Optimize Videos for Youtube

Looking for tips to optimize videos for Youtube? In this guide, we will discuss how to get the best video quality on Youtube. You will learn what types of video is supported by Youtube, the Codec for Youtube video and audio, video frame rates for Youtube, video Bitrates for Youtube, Youtube video resolutions. For those who use a video converter or edit, you will also find some tips and tricks about how to optimize Videos for Youtube with iMovie, Quicktime Pro, Finalcut Pro, Video Converter Ultimate.

In the first half of this YouTube video optimization guide, we will show you how to convert or edit videos for the display on Youtube using video editors; if you like to manually configure the setting or video profiles, you can find more technical instructions at the second half of this article.

If you are using a video converter or editor that has optimized video profiles for Youtube display, then it can save you a lot of efforts and time on the video optimization. For example, if you want to convert photos to slideshow videos for playback on Youtube, you can follow this guide: How to Make a YouTube Slideshow with Music?

Convert Videos to Youtube using Video Converter Ultimate

You can convert any videos to Youtube with optimized profiles for Youtube using Video Converter Ultimate. This is the easiest and most user friendly video converter included in this guide. To convert a video to Youtube format, there are basically three steps: add the video to converter, choose the video profile optimized for Youtube online display, then convert the source video to target video format. Check out this step-by-step tutorial to convert videos to YouTube.

convert videos to youtube


Optimize Videos for Youtube with iMovie

Are you using a Mac? You may like iMove, a powerful video, maker, editor and converter for Apple users. Here are the best settings for exporting video for YouTube in iMovie.
imovie optimized video settings for youtube

  • Click the Share menu option.
  • Choose the Share option at the bottom of the drop down menu.
  • The next window will allow you select from a popup menu. It is labeled “Compress movie for:”. You will choose Expert Settings. Click the share Share button in the bottom right.
  • The next window will allow you to choose where to save the video and what to name it. At the bottom of the window you will see a popup menu labeled Export. Choose the “Movie to MPEG-4″ option.
  • Click the Options… button to the right to choose specific video and audio settings.
  • In this window choose the following setting under the video choices.
    • Video Format: H.264
    • Data Rate: 2000 kbits/sec
    • Optimized for: Download
    • Image Size: 320 x 240 QVGA
    • Check Preserve aspect ration using: Fit within size
    • Frame Rate: 30
    • Key Frame: Automatic
    • Click the Video Options… button and then select the Main checkbox and the Best Quality radio button. Click OK.
  • Next choose the following Audio Settings:
    • Audio Format AAC-LC
    • Data Rate: 64kbs
    • Channels: Mono
    • Output Sample Rate: Recommended
    • Encoding Quality: Best
  • Click the OK button and in the next window click the Save button and wait for your high quality video to export.

Quicktime Pro, Finalcut Pro or iMovie settings optimized for YouTube


* QuickTime Pro:
File -> Export -> Export: Movie to QuickTime Movie -> Options
* Finalcut Pro:
File -> Export -> Using Quicktime Conversion -> Options
* iMovie:
File -> Export -> Compress movie for: Expert Settings -> Share -> Export: Movie to QuickTime Movie -> Options

In the Options box:

1. In the Video section select the following:
* Compression Type: H264
* Frame Rate: 30
* Data Rate: Automatic (PC QT Pro has no “Automatic” selection)
(if you choose to restrict the Data Rate, make sure to choose the highest value acceptable to you- more bits = better quality)
* Key Frames: Automatic
* Frame Reording: Unchecked

2. In the Video section click “Size”:
Dimensions: Set this to the original size of your video (Note: HD resolutions preferred- 1280×720 or 1920×1080)

3. In the “Prepare for internet Streaming” section:
Select the “Prepare for internet Streaming” and choose “Fast Start” from the drop-down menu.

4. In the Audio section, make sure that the audio codec is AAC. Always use ACC as the preferred audio codec.

5. Once you’ve made all of these selections, click the “OK” button to save your preferences.

6. Add a title to the video file and click the “Save” button to save your edited version of your movie. Your project will then be exported and be ready to upload to YouTube.”

Video Types for Youtube

Output Format or Container: .mov or .mp4

  • No Edit Lists (or you may lose AV sync)
  • moov atom at the front of the file (Fast Start)


Codec for Youtube Video and Audio

Audio Codec: AAC-LC

  • Channels: Stereo or Stereo + 5.1
  • Sample rate 96khz or 48 khz

Video Codec: H.264

  • Progressive scan (no interlacing)
  • High Profile
  • 2 consecutive B frames
  • Closed GOP. GOP of half the frame rate.
  • Variable bitrate. No bitrate limit required, though we offer recommended bit rates below for reference
  • Color Space: 4.2.0

Video Frame rates for Youtube

Frame rates should match the source material. For example, content shot in 24fps should be encoded and uploaded at 24fps. Content recorded at 30fps should be uploaded at 30fps. Content shot in 720p60, should be uploaded at 720p60. Content at 1080i 60, should be deinterlaced, going from 60 interlaced fields per second to 30 progressive frames per second before uploading.

Video Bitrates for Youtube

Standard quality uploads

Type Video Bitrate Mono Audio Bitrate Stereo Audio Bitrate 5.1 Audio Bitrate
1080p 8,000 kbps 128 kbps 384 kbps 512 kbps
720p 5,000 kbps 128 kbps 384 kbps 512 kbps
480p 2,500 kbps 64 kbps 128 kbps 196 kbps
360p 1,000 kbps 64 kbps 128 kbps 196 kbps

High quality uploads for creators with enterprise quality internet connections

Type Video Bitrate Mono Audio Bitrate Stereo Audio Bitrate 5.1 Audio Bitrate
1080p 50,000 kbps 128 kbps 384 kbps 512 kbps
720p 30,000 kbps 128 kbps 384 kbps 512 kbps
480p 15,000 kbps 128 kbps 384 kbps 512 kbps
360p 5,000 kbps 128 kbps 384 kbps 512 kbps

Video Resolutions for Youtube

YouTube uses 16:9 aspect ratio players. If you are uploading a non-16:9 file, it will be processed and displayed correctly as well, with pillar boxes (black bars on the left and right) or letter boxes (black bars at the top and bottom) provided by the player. If you want to fit the player perfectly, encode at these resolutions:

  • 1080p: 1920×1080
  • 720p: 1280×720
  • 480p: 854×480
  • 360p: 640×360
  • 240p: 426×240

The YouTube player automatically adds black bars so that videos are displayed correctly without cropping or stretching, no matter the size of the video or the player.

For example, the player will automatically add pillarboxing to 4:3 videos in the new 16:9 widescreen player size. If the player is re-sized (i.e. when embedded on another website), the same process takes place so that 16:9 videos are letterboxed when the player is sized to 4:3. Similarly, anamorphic videos will be automatically letterboxed when shown in either 16:9 or 4:3 sized players. The player can only do this if the native aspect ratio of the video is maintained.

You can adjust the fit of your video in our player after uploading your video by using formatting tags.

If letterboxing is added to a video before it is uploaded (i.e. in the case of creating a 4:3 video from a 16:9 master), the widescreen player will add pillarbox bars too, resulting in black bars all around the video (windowboxing) and a bad viewing experience.