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If you’ve got a video you think the whole world needs to see, most people instinctively reach for the upload button on a service like YouTube or Facebook.

However, sometimes it’s impractical. High-quality videos can take an eternity to upload, especially if they are long. Nobody has time to sit around watching a progress bar slowly crawl towards 100 percent – there are far better things you can do with your time 4 Creative Hobbies That Can Improve Your Life Today 4 Creative Hobbies That Can Improve Your Life Today It's never too late to take up a new hobby, but life offers so much choice that it can be impossible to choose. Here are five hobbies that could improve your life immediately. Read More .

So, what’s the solution? How can you quickly compress a video file so you can upload it to the web more quickly? Sure, professional movie studios offer the feature, but you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy software – Windows Movie Maker works perfectly well!

Here’s how to use Microsoft’s ubiquitous video app to compress video files for the web.

Installing Windows Movie Maker

Sadly, at the time of writing, Windows Movie Maker is not an official part Windows How to Replace Windows Essentials in Windows 10 How to Replace Windows Essentials in Windows 10 Are you using default Windows apps to view photos, manage email, or edit videos? Windows Essentials apps will be deprecated in January 2017. Replace the apps on Windows 10 with these third party alternatives. Read More . It used to be part of Microsoft Essentials – but the company shuttered the widely-used suite of productivity apps 20 Productivity Apps To Keep You And Your Boss Organised 20 Productivity Apps To Keep You And Your Boss Organised Need to stay organised? The solution is literally in your pocket -- your smartphone. Read More in January 2017.

At the time of the announcement, Microsoft suggested a new version of Movie Maker would eventually find its way onto the latest release of the operating system, but the quote has now disappeared from its website. Furthermore, Essentials is no longer available for download from the Microsoft website.

The upshot is you’ll need to find a copy of Windows Movie Maker 2.6. It was the last version of the software that wasn’t bundled into the Essentials suite. As such, you can install it as a standalone app. I found my copy on FileHippo, just make sure you scan anything you download for malware before you click install.

If you find a copy of Windows Movie Maker 2012 and try to install it, the process will fail. It’s because the installation program is trying to pull data from nonexistent Microsoft servers.

Aside from an updated user interface, the two versions are virtually identical. Regarding this tutorial, either version will suffice.

Choose Your Video

For this demonstration, I’m going to compress a video of a Mexican soccer match I attended back in 2014.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the current size of the file is 49.3 MB. It’s not too large, but big enough to be annoying if I’m waiting for it to upload. If the file you want to compress is larger, don’t worry. The steps I’m going to outline work with videos of any size.


Windows Movie Maker doesn’t work with all file types. You need to have the video you’re planning to compress saved in either the AVI, MPG, M1V, MP2V, MPEG, MPE, MPV2, WM, WMV, or ASF format.

If your file is in a different format, you can use a free desktop tool Convert Any Video Or Audio File To Any Format & Burn Discs With Format Factory Convert Any Video Or Audio File To Any Format & Burn Discs With Format Factory Not all video conversion software is created equal. Recently, I received a DVD copy of a TV show I appeared on. I was very antsy to use the content from that DVD as advertising for... Read More or an online converter How to Convert Any File Format Online with Free Tools How to Convert Any File Format Online with Free Tools If you need to convert a file, here's the ultimate list of sites you should turn to. Read More to turn it into a supported file type.

How to Compress Your Video

Once you’ve found the video you want to compress, the steps are straightforward.

Import the Video

When you first open Windows Movie Maker 2.6, you should see an option called Import Video beneath Capture Video in the top right-hand corner of the window. If it’s not there for any reason, click the Tasks tab in the header to activate the menu.

Find the video you want to convert and click Import to load it into the app.

The process could take some time to complete, depending how large the file is.

When the importing is finished, you’ll see your file in the Collection panel in the center of the app. Left-click it, and drag it into the Timeline panel which runs along the bottom of the window.

