How do you compress a video for email?

Video on smartphone
Video hell: don't send large email attachments

You want to send a video via email, but computer says no. The attachment is too large. Your email software refuses to play ball. How best to compress a video for email? My answer: don’t. There are much better ways to handle this.

Why you shouldn’t compress a video for email

There are several reasons why I wouldn’t compress a video to send it via email. These are:

  1. You’ll inevitably reduce the picture quality of the video
  2. Compression software isn’t always easy to use and – depending on the length of the video you’re trying to compress – can be time consuming
  3. Video is often already compressed, so attempting to compress it further may not reduce the file size by all that much
  4. Even if your email software or service allows you to send a large video attachment, there’s no guarantee that the other person’s will accept it. Large video attachments can also get trapped in spam filters

Better ways to send a video by email

The best way to send a video via email is to upload it to a service such as YouTube and share it from there. This means your email doesn’t get bogged down or blocked because of large attachments, your recipient isn’t inconvenienced by a large email download and the original quality of the video is preserved.

If you don’t want the video to be shared publicly, you can upload a video to YouTube and set it to private, so that only people with the link are able to view the video. It won’t appear in YouTube or Google searches.

Time needed: 10 minutes

How to upload a video to YouTube and send via email

  1. Upload the video

    We’re going to show you how to do this using the YouTube app for phones, as that’s the way most people share videos, but you can also follow a similar process on the YouTube website. First, press the + button at the bottom of the app screen to add your video. Select Upload a video and then choose the video you want to upload from your phone.

  2. Set video to unlisted

    Once the video has been selected, you’ll be asked to add a title, description and choose the video’s ‘visibility’. If you don’t want the video to be made public, choose unlisted here. This allows you to send a link to friends, family or colleagues but means the video won’t be shown in your YouTube profile or be findable via the search engines.

  3. Share the video

    Once the video has fully upload, click on the Library button in the bottom-right of the YouTube screen and select the video you’ve uploaded. Make sure it’s fully uploaded and processed. Now select the Share button. On the screen that now appears, you can either copy the link to the video and paste that into an email. Alternatively, you can select your email app and share the video straight from that.

Alternative ways to send video via email

If you haven’t got a YouTube account or don’t want one, there are other more efficient ways to email someone a video than via clunky attachments.

You could use a file-sharing service such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive. Upload the video to that and, like YouTube, they will provide you with a link that you can send to other people. They will also be able to download the video to their own devices if they want to keep a copy.

Delete your YouTube history

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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