Move, Watch & Share Your Videos.

Guidelines For Choosing A Free Video File Converter

by Tom Volotta on February 9, 2012

Video File ConverterAs was the case in our search for Free Video Players for PCs, there actually are a considerable number of free video file converters available that will provide the functions you need. Your intended use is critical to the video file converter you choose because the range of features among free video file (or format) converters are extensive.

Several free media players such as AllPlayer, DivX, GOM, RealPlayer, VLC Media Player, and others offer a built-in converter or provide the feature as an additional module. Each have their own capabilities and limitations in handling input and output formats. Converting content for use on mobile devices is one of the more sought after features.

WHAT DO YOU WANT THE FREE VIDEO FILE CONVERTER TO DO?

Sure, it’s free to download, but will it meet your requirements in converting formats? Like media players, converters come in versions that may only deal with a limited number of file formats and ability to affect the output. There are converters designed to handle a large number of input types and then output to a broad variety of formats. You should especially be looking at what mobile device and set top players the converter supports. This is a constantly expanding world and your converter should at least cover your current or most used devices.

Several software developers divide up their product lines into small segments, packaging individual features, which address a limited number of input and output conversion formats. These products also usually have constrained feature sets for controlling, monitoring, and altering the video and audio while its being processed.

FREE VIDEO FILE CONVERTERS FOR ADVANCED USERS

If your needs require taking on virtually any video file format then look for a more elaborate video converter. There is a good selection of free products in that category, but while reviewing the landscape you’ll also run across a number of options in the $20 to $60 range. There are also truly professional video converters and encoders that are cost ten times that amount and higher. The purchased products typically offer free downloads for trial periods.

Looking for a video file converter that does all the heavy lifting? Check out RealPlayer, it can convert multiple video formats on the fly. It even knows what video files will play on most phones and can convert videos to easily play on your mobile device. No guess work required.

Rather than repeat them here, read the Special Features You Want To Have in “Video Format Converters – One Of The Black Arts Of Digital Video Technology” for some of the key elements to consider when selecting an all-purpose, dedicated converter.

A partial list of full-featured, free video file format converters worth considering include: 4Free Video Converter, Format Factory, Freemake, Handbrake, and iWisoft Free Video Converter.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS IN CHOOSING A FREE VIDEO CONVERTER

Like many of their pricier counterparts, free converters offer numerous input and output formats, conversion to many types of mobile and consumer devices such as PS3 and Xbox, and the ability to rip and burn DVD and even Blu-ray. Some even include advanced features like 2-pass encoding, various presets to make interface functions easier, the ability to extract audio, and a host of other useful tools. Video and audio quality, formats, ease of use, and flexible features are the most important considerations.

Check technical support for each individual product your considering. While most of these converters are Windows-only, some do offer Mac versions, or are open source cross platform products. It might also be that you like a converter because of the interface or workflow, but it is lacking support for specific formats. In that case, installation of additional codecs may be available that will make it easier to use.

Odds are good that you’ll find a program that will meet your needs. To help cover the bases, we’ve done more detailed checking on several similar products: Any, AVS, Total, Prism, Movavi and Eztoo.

If you have any questions about picking a free video file converter just ask us in the comments. We’re happy to help.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ragy April 24, 2012 at 10:51 am

good

2 Tom Volotta April 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Glad it was useful.

3 finny June 11, 2012 at 3:46 am

i like this converter

4 Tom Volotta June 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Which converter?

…TV

5 Sunil July 23, 2012 at 4:16 am

Having trouble using the convertor as well the downloader recently. Unable to convert due to an error message
FILE PARSING ERROR
CODECS REQUIRED ARE NOT FOUND.
Also the downloader downloaded into itunes format and not able to replay with real or other video players

6 Tom Volotta July 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

You didn’t mention what you are converting from, and to. Regardless, RealPlayer Converter needs a CODEC that isn’t included in RP’s standard assortment. Supplimentary CODEC Packs can be downloaded from several sources. CCCP is a good, all around choice. It may also be useful to install QuickTime for Windows.

