Confusion: M4V vs. MP4??

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by toddngina, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. toddngina macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2008
    I've started ripping some DVDs using Handbrake for Windows, ATV preset. I notice that when I pick a destination file for the output, it wants to default to the .mp4 format. When I try to play back the encoded file, Quicktime gives me an error. If I rename the file and change the extension to .m4v, as some of the other files are, then it warns me that changing it could cause problems, but the file then plays fine in quicktime/iTunes. What gives? What's the difference between and MP4 and an m4v?
  2. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Both are mp4 files. But m4v files open in iTunes by default. You should be able to change the file extension back and forth between each with no problems. I'm not sure why mp4's are giving you an error in QT.
  3. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    The appleTV needs the .m4v file extension to know how to deal with the AC3 in the mp4 container. Thats why the appleTV preset changes it in the destination field.

    There is also a pref in the macgui to use .m4v for all mp4 files by default.
  4. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Really? Wow, didn't know that. I'll be sure to keep all my files as m4v's then. Thanks.
  5. Koola macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2008
  6. nojokejones macrumors newbie

    Feb 25, 2008
    if you change the extension of a file containing a3c audio from m4v to mp4, you won't be able to play in on a iphone or ipod.
  7. jfgrissom macrumors newbie


    May 14, 2009
    San Diego, CA

    I just love this site for stuff like this...

    m4v is the way to go... (at least for me).

    For some reason I couldn't import my home videos into iMovie. So I ended up with a bunch of .MTS files and needed to convert them into something that I could use on my Mac to edit our vacation (The wife and I went to Tahiti / Moorea & Bora Bora. Friggin amazing place!).

    I noticed that Handbrake defaulted to m4v when converting these using the Normal "Presets". So I wondered about about it and Voila, the answer is here on MacRumors!

    I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who contributed to this, because this answer is better than what I had hoped to find...

    Big Thanks!
  8. Macant macrumors newbie


    May 9, 2011
    Sorry little slow in the head here. So if im not using an Apple TV I should leave my Handbrake files as mp4's?

    I have been watching them on a WD box. Link to cnet review

    It would be nice to put some on my iPhone so the kids could watch them while we are out. Keep em peaceful in the restraunt. So which is better then mp4 or m4v?
  9. pagansoul macrumors 65816


    Aug 10, 2006
    I find that M4V does an automatic download into iTunes while MP4 I can view in Quicktime without the iTunes download. I tend to feed MP4 via the option key to iTunes but keep the file on an external HD.
  10. Krevnik macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2003
    There isn't any real difference, other than the file extension. Apple uses m4v to flag it as a video file and attach it to iTunes. An m4v is more likely to have video ID3 style tags embedded. But in the long run, an mp4, m4a and m4v are all variations of the exact same file type.
  11. Macant macrumors newbie


    May 9, 2011
    So in the end it doesn't matter. I can still put these videos on my iPhone and watch them on my WD box. Cool thanks I will stick with Handbrake then. I was half tempted to get Ripit since its 50% today.
  12. omyard macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2010
    m4v allows you to store chapter information and mp4 doesn't, IIRC.

    Not a big deal, but something to take into account.
  13. kingtj macrumors 68020

    Oct 23, 2003
    Brunswick, MD
    But oddly enough...

    I use the "Plex" media center app on one of my Macs, and if my movie files aren't named with .mp4 extension (vs .m4v), it won't even index them or play them. (I sure wish it did though, because keeping my whole library in .m4v format would allow me to use the same folder of files for iTunes as Plex used.)
  14. biallystock macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2009
    I prefer .mov because I hate large video files opening in iTunes and getting duplicated.

    In fact I hate almost anything opening in iTunes which is in my view an horrendous piece of disorganised bloatware with poorly slapped together UI. That is virtually the only thing I agree with PC users and I fully understand their avoid at all costs mantra.
  15. slothrob macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    Any powerful piece of software has a learning curve, unfortunately.

    What you are looking for is in the iTunes menubar>itunes>preferences>advanced>uncheck "copy files to itunes folder..."
  16. ragu macrumors member


    Sep 8, 2009
    But I believe you can use Mp4 format for playback on all new TV's from a file server connected to TV:)
  17. kingtj macrumors 68020

    Oct 23, 2003
    Brunswick, MD
    Yep, possibly, or ....

    Alternately, learn to change your workflow a bit, as I've done and been quite happy with ever since. EG. Make sure "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" is check-marked, but ALSO make sure "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" is check-marked.

    Then, just plan on iTunes being your central destination for your music and movie content, and get in the habit of dragging new items into it to be auto-added and placed in appropriate sub-folders in the folder structure it keeps organized neatly for you under the "iTunes media" folder. Delete the original copy of the file once iTunes has added it.

    Other software will usually co-exist pretty nicely with the iTunes folder structure too. Just configure other media players to pull from the appropriate sub-folder under "iTunes media" as needed.

  18. slothrob macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    Which is what I do, actually, except that I send the files directly to the Automatically Add To iTunes folder, so that I don't even need to delete the original file, iTunes just neatly files it away for me.

    Like any program, it is not perfect, but it is very good at doing so much of what you need a media database to do.
  19. fkjr2 macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2012
    whats the best format for quality and play-ability on multiple devices?

    Been ripping blu rays to .m4v files and they look good - just want to make sure I cant get a better HD output to play om mac, iphone, windows, etc

    Thanks in advance:)
  20. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    To begin with, both MKV and MP4/M4V are container formats, so they don't affect your playback quality.
    What does is the used codec and bitrate that you allocate.
    You can use both MKV and MP4 to store Blu-Ray quality video, provided you use the same codec (H.264/AVC) and allow for the same bitrate as BD does. Which is capped at 60MB/s by BD standard.
    Indeed, the best way to preserve quality would be to just repack the stream into container of your liking, without reencoding.
  21. Ka Ora! macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2009
    The solution that most people use is to rip with Makemkv stripping out the unwanted bits then reencode with Handbrake using one of the presets that are built in.
  22. eljanitor macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2011
    Oh just use VLC to watch your movies its a better program anyways.
  23. chabig macrumors 603

    Sep 6, 2002
    .m4v and .mp4 are just filename extensions. They should not affect the contents or organization of data in the file at all.
  24. bumblebritches5, Mar 25, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2014

    bumblebritches5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2012
    mp4, m4v, and m4a are the exact same files. they're ALL MPEG containers, what matters is the actual codec contained inside the containers.
  25. Phantom Gremlin macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2010
    Tualatin, Oregon
    I'm not sure there is a single best format for what you want. You might want to generate multiple output files of differing sizes.

    E.g. I recently purchased Frozen and it came with a digital copy. It's 720p and it takes over 3 GB on an iPhone. I'd bet that the 1080p alternative would be even larger. That's a problem for me, since my iPhone only has 16 GB (and really less, Apple reserves some).

    So when a single movie takes up more than 20% of the storage of an iPhone, IMO that's too much. My eyesight isn't good enough to tell the difference between a rip of a DVD and a 720p movie, when viewed on a 4" screen. The DVD rip would probably be much smaller.

    Sometimes "best" for a device doesn't mean "best possible quality".

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29 February 25, 2008