It’s no secret that the best video editing software has made it easier to become a movie-maker. android app development software Simply install a tool on your laptop or smartphone, and you’ve instantly got the means to splice together footage.
What’s more, these tools have leveled the playing field. Anyone – no matter what their experience or budget is, or what kind of equipment they have – has the ability to make eye-catching videos. And the tools that are on offer these days are getting better all the time, offering functions and features that wouldn’t have been possible only a few years ago.
However, with the sheer amount of video editing software out there, it can be difficult to choose what the best video editing software is for your needs – and that’s where we come in.
In this buying guide, we’ve rounded up a selection of today’s very best video editors. These tools make cutting, editing and perfecting really simple. The software we’ve picked out won’t break the bank, but if you’re really short on cash (or aren’t ready to commit to a paid option just yet), lower down the page you’ll find our list of the best free video editing software.
We’ve made sure that this guide to the best video editing software contains choices for all kinds of people, from budding moviemakers just starting out, to professional editors who want to make their work really stand out. It doesn’t matter if you’re using one of the best laptops for video editing or another device, we’ve picked the best options to suit you. You’ll find the best video editing software for Windows PCs, Mac and Android machines. There are also brilliant choices for beginners and experienced video editors alike.
The best video editing software: Paid-for
- Pinnacle Studio 22
An easy-to-use video editor if you’re starting out
Platform: Windows | Key features: Multi-camera capture and editing, color controls, stop motion animation | Free trial: 30-day (money-back guarantee) | Best for Beginners
Super-simple to use
May be too basic for some
Going for Pinnacle Studio 22 is well worth considering if you’ve never edited video before and want to delve in for the first time. The pricing is below the average of those above and you can always bail out if you find within the first 30 days that it’s just not for you.
But honestly, we’d be surprised if you need to. For in the region of $60/£60, you get more than 1,500 effects, titles, and templates, 6-track HD video editing, handy coloring tools, a dedicated stop motion feature, time remapping and much more. And most features are an absolute doddle to use. So it feels like a genuine step up from free options, without splashing stupid money.
Of course, it doesn’t have the full suite of features that some others in this list offer, that’s not what Studio 22 is all about. And if you try and like the Pinnacle interface and tools, you can always upgrade to one of the company’s more comprehensive packages.
The best free video editing software
Amazingly, some of the best free video editing software is almost the same as that used by professionals working on big-budget Hollywood productions. In most cases, there’s a paid-for version with more features, but the free versions we’re going to show you have the majority of the functionality intact. In the case of Lightworks, for example, the main restriction is the output format, but VSDC and the amazing DaVinci Resolve let you export your creations in a wide range of formats.
The range and power of the features available in these free video editing software tools is remarkable; if you have the talent there’s nothing to stop you putting together a technically accomplished production.
If your needs are simpler and you just want easy-to-use software that sits between Windows Movie Maker and a top-end professional package, then there’s a free video software download for you here.
- DaVinci Resolve
Professional-quality color correction and audio mastering
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux | Key features: Great color-correction, Fairlight audio tools, compatible with Fairlight consoles, multi-user collaboration | Good for Specialised color and audio editing
Exceptional color correction
Powerful audio post-production
Good for collaborative working
More suited to finishing footage
DaVinci Resolve is a free video editing tool used on big-budget film and TV productions. It was especially powerful for color correction and audio capabilities, so if those are priorities then this could be the software for you.
As well as traditional color features such as curve editors and primary color wheels, there’s also facial recognition and tracking, so you can adjust skin tones, eye, and lip color. For audio, DaVinci Resolve uses Fairlight, a suite of high-end editing tools that enable you to mix and master up to 1,000 channels.
It’s amazing that this software is available with nearly all the features present in the free version. If you’re looking for the best free video editing software for Windows or Mac, this could be it.
A Hollywood-grade editor with only a few restrictions
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X | Key features: Almost any format imported natively; outputs directly to YouTube/Vimeo; Multicam editing; project sharing for groups | Good for Slick-looking films
A good set of tutorial videos
Restricted format output
Challenging to master
Lightworks is another professional video editing suite that’s been used on major Hollywood productions including Shutter Island, Pulp Fiction, 28 Days Later, The Wolf of Wall Street and Mission Impossible. So it’s exciting that there’s a free version that makes it accessible to everyone.
Amazingly, in the free version, you get nearly all the features. The main restriction for the free license version is the output formats – you can only export a web-compatible file at 720p. If you want to export a few projects into a different format fairly cheaply, you can buy a one-month license for $24.99/£14.99.
Lightworks is undoubtedly some of the best free video editing software for Windows 10. The superbly designed timeline enables a high degree of control, so you can trim and mix together your audio and video clips exactly how you want them. It’s a powerful piece of kit for a freebie, handling video capture and advanced editing with ease.
