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How to Compress a File to a Specific Size
Last Updated: December 27, 2022 Fact Checked
This article was written by Luigi Oppido and by wikiHow staff writer, Travis Boylls . Luigi Oppido is the Owner and Operator of Pleasure Point Computers in Santa Cruz, California. Luigi has over 25 years of experience in general computer repair, data recovery, virus removal, and upgrades. He is also the host of the Computer Man Show! broadcasted on KSQD covering central California for over two years. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 67,651 times.
File compression is an important part of digital storage management. Computers and especially mobile devices have limited storage. Being able to compress files to make them smaller is a good way to free up some much-needed storage space. Furthermore, many email applications limit the size of a file that can be added as an attachment. Compressing a file before adding it as an attachment may allow you to send a file that would normally be too large to send. However, there is a limit to how much a file can be compressed, and compressing a file often reduces the quality of the file. This wikiHow article discusses how to compress files, and the limitations of file compression.
Can You Compress A File to Any Size?
- Many file formats, such as JPEG, MP3, MP4, Docx, and other media files are already compressed files. Compressing these files with a file compression program like WinZIP probably won't do much to reduce the file size. However, you can render smaller file sizes using video and audio editing software or an online converter tool, but doing so may greatly reduce the quality of the file.
- Most file compression programs, such as WInZIP allow you to select the level of compression. Also, zip files can usually be opened by any SO, so it's the best format for maximum compatibility. If maximum compression isn't enough to reduce a file to the size you want, you can try using an alternative compression method such as WinRAR, or 7-Zip.
Are There Better Alternatives to ZIP Files?
- 7-Zip is another newer compression program. It also has a higher compression rate than ZIP files and allows you to select the rate of compression.
What Can I Do If a Compressed File Is Still Too Big?
- 2 Upload and share via cloud drives. If you want to share a large video/audio/image to others, you can upload it to cloud services, like iCloud, Google Drive, and more. Then share this link to others via WhatsApp, Snapchat, email, message, etc. This is usually a better way to share large files than splitting. Tech Specialist Luigi Oppido explains, "you can [split your files], but you're just asking for problems if you're doing that. [...] Splitting is one of the very last, last resorts. [...] I would not ever recommend that [as a first resort] for a large file."
Can I Compress Files That Are Already Compressed?
How Do I Compress Files with WinRAR?
- Download and install WinRAR from https://www.win-rar.com/start.html?&L=0
- Right-click the folder or file you want to compress.
- Click Add to archive .
- Ensure "RAR" is selected below "Archive Format."
- Select "Best" below "Compression Method."
- Select "128 MB" below "Directory Size."  X Research source  X Research source
- Enter the maximum file size for split files below "Split to volumes, sizes" (only if creating split files.)
- Click the checkbox next to "Create solid archive."
- Click the checkbox next to "Lock archive."
How do I Compress Files with 7-Zip?
- Download the 7-Zip for your operating system from https://www.7-zip.org/download.html
- Open the installation file from within your web browser or Downloads folder.
- Follow the installation instructions.
- Right-click the file or folder you want to compress.
- Hover over 7-Zip .
- Select "7z" next to "Archive Format."
- Select "Ultra" next to "Compression Level."
- Select "LZMA2" next to "Compression Method."
- Select "128 MB" next to "Directory Size."
- Select "64" next to "Word Size."
- Leave "Solid Block Size" as the default setting.
- Leave "Number of CPU threads" as the default settings.
- Enter the file size of the split files you want to create below "Split to volumes, bytes" (Only if you are creating split files).
Can I Compress PDFs?
- Go to https://www.adobe.com/acrobat/online/compress-pdf.html in a web browser.
- Click Select a file .
- Select the PDF file you want to compress.
- Select your compression level (High compression will result in a smaller file size, but lower quality file).
- Click Compress in the lower right corner.
- Click Download once the compression is finished.
Can I Compress a JPEG File?
- Go to https://www.freeconvert.com/compress-jpeg in a web browser.
- Click Choose Files in the middle of the screen.
- Select the JPEG images and click Open .
- Click the gear icon next to the file you uploaded.
