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How to Use Handbrake to Compress Large Video Files up to 90%

  • Can Handbrake compress video?
  • How do I compress a video for web using Handbrake?
  • How to reduce video file size for my phone without losing quality?

Nowadays, large video files come down to many notorious problems, from easy exhaustion of your device with a limited storage capacity, to the speed retardation when it comes to upload and download them. Just in the nick of the time, you can free download video compressor Handbrake to compress video to reverse the tide, attributing to its open source, perfect compatibility with Mac, Windows and Linux, and better job of encoding and compressing videos of any formats, be it MP4, MKV, AVI, MTS, WMV, MOV or MOD. The Handbrake tutorial below will show you how to use Handbrake to shrink space-hogging videos down to smaller ones that are more friendly to web uploading and mobile storage.

Recommended Handbrake Video Compression Settings

Having a good understanding of Handbrake video settings will yield twice the compression result with half the effort. So prior to the step-by-step tutorial to reduce video file size with Handbrake, the following section will list the most recommended video compression settings for web and mobile.

Best Handbrake Settings for Web

Video Settings:

  • Format: MP4
  • Codec: H.264 (x264)
  • Frame Rate: 24, 25 or 30 (Constant)
  • Resolution: 1280x720 (720p)
  • Avg Bitrate: 5,000 – 10,000 kbit/s
  • Encoder Profile: High

Audio Settings:

  • Codec: AAC
  • Bitrate: 320 kbit/s
  • Mixdown: Stereo

Picture Settings:

  • Anamorphic: None
  • Modulus: 16
  • Video width: 1280x720
note icon
For a better video compression result, Handbrake kindly reminds you to go to Baseline profile, lower video resolution to 1024x576, reduce bitrate to 2000 kbit/s, and degradeaudio bitrate to 128 kbit/s, if you run into slow internet connection trouble or is bothered by a slow computer.

Best Handbrake Settings for Mobile

Video settings:

  • Format: MP4
  • Codec: H.264 (x264)
  • Frame rate: Same as source (Variable Framerate)
  • Quality: Constant Quality with RF at 24.
  • Encoder Preset: Veryfast
  • Encoder Tune: Film
  • Encoder Profile: Main
  • Encoder Level: 4.0

Audio Settings:

  • Codec: AAC
  • Bitrate: 160 or lower

Picture Settings:

  • Anamorphic: Loose
  • Modulus: 2
  • Video width: a max resolution of 720p for mobiles.
  • Cropping: make them all in the number of 0.


  • Denoise: NLMeans
  • Preset: Ultralight
  • Tune: None

[Tutorial] How to Compress Video with Handbrake

The Handbrake video compression guide will request a computer, a video file, and the Handbrake itself. So you need to free download Handbrake on your computer first if you don't have it.

Step 1: Download and install Handbrake

It is always recommended to go to http://handbrake.fr, the official Handbrake site, to avoid any malware or adware installation. The latest version of Handbrake supports Mac 10.7 to 10.12 and Windows (7 to 10). Just choose the specific version according to your needs.

Step 2: Add Video

Click File in the Source Selection to add a video file to be compressed in Handbrake after it is kicked off. Here in the guide, we'd like to compress a 4k video in .mkv that weighs in at over 24GB, around 60 minutes long, to MP4 H.264 for smaller size.

add video with Handbrake
Add video with Handbrake

Step 3: Set Destination Folder

Click Browse button under Destination where you can save the compressed file in your local hard drive.

Step 4: Choose Output Format
Choose the container MP4 in the Output Settings. This is because MP4 has the widest compatibility with devices, players, TVs, gaming systems, and even the video sharing sites like YouTube, Facebook, etc.

handbrake choose format
Handbrake choose format

Step 5: Adjust Handbrake Settings

Follow the above recommended video settings in Handbrake to downsize video to release more room for device. Please check Web Optimized besides the Output Settings section for faster uploading to YouTube or other services.

- Video Codec: HEVC is famous for its great compression ratio that delivers half of the bandwidth data and compresses video at a file size half off the original without sacrificing the quality as compared with its predecessor H.264 (see H.265 vs H.264). But it is currently not as widely used as H.264 now. So we recommend you to stay with H.264 in terms of both file size and compatibility. For users of iPhone 6 or above, we highly recommend you to change the video codec from H.264 to H.265 (HEVC) in such a way to shrink video file size into a smaller one, since the latest iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra are reported to add the new compression standard into the support list.

compress video with Handbrake setting
Compress video with Handbrake setting

- Video Resolution: Video resolution has great impact on the file size. But higher resolution doesn't necessarily mean you will have a better visual enjoyment on a screen with a lower resolution, but the video upscaling tech and the bitrate of the video. For example, a 4K video won't look better than a 1080p HD video on a HD TV. So it's advisable to compress 4k to a video, preferably 720p for YouTube or Facebook, by going to Picture Settings to change the Width at 1280 and Height at 720.

You may also interested in: compress video on Mac, 4k to 1080p converter, convert 1080p to 720p

- Bitrate: More bitrate means more artifacts and better video quality and vice versa. So when you downsize video with Handbrake, you can also lower the bitrate corresponding to the resolution. Generally, it's recommended to set the bitrate at around 2500 kbps for a video with a resolution of 4800p, 5000 kbps for 720p, 8000 kbps for 1080p, 35000kbps for 2160p. Framerate: Leave the framerate unchanged between 24-30. Generally, lowering the framerate will influence the smoothness of the video.

Handbrake features the ability to transcode large video files to something better suit for your needs, without even tweaking the parameters. It is infused with readymade profiles for both web and device specific formatting, ranging from General to Web, Android, Apple TV, iPhone, Playstation, Xbox, MKV, etc. They are particularly designed with a great compromise between the video quality and the manageable file size, at the right side of the main interface according to your needs. The file size of 4K MKV video is reduced to 1.8GB now.

Handbrake Alternative: Achieve 90% Video Compression without Quality Loss

From its official Handbrake page, the open-source video compressor only transcode videos into MP4 or MKV. Customized video transcoding profiles, available for particular purposes without changing codec, bitrate, resolution, frame rate or so, are still unattractive in Handbrake. User-friendly interface is still far from perfect. Many Handbrake users ask for video compression guide in various forums.

MacX Video Converter Pro is recommended as the best Handbrake alternative that is fully compatible with both Mac and Windows and bounded with 420+ readymade profiles for web, iPhone (XS/XR/8/X), iPad, Samsung (Galaxy S9/8), PSP, Windows phone, Surface Pro, 4K TV, and more. You can reduce video file size greatly and get the perfect video quality without any complex handbrake iPhone settings problem. Test shows the 1-hour 4k MKV file is downsized to 309 mb now.