On the down-side, because it’s a slimmed-down version of a professional suite, you may find that the interface isn’t the easiest to navigate. But there are plenty of good tutorial videos to help you get you up and running – and you won’t have to pay a penny, as long as your projects are non-commercial.
Add special effects and text that will output in a range of formats
Platform: Windows | Key features: Supports a wide range of file formats, built-in DVD burner, chart tool, video stabilizer | Good for Presentations
Plenty of special effects
Large range of output formats
Works well with GoPro footage
More suited to presentations
If you’re making a presentation and want to add text, lines, charts and other special effects to it, VSDC is the free video editor for you. It includes Instagram-style filters, lots of special effects including colour correction and blurring, and there’s a mask tool so you can apply effects to part of the video (for obscuring faces, for example). There’s also a video stabilizer to help remove camera shake from footage taken with GoPros or drones, and a powerful chart tool for adding graphs to presentations.
The free version of VSDC will export to a range of different formats including AVI and MPG. If you’re unsure about formats, you can even tailor the output so that it works well on particular devices for playback. It supports most video formats, so you shouldn’t have any trouble importing your clips, and there’s a built-in DVD burner.
The best video editing software: Free
- Hitfilm Express
A powerful editor with add-ons to suit your needs
Platform: Windows, Mac | Key features: Over 180 visual effects; 2D and 3D effects compositing; MP4 H.264 export; a good range of import formats
Great community and training
Tricky download process
Powerful computer required
No list of the best free video editors would be complete without a mention of Hitfilm Express. It’s capable of producing feature films or music videos with 3D effects, but it’s also good for making videos for YouTube, as direct uploading is built in.
The free version of Hitfilm Express contains everything you need to make a professional-quality production, but in some cases, you’ll benefit from expanding its capabilities by purchasing some of the add-on features. Add-on packs start from around $7/£6, so you can pay for only the features you need and tailor the software to your needs for a reasonable price.
This superb free tool offers powerful editing
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac | Key features: Support for a wide range of formats; comprehensive video and audio editing; supports 4K resolutions; uses FFmpeg | Good for Basic video editing
Lots of filters and effects
Customizable, intuitive interface
Great file format support
No good for more advanced projects
Shotcut is the tool for you if you’ve outgrown Movie Maker and want to go to the next level, but don’t need the complexity of some of the other packages on this list. Its interface is uncomplicated and approachable, and you can even customize it to match your needs via dockable and undockable panels. It supports a huge range of formats,so you’re unlikely to run into trouble in that department. Finally, there’s a rich assortment of filters and quite advanced special effects that are easy to manage and apply. This is one of the best free video editors that will do anything you’d need for the majority of projects.
- Apple iMovie
A Mac classic
Platform: Mac | Key features: Supports 4K resolutions; effects and filters | Good for Basic video editing
Easy to make something polished
Great for audio
Already on your computer
We couldn’t really end this list without at least a mention of Apple iMovie, the classic free video editing software for Mac. If you’re a Mac owner, the program should already be pre-loaded on to your machine. But if you’re an editing amateur, it shouldn’t be overlooked – bloatware, this is not.
So what results can Apple iMovie achieve? Well, ‘results’ is the right word, as the finish and sheen you get from an iMovie-made video are much better than you’d expect from a freebie. It’s really easy to make your footage sing and you’ll be surprised how quick and straightforward it is to knock together a polished-looking (and sounding) edit.
If your laptop of choice is a recent MacBook Pro, then this is one of the programs that has fully functioning Touch Bar support. Although we’d like to see support for 360-degree video and multi-cam editing added to future iterations.
The mobile sensation may be just what you’re looking for
Platform: Android, iOS | Key features: Simple sharing, customized videos | Free trial: Free app | Best for Social media users
Perfect for social media lovers
Not really a full video editor
Only suitable for short videos
OK, so we know that this is a bit of a wildcard and of no interest to serious video editors. But you can’t really ignore the world’s 4th most downloaded app of 2018. And depending on what you’re planning, TikTok might just be what you’re looking for.
The elevator pitch for TikTok is that it’s a cross between Snapchat and the dearly departed Vine. That is to say that it allows you to make short, social media sharing sized videos that can be personalized and customized. Starting life as a lip-syncing app, it’s used by singers, comedians, YouTube stars and, most commonly, Chinese teenagers. It’s a confusing tool to get your head around, but our guide to the app should clear up all your questions.
Again, you won’t be creating the next Citizen Kane with TikTok, but the app’s free on both iOS and Android so you can download it now to see what all the fuss is about.
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