Captivate 5: Saving to a YouTube file format

April 6, 2011

I was always under the impression that later versions of Adobe Captivate could publish to a format suitable for uploading to YouTube. It seems that Captivate 4 could save as *.AVI, but that option is not available in Captivate 5 (why on earth would Adobe *remove* features??). (Update June 2011: It seems the newly released Captivate 5.5 will save to formats acceptable to YouTube. This is a paid upgrade [some US$150] for Captivate 5 owners.)

And how do I know this? Because I just spent a couple of hours searching Adobe’s Help, Forums, the internet etc. and testing possible solutions to find out that publishing a Captivate file to a format suitable for YouTube is possible, but it’s a bit obscure and requires the use of another program. It’s also not documented in the Help (a search of the Help for YouTube gave no results).

Captivate 5 will publish to *.F4V format and YouTube will accept those files, BUT… and it’s a big BUT… the files created are BIG. My tiny test file had one image, three 3-second slides with minimal text, and no audio, yet publishing it to *.F4V created a file that was almost 12 MB. Not very helpful or useful — files that size just clog the ‘intertubes’. Oh, and when uploaded, the resulting video on YouTube was a bit fuzzy. By the way, in case it matters, this test file was set to 800 x 600 pixels with a default slide time of three seconds.

After some more internet searching, I discovered that there’s an Adobe product — Adobe Media Encoder — that’s automatically installed when you install Captivate 5. Who knew? And this program was able to reduce the file size dramatically as well as reduce the fuzziness I had in the F4V file. Initially, I couldn’t figure out how to change the default conversion output of one second per slide (my little project lasted for three very quick seconds on YouTube!), but after reading this article — http://blogs.adobe.com/captivate/2010/11/f4v-or-f4v-fixed-frame-rate-what-should-i-go-with.html — I got it working so that the output timing reflected the timeline of my Captivate project. 

Here’s how to get a Captivate project into a small file format suitable for YouTube:

  1. Publish your Captivate project to *.F4V format (on the Publish window, select Media then the F4V with fixed frame rate file type). The F4V with fixed frame rate preserves your timeline.
  2. In your Programs list, find Adobe Media Encoder CS5 and open it.
  3. Drag the *.F4V file you just created onto the workspace on the Media Encoder window.
  4. By default, Media Encoder sets the Preset (output) to the same Format as the original, and adds a number to the new file that will be created. You can change any of these settings.
  5. After experimenting with different combinations of Format and Preset options, I settled on H.264 and YouTube SD. The output file from this combination is *.MP4, and the file size is acceptable.
  6. Click Start Queue. When the conversion has finished, a green tick is added to the Status column in the Media Encoder window.
  7. Check the resulting file — its size should have reduced dramatically. As you see from the screen shot below, my 3-slide file went from around 12 MB to around 1 MB.
  8. If you don’t have any software on your computer to play the file, upload it to YouTube, set it to Private or Unlisted and check the resulting quality there. Of course, you’ll need a YouTube account!

[Links last checked April 2011]


  1. Thanks for your article and instructions. I ran into this issue and ended up using Aunsoft Video Converter to convert F4V files into a variety of other video formats. The Adobe Media Converter defeated me – I find the Aunsoft product easier to use. I will try out the Adobe converter now though thanks to you.

  2. WOW !!!!

    It’s SO EASY when you have explained it so well. Thanks – you saved me days of research on my own.

    I would HIGHLY recommend this tut.


  3. this saved me so much time and no required third party apps


  4. Thank you! I was using SoThink SWF to Video Converter, but this process makes my videos YouTube-compatible and the picture quality is MUCH sharper. Thanks for taking the time to dig up this solution.


  5. Many thanks. This was a super time saver and such a clear tutorial. I would have been poking around for hours without it!

  6. Thanks so much for this article. Unfortunately, I still had the “fuzziness” in my output after following the steps. Any suggestions on how to fix this issue?

  7. this works, but for some reason I’m having audio synch issues. anyone else experience this?

  8. Thank you soooo much! Saved me a ton of time trying to fig this out!

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