As for the Downloader problem, I’m not sure why that’s happening. Be sure the current version of iTunes is installed. It’s also possible installing QuickTime, as suggested above, will resolve the issue. RP Downloader doesn’t convert. Maybe the original file is iTunes, and it (MOV files) will play fine if QT is on your machine.

My system is set with RealPlayer as the default media player, but I also have CCCP (to play MKV files) and QuickTime (so there aren’t any converter problems with MP4/H.264) installed. That configuration works fine for me.

I’d install QuickTime and iTunes first to see if that solves both your converter and download problems. If not, install CCCP.

Let us know if any of this helps or not.

…TV

7 Ahmad Shah Khan July 27, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I would like to download and convert the video in real player

8 Tom Volotta July 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Rather than listing the step-by-step here, it will be more efficient for you to read how to Download Videos from the Web. Converting your downloaded video to another format, particularly for use in another device such as a smart phone is very straightforward.

Those instructions from RealPlayer Support will help you do what you want.

…TV

9 Michael Lobbett July 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I have a video that is a Real Player configuration, having a .rm extension. I need to convert this to Windows Media. What software would be needed to accomplish this?

Kind regards,

Michael Lobbett
360-509-8610

10 Tom Volotta July 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I’m assuming you have the current version of RealPlayer, but if not, just download and install the free RealPlayer (this link includes info on Converting) and you’ll be ready to go. RealPlayer has a built-in Converter that will make quick work of turning an RM file into WMV, WMA, WAV or many others.

The basic instructions are on the linked page, but quickly, here’s one method:

1. Open RealPlayer.
2. Click on the Library tab.
3. Click on “RealPlayer” at the upper left, and select File/Open.
4. Choose Browse in the new dialog window to locate your RM file.
5. Select the file(s) and click Open.
6. The movie will start playing in RealPlayer. Here, you can hover the cursor within the video frame, which will display a “Convert” button at the bottom right. Click it, and the RealPlayer Converter will open in a separate window, automatically showing that file has been placed there.

Another option (especially if you’re converting multiple files) is to instead, click on Library tab when the movie is playing. This will then display the video(s) as thumbnail images, or a list, depending on how you’ve set the Library. There are a few routes from here, but an easy one is to just hover the cursor over the thumbnail, click on “More” in the pop-up menu, then choose “Convert.” This will also open the Converter window and shows the movie has been placed in there.

Once the Converter window is open, you can also just drag clip thumbnails from the Library and drop them in the Converter.

7. In the Converter, click the “Convert to” button in order to select the exact file format you want. There will be different categories of cell phones, portable media players, video formats, audio formats, etc., including a “Show All” option.
8. Find the WMV, WMA or WAV format you want.
9. Click the “details” button on the format selection to open another window where you can fine tune the specifics of quality and resolution.
10. Click OK, then OK again in the next window.
11. BEFORE pressing the green “Start” button, remember to choose the folder where you want the finished conversion to “Save in.” It will also automatically be available in the RealPlayer Library.

A progress bar and time remaining countdown will show how the conversion is going.

It probably looks like a lot of steps, and there even more variations of routing files to the converter. It’s all really very straightforward in getting the job done, especially after you’ve used it a few times. NOTE: You can also put the Converter application icon on the desktop or in the taskbar, and launch it directly without opening RealPlayer. The converter has an “Add” button that lets you browse to your files.

Good Luck. Let me know if you hit any snags.

…TV

11 Navratnaa August 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

my problem is that few video clips downloaded from differnet sites the mp4 file downloaded do not play in realplayer. It shows general error. If it does not play then how to convert. I have saved them in my pendrive. Pl give easy solution. Thanks & regards

12 Tom Volotta August 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm

There may be Digital Rights Management (DRM) embedded in the MP4 file. Typically, that would prevent the download in the first place. It could be the video contains metadata that lets you view online and download, but not play on your local machine. Malicious software could also be loaded on your computer from the website. As for converting MP4, the free RealPlayer won’t. RP+ does. A common workaround for the RealPlayer Converter is to download and install QuickTime for Windows. Don’t bet on this helping your original MP4 playback trouble.

