In today’s world of internet and downloadable content we all have some need for file conversion, be it music or video or even documents. We also all love free when we can possibly get it. There are a number of free video converters available and even some web apps that can handle the task, though for file sizes equal to TV shows and movies those services become useless.
FreeMake has what I consider perhaps one of the best and most comprehensive solutions on the market, plus it has that wonderful price tag of zero.
The Gold Package
Let us get this out of the way first. The Gold Pack provides additional options for burning DVDs using the program, with additional DVD menu styles and an option to set any picture the user likes as the background image for the DVD itself. Sounds great right?
The add-on comes with several strings attached, however. First up, users must agree to set the Freemake customized search as their default provider, plus they must change their homepage to the customized search tool. Clicking on Install appears to have no effect, but simply enables features already installed, but that were disabled by default.
The likelihood you want this, despite the extra features, is probably slim, but I put it out there so you will know your options and what price those options come at.
You will notice in the screenshot above that there are a number of options to choose from. We are not converting an audio file, so that button at the top will not be relevant to this.
That leaves video and DVD. The DVD option can cover both actual physical discs as well as those, like my movie collection, which have been ripped into ISO format. That will require a mounting program such as Daemon Tools or (my favorite) Virtual Clone Drive. If you are using Windows 8 then you will not need third-party software — the new Microsoft operating system has it built right in.
However, in this walk-through we are going to convert a standard video file — in this case an AVI — to a different format, so we will not need to mount a DVD or ISO, though the process for conversion is the same.
Convert a Video
Click the Video button along the top of the screen and browse to the file that you wish to convert. Once you have chosen your file then click “open” and wait for it to upload.
Once it is loaded, which should only take a few seconds, you can begin setting up your conversion options, and the menu items across the bottom of the screen is where we shall begin.
Here, you need to choose what you want the output to be. There are a number of choices, including the following:
- Apple (convert to a compatible format for your iOS device — iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch)
- MP3 (audio only)
In my case I want to make the file easily work in Plex on my Google TV box, which means I would like to make it either an MKV (not an option) or an MP4. That means we are going MP4 here, so let’s click that button at the bottom of the screen.
You will note in the pop-up box that the container in this case is H.264 AAC. That is not entirely relevant to the conversion, but nice to know none-the-less. More importantly, you will notice an option for where you wish to save the file. Pick a location that you will remember — I find it best to create a dedicated folder for these output files. You can then move the completed file over to wherever your media is stored.
At this point, it is just a matter of hitting the convert button and waiting. I recommend walking away — get dinner, go the store. The program works great but it does not work quickly.
Options can be found under the file menu. There are several tabs across the top of the options screen that you can move through, but most contain only a few items each.
General, for instance, has only two items — both involve the ability to hide videos that…ah…well, let’s just say videos you may not want your friends and family to see.
Acceleration gives you the option to enable NVIDIA Cuda or DXVA if your graphics card happens to support either of these architectures.
Connection is simply Proxy settings, in case you happen to use one.
Accounts allows you to add online sharing services for your videos, such as YouTube, Facebook and several others. You can then do direct uploads of your completed videos.
Finally, there is the Languages tab. As the name suggests, this provides the user with options to view all information in a tongue of choice, and there are quite a view that are available as options.
While this is only some of what this great free app can do, it is likely the biggest reason that most people install it. Video conversion is something that an increasing number of people have a need for these days, with more and more media finding its way to the internet and leaving traditional TV.
Over the years I have tried out an untold number of video conversion programs, but Freemake is the one I have been sticking with for the past couple of years. It is not the fastest, but its free, works well and has all of the options that I require — which honestly, is not all that many.