- Select "Enter Target File Size" next to "Compression Method."
- Enter your preferred file size in kilobytes next to "Select Target Size (KB)."
- Click Apply Settings in the lower-right corner.
- Click Compress JPEG .
- Click Download JPEG once the file is finished processing.
Can I Compress an MP4 File?
- Go to https://www.veed.io/tools/video-compressor/mp4-compressor in a web browser.
- Click Choose MP4 File on the left side of the screen.
- Click Upload a File in the middle of the screen.
- Select an MP4 file and click Open .
- Drag the slider bar below "Compression" on the left to select a target file size. The estimated file size is displayed at the bottom of the menu on the left.
- Use the drop-down menu below "Resolution" to select the image resolution for your video.
- Click Compress Video at the bottom of the menu on the left.
Can I Compress an MP3 File?
- Go to https://www.mp3smaller.com/ in a web browser.
- Click Browse below "Select MP3 File."
- Select an MP3 file you want to compress and click Open .
- Use the drop-down menu at the bottom of the yellow square to select the bitrate (Small file size will produce a smaller file with lower quality sound.).
- Click Upload File at the bottom of the yellow square.
- Click Download File at the top of the yellow box when the file is finished processing.
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://www.alphr.com/make-zip-files-smaller/
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB52gEMKd-Q
- ↑ https://superuser.com/questions/616785/how-does-dictionary-size-affect-compression
- ↑ https://www.maketecheasier.com/create-well-compressed-zip-file/
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- How do I compress files to make them smaller?
One way to store more data when you are low on hard drive space is by using compression to make the files and folders you already have on the drive take up less space. In the past, utilities such as Winzip were used for this purpose, but Windows XP has a built in compression utility that does the same job.
To create a compressed folder, open My Computer and locate the folder where you want to create the compressed folder (also known as an archive). Open that folder, then select File, New, Compressed (zipped) folder.
Type a name for the compressed folder and press enter. Your new compressed folder will have a zipper on its icon to indicate that any files contained in it are compressed.
To compress files (or make them smaller) simply drag them into this folder. To uncompress them (or return them to their original state) drag them out of the compressed folder.
Compressed folders even support a password option, allowing you to use them as a place to store sensitive information. You should be careful when using this feature, however. The password is not recoverable. If you forget it, your data stored in the compressed folder will be lost forever. To add a password, open the compressed folder and select File, Add a Password.
In addition to the compressed folders feature, Windows XP supports another type of compression if your hard drive is formatted as an NTFS volume. You can see it if your hard drive was formatted with NTFS by opening My Computer and then taking a look at the details section on the lower left.
NTFS compression differs from compressed folders in that the NTFS compressed folders appear like any other folders. The operating system compresses and decompresses them on the fly each time you access and close them. NTFS compressed folders do not have a zipper on their icon. However, you can set up Windows to display them in a different color if you want to know which folders are NTFS compressed and which ones are not.
To set up an NTFS compressed folder, right-click on the folder you want to use and select Properties. In the General tab, click on the Advanced button.
Toward the bottom of the window you will see a check box that will allow you to Compress contents to save disk space.
If you want to display your NTFS compressed folders using a different color, select Tools, Folder Options from an Explorer window. Then in the View tab, make sure Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color is checked.
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5 ways to share files that are too big to email
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We have file-size problems. Our cameras now take fabulous photos and crisp videos. Our computers can tackle monstrous spreadsheets. We can create detailed graphics that look stunning when blown up. But all of that comes with a drawback: honking huge files.
So what do you do when you want to send that slick video or pile of digital photos of your vacation adventure to grandma, but the file is too big to attach to an email? Here are five ways to handle it:
1. Use Google Drive
Gmail users have it easy when it to comes to sending files that are over the limit. Google Drive will come to your rescue when you try to attach a file that’s over the 25 MB size restriction. Gmail will pop up with a message reading, “Large files must be shared with Google Drive. Attachments larger than 25MB will be automatically uploaded to Google Drive. A download link will be included in your emails.”
