What is MP4 File Format?

The MP4 file format is a digital multimedia container that can be used to store video, audio, subtitles, still images and other data, such as 3D graphs, menus and user interactivity. Usually, when used to store only audio, the file extension is changed to M4A.

Characteristics and Uses

MP4 file format

MP4 is an abbreviation for MPEG-4 Part 14, also known as MPEG-4 AVC, where AVC stands for Advanced Video Coding, and MPEG refers to Motion Picture Expert Group. The MPEG is responsible for defining the digital audio and video industry standards.

MP4 is a reliable tool, highly compressed, which requires a low amount of bandwidth. It is based on the ISO/IEC 14496-12:2004 standard, which in turn is based on the QuickTime file format. Its structure is almost identical to the QuickTime file format, but with some added features.

Brief History

Developed by the International Organization for Standardization, the MP4 file format history is basically defined by its two versions.

The MP4 file format version 1 was released in 2001 under the ISO/IEC 14496-1:2001 standard. Version 2 appeared in 2003 under the ISO/IEC 14496-14:2003. According to the ISO document of 2003, these versions are identified as mp41 and mp42 respectively.

File Signature

ISO 8859-1: ….ftyp



Hexadecimal: 00 00 00 1C 66 74 79 70

4D 53 4E 56 01 29 00 46

4D 53 4E 56 6D 70 34 32

Programs That Open MP4 Files


  • File Viewer Plus
  • Microsoft Windows Video
  • Microsoft Windows Media Player
  • Nullsoft Winamp
  • Roxio Creator NXT Pro 5
  • Corel VideoStudio Pro X8.5 Ultimate
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 16
  • VideoLAN VLC media player
  • Wondershare Filmora 6
  • MPlayer


  • Apple QuickTime Player
  • Apple iTunes
  • Roxio Toast 15
  • Eltima Elmedia Player
  • VideoLAN VLC media player
  • Wondershare Filmora 6
  • MPlayer


  • VideoLAN VLC media player
  • MPlayer


  • Apple Music
  • olimsoft OPlayer
  • PentaLoop PlayerXtreme Media Player
  • Google Drive


  • BooKPia MP4 Video Player for Android
  • BIT LABS Simple MP4 Video Player
  • Google Drive
  • Videolabs VLC for Android


As the MP4 is a container of audio and video data, it can also be used to contain only audio data. Thus, it is sometimes confused with the MPA file format, which also contains only audio data. Usually, players that can open MP4 files, can also open MPA files.

How to Recover Deleted MP4 Files

MP4 files are very common. Very frequently they contain our memories, movies, and job related videos. With so much digital information, today it is quite easy to mistakenly delete an important file.

Fortunately Disk Drill is here to help. It is a free file recovery app!

Disk Drill
Data recovery for free
Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery

The MP4 file recovery process is straightforward. Just follow these steps:

  1. Download Disk Drill from one of the above links.
  2. Install Disk Drill by clicking on the icon of the installer, and just follow the given steps.
  3. Open Disk Drill by clicking on the app’s icon. The program will automatically detect all connected devices. Disk Drill can work on a multitude of devices, including internal and external hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards, iPhones and many more. Select the drive that contains the deleted file.
  4. From the main menu, select “Preferences”, then “Video”, and then “mp4”. This will narrow the search, and therefore you will have a faster and more efficient MP4 recovery.
  5. Click on the “RECOVER” button. Disk Drill will now scan the selected drive in search of your files. This scan can be paused by pressing the “PAUSE” button, or cancelled by pressing the “CANCEL” button. Also, the session can be saved by pressing the “SAVE” button, allowing you to continue at a later stage, without any loss of the work already done. This is particularly useful when working with devices of large sizes.
  6. Once the scan is done, Disk Drill will present the results in the form of a list, which can be narrowed by using filters according to date or size.
  7. Select the MP4 files you need, and restore them to a folder of your choice.

Done! As you can see, it is easy to recover MP4 files with Disk Drill.

recover deleted mp4

How to Use Image Files to Recover MP4 Files

Image files are a bit-by-bit copy of an original digital source. Thus, they contain all data available on the device, including deleted files still not overwritten by the operative system. On the downside, their size is the same as the one of the original source, and they may contain empty space.

Image files are a great tool for MP4 file recovery, as they can be used with Disk Drill, leaving the original source untouched.

Attaching an image file with Disk Drill is easy, just go to the main menu and you will find the corresponding item.

Once attached, just work as you do with any other physical drive.

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole is a freelance content creator. He also has a more than 10-year experience in program development for macOS, Windows, iOS, Android.Arthur Cole is a writer with deep expertise in programming, who can easily...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.