Updated: 11/12/2023 by Computer Hope
Illustration of a tree with multiple program icons.

Multimedia is any content represented in audio, video, animation, or graphics. For most users, multimedia is usually a more enjoyable and informative experience than content that is only text. For example, a Thesaurus in a multimedia format could have audio of famous speeches instead of only the transcription. Someone who listened to or watched Martin Luther King, Jr's speech "I have a dream" will likely have an easier time remembering the speech than someone who only read the speech.

Examples of multimedia

Below are different examples of content that is considered multimedia with additional context.

  • Animation - Elements of a presentation that are animated or provide an animated interactivity to the content. For example, the Computer Hope logo shown to the right is animated.
  • Audio - Audio, music, and sound files are also examples of multimedia that enhance content. For example, audiobooks use multimedia; these books are read to a listener in a more interesting way than only reading the text. As another example, below is a sound file demonstrating what a dial-up modem sounded like when connecting to another computer. The squealing noises heard are a lot easier to convey as an audio file than as text.

  • Graphics - Images, photos, charts, diagrams, screenshots, or other graphics are all examples of multimedia. For example, the hero image shown at the beginning of this page helps catch the visitor's eye.
  • Video - Movies and video clips of moving images help explain complex tasks by showing you someone else performing that task.

What is a multimedia file?

Computer files

A multimedia file can be any computer file that plays audio and video, audio only, or video only. Some popular multimedia files include the .mp3 audio file, .mp4, video, avi video, and wmv files.

What is multimedia software?

A multimedia program, multimedia application, or any multimedia software is software that plays or records and creates audio and video files. For example, in our earlier example of a multimedia thesaurus that plays audio of famous speeches, it is considered multimedia software.

Specialty software like animation software, CAD (computer-aided design), image editors, and video editing software are also examples of software to create multimedia content.

Where is multimedia used?

As computers become more prevalent and broadband becoming available around the world, multimedia is now found everywhere. Below are examples of different industries and how they use multimedia.


Most communication is a form of multimedia since it happens audibly. However, multimedia has helped enhance communication with services like Apple FaceTime, which lets you hear and see the person. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has allowed for calls to happen live between several people all around the world. Social media has also given everyone a platform to post their multimedia audio, pictures, and videos to share with friends and family.


As more people can watch videos online, it has also become a popular solution to learning new things. Schools use multimedia to make their classrooms and study material more engaging and interesting to students.


Video games, streaming video, and other forms of entertainment use multimedia as much as possible. Done correctly, multimedia elements can make all forms of entertainment more engaging and interesting for the viewer.


Advertising and marketing companies have also noticed that multimedia catches users' eyes and can also help increase sales. By creating audibly and visually appealing ads, these companies can give a better return on a company's or product marketing budget.


Finally, sciences use multimedia to help with creating simulations, showing medical images, and creating multimedia visualizations for research.

What is a multimedia computer?

For a computer to be a multimedia computer, it must meet the MPC standard, which today all computers with a sound card and video card meet.

Why isn't more multimedia used online?

Although most people enjoy multimedia content more than text-only content, it still isn't excursively used for the following reasons.


Tunnel or wormhole with data flowing in and out

Distributing rich multimedia content like a full video takes a lot of bandwidth for the host and the viewer. For the host providing the content, it's more expensive unless they're using a third-party host (e.g., YouTube) to host the content for them. As a viewer, it may take longer to view multimedia content with a slower connection and if they have a data cap, it may also cost them more.


Storing audio, pictures, and video takes more storage space than text. For example, if someone were to take this web page with less than 1,000 words into a high-quality 4K video, it could require 100 times more storage space.


Although some multimedia content is more accessible for some viewers, it can also be more of a burden for others. Screen readers are great for text but run into trouble with audio and video players.

Time, money, and skill

Creating a high-quality video with visual effects and editing can take a lot of time, especially if you're doing everything. Also, a lot of the more advanced software can be expensive and require a slightly more expensive computer. Finally, knowing how to use the software can take years of experience.

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