Looking for the best free video editing software out there? no problem. We review the latest options looking at ease of use, capabilities and settings.
The world of free editing software can be confusing, especially when you’re pushed for time.
Depending on your skills, some of the video editing programs below will be suitable for complete beginners. While others are more geared toward professionals. Brand loyalty, experience and are all factors that can affect your decision.
Also, your choice of computer is another important decision. Obviously, when you’re starting out, you’ll probably use whatever you have access to.
However, as you continue, even the decision between PC and Mac could affect the path of your video editing journey for years to come.
Obviously purchasing editing software shouldn’t be done lightly. So it’s reassuring to know there are plenty of free video editing software options out there. Here is our Top 7 Best Free Editing Software.
Best Free Desktop Editing Software
1. Microsoft Movie Maker 10 (PC)
Microsoft Movie Maker (MMM) is one of the easiest free editing software available for the PC. The programme allows you to quickly cut together clips with basic transitions, music and titles.
The only problem with exporting from MMM is that it can cause issues when working between PC and Mac. Its main codec is WMV, so watch out if you want to share your videos with Apple based users.
It’s important you understand video codec formats so you can ensure the finished video is viewable on all devices.
The argument between PC and Mac has always been competitively fierce. Professional video editors will spend hours researching their systems before purchasing. Once you learn a process, it is unlikely you will change.
MMM is excellent for beginners looking to learn general video editing skills, such as slideshows or vlogs. However, the program is somewhat limited, so it might not take long to find things it can’t do.
2. iMovie (Mac)
Having been around now for many years, iMovie is the essential free video editing software for Apple users
Anyone who has used iMovie will argue that it peaked with a particular release. However, one thing that is for sure, it’s still a go-to choice for many first-time video editors.
The only danger is with Apple’s constant tinkering, a simple update might change the interface, move features or get rid of them altogether. iMovie became a testing ground for Apple to trial new features for their flagship editing software.
To sum up, everything from short films to home movies is possible with the tools and features available. It’s a program every editor goes through and probably why they bought a Mac in the first place.
3. Lightworks (PC & Mac)
Used to edit award-winning films such as The Wolf Of Wall Street and The King’s Speech, industry standard software doesn’t often come cheap, let alone for free. This is precisely what is on offer with Lightworks free video editing software.
The free version offers a range of features, including real-time video effects and wide format import support.
The interface might be intimidating to start, with its technical tools and multiple track options, but its principle is the same as more basic programs and is customisable to your preferred window arrangement.
The depth of what’s on offer in the free version makes Lightworks ideal if you’re looking to go beyond simple home editing, up to a more professional level.
Indeed, it’s not alone in offering an insight into what goes on during post-production in Hollywood.
4. DaVinci Resolve (PC & Mac)
Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve is used by many professional video editors. Primarily for its powerful colour grading applications, but the software also offers essential editing functions.
Resolve is a more complex piece of free video editing software than programs like Windows movie maker or iMovie but is a great place to start before looking at paying for pro software such as Final Cut Pro or Premiere.
Resolve is capable of most professional editing requirements. However, if you want multi-cam editing, 3D capabilities and motion blur effects, you will need to upgrade to Davinci Resolve Studio at $299.
While DaVinci Resolve allows you to edit with professional tools, before purchasing the expensive upgrade, we strongly suggest you research other pro video editing software.
5. Blender (PC & Mac)
Blender is a fascinating piece of open source animation software for both the PC and Mac. It is a powerful and rich piece of free video editing software but not for your everyday tasks.
The software supports the entire 3D animation workflow – modelling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking – and can be used to create 3D animations or games.
It is unlikely you will stumble across the program and just pick it up, however, if your ultimate aim is to animate in 3D, this software is a great place to start.
There is also an online community of Blender users who offer assistance and tutorials to get you started.
Best Free Mobile Editing Software
There is also a free version of iMovie for iPhone and iPad. If you shoot a lot of video on your iOS device, iMovie is a fast and simple way to add some neat touches wherever you are. You can even use built-in themes for trailers to get audiences excited about your next short film.
iMovie allows you access to the photos and videos in your device’s gallery, but also directly from the built in camera. The ability to record directly into your timeline is an attractive option for quickly sharing videos from live events.
While iMovie for iOS is capable of some pretty complex video editing, remember that the more assets you add to a project, the more the chance of a mobile app struggling to keep up.
In addition, it will also drain your battery, so always be prepared if you want to start a project away from a power supply.
2. FilmoraGo (iOS and Android)
Wondershare is a Chinese software developer that produce a range of desktop and mobile applications. It’s more likely, however, that the name is familiar from their popular Video Converter product, which has saved many an editor from format change nightmares.
Their paid-for desktop Filmora program is an attempt to simplify the process of video editing, but it does have a pretty good mobile app option.
The free mobile version, FilmoraGo, provides numerous templates and thematic designs to add creative touches to videos while out and about quickly. Regular updates keep the style of titles and graphics up-to-date with current design trends and visual effects.
Also, filmora.io is a community platform that allows members to connect and share their creations with each other, with the potential for networking and collaboration.
