How to Set Perfect YouTube Video Dimensionsby@smith-willas
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How to Set Perfect YouTube Video Dimensions

by Smith WillasApril 24th, 2021
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YouTube recommends that you upload videos in the best possible format to ensure high-quality playback. The platform does not support blank audio files, even in common formats such as WAV and MP3. Google's censors, for the first time in years, raised the bar on video quality for published content. The higher the resolution of your uploaded footage, the more likely it is to play in top quality. The best resolution is the maximum of 720p, but you need to reduce the file size.

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Every day new users sign up to share their masterpieces with the world on YouTube. If you also want to share your videos with the public, keep in mind that YouTube has a number of requirements for videos and their covers. Let's break down what video formats YouTube supports and how to properly format your videos.

Video Format for YouTube

The system recommends that you upload videos
in the best possible format to ensure high-quality playback. The higher the
resolution of your uploaded footage, the more likely it is to play in top
quality. Also, all videos are re-encoded by the host to optimize quality.

What formats can be uploaded to YouTube

Searching for information concerning the format of the video you need to upload to YouTube, you can read over dozens of pages of recommended upload settings in articles and forums but encounter an issue while uploading your clip.

The service will not accept it. Besides, a file in a certain format may be supported by the video hosting service, but the video codec used for encoding may not. In this case, an online video size reducer will be a useful solution. But to avoid double work, convert or save your work in the following formats:

  1. 3GP;
  2. AVI;
  3. CineForm;
  4. DNxHR;
  5. FLV;
  6. HEVC (compressed with H.265 codec);
  7. MOV;
  8. MP4;
  9. MPEG4;
  10. MPEG-PS;
  11. ProRes;
  12. WebM;
  13. WMV.

The platform does not support blank audio files, even in such common formats as WAV and MP3. If you want to share your own song or track that doesn't infringe on its owner's rights, convert the audio to MP4 or another YouTube format and add a cover art or a series of thematic pictures. The following file types are acceptable as an audio track:

  1. AAC (in MOV container);
  2. FLAC;
  3. MP3 (also in WAV container);
  4. PCM (in WAV container).

A common question today is in which format to upload videos to YouTube. Today MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 are the best video formats for YouTube. Each of them has its own limitations:

  • MPEG-4: audio playback speed of at least 128 kbps, H.264 video codec, and AAC audio codec.
  • MPEG-2: audio playback speed from 128 kbps, Dolby AC-3/ MPEG Layer 2 audio codec.


The duration of video and audio tracks is 33 seconds or more, not including background noise from the audio track, black picture, or static picture.

Frame rate

The main requirement is to avoid resampling because it leads to deterioration of video quality and trembling. The most commonly used frame rate is 24 to 30 fps.

Keep the original frame rate. For example, if the footage was shot at 24 fps, the frame rate of the video to be added after encoding must be the same. If 30 frames per second were used when filming, the uploaded video on YouTube should use the same frame rate. Video shot in 720p with a frame rate of 60 should have the same settings when uploaded. For example, a 1080i 60 fps video should have interlaced scanning removed, so you
should get a 30 fps progressive scan file for upload.

Aspect Ratio

It's best to keep the original aspect ratio and avoid inserting stripes (horizontally or vertically). The player will frame the video for you to ensure the optimum picture, and the picture will not be stretched or cropped.


The major video hosting site YouTube has implemented a new classification, which changes the definition of high-resolution video for a greater percentage of videos hosted by the service. Google's censors, for the first time in years, raised the bar on video quality for published content.

For years, 720p videos were automatically categorized as High Definition (HD) video, while 360p and 480p were categorized as SD (Standard Definition). But another innovation by Google has led to a revision of this hierarchy. According to the new criteria, with the advent of 1080p, 2K, and 4K formats, HD picture is "outdated" and no longer meets its former ranking but reduces YouTube video size. However, displays and
monitors with a maximum resolution of 720p are still recognized by
manufacturers as HD equipment.

