How to Convert Video Formats Using FFmpeg in Windows

Older people often tell me about a time in the history of computers when using command line tools was considered as a necessary skill to master any operating system. If you did not know MS-DOS then you could not really master Windows 95/98. But these days many people actually frown at the mention of command line tools and might take you for a simpleton if you dared to talk about such tools in public. But contrary to the popular and widespread belief, the command line tools can be as powerful as the GUI based kinsfolk. One of such tools is FFmpeg – although it is a command line tool, it allows the conversion of one media format into another very easily.

FFmpeg Video Format Conversion

If you want to convert one video format into another using FFmpeg tools in your Windows PC, then you can follow these steps:

  1. Download the FFmpeg tools from and save the downloaded file somewhere on your PC.
  2. Extract the contents of the downloaded archive to a convenient folder (say D:\ffmpeg) using 7-Zip, or some other archive extraction tool.FFmpeg Video Format Conversion
  3. Open the folder where you have extracted the files and double-click on ff-prompt.bat.
  4. If you want to convert a video named foxy.mp4 to foxy.avi, then give the following command (specify full path of both the files – the video format is auto-recognized from file extensions):
    ffmpeg -i foxy.mp4 foxy.avi

    FFmpeg Video Format Conversion

  5. You will see a a lot of text messages go through your screen in the command line window. This is the progress for video conversion. In the end it would show the video and audio size for the output file.
  6. Now you can test the output file by playing it in your favorite media player.FFmpeg Video Format Conversion

FFmpeg is not limited to video files. It can convert formats of many popular media files including video, audio and graphic file formats. But the process is exactly the same as for the video files. FFmpeg can also be used for extraction of audio from video files by specifying an audio format in the output file.