How Do I Shrink the File Size of a Video So I Can Email It?

By Lee Roberts

You will need video editing software to shrink or compress a video file size enough so that it is suitable to send in an email. Fortunately, there are several programs that can convert the file for you. The image and sound quality of the file will decrease along with the file size. You may need to experiment to get the best mix of size and quality for your project.

Free Video Editing Software

If you want to email a copy of a video that you recorded with a digital camera, you may find that the file size is too large to be sent easily through email. Even if your email program allows you to send a large file, the person receiving it may encounter problems. Windows Movie Maker and Virtualdub are free programs that allow you to shrink the file to a reasonable size. Download Windows Movie Maker from the Microsoft Windows Update Page. Download Virtualdub from

Windows Movie Maker

Windows Movie Maker is a basic Microsoft product that is bundled with many Windows packages. To condense a file easily, open it in Movie Maker. The first image from your video will appear in the center pane of your screen. Click on the image and drag it to the bottom portion of the screen called the timeline. The Movie Tasks pane on the left is open by default. If the Tasks pane is not open, click on the menu at the top of the screen, click "View" and then "Tasks Pane." Go to the Movie Tasks pane and under the heading of "Finish Movie," click the option to send it in an email. Movie Maker sets all of the parameters for you. Movie Maker can send an email through the email program installed on your computer. Alternatively, you can attach the video manually to an email. While in Movie Maker, select to send the video by email, you will then see an option to save the video to your computer. Choose a place to save the video. This is the condensed video, so give it a name you will recognize. Compose the email in your normal manner and attach the saved video file to the email.


Virtualdub does not come with preset configurations to reduce files for email. Select "Video Compression" from the top menu. A screen will open showing you a list of various ways to compress the file. Each name on the list is really a file holding a set of instructions for how it will encode the video; these files are commonly called codecs. Choose a codec, click "configure." A new screen opens. Click "Target quantizer." If you do not see the button, click on "Target bitrate" to toggle the screen. The target quantizer is a sliding scale for the level of quality you want for the finished video. Higher quality video leads to a larger file size. Select your level of quality, then click "OK" to exit out of the screens. Virtualdub compresses sound separately from video. Select "Compression" under the Audio menu. Choose the MPEG-3 codec and then click "OK". Save the file as a new AVI file. Take care not to overwrite the original file. Review the finished file for quality and size. Attach satisfactory files to emails in the normal manner. If the result is unsatisfactory, reopen the original file in Virtualdub and try again with different quality settings.