Such a difference can already be noticed when watching YouTube in Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge browsers: when trying to select the quality of a video, there is no HD mark next to the 720p resolution.

The best YouTube resolution is the maximum resolution but you may need to reduce video file size on the desktop. The higher the resolution, the better the playback and encoding flexibility. YouTube players have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Content in other formats will also be displayed without distortion as the system adds vertical (letterbox format) and
horizontal (envelope format) black bars around the edges. Use the following YouTube video dimensions to ensure that the video fills the player window completely:

  1. 2160p: 3840 x 2160;
  2. 1440p: 2560 x 1440;
  3. 1080p: 1920 x 1080;
  4. 720p: 1280 x 720;
  5. 480p: 854 x 480;
  6. 360p: 640 x 360;
  7. 240p: 426 x 240.

YouTube automatically adds black bars so that videos are displayed correctly to satisfy YouTube dimensions without cropping or stretching, regardless of video frame size and player screen.

For example, the system will add vertical stripes (letterbox format) to a 4:3 video to bring the image to a 16:9 aspect ratio. The same happens when the player is resized (e.g., when embedding on another site). Therefore, 16:9 frames are added at the top and bottom to match the 4:3 aspect ratio. Similarly, horizontal bars are automatically added to anamorphic videos ("envelope") in 16:9 or 4:3 players. However, this is only possible if the original aspect ratio is maintained.

If you want to change the position of the added video in the player window, use format tags.

If you have used horizontal bars in your video before uploading (e.g., to get a 4:3 frame from the original 16:9), the widescreen player will add vertical bars to them to achieve YouTube frame size. As a result, the image will be surrounded by a black frame, which gives an unfavorable impression of screen size.

Which bitrate should I upload the video to YouTube?

Bitrate is the number of bits that are used to transfer digital information per second. It has nothing to do with picture resolution and strongly depends on the codec used and container content. It is not necessary to make a special emphasis on the bitrate. It is better to optimize the video for frame rate and then compress the video for YouTube.

Such an indicator as bitrate directly depends on a codec, so there is no minimum threshold. Standard bitrate for videos, which are designed for rental and sale — from 50-80 Mbit per second.

Ethical requirements

We've sorted out what format videos need for YouTube. But apart from technical features, there are also ethical requirements. So, before adopting the format for your YouTube video, make sure the video does not contain the following:

  • Elements of a sexual nature or nudity: Video hosting strictly prohibits posting videos with pornographic or sexual content. This requirement is dictated by the protection of minors' rights and the security policy of the service.
  • Dangerous Content: Dangerous content is defined as videos that may encourage viewers to be aggressive or hurtful. If the service determines your uploaded content is dangerous, it will be removed or subjected to an age restriction.
  • Discrimination: Any user of the host can express their own point of view, but this must not demean or discriminate against other users, individuals, or groups, or call for violence against them.
  • Sensationalistic or shocking content: If a video contains such elements, it will be thoroughly reviewed before being uploaded. A video is only uploaded if it is a documentary or news story and there is explanatory context.
  • Intimidation, threats, and harsh insults. Gross violations lead to deletion of the material.

In the final stage of producing a YouTube video, you need to have an idea of how to process it.

When using an MP4 container, avoid using montage sheets.

When working with the AAC audio codec, set stereo or 5.1 + stereo, and sample rate 48 or 96 kHz.

Frame rate is the default, 24 to 60 fps. Remove interlacing before loading an interlaced video.

Re-sampling is not permitted.

H.264: Variable bitrate, progressive scan, pair of consecutive B-frames.


To upload content to your channel successfully, you need to know what video and audio formats YouTube supports, understand video encoding, and choose the correct aspect ratio in the converter or editing application settings.

It's important that your video is in a compatible format with the host, preferably with an aspect ratio of 16 to 9 and a resolution of at least 1280 × 720 pixels, always with interlaced scanning to get the best video size for YouTube. You can try a few options on your own to see which YouTube video format achieves the best results by experimenting with