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Convert and edit any file on any device: How to convert video files

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Tips for converting video, photos and documents on any device

PCs, smartphones and tablets let you open and edit all manner of files, from AAC to ZIP. However, from time to time, you might find you cannot open a file that you’ve transferred from one device to another or received from someone else. 

For example, if a friend sends you a RAW image file, you might struggle to open it without specialist software. Similarly, if you transfer a video that uses Apple’s M4V format to your Android phone, you’ll probably have trouble playing it. Below, we show you how to convert problematic files quickly on any device so you can keep on working with them when it matters most.

First you'll find tips on converting video files, but if you want advice on converting documents, images or music files, you jump to the appropriate section using the navigation bar at the top of this page. 

How to convert videos

Download and convert videos from the web

HD Video Converter Factory is a handy free tool that lets you download videos from YouTube and other video-hosting websites such as Vimeo. Once downloaded, you can trim, crop, merge and convert your video files from one format to another. The free download is actually a cut-down version of a paid-for product, which means there are a few restrictions to be aware of, including a maximum resolution of 720p for your conversions. However, the software is very easy to use: simply click Download Video, copy the URL of the video you want to save and paste it into the appropriate box, then click Analyze. When it has finished, you can choose a resolution and file format from the drop-down menu and click Download. You then can convert the video using the options on the screen .

It probably goes without saying that you should only download copyright-free videos or those that you have permission to download (although if you keep them for personal use only, it’s unlikely that anyone will find out). 

Convert Apple videos to play on Android devices

If someone sends you a file from an iPhone, iPad or Mac that you can’t play on your Android phone or tablet, one of the easiest solutions is simply to install a player that recognises a wider range of formats, such as MXPlayer or HD Video Player.

If it’s just one file, however, and you’d rather keep your default video player, you can convert the video using Audio/Video Converter for Android. This excellent app supports an impressive range of input files, including M4V, MOV, ASF, AVI, DIVX, FLV, M2V, MKV, MPG, OGG, OGV, RM, RMVB, WEBM, WMV, DV4, GIF and can convert them to a range of formats that Android’s video player can handle. 

To convert a video, choose it from the app’s list of files on your device and tap the pink conversion button. Next, select the conversion profile you want to use. The default option for Apple files should be to ‘Convert video to play on Android’, but you can use the Manual option if you want to set the video resolution, audio quality and so on. Some presets are only available in the Pro version of the app, which costs £1.99. Tap the three-dot button, choose ‘Convert and save to’ and select a folder in which to save the output file.

To convert videos from Apple’s file formats on your PC, try using Freemake Video Converter, which we mentioned in the previous tip. Alternatively, if you don’t want to download any software, you can use the brilliant Cloud Convert (cloudconvert.com) – see the box at the top of page 42.

Extract the audio from video files

If you have a video of a concert or live performance and you want to listen to the soundtrack on your smartphone, you could just leave the video playing to itself in your pocket, but a better option is to convert the soundtrack to an audio file. To do this with Audio/Video Converter for Android (see the previous tip), select the ‘Audio Only’ option during conversion. Another option is to use the Video to MP3 converter, which has a dedicated ‘Video to audio’ function as well as options to trim video and audio files.

You can also extract the audio from videos on the web and save them as MP3 files using the free program 4K YouTube to MP3. Because Google doesn’t want people to download protected music from YouTube, you won’t find any apps in the Play Store that let you copy content from the video site on your Android device, but Online Video Converter should work. Unlike some sites, it lets you select the audio quality manually, and you can convert videos to AAC, WMA, M4A or FLAC as well as MP3 format. If you really want to use an app rather than a website, you’ll have to enable the option to install apps from Unknown Sources in Android’s settings and then install Tube Mate (tubemate.net). Make sure you install it from a known source, though, because there are many fake versions of the app online that contain malware.

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