…TV

13 kamal.durrani August 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

I love realplayer as recomded by my friend

14 David Smith August 23, 2012 at 8:03 am

Can you tell me how to convert a video in RealPayer (MP4) to an FLV video so that I may burn a DVD suitable for use on a television?

15 Tom Volotta August 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

You’ll need to upgrade to RealPlayer Plus in order to burn a DVD.

Don’t convert an MP4 to FLV, and then burn to a DVD. You’re adding an extra step that will only result in poorer quality. DVD uses the MPEG-2 format (actually MPEG-1 also, but that’s another story), so all you need to do is use RP+ to convert the MP4 video into a DVD-compliant, MPEG-2 video format.

…TV

16 hector August 31, 2012 at 8:43 am

Da best nice like’it very much,i need to know if i can mix like a couple songs at a time

17 Tom Volotta August 31, 2012 at 10:44 am

I think what you’re asking is if you can merge several video segments together to create a single long clip. If so, yes, that’s possible, depending on the specific file converter program. Here are some examples: Any, AVS, Total, Prism, Movavi and Eztoo. Check each to be sure. Unfortunately, neither RealPlayer or RealPlayer Plus allows this.

One thing that may create problems in editing different clips together and the converting them, is if the various clips are in different video file formats and/or codecs. Although converters can handle a batch of several different clips intended to end up as separate videos, a single edited clip containing different formats may cause the converter to balk. This assumes the editing software itself can deal with multiple formats. Many want all the clips to be the same.

Let me know if you’re question is about something else. Good luck.

…TV

18 Monique September 24, 2012 at 12:10 am

Is it possible to put the converter onto I pod touch without a PC I want to put music onto my iPod and don’t have a pc

19 Tom Volotta September 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm

That’s a good one. The simple answer is “No.” Apple wants you to go through iTunes in order to transfer media to and from it’s mobile devices. Connectivity is a major factor is just physically accomplishing it. No way I know of simply being able to connect the multi-pin connectors between to ‘i’ devices. Even more complicated now with the smaller ‘Lightening’ connectors.

Unless there’s some clever hack out there that can get around plugging your iPod Touch into a PC or Mac, then going through iTunes, I’m afraid you’re stuck. Would be a nice idea, but Apples’ DRM protocols will block you.

…TV

20 GameTime007 September 28, 2012 at 9:32 am

I have the file parsing error when trying to convert a video downloaded to RP from YouTube. It downloads fine but when I try to play it on RP videos where it is showed after downloaded from YouTube, it says “A general Error has occured, This pin cannot use the supplied media type.” Then if I try to convert the video into MP3 it says file parsing error. Is there anyway to fix these 2 problems? I have downloaded the latest version of ITunes and QuickTime, and downloaded the DIVX codec package. I am also pretty sure I have the latest free version of RP too.

21 Tom Volotta September 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm

GameTime007, See my answer to yours and Mr. Music’s question.

…TV

22 Mr. Music September 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I cannot play my videos on RP when I download them it says I there is a general error and This pin cannot use the supplied media type. What should I do? This in turn might be affecting the converter because if I try to convert the video then it says file parsing error codecs needed, but I have down loaded the latest version of ITunes and QuickTime and DIVX and still it does not work at all, I cannot figure this out…

23 Tom Volotta September 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Mr. Music and GameTime007:

Since you both have the same email address, I’m assuming you’re the same person. The parsing, general error, “This pin cannot use the supplied media type.” is a Microsoft DirectShow problem. Uninstall, then reinstall both DirectShow and DirectX.

…TV

24 anthony October 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

i got realplayer

25 Tom Volotta October 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Good. I think you’ll be happy with its performance. Let us know if you run into any snags.

