How to Export in Premiere Pro: MP4, YouTube & HQ Settings

February 14, 2019 6 min read

Congratulations, you have finished editing your video project — now comes the process of exporting it to a finished movie. Adobe Premiere Pro has quite literally all of the formatting settings you could need to export your film.

The problem is that the vast number of options can be daunting to even the most experienced of editors, and most of it you will never need to use. In this tutorial, we will take you through the most popular Premiere Pro export options, including those used for YouTube, Vimeo, and native social media video formats.

Meet Export Setting H.264 – Your Best Friend

H.264 is the most popular export format within Adobe Premiere. Using this format, you will create a .mp4 for your finished film which is both high quality and (more importantly) a much smaller file size than other formats such as .mov.

While Premiere has a huge number of options, it has also created presets for nearly every online platform to which you might be uploading your video. These presets are labeled, and will instruct Premiere to export using the preferred setting of the platform in question. The presets save you from having to specify platform-specific parameters such as Bitrate and frame rate.

How to Export Your Project in H.264

1. The first thing you need to do is to select your project timeline, so it’s highlighted in a light blue square. If the timeline is not selected, you risk exporting a random clip from the browser.

Export in H.264

2. With your timeline highlighted, select File > Export Media. You can also bring up the exporter by pressing Command + M on your keyboard.

3. Within the export settings window, you can playback your film to make sure all scenes are included. As a default, Premiere will export your entire timeline, from the first to the last clip, but you can select just a portion of your timeline if you need to.

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You can do this before you bring up the media exporter by defining your work area within an out points in the timeline. Alternatively, you can do this within the media export itself.


4. On the right side of the Media Exporter panel, you will see all the settings available to you. For an H.264 export, locate the format drop down and select the relevant option.

Media Exporter Settings

5. Directly below the Format drop-down, you will see a Preset drop-down, which contains all possible platform-specific export options. 1080p is the standard HD setting for most platforms, so it is likely you will choose this alongside the intended destination, for example, ‘YouTube 1080p Full HD.’

6. Once you have selected your format and preset, you need to make sure you set the export destination and name. If you don’t, you might not be able to find the finished film once it has exported. Click on the Output name and set your movie title and saving location.

Choose Export Destination

Then, click on the Export button at the bottom of the Media Exporter to begin the process.

The Best Export Settings for Any Format

Selecting the right export setting is vital as different devices and platforms treat video in different ways. What might play best on YouTube won’t be the best format on Facebook.

Premiere has all the presets for social media platforms, so you don’t have to worry about remembering all of the settings. Choose H.264 as your format and select the required preset. This will give you the best settings for your destination in a .mp4 format.

premiere pro export

Exporting for Specific Social Media Aspect Ratios

Premiere Pro can export video with specific aspect ratios for social media. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can all accommodate square videos, while Snapchat uses Full Portrait video shapes. To do this, you will need set both your sequence and export to the correct size.

Setting the Sequence

You can do this before you begin editing or at any time during the process. Just remember that when you change the aspect ratio, you will be cropping the edges off a shot.

Select on your timeline to highlight it and bring up the Timeline settings by going to the Sequence Menu > Settings.

Sequence Settings

Change the editing mode to Custom and use the size setting in the chart below to decide which aspect ratio you need. Enter in the recommended size to the Video Settings section, and the aspect ratio will change accordingly.

Sequence Settings Display

When you come to export the preview will show your video with black bars either side. Select our old friend H.264 for a high-quality export, followed by the destination preset for the platform you are going to upload your piece to. In this example, we are exporting a square video for Facebook. In the summary text, the source section will remind you of the size you have set your sequence to. Within the Basic Video Setting section, click on the small link button to allow you to enter these sizes independently.

You might notice the preset changes to Custom; this is because you have customized the size of the video, all of the other setting (bitrate, frame rate, etc.) will remain the same as the original preset you chose — in this case, Facebook 1080p Full HD.

What The Heck is Adobe Media Encoder?

Media Encoder is a piece of Adobe software that allows you to queue up projects for bulk exports from both Premiere and After Effects. You can add multiple projects to Media Encoder, enabling you to export several projects at once. As Encoder does all the export work, Premiere is free for you to continue editing.

When you come to export your film, you might notice a ‘Queue’ button next to the Export button. If you select the Queue button, it will open Media Encoder and move your export there.

Once it has appeared in the Encoder list, you are free to carry on in Premiere. You can even open a new project or close Premiere altogether, and the Media Encoder retains the information needed to create your film. Then, click the green play button in the top right corner of Media Encoder to begin exporting everything in your list.

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There are a lot of formats and presets that you can export to in Adobe Premiere Pro. That said, 90% of them are only required for precise reasons, like using VR footage, creating GIFs, or publishing for BluRay content. If you are creating something that needs specific export settings like this, you should research the particular solution. For everything else, there is H.264, with a range of presets to simplify the process.

Remember, with exporting you can only get out what you put in, so exporting SD footage in HD won’t improve the quality of the original shot. Fortunately, HD is the standard so these settings can be relied on for the vast majority of your projects. It’s also important to properly render your project and we have step-by-step instructions on how to do that too.

Quick Reference Guide For Exporting Video

Finally, exporting video to various online platforms can be confusing to say the least. This is why we have created a quick reference guide to exporting video.

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We hope you have found this tutorial on how to export video in Adobe Premiere Pro helpful or offered a quick refresher on the highest quality settings for social media.

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