How to convert video files using HandBrake or VLC

This tutorial will show you step by step how to convert video files using HandBrake or VLC media player.

The steps on this page work for MP4, MKV, AVI, and other video files.

How to convert a video using HandBrake

HandBrake is a free and open-source cross-platform video converter for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS.

HandBrake website

1. Open HandBrake.

A “Source Selection” panel will appear.

Note: If the “Source Selection” panel doesn't appear, then click on the Open Source button in the top left corner.

Open Source button in HandBrake

2. Click on File.

Open file button in HandBrake

A “Open” window will appear.

3. Within this window, you go to the video you want to convert.

4. Select the video.

5. Click on the Open button.

Open MKV video file in HandBrake

HandBrake will now load the video file.

6. At Format, you click on the selection menu button and select a video format (e.g., MP4, MKV, or WebM).

Video format selection menu in HandBrake

7. Click on Filters.

8. Turn all filters off.

HandBrake Filters

9. Click on Video.

10. At Video Codec, you select H.264 (x264).

11. At Framerate (FPS), you select Same as source.

12. Make sure the Variable Framerate option is checked.

Video settings in HandBrake

13. At Quality > Constant Quality, you can change the quality.

A lower RF number produces higher quality video, and a higher RF number produces lower quality video. (1)

In this example, I'm using a 720p video, so I'm setting the RF to 20.

Video quality settings in HandBrake

Begin by making small adjustments. Plus or minus 1 or 2 RF is usually noticeable.

Recommended settings for x264 and x265 encoders:

14. Click on Audio.

15. Select a bitrate of 256.

HandBrake audio settings

16. Click on the Browse button in the bottom right corner of HandBrake.

Browse button in HandBrake

A “Save As” window will appear.

17. Select a location on your computer where you want to save the video file.

18. At File name, you type a name for the video with the file extension at the end of the file name (e.g., Video.mp4, Video.mkv, or Video.webm). The file extension depends on the video format you've chosen.

19. Click on the Save button.

Save As window in HandBrake

20. Click on Start Encode located at the top of HandBrake.

Start Encode button in HandBrake

HandBrake will now convert your video.

You can see the progress at the bottom of HandBrake.

Progress bar in HandBrake

How to convert a video using VLC media player

VLC media player is a free and open-source cross-platform multimedia player for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS. It plays most video and audio files, and it offers a lot of extra features, like, for example, converting videos.

VLC website

1. Open VLC media player.

2. Click on Media located in the top left corner.

3. Click on Convert / Save.

Convert / Save option in VLC media player

A “Open Media” window will appear.

4. In this window, you click on the Add button.

Add button in VLC media player

A “Select one or multiple files” window will appear.

5. Within this window, you go to the video you want to convert.

6. Select the video.

7. Click on the Open button.

The Select one or multiple files window in VLC media player

8. Click on the Convert/Save button at the bottom of the window.

Convert/Save button in VLC media player

A “Convert” window will appear.

9. At Profile, you click on the selection menu button and select a video format (e.g., Video - H.264 + MP3 (MP4), Video - H.265 + MP3 (MP4), Video for MPEG4 720p TV/device, etc.).

Profile selection menu button in VLC media player

10. Click on the tool button next to the profile selection menu button.

Edit selected profile button in VLC media player

A “Profile edition” window will appear, and here you will have a few more advanced settings.

11. Click on Video codec.

12. Check the checkbox next to the Keep original video track option.

Video codec settings in VLC media player

13. Click on Audio codec.

14. Check the checkbox next to the Keep original audio track option.

Audio codec settings in VLC media player

15. Click on the Save button at the bottom of the window.

16. In the “Convert” window, you click on the Browse button.

Browse button in VLC media player

A “Save file” window will appear.

17. Select a location on your computer where you want to save the new video file.

18. At File name, you type a name for the video.

19. Click on the Save button.

Save file window in VLC media player

20. Click on the Start button at the bottom of the window.

Start button in VLC media player

VLC media player will now convert your video.

You can see the progress at the bottom of VLC.

Progress bar in VLC media player

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