Compress the Video

That’s phase one finished. Next, you need to save the file in the newly compressed format.

Firstly, head to File > Save Movie File.

The app will prompt you to select the destination file. What you see on your own screen may differ slightly from the image below, depending what locations you have available to you. For most situations, you should select My Computer and click Next.

You’ll be asked to give your new file a name. Enter something appropriate and once again click Next.

Now it gets interesting. On the next screen, you will need to select your Movie Settings. By default, the app recommends you save your file in the best quality for playback on your computer. Ignore the prompt, and click Show More Choices.

You have two options. You can either enter a desired file size or choose a setting for a particular internet speed. Some of the internet speeds look quite dated given the age of the program, but the slower the internet speed you choose, the smaller your file will be.

My recommendation is not to go below Video for broadband (512 Kbps). Your video will become too pixelated and lose quality. You can see the predicted new file size in the bottom right-hand corner of the window.

Once you’re happy with your selection, tap Next. The app will start compressing the file. Again, depending on the size, it might take a while.

The Finished Product

So, how much of a difference did the compression make? If you recall, my original file was 49.3 MB.

Here’s a screenshot of the new file:

I’ve slashed it to a mere 1.05 MB. You’ll be able to upload it to the web in a blink of an eye.

And here’s a comparison of the two video files side by side:



Sure, it’s more pixelated, but as a video for Twitter Twitter Video and Group Messages: Everything You Need to Know Twitter Video and Group Messages: Everything You Need to Know Twitter, the world's favourite micro-blogging social network, has launched two new highly anticipated features. You can now finally record and share videos directly on Twitter, and you can also start private group chats. Read More is more than adequate. If it’s too pixelated for you, you can choose a faster internet speed in the Movie Settings screen. Keep testing until you find a level you’re happy with.

How Do You Compress Video Files?

In this article, I’ve shown you how to easily use Windows Movie Maker to compress video files so they are small enough to quickly upload to the web.

If you’re already familiar with Windows Movie Maker, I firmly believe this is the most painless process available to you.

However, I’m sure some readers will disagree with me. I’d love to know which tools you use when you want to compress a video file. How easy are they to use? Do they have the same range of options as Windows Movie Maker?

As always, you can let me know all your suggestions, recommendations, and opinions in the comments below.

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  1. John K.
    July 26, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Handbrake is a very good tool for compressing videos. It also has other capabilities like converting video types. It's open source and best of all, free. Get it here:

    Google "compress video with Handbrake" to learn how to do the actual compression process.

  2. Gary
    May 6, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Load of rubbish. I've tried Brave for 3 weeks, it is considerably slower than every browser I have. It's almost painful at times, binned now and back to the excellent Opera.

  3. robd
    April 27, 2017 at 8:47 am

    FFmpeg is a simple and free command line utility to do the same with less effort. May looks tricky as need to use command line but quicker once understood. "ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v libxvid output.avi"
    You can also use it with some scripting to merge (common problem on new camcorder ) different video into one even with no compression.

  4. Davin Peterson
    April 27, 2017 at 1:57 am

    Luckily my PC came with Windows Essentials 2012 pre-installed. Microsoft has not updated any of the apps included with the Essentials.

    The latest version of Windows Movie Maker is Version 2012 (16.4.3528.0431) and it uses the ribbon interface replacing the toolbars in the older version. It works on my Windows 10 PC

  5. TomM
    May 15, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    No good for gaming vids. By doing this you are using a low bitrate so will end up with blotches and pixels everywhere blurring the screen.

  6. jp
    January 16, 2010 at 6:44 am

    hi damien, I'm having loads of problems uploading a video onto youtube. It,s a 3 min video but it's taking 3 hours to upload. I've got vista with it's own movie maker installed but i can't seem to find the compression files you have illustrated.Please help.

