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November 5, 2021

The Best YouTube Video Size and Format for 2021

Learn about the best size and format for your YouTube video content and follow the requirements listed in this guide to get optimum results.

As a YouTube content creator, you understand the necessity of staying updated on the app’s newest requirements. From SEO to video formatting and size requirements, there is a lot to keep track of. However, since you have to focus on creating those awesome materials for your vlog, you shouldn’t blame yourself if you cannot keep up with these changes.

To retain its leading position, YouTube regularly rolls out fresh competitive features and updates. Each of these comes with new requirements that users have to learn if they want to stay relevant in the space. For example, if you don’t upload your videos using the optimum settings for size and format, your content won’t be displayed correctly. It can even affect your ranking on Google searches.

We understand the need to have these requirements listed in one place. That is why we have researched the topic and produced this comprehensive guide. This article will provide you with the latest updates on the best YouTube video size and format for your content.

Why you should use the recommended video size and format for YouTube

To get more likes, followers, opportunities, and profit, you need to go beyond making an interesting video. Ask any established or successful YouTuber, and they will tell you the same thing: you need to use the correct video size and format. This ensures that your video has the right quality, maintains a professional feel, and gets new viewers clicking that Subscribe button.

These are some of the reasons why you need to use the recommended YouTube format:

  • How YouTube processes a video depends on its format. This can affect the playback, causing your video to be displayed poorly. By extension, this will influence the experience your viewers will get from watching your content.
  • Depending on the YouTube video upload format, a file can be processed in such a way that it ends up having a larger size. When shared on social media, this can affect the streaming quality.
  • The format, size, and alignment of your videos can affect your Google search ranking. If viewers don’t enjoy the visual feeling of your vlog, the user engagement will drop.

To give your subscribers the best viewing experience, you need to keep these points in mind. It is essential to choose the best video format settings when shooting and uploading your YouTube videos.

While there are tools that make it easy to convert and edit your videos, you also need to know how to apply the necessary settings when using them.

What is the best YouTube video format for 2021?

YouTube supports different file formats. However, MP4 is recommended for the best results. In addition, your video should have an aspect ratio of 16:9 with the H.264 video codec and the AAC-LC audio codec.

These settings will give you high-quality videos while maintaining small file sizes. In addition, YouTube released a recommendation advising users to upload their videos in formats that are as close to the original as possible. This is especially important if the files are in HD.

Although MP4 is the best file format, these are also compatible with YouTube:

  • 3GP
  • AVI
  • MOV
  • FLV
  • WMV
  • HEVC
  • CineForm
  • ProRes
  • WebM
  • DNxHR
  • MPEG4

You can use any of them if you want. The ones you choose will depend on your target audience and what you are trying to achieve.

What is the perfect YouTube video size?

You can use any of these recommended file sizes for optimum results. Keep in mind that the higher the figures, the better the quality of your YouTube video upload.

426x240240pThis is the minimum file size for YouTube videos. It works great for viewing on a slow network connection.
640x360360pThis is a good size for embedding your YouTube videos on websites.
854x480480pThis definition is the standard for YouTube videos.
1280x720720pThis is the recommended definition for uploading and viewing HD videos on YouTube. It works well on mobile devices even with a slow network connection.
1920x10801080pThis is another great option for HD videos. If you’re looking to take it up a notch, this definition is the standard. It gives your videos a more professional look.
2560x14401440pThis is for the 2K YouTube video quality.
3840x21602160pThis is for the 4K video quality size.

Note: If your file does not meet the recommended 16:9 aspect ratio set by YouTube, the app will automatically add padding around it to enhance the viewing experience. Padding comes in the form of black or white areas surrounding your video. This ensures that your content fits into the screen, without some parts getting cut off.

In addition, you should keep these factors in mind:

  • 128 GB is the maximum YouTube video size that you can upload. If your file is larger, you can use a good video compressor to reduce its size without altering its quality.
  • 12 hours is the maximum length for YouTube content.

YouTube’s recommended video upload settings

Whenever you want to make an upload to YouTube, you are given the option to choose your video encoding settings. Let us explain what this means.

When a video is recorded using a speed of 30 fps (frames per second), it means that there are 30 photos per second in each footage. Add that up into 60 seconds and you have a total of 1,800 images per minute. This results in large video files that are

  • difficult to manage,
  • take lots of time to upload, and
  • occupy much storage space on servers.

It didn’t take long to realize that the best solution could be to compress these videos into more manageable sizes. However, by doing this, quality is lost. Therefore, it became a battle trying to find a balance between size and quality.

Fortunately, technological advancements have made it possible to compress files without compromising on quality. This is achieved with video encoding.

Video encoding is a technology that stores images within a video in a fluid format and not as single images. This process happens automatically as you shoot your videos and even while editing. It uses tools known as containers and codecs.

When your videos are ready to go on YouTube, the container or codec refers to the file type or format. What are the differences between these two terms?

1.      Video file containers

Video file containers refer to how your file is stored and organized. This contains information such as the video, audio, and metadata content. This data is called the file extension, and the most popular ones include the following:

  • .MP4
  • .MOV

In the video industry, MP4 h.264 is considered the standard. It remains the most practical way to store and distribute high-definition video content.

