Difference Between MP4 and MOV (With Table)

MP4 and MOV are the two most generally used digital multimedia container formats. These two are normally used to store audio and video files. They both make the video much lighter in its size by using a lossy video compressing approach to hold the video.

Both are well-known video formats and almost every internet user is aware of their worth and usage as multimedia containers, but when it comes to choosing between them it usually confuses users as they both have very subtle yet substantial differences between them.

MP4 vs MOV

The differences between MP4 and MAC are based on their compatibility with other devices, the character of their files, their usability, and suitability for various purposes.

On one hand, MOV is used in Apple’s quick time programs, MPEG-4 Part 14 or MP4 which is based on Apple’s QuickTime MOV’s format is used in various devices including Apple. MP4 is encoded with the same codec as that of MOV. Although both works effectively, MOV is proprietary for Apple file format for QuickTime and MP4 is a file format of international standard. MP4 is a derivative of MOV. Apple released MOV in 1998 whereas the International Organization for Standardisation developed and released MP4 first format version 1 in 2001 and second version in 2003.

MOV is mostly used in MAC environments. Although both MOV and MP4 files will play on MAC, on other devices, it is mandatory to convert MOV files into MP4 or other to play. MOV files show better results on MAC since they are specially designed for QuickTime.

Comparison Table Between MP4 and MOV

Parameters Of Comparison MP4MOV
Compatibility Compatible with a wide range of devices as it has Universal FormatCompatible mostly with Apple devices
Character of filesFiles are compressed and smaller in sizeFiles are higher in quality and larger in size
UsabilityMostly used in OS and media playersMostly used in Apple devices
SuitabilityThey are suitable for making entertaining videos for Youtube or other social media platformsThey are suitable for making high-quality videos for professional environment
Disadvantage Not- so friendly with Apple devicesNot-so compressible

What is MP4?

The first version of the MP4 file format was developed in 2001and its second version came in 2003. Both the versions were developed and released by the International Organization for Standardisation. It has .mp4 extension. It uses MPEG-4 presentation, which means the presentation is merged using MPEG-4 BIF index.

This digital multimedia container format is used to store audio and video but it can also be used to store other data like images and subtitles. Being a modern container format, it allows streaming over the internet. The best quality of MP4 videos is that they are of universal format and can be enjoyed on any device. It can be played on Windows XP, Linux, Android, iOS, and other newer Windows devices.

What is MOV?

MOV is a tailor-made video format for Macs and Apple devices. It was developed in 1998 by Apple Inc. Same as MP4, MOV is also an ISO standard format and it comes with a .mov extension. MOV uses a ‘track’ system on its contents which makes MOV videos.

No doubt, it is the most reliable file format for Apple devices as it is an Apple QuickTime Movie file. It also uses the MPEG-4 codec for compression. A MOV file can contain audio, video, time code, text tracks, and other media. To play MOV on other devices one can convert MOV files to more standard media file formats by using media applications like VLC media player.

Main Differences Between MP4 and MOV

  1. When it comes to compatibility, MP4 is compatible with almost every device, operating system, and media player other than iOS devices and MAC. Whereas MOV is preferred for Apple devices only, though it is best for a professional environment.
  2. Both the digital multimedia containers are of lossy format, but the quality of MOV videos is somewhere better than that of MP4. Where MP4 compresses the videos to make them of smaller size, MOV keel the quality high with larger file size.
  3. MP4 is commonly used for creating videos for entertainment and casual purposes but when it comes to professional usage like MOV gains preference. Although the video quality of MOV is better, MP4 is a better choice to stream and edit videos.
  4. Although encoded with the same codec MPEG-4, both are similar, MP4 is more flexible than MOV. MP4 has more tagging options whereas the proprietary issues for MOV are an obstacle, which constrains its scope of application. 
  5. If one is working on Mac, MOV is safer and more efficient because MOV is tailor-made for Apple devices and is supposed to deliver high quality, whether it is used for playback or editing in a professional environment. If one is working on Windows, Ubuntu or Linux then MP4 will turn out as a wise option because of its wider support from various players.


Both MP4 and MOV are just multimedia containers, So the choice always depends on the kind of preference of users and where they want to use them. Both are more or less the same as they both use the same codec. What makes them different from each other is their compatibility. On one hand, where MAC is more compatible with iOS or Mac OS, MP4 is known for its versatility as it can be used in many media players and operating systems

The choice between MOV and MP4 also depends on objectives. For example, if you want to use video on social media platforms or the Internet in general, then the MP4 format is best suited. The image quality is good, the file size is smaller, and almost every Internet platform gives preference for MP4 than other video formats. If you want to do a video presentation professionally in meetings or seminars then MOV wins.

It is always possible to convert MOV files into MP4 files and vice versa. This can be done easily in the Apple QuickTime environment without even changing the video encoding. To conclude, it can be said that both formats are good in any case, one can use any format as per one’s preference.


  1. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Drdinesh_Goyal/publication/273260940_Performance_Analysis_of_Various_Video_Compression_Techniques/links/559b7f4b08ae99aa62ce4f23/Performance-Analysis-of-Various-Video-Compression-Techniques.pdf
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8419785/
2D vs 3D