This is a no-sweat way to send those large files. You get a workaround for the attachment limit and the recipient can download the file at her leisure. You can also upload files directly to Google Drive and then share them from there. Keep in mind that these files can count against your Drive storage space. Drive can hold files up to a massive 5 terabytes in size, but you will need an upgraded, paid storage plan to accommodate that much data.
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2. Sign up for a free DropBox account
DropBox is a popular online storage service that lets you keep important files backed up in the cloud. It also makes it easy to share those files with other people, who can download them through a sharing link or add them to their own DropBox accounts.
DropBox offers a free 2 GB of room to anyone. If your cloud storage needs are more demanding than the free account can accommodate, then you can check into paid tiers that offer more space. Services like Box.com and Microsoft’s OneDrive offer similar features to DropBox. You can always sign up for more than one free storage service if you’re getting low on space.
3. Send through WeTransfer
WeTransfer’s basic free service lets you share files up to 2 GB in size. WeTransfer isn’t for online storage. It’s just for sending files. It’s very simple to use. Just go to the site, choose the free option, add your file (or files) from your computer and then put in your email, your recipient’s email, and a message. Hit the “Transfer” button and wait while WeTransfer uploads the file and sends a notice to the receiver. The files will remain available to download for seven days.
4. Discover Amazon Drive
It’s easy for Amazon’s Drive service to get overlooked in the crush of Prime perks, but it offers an easy file storage and sharing option for people who are already hooked on the Amazon ecosystem.
Any Amazon user can get 5 GB of space for free, but Prime members get the extra perk of unlimited photo storage, which is a compelling carrot for shutterbugs. Much like DropBox, you can share those photos and other files by generating a link and emailing it to your recipient.
Note: Amazon Drive is just one of the perks that come with your Prime membership. Click here for a full list of included benefits .
5. Compress the file
You can make a large file a little smaller by compressing it into a zipped folder. In Windows, right-click the file or folder, go down to “send to,” and choose “Compressed (zipped) folder.” This will create a new folder that’s smaller than the original. For Mac systems, control-click a file (or tap it with two fingers) to bring up the shortcut menu. Choose “Compress” to make a daintier zipped version.
Compressing isn’t a magic bullet. For example, compressing a 90 MB image file in Windows may only result in a 60 MB zipped file, but it can be useful if you just need to slim a file down a little to get under your email sending limit.
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Even if your email provider allows you to send massive attachments, email recipients with slow Internet connections may prefer that you didn't. One way to make files smaller without editing them is to use the built-in Windows compression feature. Many files -- particularly those that contain text -- are ideal candidates for compression. When you learn to compress large files, you also save valuable hard drive space since compressed files consume less.
Press your "Windows" and "E" key to open File Explorer.
Navigate to the folder that contains a file you'd like to compress and click that file to select it.
Click the ribbon's "Share" tab and then click "Zip." A new compressed folder appears in File Explorer. Its name matches the name of the file you selected. This folder contains a smaller, compressed version of your file.
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- Open a compressed folder by double-clicking it. After you do that, you'll see the files it contains. If you email the compressed folder to recipients, they can do the same thing to view your files.
- Rename a compressed folder by right-clicking it and selecting "Rename." You can then type a new name in the box that appears below the folder icon.
- Add an additional file to an existing compressed folder by dragging the file into the folder. Add as many files as you like. Windows compresses them automatically as you add them. You can also right-click a file, select "Copy" and then right-click the compressed folder. Select "Paste" to paste a zipped copy of the file into the folder.
- When you click a compressed folder, the Compressed Folder Tools tab appears on the ribbon. Click the "Extract All" button in that part of the ribbon to open a window that enables you to select a destination folder. After you do that and click "Extract," Windows unzips the files and stores them in the destination folder.
- It doesn't help to compress some types of files, such as JPGs, because they are already compressed. You'll see your largest size reduction by compressing files that contain text.
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6 Ways to Make Video Files Smaller without Losing Quality
- Video File Size
Videos files can be very large—and that can be a problem for uploading and hosting.
Unless you need the highest resolution possible, making video files smaller is better for everyone. They reduce bandwidth usage and upload time, and there’s less buffering on your viewer’s end.