Best Paid Video Editing Software
If you feel you’re already ready to take the step up to some more advanced video editing options, there are some really great value paid-for options out there. If you’re creating video for commercial purposes, in particular, it’s worth investing in the proper tools. These are currently the best three paid-for video editors out there:
1. Adobe Premiere Pro (Mac & PC)
Price: $19.99 per month
Perhaps the most significant winner in the FCP X fallout was Adobe. For years, Premiere was a rival that was possibly limited to those who relied on other Creative Suite products. In recent years, however, the opportunity has been ceased upon to expand its user-base to serious, professional video editors.
Premiere Pro has garnered a reputation for staying ahead of the curve in responding to emerging trends and technology in filmmaking, to which the industry responses positively.
With a workflow similar to how Final Cut used to be, many prefer the traditional non-linear approach still on offer in Premiere. The most prominent draw, however, is the integration with After Effects.
As the industry-standard in visual effects, motion graphics and even 2D animation, the direct compatibility between After Effects places Premiere as the default in many post-production processes.
Any familiarity with Photoshop or Illustrator will benefit usage of Premiere, but like its siblings, the language and interface can be somewhat esoteric at first.
As always, however, Adobe’s biggest downside is pricing. Subscriptions to Creative Cloud vary with the number of programs you want to use on your desired number of machines.
Investing in the suite should, of course, be balanced against the potential for financial gain from your creations. Many recruiters now require experience in Premiere in the film and video industry, including broadcast media.
If you’re looking to expand your employable skill set, there’s little wrong in becoming more familiar with Premiere Pro.
2. Wondershare Filmora (Mac & PC)
Price: $40 Annual Licence
Primarily, Filmora is aimed at personal users, creating video content for private use and social media content. With an emphasis on filters, visual effects and on-trend title design, it’s positioned itself as a fun, easy to use video editing software.
The pricing works on a subscription model, starting at $40 for a 1-year licence for one computer, whereas a full lifetime purchase is $60. If you want to access more than one machine or want to use the built-in library of music, audio effects and visual content for commercial purposes, you’ll require a lifetime business license, starting at $120. Volume options are also available for educational licenses.
If you’re new to video editing software, you’ll appreciate the clean, bright interface of Filmora. That is in stark contrast to the muted tones at the professional end of the scale. With immediate access to the most useful tools and logical placing of more advanced features, you can scale the complexity of your projects as your confidence grows. If you are used to more sophisticated programs, however, you’ll find specific aspects frustrating, but workarounds are possible with a little patience.
3. Final Cut Pro (Mac)
Price: $299 Annual Licence
Never before had the post-production community polarised itself, then the launch of Final Cut Pro X in 2011. For competitors, it was a land grab for disaffected editors, but for those who have stuck with FCP X, the rewards have been plentiful.
If you lean towards video editing for broadcast media, the chances are you’ll understand why so many left the once universally adored program for other suitors.
For those of us creating film and video for online audiences, the sheer speed at which you can work is what makes FCP X compelling. Once you buy into the reasoned workflow and magnetic timeline, working efficiently and fast becomes second nature.
The surrounding ecosystem of users creating content and plugins is another welcome feature. There’s a world of free and paid-for resources to expand your content libraries and capabilities, allowing you to try different things for different projects.
All professional-grade video editing software has advanced features which are potential decisions drivers. In particular, the ease of multicam work makes FCP X a must for projects combining footage from multiple sources. Syncing them via timecode, recording points or even audio is a process worth learning that soon becomes indispensable.
The price is also an attractive proposition, considering how much power and potential you get for the money. Professional filmmakers working on creative, commercial and corporate projects can likely justify the outlay, even just as an offline video editor.
5. Avid Media Composer (Mac & PC)
Price: $49.99 per month
Previously confined to the realms of broadcast news and television, Avid have recently started to use its experience and solid foundations to push its flagship video editing software to the mass market. You may even be surprised at the number of films and TV shows created with Media Composer, testimony to how their reputation is evolving.
At first glance, it’s possible to mistake the interface for the original Final Cut Pro, but therein lies its attraction to many editors.
Familiarity and ease of access to essential functions are paramount in an industry of deadlines, and once entrusted, Avid rarely lets users down.
The vast array of asset management solutions are too advanced for most people’s needs but are nevertheless impressive to behold in scale and power. Integration with Pro Tools is another reason many choose Media Composure.
As an industry standard in sound design, working seamlessly with your audio landscape and visuals becomes invaluable.
Getting the most out of Media Composer will require more hardware spend than any other of the programs in this article. For video editors looking to learn a real industry stalwart, though, Avid is an investment to consider, if you believe it can re-pay itself.
Well, that depends on your requirements! However whether you are a Mac or a PC user, there are plenty of options for you to explore. One main advantage of the free video editing software is that you can try as many as you need until you find the one that works for you.
There is a vast online community for video editing, and plenty of support to be found at all stages of your journey. If you’re editing in Final Cut Pro X then check out our other article on the best free plugins for FCPX.