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What Format Does iPod Video Play In?

written by: Rochelle Connery•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/21/2011

What format does iPod video play in? Find out which formats iPod devices support and how you can convert unsupported formats to play on your iPod.

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    Which iPods Play Video?

    Some iPod users are disappointed to find out their iPod device doesn’t play video, period. The iPod shuffle never played video, and the iPod nano no longer plays video now that Apple has chopped its size in half.

    But other devices, like the iPod classic and iPod touch, feature video-playing capabilities. Thankfully, each of them play in the same format, so you can share video files amongst your devices.

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    What Format Does iPod Video Play In?

    iPod devices have a very limited video file compatibility platform. If you want to know, “what format does iPod video play in?” then the answer is very few.

    MP4, also known as MPEG-4, is native to the iPod. As long as the video file isn’t in a huge resolution or have a non-Apple digital protection on it, you should be able to sync it to your iPod and play it without a problem.

    Apple iPods play three video formats: M4V, MP4 and MOV. These are primarily QuickTime formats that play well on a Mac as well as on an iPod. The M4V and MP4 versions, especially when downloaded from iTunes, often come with a protection that makes them playable on limited devices and only one account.

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    How to Play Unsupported Formats

    iTunes doesn’t like to share. The whole Apple platform is set up such that it makes it difficult for any owner to play unsupported video formats on their iPods. This helps Apple ensure that you buy your digital downloads straight through them.

    But what if you want to play a movie you bought elsewhere that wasn’t available on iTunes? Are you shut out from playing it on your iPod? If it has a protection on it, then yes. But if not, you can convert it into a playable format with a free software converter.

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    Recommended Conversion Techniques

    There are a couple ways you can convert your videos. The first is through free software you download to your computer. The second is through a website to which you can upload your video, convert it and download it back to your computer.

    The disadvantage of the second option is that, while this is great for short videos, it’s impractical for entire movies, considering the amount of time it would take to upload and re-download hundreds of megabytes in video. Thus, the software option is better for long movies.

    • Any Video Converter: The Any Video Converter software has presets that help you convert right into mobile phone or iPod video formats. Choose from MP4 and MOV files. You can also convert to AVI, FLV and other formats for different purposes.

    • Quick Media Converter: This software is very similar to Any Video Converter. But sometimes the computer won’t “take” to one or the other. So you might need an alternative in case one doesn’t work for you.

    • MediaConverter: Mediaconverter.org lets you upload your video, choose your output format, and download it after the conversion. This is great for music videos less than 10 minutes long.

    So, you’ve gotten the “what format does iPod video play in” question answered. Now all you have to do is pick your favorite video converter and start syncing your videos!