Moreover, this will drastically speed up your video creation and editing process as you don’t need to work with large video files.
But how do you easily compress a video, and reduce the file size?
We’ll take a look at six ways to make your video file smaller, both from your computer and online.
There are two reliable ways to reduce video size without quality loss. The first is to make your video shorter. If you can trim footage off of the beginning or end, that will reduce the size of the file.
The second method is by removing the audio from your video. Most videos will probably benefit from having audio and background music included , but if it’s unnecessary, you can remove it. That will decrease the file size without any loss of quality.
With that out of the way, let’s look at how to compress a video and make a video file smaller.
6 Best Free Video Compressors in 2023
Here’s a list of 6 free video compressor tools that are available today to help you reduce your video file sizes. You’ll learn about the features they offer, and how to use them to compress your videos.
- VLC (Windows, Mac, Linux)
- Shotcut (Windows, Mac, Linux)
- QuickTime Player (Mac)
- VEED.IO (Web)
- VideoSmaller (Web)
- Clipchamp (Web)
To compare options and see which one is best for you, read on!
Video Compression & Understanding Video File Size
Before we get started, it’s important to understand what makes a video file larger or smaller. There are three main factors: resolution, bitrate, and encoding.
Resolution is the number of pixels presented in your video, and it is usually represented by a horizontal x vertical measurement (for example, native HD, also referred to as 1080p, is 1920 x 1080.) That provides high-definition quality.
The 16:9 aspect ratio is very common and includes a number of other resolutions. Here are the video resolutions that YouTube recommends for various measures of quality:
Here at Uscreen, for the best upload and video playback experience, we recommend following these video encoding and compression guidelines:
- Video Format: MP4 (file extension .mp4)
- Video Resolution: 1080p/2K or smaller
- H.264 video codec – the most common codec and supported by the majority of devices and browsers
- 20 fps – 60 fps (23.98 fps is a good option)
Recommended Video Quality
Here at Uscreen, for the best upload and video playback experience, we recommend following these video encoding and compression guidelines :
▶️ Video Format: MP4 (file extension .mp4) ▶️ Video Resolution: 1080p/2K or smaller ▶️ H.264 video codec – the most common codec and supported by the majority of devices and browsers ▶️ 20 fps – 60 fps (23.98 fps is a good option)
So which resolution should you use? It largely depends on where your audience is likely to watch. For example, 1080p is probably plenty for users streaming YouTube videos, as many monitors still don’t go above 1080p (and the bitrate, as you’ll see in a moment, may become prohibitive for streaming).
For what it’s worth, every one of the top 10 best-selling daisy-chain monitors on Amazon at the time of this writing has a resolution of 1920 x 1080.
If your audience is likely to watch on their TVs, though, higher resolutions are better (though around 31% of Americans have a 4K TV , so streaming in 1440p or 1080p is almost certainly fine for larger screens).
An audience that primarily uses their smartphone to watch your videos is a bit more difficult to plan for, as phones have different resolutions, screen sizes, and pixel densities. The difference between 720p and 1080p is noticeable on a phone, but it may require the user to be within 6” or 8” to tell the difference.
With so many phones now coming with extremely high-definition screens, it’s probably better to err on the side of high resolutions when you have the bandwidth to do so. The iPhone 12, for example, packs a 2,532×1,170 pixels screen and has a pixel density that’s far greater than the human eye can even appreciate.
Possibly the most important factor in determining video size is the bitrate. This is a measure of how much information is transmitted every second, and is usually measured in Mpbs (and sometimes kbps). Here are YouTube’s recommended bitrates for different sizes and framerates:
If you change the bitrate of your video, try not to go below these figures.
It’s a good idea to use a variable bitrate, which allows your video to go above or dip below your target bitrate. While this gives you a little less control over your video size, it will result in greater quality, as you video will transmit more information during scenes where it’s necessary.
Finally, we come to encoding. Video encoding uses two different parts: the codec and the container. A full discussion of both is very technical, but we recommend using H.264 encoding with an MP4 encoder. This is an efficient method of compressing your video, and will result in only a slight loss of quality.
