GUIDE – Uploading Videos to Web Hosting Sites (aka Exporting in "Web Ready" Video Format)


iMovie and Windows MovieMaker are non-linear video editing systems, which means that they allow you to assemble video projects from a variety of media files on your computer, without making changes to the original files. For example, if you bring a photo into iMovie and crop or brighten it, that effect will apply only to the iMovie project, not to the original file.

Because this is how most video editors work, the original project files on your computer can only be used on YOUR computer — or on an external HD that has all of your media files on it, and then only when the HD is used with a computer that has the exact same video editing software. So if you want to share a video you made on the web, you would NOT upload the original project file anywhere. Instead, you would Export a copy of the video in a web-ready format.

When you export a project, you’re making a copy of it that compresses all the parts into one stand-alone video file that will play on the web (and on most computers). The original project remains untouched, and you can continue working on it as much as you’d like. But when you’re ready to share the new and improved version, just export another web-ready copy.

When you export a web-ready video made on a Mac, the file extension will most likely be one of these: .mov, .m4a, or .m4v

On a Windows PC, the file extension will likely be .wmv

Any of these formats can uploaded to a free video hosting site like YouTube or Vimeo or even to Google Drive, where you can share the video with specific people.


Vimeo is the largest competitor to YouTube as a place to upload your own videos, and it has several notable advantages. A big one is that the way Vimeo compresses uploaded video results in much better quality than the way YouTube compresses it. Vimeo also allows longer and larger file uploads.

If video quality is more important to you than reaching a wide audience, I highly recommend you go with Vimeo. The Basic account is free, and the Plus account (which I have) is reasonably priced for a lot of extra features.

Follow the links below to learn more about the file types you can upload to Vimeo as well as how to troubleshoot various issues that come up when uploading video for the web.


YouTube is by far the most popular place to upload your own videos, and it has one notable advantage over Vimeo: on YouTube you can set a video to be “unlisted” (here’s how), so that only those with the link can view it. With this setting enabled, your video does not become part of the “YouTube universe,” meaning that others won’t find it simply by searching YouTube. But they can watch it if they know where to find the link.

On Vimeo, the closest you can get is to password protect your video, but then only those you’ve given the password to can view the video, which means the potential audience is much more limited.

NOTE: YouTube limits your video uploads to 15 minutes, unless you increase your limits.

Follow these links to learn more about preparing videos to upload to YouTube: