Export Videos in DaVinci Resolve 18 (The Definitive Guide)

This is a complete guide on how to export videos in DaVinci Resolve 18.

Here is what we will cover:

Quick Guide:

To export a video in DaVinci Resolve, go to the “Deliver” page and open the “Render Settings” tab. Then, select “Custom Export,” give a “File Name,” and set the export location. Lastly, click on “Add to Render Queue” and then click on “Render All” in the “Render Queue” tab.

First, a little overview of the “Deliver” page’s layout:

Deliver Page Layout

DaVinci Resolve has a dedicated page for exporting your project called the “Deliver” page.

To access it, click on the rocket ship found in the bottom menu of Resolve:

deliver page

The Deliver Page is divided into four main sections:

  • Render Settings
  • Timeline
  • Timeline Viewer
  • Render Queue
Deliver page layout overview

1.1 Render Settings

The “Render Settings” tab is the mothership of exporting videos.

This is where you set all the export settings, determining how your video ends up looking.

1.2 Timeline

If you have been using the “Edit” page, you can see that it looks very much like the “Deliver” page.

Especially the timeline and the “Timeline Viewer”; however, you can’t edit this timeline, unfortunately (that would be awesome, though!).

What’s great about this timeline is that you can see the playhead (time marker) moving as you render, marking what’s currently being encoded. Therefore, if you run into any issues, you know which clip is causing the problem!

1.3 Timeline Viewer

Just like the timeline viewer on the other pages of Resolve: (without the editing features)

It shows a real-time playback of what’s currently being rendered/encoded.

1.4 Render Queue

This is where your project appears before you start the encoding process after applying the render settings.

It’s called a queue because you can render multiple versions of your project simultaneously; this can be handy in many instances.

How to Export a Video in DaVinci Resolve

Now that you understand how the “Deliver” page is laid out, it’s time to start exporting!

Head to the “Deliver” page, and open the “Render Settings” tab.

We’re now going to export a basic MP4 file in 1080p to understand how this works.

To learn more about the different render settings, you can skip to that part here.

render settings
Illustration image of what we are going to talk about.

First, choose “Custom Export”; this allows us to adjust the settings however we want.

Suppose you are going to upload to YouTube and don’t want to worry about the settings. There is an own YouTube preset you can use.

custom export

Next, set the “File Name” and click on “Browse” to set the export location.

Also, make sure that the “Single clip” is selected. 

The “Individual clips” would export all the clips in the timeline as their own video…

file name and location

Now we are getting to the good stuff!

Open the “Video” sub-tab:

video tab

Next, check off the box next to “Export Video”; if not checked off, you would only export your project’s audio.

Set “Format” against “MP4”, which is the world’s most supported format/container. You can’t go wrong with that one. 

Here’s an article on the best render settings for MP4 files.

Next, set “Codec” against “H.264” (the best one for social media).

If you feel lost when choosing codec, format, etc. You’ll learn which to choose later in this article; click here to skip ahead.

Set the “Resolution” and “Frame Rate” to the same as your timeline. Press the keyboard shortcut “Shift + 9” to find the timeline settings (watch the following image for illustration).

video settings

Click on “File” (top left-hand corner) > “Project Settings”> “Master Settings,” and you should be able to see the “Timeline resolution” and the “Timeline frame rate.” 

Set the “Resolution” and “Frame rate” in the “Render Settings” tab to match those:

project settings

Next, open the “Audio” sub-tab, and make sure that the box next to “Export Audio” is checked. Also, make sure that the “Output Track 1” is set to “Bus 1”:

audio settings

Head back to the “Video” sub-tab, and locate the “Quality” options.

This is what controls the bitrate of your video; I’ll explain its function in more detail later in the article here.

If you don’t want to worry about it, and have a good internet connection, set it against “Best.”

I will explain the “Encoding Profile” and “Key Frames” later in the article; leave them on auto for now. Automatic is more than enough if you don’t have any particular preferences.

bitrate setting

Now move your focus to the timeline, and locate the drop-down menu next to “Render.” Make sure it’s set to “Entire Timeline” if not, you will suddenly be missing a part of your video.

TIP: You can zoom in and out of the timeline using the plus and minus icons or drag the slider to either side (watch the image below):

render entire timeline

Now it’s the time!

It’s time to click on the “Add to Render Queue” button, as we are finished in the “Render Settings”:

add to render queue

Once you have done that, you should see your project in the “Render Queue” tab on the right-hand side of the “Deliver” page.

If it’s the first project you have added to the queue, it’s called “Job 1”. If it’s the second time you click the button, it’s called “Job 2” and so on.

To adjust the size of the “Render Queue” tab, you can click on the downward pointing arrow in the right-hand corner (watch the image below).

To start rendering/encoding your video, click on “Render All”:

render queue explained

Then, you’ll have to wait.

The render time depends on the size of your project. If you want a smaller file size, skip to that part here.

Once it’s finished, you can right-click the job in the “Render Queue” and click on “Open File Location” to view your exported video.

render queue finished

Check out this complete DaVinci Resolve tutorial, covering all the basic skills you should know.

What Format Should I Export from DaVinci Resolve?

DaVinci Resolve has a BUNCH of different formats to choose from, and they all have their place in the post-production world. But that does not mean you have to learn about every single one.

Instead, I would figure out which is suitable for your purpose and then focus on learning about those. If not, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with information.

The best overall format to export from Resolve is QuickTime. It’s a widely supported container format that supports lossy and lossless codecs, making the possibilities endless. However, all formats have their advantages and preferred use cases.

As stated above, this is based on flexibility, where QuickTime rules in Resolve’s render settings.

Three questions to ask yourself when choosing a format:

  1. Is the video finished and going to be uploaded to any social media?
    1. If yes, choose MP4 or MOV.
  2. Is the video going to be processed further?
    1. If yes, choose a format with support for intermediate codecs.
  3. Does your client ask for any specific format?
    1. If so, choose that one.

The Render Settings: All you need to know

The render settings in Resolve (or any other NLE) can be confusing when first starting. Therefore, I’ve written complete guides on how to export the most popular formats correctly. Click on the links to read them:

We will focus on the render settings for the H.264 and H.265 codecs, final codecs, and what most people want.

I will explain what everything inside the “Render Settings” tab means:


You have many different presets to choose from, for example, the one for YouTube.

However, I’m going to choose “Custom Export” as I will explain what everything means to you:

custom export

Format and Codec

You have a bunch of formats and codecs to choose from; however, we will focus on the final codec’s render settings; H.264 and H.265.

To choose those codecs, you have to set “Format” against either “MP4” or “QuickTime.”

Both formats are widely supported; however, the MP4 format is more so than the QuickTime. 

Therefore, since I’m not sure what you will use your video for, I’d recommend going with the MP4. But since many of you reading this article will upload to social media, both codecs are likely to be supported; in that case, I recommend both…

Resolution and Frame rate

As mentioned earlier in the article, you want the resolution and frame rate in the render settings to match those you have used for the timeline (assuming the timeline is set correctly).

To find those settings, either press “Shift + 9“, or go to “File” > “Project Settings” > “Master Settings“:

project settings

To double-check that the timeline is set correctly, open the “Media Pool” on the “Edit” page inside Resolve. 

If you hover over the thumbnails of the clips, you should be able to see a square icon in the lower right-hand corner; click on it and check the “Resolution” and the “Frame Rate”:

how to check resolution of clip

How to Change Frame Rate if it’s Incorrect:

You can simply change the frame rate in the middle of a frame rate, as the option is locked.

Therefore, we will create a new timeline without changing anything else in the project (really easy to do).

Right-click “Timeline 1” in the “Media Pool” and select “Create New Timeline Using Selected Clips”:

create new timeline

In the window that pops up, uncheck the box next to “Use Project Settings.”

Then, open the “Format” tab, and change the “Timeline Frame Rate” to match your clips.

Lastly, click on “Create”:

change frame rate

In the “Media Pool,” there will now be a “Timeline 2” (or whatever you called it); double-click it!

NB: all the clips in the timeline will be nested (all clips look like one). To un-nest them, right-click it and select “Decompose in Place”> “Using Clips Only.”

showing new timeline


The bitrate controls the quality of your video. I got your attention now 😉

A short definition of what bitrate is:

Bitrate describes the amount of data encoded per second.

It’s usually measured in kilobits per second (Kb/s) or megabits per second (Mb/s).

  • In DaVinci Resolve, it’s in Kb/s.

The bitrate does not describe how fast your computer will encode per second but how much data it encodes into each second of a video.

More data=Better quality until the video has reached its limit.

So what’s the drawback?

  • Bigger files.
  • Longer encoding (render) time.
  • People with low internet speed may not be able to watch it in full quality.
    • Those uploading to YouTube don’t have to worry about that.
  • Longer upload & download time.

Enough theory!

Now, what’s the best bitrate for you to choose in DaVinci Resolve?

Depending on your needs, you can control the bitrate in two ways:

You can either adjust it using the “Automatic” option or set it manually using the “Restrict to.”

Let’s start with the “Automatic” option. 

Inside the drop-down menu, there are five options:

  • Least
    • Encodes the least amount of data per second.
  • Low
    • A little more data.
  • Medium
  • High
  • Best
    • It gives the highest bitrate and the best quality out of them if the video needs the data.
bitrate automatic setting

The second way is to adjust the bitrate manually. This is done by increasing the value next to “Restrict to.”

If you set it to 10,000 Kb/s, that’s 10,000 kilobits of data per second in your video.

So if your video is 10 seconds, the file size will be 10*10,000=100,000 Kb. Which is 12,500 KB=12,5 MB file.

  • Remember that 1 kilobyte (KB) = 8 kilobits (Kb).

(More information is below the image)

manual restriction setting bitrate

To prove my math is correct, I rendered out a 10 seconds video restricted to 10,000 Kb/s from Resolve (check out the image below).

The bitrate will never be exactly on point, but it will get close.

For more information on how to reduce the file size, you can skip to that part here.

bitrate example

How to Decide Bitrate?

This is not a one-answer question, unfortunately.

What bitrate to use will vary, depending on your file.

For example: 

If you are editing an MP4 file that’s already compressed with a low bitrate, you most likely won’t benefit from exporting it with a high bitrate as you would with a less compressed file. Assuming both are going to be exported using the MP4 container.

If you don’t follow along, no worries! I will give a couple more examples.

I imported a 5 seconds 4k clip to DaVinci Resolve; 15 MB.

Then exported it from Resolve using all the different options in the “Automatic” bitrate menu. 

Here are the results:

Bitrate test

As you can see in the image above, there was no point in exporting any higher than the “Least” option, as I didn’t need those extra bits anyway.

Then, I did another test, and the result was completely different:

As you can see in the image below, this time choosing the “Best” option was the correct choice. 

If I had chosen “High,” the video would end up with fewer bits than the original file.

  • Sometimes the quality might not suffer from lowering the bitrate. As maybe it’s encoding with too many bits in the first place.
    • The best thing to do is play the video afterward and check for any artifacts.
another bitrate test

Important: If you apply any effects, a video will need extra data/bits.

For the best bitrate to use for YouTube, you can skip to that part here. That’s a whole other story…

Encoding Profile

Encoding profiles are different types of compressions applied to the video.

The most famous ones are: 

  • Baseline
  • Main
  • High

And that’s also the ones you find in Resolve.

The idea with profiles is that by using a more advanced compression method, you can produce higher quality videos with the same bitrate.

So, if you choose “High,” you would get better quality than using “Base.”

encoding profiles in resolve

Which one to choose:

  • Auto
    • This is the option most people recommend, and you’ll rarely run into problems using it.
  • Base
    • Less advanced compression and easier to decode.
    • Most devices should be able to decode this one.
      • The best profile if you will play the video on any older mobile phones etc.
      • Good profile if the audience is unknown.
    • Does not support B-frames.
      • Those frames save a lot of space.
  • Main
    • More advanced than the base profile and gives better quality for its file size.
    • Choose this one if you know the audience has more modern devices.
  • High
    • The most advanced compression out of the three; gives the best quality.
    • Not supported by all devices.
    • Perfect for storing files long-term (better quality per file size).
    • Platforms like YouTube and Instagram prefer this profile.

Key Frames

This option saves tons of space and is the technology lossy compression codecs are based upon, called interframe compression.

Here’s a brief explanation: (Click here to jump straight to the practical information).

A video without any compression is simply a bunch of normal images like PNG or JPEG shot in a sequence and forming a video. 

However, a single PNG image can easily be 2 MB in size. So, if you shot a video in 30 frames per second, that would make 1 second of video 60 MB, and one minute 3.6 GB… You can download an average movie with the same file size.

BUT, how do the movies do it then?

I’m glad you asked. 

Instead of showing 6 PNGs in a row, they show 1 PNG (usually a compressed image format) followed by a couple of hundred delta frames. 

The delta frames are genius as they only contain the information changing from one image to another. 

Imagine a person standing against a wall talking; it would then be mostly the face and upper body that will change from one frame to another. S

Therefore, instead of showing the wall and the feet in every single frame, the delta frames only contain information about what’s changing i.e. saving TONS OF SPACE.

What does the “Key Frame” Option in Resolve mean:

The value next to “Key Frame” means how many delta frames before a new key frame (I-frame or “PNG”) is created.

Leaving this on “Automatic” is the best thing to do if no other instructions are given. 

keyframe automatic

Frame reordering

frame reordering

According to the DaVinci Resolve 18 user manual, this option only applies to the QuickTime format using H.264. 

As you can see in the image below, it enables the encoding of B frames, which are delta frames used in inter-frame compression. I recommend just keeping it enabled, even if you are exporting to MP4.

frame reordering from the manual
Source: Black Magic Design’s DaVinci Resolve user manual

Audio Settings

Click on “Audio” in the “Render Settings” tab to access these audio settings.

If you are exporting your video in an MP4 container, you can’t choose anything other than AAC, which is an excellent audio codec. However, something is stopping us from setting the bitrate higher than 192 Kb/s in Resolve, which can be pretty annoying.

Therefore, when exporting in QuickTime, I usually choose the “Linear PCM,” which is a lossless audio codec, giving us the best possible audio.

Audio settings

Best Export Settings for YouTube in DaVinci Resolve

Many of you who are reading this article will probably upload your video to YouTube. So I thought it was only fair to include some export recommendations for YouTube videos too!

The best export settings for YouTube in DaVinci Resolve, according to research, is setting the “Format” against “QuickTime” and “Codec” against “H.265”. The “Resolution” should be set to “3840×2160” even if the source footage is of a lower resolution. Lastly, the bitrate should be above 60 Mbps.

That’s the short version for those in a hurry!

However, read on if you want to know the reasoning behind those claims.

Why Videos Lose Quality on YouTube

If you’ve been uploading to YouTube, you know how a good-looking video can turn pretty ugly once uploaded to the platform.

This is because YouTube re-encodes every video you upload to ensure all videos on their platform follow the same settings. It’s a good thing that makes it possible to watch videos in multiple resolutions etc. However, it can be pretty frustrating for us creators!

No matter what format, container, or codec you choose to export from Resolve, it will get re-encoded by YouTube.

However, this does not mean there is nothing you can do! Many people have been testing different render settings to get the best quality on YouTube, and there are some slight differences.

They’re not huge, but it’s a difference if you want the best possible quality. The research I was referring to above is done by Casey Farris, and he found that some codecs gave better results than others.

Here’s the video where he shares his results; I will also explain them a bit further down below:

The High-Quality YouTube Video Formula:

  • Set “Format” against “QuickTime“.
  • Set “Codec” against “H.265“.
  • Set “Resolution” to “3840×2160 Ultra HD“.
    • If your video is 1920×1080, it should be set to Ultra HD anyways!
      • Upscaled videos perform better on YouTube.
  • The “Frame rate” should match your source clips (here‘s how to do that).
  • Enable “Restrict to” under “Quality” and set it to twice the frame rate multiplied by 1000.
    • For example, if the “Frame rate” is 30:
      • 30*2*1000=60,000 Kb/s.
  • Change “Key Frames” from “Automatic” to “Every” and the value should be half the frame rate.
    • For example, if the “Frame rate” is 30, the “Key frame” should be “Every” 15 frames.
  • Make sure that “Frame reordering” is enabled.
  • Under the “Audio” sub-tab set “Codec” against “Linear PCM“.

DaVinci Resolve Won’t Export (Common Export Issues)

DaVinci Resolve: “Render Job Failed” Error Message

This is an error message most people will experience at some point if they use DaVinci Resolve a lot!

picture of render job failed both errors

Solutions reported to fix the issue:

  • Export rendered cache files.
  • Copy the timeline and create a new project.
  • Convert the videos to DNxHR.
  • Change workspace options.

Check out this article explaining the different solutions.

Gray “Add to Render Queue” Button: DaVinci Resolve

Another common problem people report is that their “Add to Render Queue” button is unreactive and “gray”.

Here how it looks like:

add to render queue button grey

Solutions to fix it:

  • Create a compound clip.
  • Create a new timeline.
  • Render project without video file.
  • Render the project with an invisible video file.

Check out this article explaining how to do this.

How to Export Smaller Files in DaVinci Resolve

Smaller file sizes will always come at the expense of some quality loss.

However, the quality loss might not always be apparent to the human eye. Depending on what you are going to use the video for, you can reduce the file size even more.

To reduce the file size when exporting from DaVinci Resolve, set the render “Format” against “QuickTime” or “MP4“, and the “Codec” against “H.265“. To reduce the file size even further decrease the “Quality” value.

The H.265 is known as a final codec, meaning when using it, the video should be finished.

You will lose a lot of details using final codecs, however, it’s not always apparent to the human eye. But it’s definitely noticeable if you are going to edit the video.

That’s because of the compression type which is not intended for editing.

Anyways, often times you can reduce the video even further before you start getting visual quality loss.

In DaVinci Resolve you can do this by lowering the “Quality” value, which controls the bitrate.

To illustrate this, I imported a 5-second 4k video to Resolve, and without editing it, exported it out using the different “Automatic” options in Resolve:

bitrate automatic setting

You can see in the image below that all the options gave me a higher bitrate than the original file… Be aware, that this varies from video to video.

  • Higher bitrate=bigger file size.

In this scenario, I could instead use the “Restrict to” option (manually set the bitrate) and lower the bitrate even further without experiencing any quality loss.

Conclusion: Test out how much you can lower the bitrate before noticing the quality loss.

(For YouTube videos a higher bitrate is preferred, I wrote about the best YouTube export settings above)

Bitrate test

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