How to compress a video on Mac

It's not a surprise that the largest files on your Mac are probably your videos. So, whether you're running out of space on your hard drive or you're trying to send a movie that's too large, compressing videos is a great way to reduce their file size. And with no shortage of options, figuring out where to start with it all can feel overwhelming.

But don't worry, if you keep reading, this article will explain video compression and how to compress a video on a Mac.

What is compression and how does it work?

Before you just compress all of your videos, it's important to understand what it is and what happens to a video when it's compressed.

Since a video is just a series of photos rapidly playing in succession, the process is actually very similar to compressing an image. Whatever data can be stripped out of each frame is taken away, making the overall file smaller.

Is it possible to compress videos without visible quality loss?

Compressing videos on Mac is a balancing act. Because even if you compress a video ever so slightly, there will still be some quality loss. It's all about finding how much you can compress it to reduce the file size without noticing that the video is actually of lower quality.

Tip:

If your videos are taking up too much space on your Mac before you compress them all, you can try scanning for duplicate videos and getting rid of them. It's easy to end up with the same video file stored in multiple folders, but an app like Gemini 2 can scan your entire hard drive and help you quickly delete them.

How to remove duplicate videos

How to compress videos with iMovie

One of the most popular ways to compress your videos is with the iMovie app. It comes standard with macOS, but if for some reason it's not on your computer, you can download it from the Mac App Store.

After you've found iMovie in your Applications folder or re-downloaded it, follow these steps to compress a video.

  1. Open iMovie.
  2. Click Create New > Movie.
  3. Then, click File > Import and select the video you want to compress.
  4. Your video will appear in the browser window. Drag it into the timeline window.
  5. Click File > Share > File…
  6. Choose your export settings. Adjusting the Resolution and Quality will have the most impact on your file size, but you can also set the Compress dropdown to Faster. Now, click Next.
  7. Name your video and choose where you want to save it. Hit Save.
How to compress videos with iMovie

How to compress videos with Quicktime Player

Another default macOS app you can use to compress your videos is Quicktime Player. Because Quicktime's primary use is to playback videos, people often forget that it has some basic editing tools built-in as well. Here's how you use Quicktime to compress your video files:

  1. Open Quicktime Player.
  2. A popup should appear asking you to select your video. If it doesn't, click File > Open File.
  3. Then, click File > Export As…
  4. You'll see a list of video resolutions. Choose the next lowest resolution.
  5. Name your video and choose a location to save it.
How to compress videos with Quick Time player

Tip: If you don't know your video's original resolution, you can find out by clicking Window > Movie Inspector.

Best free video compressors

While Apple's default apps are great and easy-to-use, they do leave very little room for control over your compression settings. So if you want to adjust your compressions a little more, take a more in-depth look at the apps Handbrake and Clideo.

Handbrake

Arguably the most popular compressor, Handbrake has been around for years. And it's popular for a reason. It's a simple, free video compressor for a Mac. Once you have Handbrake downloaded and installed in your Applications folder, you can follow these steps to compress a video:

  1. Open Handbrake.
  2. In the popup window, navigate to your video and click Open.
  3. At the top, you can choose from one of the Presets in the dropdown menu, or you can make your adjustments in the tabs above your video.
  4. Then, you can rename your video and select where you want to save it at the bottom of the window.
  5. After you've adjusted all of your settings, click the Start button at the top.
Handbrake screenshot

Clideo

Another option you have is the free online compressor, Clideo. As long as the video you want to compress is already under 500 MB, you can upload it using your browser, and Clideo will do the rest. And the best part is there's no software to install. Here's how you compress your videos with Clideo:

  1. In your browser, go to Clideo.com.
  2. Click Compress > Choose file and select the video you want to compress.
  3. Preview the video and if you want to make any adjustments, click Edit result.
  4. When you're happy with the quality of the video, click Download.
Cideo screenshot

While it might feel like a daunting task at first, reducing video file size on Mac doesn’t have to be scary. And the good news is you have a couple of different options. Whether you decide to use one of the default apps or one of these free tools, hopefully, you're feeling confident in compressing your videos on Mac after reading this article.

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