Essentially, all compression tools do the same thing. They take large video files and make them smaller. What differs from one tool to the next are factors like speed, supported file formats, and user interface design. Fortunately, most of these tools are either free or inexpensive. You’ll also find demo versions that you can try out before you buy.
Here are some recommended tools to try:
- QuickTime Pro (www.apple.com/quicktime/pro). This versatile application lets you convert video from one format to another. QuickTime Pro is a cross-platform solution and lets Mac and Windows users convert video files to work with Apple’s portable media players. It can also produce files using the Apple TV spec, which matches the HD requirements of most video-sharing sites. The app sells for $29.
- iMovie (www.apple.com/ilife). Apple’s entry level video-editing tool can publish QuickTime and H.264 files directly. It can also publish video directly to YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook. The app is sold separately for $15 through the Mac App Store or bundled with four other apps in the iLife suite.
- Adobe Premiere Elements (www.adobe.com/products/premiereel). This versatile editing tool also contains a versatile compression tool set. With it, you can create movies in several formats, including MPEG-4 and Flash, and post directly to social media and video-sharing sites. The app sells for $99 new and is available for both Windows and Mac.
- MPEG Streamclip (www.squared5.com). MPEG Streamclip is a multipurpose video converter, player, and editor that works on both Mac and Windows. It can encode to many formats; it can also cut, trim, and join movies. The biggest benefit is that it’s free!
- Microsoft Expression Encoder and Expression Encoder Pro (www.microsoft.com/expression/products/Encoder4_Overview.aspx). This Windows-only tool comes in a free and a Pro version. It replaces the Windows Media Encoder, which was retired in mid-2010. It can create Windows Media Video files and Silverlight files. The Pro version can also output H.264 files.
- Apple Compressor (www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/compressor). This powerful compression tool used to be bundled with Final Cut Studio but is now sold separately in the Mac App Store for $49. It allows you to create Apple-compatible files and is optimized for computers with multiple processors.
- Adobe Media Encoder (www.adobe.com). This compression tool is not a stand-alone product. Rather, it is a core technology in the Adobe Creative Suite products that works with video. You can easily access it through products like Adobe Premiere Pro. It supports several web video formats and offers excellent control.