Video files are always the ones that take up all your storage space. But whether you need to free up some of that space (but keep the video) or you want to send it to someone else but you just can’t wait for hours to upload, here’s how you can compress files and turn gigabytes into gigabytes. megabytes.
There are several options, and one you might prefer to use is the video editing software you used to create it in the first place. Usually, the default settings save it in high quality (or inefficient format), which means the rendered file is much larger than it should be.
Re-rendering it at a lower resolution and perhaps, a lower bitrate will help a lot in making the resulting file much smaller.
If you’re not sure which resolution or bitrate to use and are worried about how it will affect the quality, one change (and the only option if you’re not creating the video in the first place) is to use Use some video conversion software.
There are many such utilities available to download for free, and we’ll be using a tool called Handbrake here to show you step-by-step exactly what to do to make your files smaller.
We think Handbrake is the best choice: it’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux and is open source, completely free.
Of course, there are alternatives. One is WinX HD Video Converter. This has a slightly simpler interface than Handbrake and won’t put any watermarks on the compressed video. However, it will constantly ask you to upgrade to the full version.
How to shrink a video in Handbrake
First, visit the Handbrake website, download the appropriate version, and install the application on your computer.
Now open the Handbrake app by double clicking the shortcut on your desktop and you will see the screen below.
You can drag and drop a single video file or a series of video files into Handbrake from File Explorer. But if you want, you can click the File or Folder option on the left and navigate to the video you want to shrink. Select one or more video files and click Open.
Next, choose where you want to save the smaller video. You can change the location by clicking ‘Browse’ at the bottom right of the screen and editing the highlighted filename if you don’t want it to be called like the original with a ‘-1’ at the end.
Now, you can do many different things. One of the simplest is to use Handbrake presets. As you can see in the screenshot above, the original resolution of the video is 1920×1080. That is ‘1080p’ in said video and also known as ‘Full HD’. Depending on who you’re sending it to, you may want to keep that resolution or reduce it to ‘720p’ which is 1280×720 pixels.
That should still be good quality and the file will be significantly smaller.
To choose a preset, click the Preset menu, then you have a choice of General, Web, Device (and two other options unrelated here). A good choice to make the file smaller is ‘Very Fast 720p30′, but you can also choose Fast 720p30, which will take longer but produce higher quality video. ’30’ means 30fps, so if your current video is not 30fps Handbrake will remove the frames if it’s greater than 30 or add them if less than 30.
Changing the frame rate will affect the file size, as you might have guessed. For example, if you have an HD video shot at 60fps, dropping to 30 will remove half of those frames, and that in itself is a good way to reduce your video file size, even when you keep the original resolution and don’t go down to 720p.
If you need to send video via Gmail, there are two presets in the Web menu, along with others for YouTube, Vimeo, and Discord.
After choosing a preset, you can click ‘Start Encoding’ and Handbrake will process your video and save it to the folder you chose at first.
Open the folder where the video was saved, select it and you’ll see the new size at the bottom of Windows File Explorer. Hopefully it will be small enough to quickly upload to cloud storage, email, or share via weTransfer.
If not, you can try below setting to make it smaller.
Truncate the beginning and the end
TIP: If you don’t need to share the entire video, trimming the beginning and end is a quick way to shrink the size of the video. This feature is somewhat hidden in Handbrake and it is much easier to use in other software, such as Freemake.
To do this in Handbrake, first watch the video and record the time you want the video to start, say 31 seconds, and the time it should end, such as 8 minutes, 29 seconds.
Click the Chapter drop-down menu and select seconds. You can now enter those times as 00:31:00 and 08:29:00. When you click Start Encoding, it will only process that part of the original video.
Adjust the settings manually
Alternatively, you can use the tabs below the Presets menu to configure video settings manually. In Dimensions you can specify the resolution, but in the Video tab where you can choose the codec and frame rate.
Codecs are the method used to compress video, and some codecs are more efficient than others. H.264 (x264) is a good choice because it’s very compatible, but H.265 will create a smaller file that may not play on your recipient’s device.
On the right is a slider that allows you to change the overall quality of the video. Be careful with this: too far to the left will result in the video being unwatchable.
Luckily, you can click the Preview button in the bar at the top to see what the final video will look like, so you can make any adjustments before saving the entire video.
TIP: If you’re processing a very long video, Handbrake lets you choose what happens when your video(s) is finished compressing. In the bottom right corner, click the When Done: menu and choose your preferences.
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