MediaInfo is a cross-platform tool that offers an extensive and often unique range of data and the ability to export file-based information for printing or further analysis. The Windows version is available in 23 different languages, including simple and traditional Chinese, and both Mac and Windows versions are free, though donations are gladly appreciated.

You can download the Windows version at, and the Mac version, which is produced by another developer but based upon Windows code libraries, at The Windows version is more feature-rich, supplying more file-related data, allowing you to open multiple instances, and offering multiple data views. Still, the Mac version is a great complement to QuickTime Pro for MOV files and also supports Windows Media and FLV files.

Both versions load via drag or drop or via traditional menu or button controls. In the Windows version, you have six different views, including text, HTML, and the Mac-style tree view. Click Debug > Advanced Mode in the windows version, and the program shows about three times the data, though most of the critical data is available in the Basic view.

The Mac version of MediaInfo is only able to export a simple text file while the Windows version can output CSV, HMTL, text, and custom formats. The Windows version can also analyze all files in a folder, either collecting reports in a single file or assembling multiple files into a single report. The Windows version also has a Your Systems view that shows all audio and video codecs installed on your system.

For all files, both MediaInfo versions show the resolution, data rate, and QF calculation, which, as with GSpot, is the bits per pixel per frame, again a convenient way to compare data rates for files produced to different output resolutions. The program calculates total bitrate and presents it correctly, but appears to use the video bitrate from the file header, which is the target bitrate and often varies from the actual bitrate. The Windows version of MediaInfo displays the file creation date, but the Mac version doesn’t.

Figure 10. The Windows version of MediaInfo provides lots of good and some unique information, like the Codec Settings (CABAC)

For WMV files, the Windows version of MediaInfo shows whether the file was produced using VBR or CBR techniques, a nice data point if you like to experiment. However, the tool doesn’t identify multiple bitrate files, or the WMFSDK version.

Both Mac and Windows versions can analyze Flash files, identifying codec, resolution, and similar parameters, but little else. For MOV files, MediaInfo for Windows is the only program I found that identified whether the file was encoded with CABAC or CAVLC, which is a commonly exposed encoding parameter, but doesn’t show the B-frame interval, which would have been useful information to have. Like Semaphore, MediaInfo also provides no information about whether the file is hinted for streaming, or whether it was produced with the Fast Start option.

Though the Mac version is less full-featured than the Windows version, it’s the only option I found for analyzing a broad spectrum of files on the Mac, making it a natural for most producers who stray beyond MOV and H.264 files. The tool also reveals enough unique file characteristics on Windows—like VBR/CBR for Windows Media files and CABAC/CAVLC for H.264—to make it valuable for most Windows producers.

Comments (4)

Said this on 12-9-2010 At 02:23 am

Wonderful blog post, I have book marked this site so with any luck , I'll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

Jan Ozer
Said this on 12-11-2010 At 10:10 am
Glad that you found it useful; thanks for stopping by and taking time to write.

Said this on 9-7-2011 At 07:10 pm

Very informative article. I was excited to find it and read your reviews, and am eager to try the various applications you tested. Only to find that Inlet was absorbed into Cisco and I can't find mention of the Semapore application anywhere. I was wondering if you know where I still might be able to find a copy of this?

Thanks for the great work.


Jan Ozer
Said this on 9-7-2011 At 10:11 pm
Thanks. Semaphore has been taken off the market and is now only sold as part of Armada, or whatever Cisco is calling that product.

Check out this tutorial for a look at Bitrate Viewer, which gives you a visual look at the data rate of the file.

Thanks for the kind words.


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