What Is an MPEG File?

How to Open, Edit, and Convert MPEG Files

MPEG Files
MPEG Files.

A file with the MPEG file extension (pronounced as "em-peg") is an MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) Video file.

Videos in this format are compressed using either MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 compression. This makes MPEG files popular for online distribution; they can be streamed and downloaded quicker than some other video formats.

Important Information on MPEG

Take note that "MPEG" doesn't just speak of a file extension (like .MPEG) but also a kind of compression.

A particular file can be an MPEG file but not actually use the MPEG file extension. There's more on this below, but for right now, consider that an MPEG video or audio file doesn't necessarily need to use the MPEG, MPG, or MPE file extension for it to be considered MPEG.

For example, an MPEG2 video file might use the MPG2 file extension while audio files compressed with the MPEG-2 codec usually use MP2. An MPEG-4 video file is commonly seen ending with the MP4 file extension. Both file extensions indicate an MPEG file but neither actually use the .MPEG file extension.

How to Open an MPEG File

Files that actually have the .MPEG file extension can be opened with many different multi-format media players, like Windows Media Player, VLC, QuickTime, iTunes, and Winamp.

Some commercial software that support playing .MPEG files include Roxio Creator NXT Pro, CyberLink PowerDirector, and CyberLink PowerDVD.

Some of these programs can open MPEG1, MPEG2, and MPEG4 files too.

How to Convert an MPEG File

Your best bet for converting an MPEG file is to look through this list of Free Video Converter Programs and Online Services to find one that supports MPEG files, like Any Video Converter.

Zamzar is one free online MPEG converter that runs in a web browser to convert MPEG to MP4, MOV, AVI, FLV, WMV, and other video formats, including audio formats like MP3, FLAC, WAV, and AAC.

FileZigZag is another example of an online and free file converter that supports the MPEG format.

If you want to burn an MPEG to a DVD, you can use Freemake Video Converter. Load the MPEG file into that program and choose the to DVD button to either burn the video directly to a disc or to create an ISO file from it.

Tip: If you have a larger MPEG video that you need converted, it's better to use one of the programs that you have to install to your computer. Otherwise, it might take quite a while to upload the video to a site like Zamzar or FileZigZag - and then you have to download the converted file back to your computer, which could also take awhile.

More Information on MPEG

There are many different file formats that might use MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-3, or MPEG-4 compression to store audio and/or video. You can read more about these specific standards on the MPEG Wikipedia page.

As such, these MPEG compressed files don't use the MPEG, MPG, or MPE file extension, but instead one that you're probably more familiar with. Some MPEG audio and video file types include MP4V, MP4, XVID, M4V, F4V, AAC, MP1, MP2, MP3, MPG2, M1V, M1A, M2A, MPA, MPV, M4A, and M4B.

If you follow those links, you can see that M4V files, for example, are MPEG-4 Video files, meaning they belong to the MPEG-4 compression standard.

They don't use the MPEG file extension because they have a specific use with Apple products and are therefore more easily identified with the M4V file extension, and can open with programs that are assigned to use that specific suffix. They are, however, still MPEG files.

Still Can't Open Your File?

It can get pretty confusing when you're dealing with audio and video file codecs and their corresponding file extensions. If your file doesn't open with the suggestions from above, it's possible that you're misreading the file extension or not fully understanding what kind of MPEG file you're dealing with.

Let's use the M4V example again. If you're trying to convert or open an MPEG video file that you've downloaded through the iTunes Store, it probably uses the M4V file extension. At first look, you could say that you're trying to open an MPEG video file, because that's true, but it's also true that the particular MPEG video file you have is a protected video that can only be opened if your computer is authorized to play the file.

However, to say that you have just a generic MPEG video file that you need to open, doesn't necessarily mean much. It could be M4V, as we've seen, or it could be something entirely different, like an MP4, which doesn't have the same playback protection as M4V files.

The point here is to pay close attention to what the file extension says. If it's an MP4, then treat it as such and use an MP4 player, but just make sure you do the same for anything else you may have, whether it's an MPEG audio or video file.

Something else to consider if your file doesn't open with a multimedia player, is that you've misread the file extension and instead have a file that just looks like an MPEG file. Check that the file extension reads as a video or audio file, or actually uses the MPEG or MPG file extension, and not something spelled similarly like an MEG or MEGA file.