  7. susan
    December 13, 2009 at 8:55 am

    thank you damien oh for the video..great info. However, I a problem: the compressed video has a bright green bar to the mid of the screen, horizontally. I do not want to put my videos on youtube but rather, put them on a dvd disc so that I can get many videos on one disc,,,what am i doing wrong?

  8. nia
    December 6, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    this is great. thank you :)

  9. jason
    November 28, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you, this was very helpful to me!!!!!!!

  10. heroesfan
    October 18, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks a bunch. This helped a lot in my video editing!

  11. claudiu
    October 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Dude, if you shrink 10GB into 1KB (unless it's a pointer or a db connect file) you're not a genius, you're a f*****g magician!

  12. Metabrarian
    October 1, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Very many thanks Damien

    WMM worked a dream in compressing some .avi files from a Nikon Coolpix from 30MB -> 1.6MB!!! Not to mention the simple (but if you're on a tight budget of £0.00) effective editing options.

    I'm well impressed

    Andy the Metabrarian

  13. Steve
    September 24, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    This was a great help. Not hard to do and very clearly explained. It did the job for me.

  14. Aman
    September 9, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Hello Damien Oh, I am currently working on a compression software application. This application would be able to compress any size of data into just 1KB. Yes!! Any size of data, For example 4GB, 10GB, 100GB and so on into 1KB. I am working very hard at my home on my pc. I am not a software developer. I am a student. But i have a very good knowledge of Programming. But i have something to ask. Actually i want to know that if i succeed in creating this application then, Will i be able to sell this application? How much will i be paid for this application? Can i sell this application to Microsoft or Sun Microsystem or IBM ? Please reply me. I will be waiting for your reply.

    Thank You

    • Padraig
      March 20, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Are you still waiting for the reply?

      • Padraig
        March 20, 2017 at 10:29 am

        8 years is a long time...
        It seems that you were unable to create this application then? I hope this didn't lead you to kill yourself.

  15. Joshua
    July 18, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Thank you!!!!!!!

  16. Olga
    May 26, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    thanks very much, it realy helped :)) although I have Vista's Movie Maker and it's a bit different. Just had to pick Publish video (Ctrl+P) instead of Save :)

    • chelle
      November 8, 2009 at 9:24 am

      thanks olga!

  17. pink
    April 27, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Hey, thanks! I just compressed a filewith no hassle-loved your tutorial. I ve been searching for options since the last few days.

  18. Rahmat
    April 23, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Thanks, but how to compress a file with 700 MB (for example) to 50 MB?

    • Damien Oh
      April 28, 2009 at 12:45 am

      Is that too much to ask for?

    • Tom H
      October 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

      Damien Oh, you would instead not click 'Other Settings' and go on the dropdown, but click on the selection button 'Best to fit file size:' and type 50 MB. It works very well, as I just did one from 750MB to 43MB with virtually no loss of quality within mintues.

      • Tom H
        October 28, 2009 at 11:33 am

        Sorry, Damien Oh Rahmat.

  19. illegal3alien
    March 24, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Most Youtube optimization tutorials have you convert to the Windows Media Video (WMV) format because it does not loose AS MUCH quality when Youtube converts it again.

  20. Doc
    March 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    WMV=CRAP. Let the flame war begin.

    • Damien Oh
      March 23, 2009 at 7:19 pm

      Youtube and several video sites support WMV movie upload, so it is not really that bad after all. If you don't like it, you can still convert it to other format easily. You don't really expect Microsoft to support other video format than their proprietary WMV format.

      • susan
        December 13, 2009 at 12:35 pm

        Comments from 12/13/09.......thank you damien oh for the video..great info. However, I a problem: the compressed video has a bright green bar to the mid of the screen, horizontally. I do not want to put my videos on youtube but rather, put them on a dvd disc so that I can get many videos on one disc,,,what am i doing wrong?

  21. Nicholas Francis
    March 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    This is a good alternative method, there are also Video converters in which u can compress videos to smaller sizes without losing its quality to a small extent, I prefer Fox Video Converter