…TV

26 James October 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I’m getting the File Parsing Error, telling me I don’t have required codecs. I downloaded ten videos and tried to convert then I got that message. 4 of them converted with no problem. I then downloaded Quicktime and CCCP as you recommended above and 5 more were able to convert, but there is one that still wouldn’t convert. So I downloaded three more different videos of the song and it still gave me the error. The videos will play in realplayer, they just won’t convert.

27 Tom Volotta October 18, 2012 at 8:10 pm

At least you’re getting close with nine out of ten! I need some additional info to help figure this out.

What is the original file format of the video you’re trying to convert from? And, what new format are you trying to convert to?

Is Matroska (MKV) involved here? CCCP gives RealPlayer to “PLAY” MKV, but unfortunately, RP still doesn’t allow converting from or to MKV.

So, what’s the “from” and “to” you’re working with? Are the downloads of the problem music video all in the same format or did you find different formats?

…TV

28 James October 18, 2012 at 11:56 pm

All 4 that are the same song were .webm files. And now that I looked at it, the 4 that downloaded the first time we all .flv and the other 5 that downloaded were .webm so I’m not sure why this one won’t work. Every time I have tried converting to an mp3 format.

29 Tom Volotta October 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

James,

Thanks getting back with more details. Interesting that the files are WebM to begin with. It’s backed by Google to be the default format for the upcoming transition to HTML5. Apple is leading the push for MP4 (which may change from the H.264 codec to the new HEVC/H.265, as the HTML5 standard. It’s possible bote will be used, but HEVC/H.265 is pretty amazing.

If only one of the five WebM files is giving you a problem, it sounds like that specific file is corrupted in some way, or there’s some quirk about it the file that is telling RealPlayer Converter that it requires yet another codec. Obviously, your browser is reading WebM, but RealPlayer Converter isn’t something it needs to do the convert.

If you can, dig deeper into any info you can find about the uncooperative file. There may be something different about it compared to the others which is causing the snag. Here are some links to WebM info. Look especially at the FAQ and Tools sections to see if there is a connection to your bad file. Sounds like there’s something special about this WebM file that the QuickTime and CCCP aren’t covering.

http://www.webmproject.org/about/

http://www.webmproject.org/about/faq/

http://www.webmproject.org/users/#supported_web_browsers

Keep us posted.

…TV

30 pixie November 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Im having the Mac version, have problem converting mp4 to mp3, no problem converting to Nokia E71x (mp3) though. The converted mp3 is always choppy, distorted and scratchy. )= Have reinstalled and replace the existing one but still not fixing the problem. Works fine converting FLV file to mp3. Pls reply soon. Thanks

31 Tom Volotta November 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Pixie,

I think you win the prize for asking the first question about the Mac version of RealPlayer! Thank You.

I just ran some tests on my Mac, and am NOT seeing the problem you’re describing. Also getting different results when doing conversions.

First, the native audio format that RP Mac converts to the Nokia E71X appears to be M4A/AAC, NOT MP3. At least that’s what I’m getting here. There is no option through a “Details” button on any of the preset devices to modify the conversion format, or to tweak bit rate and others, as there is with the Windows version. That means I’m only able to see the output format when playing back. No problem converting MP4 to M4A.

You CAN create CUSTOM DEVICE profiles with all the various settings you need.

Did do this to create MP3 for the Nokia? Otherwise, you get M4A.

To get MP3 for the Nokia, I made a CUSTOM Device, setting to covert to Audio Only MP3. Named it “Nokia E71X – MP3″, clicked the “Save as custom device” button and then did the conversion. That’s how I got MP3 for the Nokia. Plays fine on the Mac.

As for just converting to a vanilla MP3 file, there is a device (generic device icon) named “MP3 Audio Only.” Using that built-it profile made the MP4 to MP3 conversion perfectly. NO playback problems. Sounds smooth. No chopping, scratches or distortion. BTW: I don’t have the Nokia, so am listening to the playback on the Mac. But that shouldn’t matter for the conversion.