It’s important to remember that making a video smaller will almost always result in a loss of quality. You compress a video by removing information, and that means anyone viewing it on a large screen will probably be able to tell.
And, as we’ll discuss a bit later, you can always experiment with different settings to see what works best for your video and your production equipment . Different resolutions, bitrates, and encoding settings will give you distinct results—and some may be better for you than others.
How to Reduce Video File Size without Losing Quality
1. vlc (windows, mac, linux).
As one of the most popular media-viewing and -editing apps around, it’s no surprise that VLC is a great choice for making video files smaller.
First, download VLC (Windows, Mac, and Linux versions are available). After it’s done installing, click Media > Convert/Save (Or by using the cmd+shift+S keyboard shortcut).
Then click Add and select your video file (you can also select multiple files to convert them as a batch).
Click Convert/Save to bring up conversion options. In the Profile dropdown, you’ll need to select the type of conversion that you want.
Because VLC doesn’t display estimated file sizes, you’ll need to guess at which level of conversion to apply. Fortunately, VLC has recommendations for different types of videos .
For example, if you’re uploading to YouTube, you probably want to retain high quality. Just select Video for YouTube HD . Think people will be watching your video on a TV? Use Video for MPEG4 1080p TV/device . Want something smaller? Try Video for MPEG4 720p TV/device . Optimizing for Android, iPod, or iPhone will also get you smaller video files.
To further reduce your video file size, you can change the resolution of the video. Click the Settings button (it looks like a wrench and a screwdriver) to the right of the Profile dropdown, then select the Resolution tab.
From there, you can adjust the scale to retain your current proportion, or manually adjust the size of the video.
When you’re done, click Save . You’ll need to enter a destination location and filename—click Browse to specify them.
Once you’ve done that, just hit Start .
If you’re compressing a large video, it might take some time. But when it’s done, you’ll have a new video file that should take up a lot less space.
2. Shotcut (Windows, Mac, Linux)
While not as popular as VLC, Shotcut is another common choice for people looking to make videos smaller without spending a dime. Intended more as an editor than a viewer, Shotcut gives you a lot of advanced functionality for editing your videos.
It’s not immediately clear how to compress video files with Shotcut, so we’ll walk you through it.
Download Shotcut , then open it and use the Open File button to open your video.
To export it in a new file format, click Export in the top-right corner of the window.
You’ll be presented with a huge list of options.
In general, using H.264 Baseline Profile is a good choice. This format will likely reduce the size of your video without sacrificing too much quality.
As you’ll see, there are plenty of other options for compression. Feel free to try some of them out to see how small they get your file. In general, the H.264 baseline will be your best bet.
You can also adjust the size of the video by changing either the Resolution or Aspect ratio fields.
However, it’s important to know that Shotcut won’t automatically adjust the corresponding option for you. If you change the horizontal resolution, you’ll need to calculate the proper vertical resolution to make sure you don’t end up with a pinched video.
Choosing a lower-quality output will automatically adjust the resolution for you. So if you select HDV (hdv_720_25p) , the resolution will decrease if your video was originally in 1080p. But if you want to go smaller than the preset resolution, you’ll need to calculate the correct dimensions yourself.
You can also use the export window to customize exporting options to get exactly the type of file you want. This is best left to expert users, though you can certainly play around with it to see what happens.
3. QuickTime Player (Mac)
Apple’s default media player actually includes a number of great options for making your videos smaller. The only drawback to it is that you can’t use it on any other operating systems.
To make a video smaller with QuickTime, open the app from your Applications folder and click File > Open File to load your video.
To begin making your video smaller, click File > Export As . Unfortunately, QuickTime doesn’t give you as many options as some other apps. You’ll see 4k (if applicable), 1080p, 720p, and 480p options.
Select 720p or 480p (assuming you recorded in 1080) and export your file. It should be smaller than when you started.
Unfortunately, QuickTime doesn’t support resizing, so if you need to reduce the dimensions of your video, you’ll need to use another program, or use a web-based video compression tool such as VEED, ClipChamp, or Kapwing (More on this below).
