VidConvert: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Converting From One Format to Another Couldn't Be Easier

VidConverter
Courtesy of Reggie Ashworth

VidConvert from Reggie Ashworth has to be one of the handiest tools for converting video between popular file formats. With VidConvert, that movie you recorded on your Android phone can quickly be converted and uploaded to iTunes, so you can play the movie on your Apple TV. Of course, that's just one of the many conversion types available.

VidConvert takes care of the conversion through the use of simple presets; you can also take control and fine-tune the results to meet your needs.

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Supports dozens of the most popular video formats.
  • Includes audio conversion options as well.
  • Preset selections available from a simple drop-down menu.
  • Advanced options give you complete control.

Cons

  • Must manually install FFmpeg open source libraries.
  • Preset names don't always describe how the conversion will affect the resulting video.

We often get asked which app to use to convert a video so it can be watched on another device. The usual question goes something like this: "I shot a family video using my phone, and I'd like to watch it on my TV. How can I do this?"

The answer is a difficult one, because there are so many ways to get the job done. For instance, I have an Apple TV hooked up to my HDTV, so my preference is to have all my videos in a format that will play via the Apple TV. But maybe your go-to method of watching videos is via DVD. See the problem? In each case, the video needs to be in a different format than the one used to create the original.

That’s where VidConvert comes in. There are quite a few video conversion apps available for the Mac, and like VidConvert, most make use of an open source project called FFmpeg that performs the actual heavy lifting in converting from one video format to another. So what makes VidConvert better than all the others?

VidConvert is just easier to use. The entire process, from end-to-end, is logical and easy to understand. Best of all, when you need to take matters into your own hands and tweak the FFmpeg settings, you can do so from within VidConvert, and never have to know that you're actually running an executable UNIX command line app.

Installing VidConvert

We usually don’t bother with details about installing an app, unless it requires a special step or two, and VidConvert does indeed require performing a few unusual steps. As we mentioned above, VidConvert uses FFmpeg as its video conversion engine. But due to the licensing structure for FFmpeg, the video engine can’t be built into VidConvert; it has to be a stand-alone app that requires end users to grab it from the Internet and install it on their Macs.

VidConvert makes the FFmpeg install process as simple as possible, with easy-to-follow instructions. It also offers to open the FFmpeg site, to ensure that you're downloading the correct app to your Mac.

Once the download is complete, you just need to tell VidConvert where the FFmpeg app is located. You can do this by dragging the FFmpeg app to the VidConvert window, or by using the Add Conversion Engine menu item to perform the task of associating the FFmpeg app with VidConvert.

Using VidConvert

VidConvert opens to a main window into which you can drag video files. You can also just press the Add button, then navigate to your videos and add them to VidConvert. Once added, you can use the drop-down preset menu to select from 24 different video conversion options, as well as 7 audio conversion options. Yes, you can use VidConvert to convert audio files as well.

Supported conversion output types include: iPhone, iPad, iPod, Retina, Apple TV, QuickTime, .mp4, .avi, DivX, Xvid, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DVD (.vob), Windows Media, Flash, Matroska (.mkv), Theora (.ogg), WebM, .m4a, .mp3, .aiff, .wav, .wma, .ac3, ALAC, plus variations on each.

Once you've selected a preset conversion to use, you can select a normal or high-quality level. If you need more refinement and control, the Advanced options provide hands-on access to most high-quality conversion options.

With the setting made, you can preview your conversion, or jump right in and start the conversion process. Depending on how you set the options, the finished video conversion can even be added directly to your iTunes library.

If you want full control over the conversion, the Advanced options let you set conversion settings, such as bit rate, number of passes, join multiple videos into one, author a DVD, crop the video, even trim the start and ending.

VidConvert deserves a look because of how easy it is to use, the details put into the app, and the sheer number of supported formats available. If you have videos you need converted to another format, take VidConvert for a spin.

A demo of VidConvert is available.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.