Just to be sure, I also created a Custom profile for MP3 Audio Only. That worked fine also.

After all that blabbing, I DON’T have a solution or an answer as to why FLV –> MP3 is fine playing on your Nokia E71X, but MP4 –> MP3 results in lousy sound. Again, the default, and apparently unchangeable, conversion output for the E71X is M4A. The built-in, generic MP3 Audio Only device works as it should, along with creating MP4 to MP3 with a Custom profiles. In all cases, playback is perfect on a Mac mini.

How does the MP3 you are making sound on your Mac? Maybe some kind of metadata being carried over from the MP4 to MP3 in the conversion that Nokia doesn’t like? That’s a grasping-for-straws question.

Have you contacted Nokia support? RealPlayer Support may have some more helpful answers. Sorry I came up dry on this.

…TV

32 Beezlie February 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I d/l’ed RP free (I’ve had it on previous computers) & hoped I could view a video file (.meta) but the program said realplayer needed to d/l new software to view this clip so I clicked ok, it tried to do something but came back “there is no software update available from Real to support this content. Trouble with that is, all evidence I could find online says that a meta file is a product of Real and Realplayer is the program of choice to open said file! Help!

33 Tom Volotta February 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Beezlie,

I haven’t forgotten about your question – just had to dig a bit to find a response that was useful. However, I’m not sure I really have, but here’s what I can say:

First, the .meta files are not really meant to be seen in their raw form. They are not video, but data describing certain aspects of the video. The kind of info you access through “Clip Info” or “Properties” in RealPlayer. You can edit much of the Clip Info content to add comments, info about the artist, track number and so on through the regular RP interface.

A question for you: Did you actually find a file with a .meta extension, or were you trying to open a video file (through what path) with RealPlayer?

In searching the Internet, I too found several references to RealPlayer being able to open .meta files, but like you, was never able to find a way to open the raw file with RP. I went pretty deep under the hood in RealPlayer (as much as I could without blowing things up!) trying to find actual .meta files, but didn’t see any. That doesn’t mean they’re not there – I just couldn’t find them. I’m guessing they are embedded within the respective video file, and need a special software tool to access.

One technique I did use was simply opening a given video clip with Notepad on Windows 7 Pro, trying ANSI, Unicode and UTF-8 formats. What I got appeared to be a mass of compiled code. The .meta material may well have been in there, but I wasn’t about to spend the next week and a half attempting to decipher it and go blind at the same time, while still probably not finding anything.

Online, I also found software that claimed to search for and open virtually any file format extension. I’m leery of no-name software, but downloaded one to try. Never got it installed properly, so uninstalled from my machine, and didn’t want to take any chances getting contaminated by anything else, so didn’t pursue that further.

So, I just don’t have a solution for you. You probably need to contact RealPlayer Support to get the definitive and correct answer. The above link may not be right, but it’s a starting point. Click on “Contact Support” on the right of that page to actually talk to or chat online with someone.

BTW: Why are you trying to get into the .meta file itself in the first place?

…TV

34 Anonymous March 26, 2013 at 11:49 am

real player keeps crashing “program not responding”

what can I do

35 RealPlayer Team March 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Dear Customer,

We had a reported issue which you where facing but its been resolved now. Please try to sign in now to access RealPlayer Plus.

36 alan April 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Hi. I have always enjoyed real player. I recently began having problems downloading videos from an on line karokee site. After downloading 2 or 3 it became unresponsive. I then closed program and re-tried, I then had a box come up telling me to upgrade to real player plus. I ended up deleting then re-installing real player, again after a couple downloads it refused to download anymore. I again deleted then reinstalled. Again, same issue, also when trying to download mp3′s same action…the converter, from flv to mps, or converting any format a box came up telling me to download real player plus…
I was using google chrome but delted it, thinking that firefox would work…same results…
Can you steer me toward a solution? Are there any other players available for ‘free’ that allow downloading and converting?
Thanks…

37 RealPlayer Team April 10, 2013 at 7:08 am

Hi Alan,

Please follow the instruction given in the link given below and update Quick time player:

https://real.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/8706

https://real.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/9079

If that doesn’t work, send an email to help@real.com so that we can help you further.