4. VEED (Web)
If you don’t want to download or use an app on your own computer, there are numerous websites that will let you upload a video file and compress it for you. Some of these services require an account, some require a monthly fee (or a watermark on your video), and others are completely free and don’t require anything but a video file.
The first service we’ll look at is VEED.IO. As part of their video editing tools, VEED offers an easy-to-use video compression tool to reduce video file size for free. It works with both Windows and Mac, and within your browser, so there’s nothing to download.
VEED’s Video Compressor supports MP4, MOV, MKV, Avi, WMV, FLV video file formats. If you use Dropbox to host your videos, you can connect your account and directly upload your videos to the tool.
It has a user friendly slider that allows you to adjust the compression rate between higher quality and smaller file size.
What’s more helpful about this Video Compressor, in particular, is that it gives you an estimate of the file size before you hit the ‘Compress’ button. This is particularly useful if you’re looking to compress videos and get your video small enough to be added as an email attachment or sent through a messaging service where there is a limit on files sizes. For many email clients, this is 20-25MB. So you can play with the settings, to get the size right, before you compress.
For more advanced users, or those needing to specify the frame rate, bitrate, and CRF, you can simply hit the ‘Advanced Settings’ button in the Video Compression settings, and all of these options are available to you. And, of course, you can resize your videos and change the video resolution.
It gives a great reduction in file size and an option to ‘Download’ or ‘Edit Video’. If you click on ‘Edit Video’ you will be taken to VEED’s main editor where you can add subtitles, text, progress bars, and more.
5. VideoSmaller (Web)
VideoSmaller is yet another simple cloud-based video compressor to reduce video file size online. And it’s completely free. Head to VideoSmaller.com , upload your video, tweak a couple of options, and you’re good to go.
VideoSmaller supports a variety of different video file formats including MP4, AVI, MPEG, MOV formats, and allows you to upload video files of up to 500 MB.
The first option you have is to use a low compression level. This gives you better- resulting quality in your video, but won’t reduce the size of a video as much as using standard compression.
The second option is to scale your video. Of course, scaling down also results in lower quality, but it might be worth the tradeoff in size. So you’ll need to balance the needs of your audience (mostly concentrating on the devices they’ll be using to watch your videos) with size considerations.
Finally, you can check a box to remove all of the audio from your video. Again, this could save you a notable amount of space. But it leaves you without any sound.
6. Clipchamp (Web)
If you need to reduce the file size of videos on a regular basis, you may want to consider using a paid service like Clipchamp . Clipchamp gives you more options, including the ability to edit your videos, upload videos of any size, and process videos in batches.
Click here to watch the video -> youtube.com/watch?v=dMb669vLy68
Clipchamp does have a free tier, but it watermarks your videos. So if you’re going to be sharing videos, you should probably step up to the Business plan, which is $7.50 per month when billed as $99 per year. You can also pay $9 month-to-month if you’re not going to need it very long.
Whether or not it’s worth paying for depends on how often you’ll use it. But if you want to make the process as easy as possible without downloading software to your computer, Clipchamp is a good bet.
Experiment to Find the Best Video Compression Settings & File Size
No matter what you’re using your video for, whether monetizing your content online , or live streaming on social media , there’s a good balance that you can strike between low file size and high video quality. It’s difficult to find the point where they’re balanced, but with a little experimentation, you should be able to do it.
Especially if you’re hosting your own videos, finding the right size and quality is crucial. You need to provide your viewers with the best quality without using so much bandwidth that you have to pay a fortune. And compressed videos can help with that.
Test different resolutions and bitrates to see how they affect quality. Check the OTT platform of your choice to learn more about their guidelines and recommendations for video upload and quality settings. Then check out different encoding settings to see how they change the size of your video.
After some experimentation, you’ll find the perfect settings to make your videos smaller. And that will save you both space and money, no matter which platform you’re on or cloud platform you use.
Dann is a long-time freelance writer with an interest in the intersection between technology and business. If there's a way to use technology to get more done in less time, he wants to hear about it. After a stint in the marketing and publishing world, he moved to covering these topics on a freelance basis and hasn't looked back.
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