2.      Video file codecs

File codecs enable YouTube to compress or decompress video files. Without this information, your videos will be difficult to manage. For example, using a low-quality codec will cause your video to be compressed or decompressed poorly, leading to a fuzzy or bad video output. This means that even after successfully reducing the size of your video, the quality will be affected.

To get the best results, YouTube released a list of encoding settings that users should follow:

  • Container: MP4
  • Audio codec: AAC-LC
  • Video codec: H.264
  • Frame rate: Videos should be uploaded in the same frame rate they were recorded. The recommended frame rates include 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, and 60 fps (frames per second).  However, you can also use other frame rates.

Extra tips for the best video output

  • Considering your videos are encoded automatically during the filming process, shooting your YouTube videos using the 1080p resolution setting will give you the best results. This option keeps your files small while giving you the maximum quality for a full HD video. It is more efficient when compared to large 4K and 2K videos.
  • 720p resolution gives you HD quality while saving on space and processing requirements. It is the minimum setting needed for high-definition videos. This will keep the file small while retaining crisp video quality.
  • If you shoot videos using your smartphone, the file is automatically stored as MP4.
  • By encoding your YouTube videos, your files will upload faster. In addition, they will take less storage space, Wi-Fi, or mobile data.
  • If you want to save yourself the extra work during the editing process, you can ensure your videos are encoded correctly by using online tools such as InVideo and Lumen5. These apps will ensure your videos are downloaded in the correct format.

However, if you already have your videos saved in an unsupported file type, all hope is not lost. You can still convert them to YouTube-friendly formats, such as MP4. Online video editors such as Lumen and Invideo can help you with this. You can even adjust the codec, bitrate, and aspect ratio of your video, among many other settings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.      What recommended format should I use for my YouTube videos?

According to the guideline released by YouTube, you should use the MP4 video format. This will display your content in the best quality available. YouTube also recommends using the h.264 video codec setting with the standard 16:9 aspect ratio.

2.      What is the maximum video size I can upload to my YouTube channel?

The maximum allowable limit is 128 GB. If your file is larger, you should use a good video compressor to reduce its size. This will make it smaller while preserving its quality.

3.      What are the default width and height for YouTube videos?

For a video resolution of 1080p and an aspect ratio of 16:9, YouTube will set the height and width to 1080p and 1920px respectively.

4.      How can I convert my videos to the recommended YouTube format?

You can use a free online video editor, such as InVideo or Lumen5.

5.      Why do some of my YouTube videos look blurry?

Videos may look blurry immediately after they are uploaded. This is because YouTube will show a low-quality version of your video while high-resolution processing is happening in the background. In some cases, it can take YouTube up to 4 hours to process your file and upload it in HD. However, when it is done, your video will appear crisp and clear.

6.      Can I upload YouTube videos longer than 15 minutes?

By default, you cannot upload videos longer than 15 minutes. However, YouTube allows you to upload files that are up to 12 hours if you verify your account on its website.

How to share large files and folders before uploading them to YouTube

YouTubers are known to collaborate from time to time. This is a great way to increase exposure and gain more followers. However, it can be a hassle trying to work together, especially if you are in different locations.

You might want a way to share videos, gain ideas, and make necessary edits before uploading your content for your YouTube audience. Thankfully, it is possible to achieve this, even if you are on different continents.

While there are many file transfer tools out there, most of them have restrictions that affect their usage. For example, some of them impose file upload limits. In addition, they can throttle your upload speed, making the transfer process slow even when you have a strong internet connection. Others require that you pay a recurring subscription fee before you can use them. This means that you are forced to spend money on a service you only use once in a while.

FileWhopper is a cloud-based platform that transcends these restrictions. With it, you can send files and folders of ANY size with absolutely no limits. Do you want to send a 5,000TB file? That’s not a problem! In addition, you can transfer your data with no speed throttling. This means that as long as you have a strong connection, you can quickly upload large files and folders and get them transferred at the fastest possible speed.

When using FileWhopper, you don’t need to compress your videos. You can send them in any type or size. This means that the quality of your files is preserved, keeping them in their original format for when you want to upload them to YouTube.

FileWhopper is a secure platform that encrypts your data during the upload process. Hackers cannot intercept your files, making it a trusted app for transferring confidential or sensitive information. In addition, once you commence the sending procedure, your transfer will be protected with a password. You can then give it to the recipient of your video. This ensures unauthorized third parties cannot view or download your data.

There are no recurring subscription fees on FileWhopper. Simply select the file or folder you want to upload and you will receive a one-time quote based on its size. You only pay for what you use, nothing more.

FileWhopper uses a tiny app to keep track of the transfer process. Even if your battery runs out or your network goes down unexpectedly, you don’t have to worry about starting all over again. The progress is saved automatically, and your transfer will resume from where it left off once an Internet connection is established. As soon as the transfer is completed successfully, the app will uninstall itself.

FileWhopper has a unique feature that allows for simultaneous uploads and downloads. This means that the recipient can start downloading your video while you are still uploading it. They don’t have to wait for the transfer process to be complete to start the download process. This feature serves as a great time saver when you are on the clock. It also removes the worry of having a slow network connection because no one has to spend long hours waiting for the data to finish uploading.

FileWhopper is a popular tool in the media industry among those who collaborate over long distances. You can also use it for your video-backup purposes.


If you want your YouTube channel to get the traffic it deserves, you have to use the right video settings. Filming and uploading your videos using the recommended format and size will make your content stand out. This is an easy way to reach your target audience.

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