38 Lexie July 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I have been having no problems downloading the videos, but when I try to convert them into MP3s I get a message telling me I have to upgrade to Real player 16 Plus. when I say no thanks it tells me to pick a partner trial product to get to the converter and there is no way to exit out to get to the converter. why?

39 RealPlayer Team July 23, 2013 at 8:40 am

Try installing QuickTime/iTunes to enable the necessary codec for RealPlayer to play/convert .mp4 files.

1: QuickTime : http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/
or
2: iTunes http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/

After installing QuickTime/iTunes, try converting the files through RealPlayer.

40 Jeremy Swanson August 29, 2013 at 11:37 am

I am a real player lover and supporter but I am having trouble with it. I can use real player to download a video to flv files and then using RP to convert that to MP3 or’ wmv. However recently it had been converting video files to MP4 only and these won’t convert at all. In fact they won’t even play unless I use flv player and that does not convert them to anything. So what am I doing wrong?

41 RealPlayer Team August 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm

This issue has been fixed in the latest build of RealPlayer 16, released on August 21.

Please open RealPlayer, click the RealPlayer logo in the upper left, and select Check for Update. You will then be able to update your RealPlayer to the newest build.

Please note that you may need to re-enable the RealDownloader extension in your web browser as well by following this link:

https://realnetworks.zendesk.com/entries/23689856

After updating RealPlayer, please re-download the videos that previously received the “General Error” message.

If the issue still persists, please send an email to help@real.com, include a brief description of the issue, copy and paste the link to this thread within the email for further assistance.

42 Diana Markham September 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Hello Real Player Team,
I made some videos for my online class with captions using Real Player about 5-10 years ago. I would like to convert them to another format, but when I drag and drop them into the Real Player Converter is does not recognize the file type. There are four files in a folder.
ballcart.en._US.real.rt, ballcart.ram, ballcart.real.smil, and ballcart.rm
How can I convert these into other file types with the captions?
Or, even how can I convert without the captions, and I can add them back in.
Thank you,
Diana

43 RealPlayer Team September 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Please send an email to help@real.com, include a brief description of the issue, copy and paste the link to this thread within the email for further assistance.

44 Teaci October 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Quick question…when I convert MKV file to a MP3 or 4…am I able to burn it to a dvd for playback in my DVD player?

Thanks!

45 RealPlayer Team October 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm

RealPlayer supports .MKV playback not conversion. However, you can try converting the .MKV files to different format. If you are able to convert and play the files in RealPlayer, you will be able to burn them on a disc and play it on your DVD player.

46 Ferdous G April 1, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Hello experts:
I always searched videos in the Web Videos in Real player. But recently when searching it doesnot find anything and the message I get is: ‘Sorry, RealPlayer couldn’t find any
videos matching that search’. I have tried many videos which are readily available in youtube but Realplayer cannot find it. Please some one tell me what is wrong with this and how can I correct it.
Thanks

47 RealPlayer Team April 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Sorry. We’re aware that the search function is currently not working, and we’re investigating the cause. In the meantime, please use your favorite web browser to search for videos and download them to RealPlayer.

If you need further assistance, please send an email to help@real.com

48 guy coheleach September 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Is it possible to convert .mkv into a:
.mov
.mp4
.m4v

My grandchildren aren’t here to help me.

49 RealPlayer Team September 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm

If you are able to play the .MKV file on RealPlayer, you should be able to convert into .MP4 format. If you are facing any issues with playing/converting .MKV files, download the Combined Community Codec Pack from this link: http://www.cccp-project.net/

If you have any additional questions, please send an email to help@real.com

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