command line options (see all options on github), you are allowed to check out all available downloads with explicit format, resolution, codec, size and more and download either of them at original quality. Just like the screenshot above shows, this video has a dozen of webm video/audio, mp4, and 3gp existing downloadable choices.

ffmpeg also makes it possible to file merge, extract audio from YouTube video, and trancode source file without installing any other third-party helper.

youtube-dl download merge YouTube video

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Part Three: Top YouTube Video Convert & Capture Formats

Through investigation on file formats asked by real customers online and offered by YouTube conversion/recording programs, I distilled them down to a top-10 list (MP4 excluded) of people’s favoriates. They are respectively: MP3, WAV, MP2, AVI, 3GP, FLAC, M4A, MOV, FLV, and WebM.

RecMaster is a handy YouTube content saver that’s compatible well with Windows and Mac computers. By supporting capturing all general YouTube videos, live ones included, into .mp4 as well as 6 other formats of the top-10 list, RecMaster is taken by many video nerds to move online media into local space in an absolutely clean and secure way. This simple bet is still suitable for those who want to get everything under their controls, for instance only copy certain video segments, combine several movies into a single one, save YouTube video with subtitles attached/without audio, create reaction video by overlaying the webcam window, annotate the behavior with drawing pen or whiteboard, and give the capture an auto start or end with scheduler tool.

Now free download this easy-peasy recorder to keep the YouTube content in your own storage for offline watching at will. As a screen video producer, it’s also good at making high-quality media footage out of any desktop activities with audio, which is far more serviceable in the daily work, learning, communication and ascertainment.

free download RecMaster for Windows free download RecMaster for Mac

After installing and enabling it on your machine, you can take advantage of its multiple recording modes to convert your YouTube video into MP4, AVI, FLV, WAV and MP3 on Windows, or into MP4, MOV, M4V, M4A and CAF on macOS. As for video conversion, the quality, fps, webcam and audio are all adjustable to cater to any demand.

Record YouTube with RecMaster

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FAQs on YouTube Formats

  1. Why there are many formats in common between YouTube download and convert? What’s the difference?

Each YouTube video may have varying video formats available to download due to different upload type. And YouTube ripping apps still offer their own format profiles for download or conversion. That makes many download and convert formats overlap. The main difference between download and convert it whether the source file is re-processed/re-encode. Download is simply a behavior moving existing file from YouTube to local folder while convert requires both download and file transfer, be it file format or codec or they both.

  1. Online downloader/converter vs. desktop app, who is better and safer?

Although these two kinds of services both are possible to carry unsafe elements like malware, adware, virus and so forth, generally speaking, free online tools tend to be more dangerous with obvious or hidden pop-ups. So if possible, you’d better select a reliable desktop application with good reputation like 4K Video Downloader and WinX YouTube Downloader. See >>Screen Recorder VS Video Downloader, What’s the Difference?

  1. Is it legal to download/convert/record YouTube video?

According to US law, it’s illegal to download, convert or record the copyrighted material, of course the copyrighted YouTube videos included. Also, any of such behaviors is still against the YouTube’s terms of service. So I suggest you think twice before downloading or converting YouTube movies, music, and other vlogging pieces. It’s ideal to get the permission of video publisher/copyright owner for any personal download and convert. See >>Is Screen Recording (Il)legal on Computer?

RecMaster – Record Every Moment on Your Computer Screen

RecMaster – Record Every Moment on Your Computer Screen

Multiple recording modes make it easy to capture anything on screen.

Record 1080p or even 4K clips at 60fps to maintain the high quality still.

Flexible settings for mouse cursor effects, watermark and annotations.

Preloaded with recording scheduler, video editor. Allow one-click sharing.

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Bianca Willis

Bianca Willis

Bianca Willis started her copywriting career since 2014. As a tech editor with over 6 years writing experience, she has worked out hundreds of posts on multi-media solutions (video recording included), hot gadgets and troubleshooting tips.