Which software you use for video editing depends on whether you want to to quickly edit a clip for socials or craft a fully fledged movie, and our list of fully reviewed software contains options for both.
With a wealth of experience spanning over a decade in testing free video editing software, you can rely on our carefully curated selection. We've picked the very best tools for Windows, Macs, and Chromebooks, along with recommendations for the best video editing apps on mobile devices. Our recommendations stem from practical use of these tools in daily workflows, gathering feedback from fellow creatives, and conducting formal reviews that assess factors such as ease of use, speed, and features.
For those seeking more robust capabilities, consider exploring free trials of video editing software (we highlight the top three with free trials below). Otherwise, dive into our compilation of the best free video editing software.
Quick list: free trials
Want to learn the ropes and see if video editing is for you? Many paid-for tools offer a free trial, providing an way of getting free video editing software with powerful features for a time. Here are our top 3 picks...
The best free video editing software overall
We love DaVinci Resolve, and think this powerhouse of an application is a one-stop shop for editing, Grading and VFX. While there is a paid version of DaVinci Resolve (DaVinci Resolve Studio), we believe that the free version may be the only edit tool some content creators ever need – and it's definitely the only free option that gets close to the needs of pros.
In our full review, we praise Resolve's smart video stabilisation tool, for when you've got a shaky shot, and the built-in audio mixing, VFX and title-card-building modes also functioned brilliantly. All that meant that we didn't need to 'do an Adobe' by jumping around loads of programs to get our perfect video; we could do it all within the one interface.
A standout feature is how the workflow is tied together and managed by a "robust" multi-user database, universal timeline and advanced sound and imagine processing engines. In practice this means editors, colourists, VFX artists and sound engineers can work on the same project.
That said, while that interface is quite straightforward for anyone with editing experience, it would be quite a challenge for beginners to learn. If that's you, we'd suggest instead looking at entries four to eight on our list. To learn more, see our full DaVinci Resolve review.
The best intermediate free video editing software
Hitfilm used to be totally free, but now has two subscription tiers – with some previously free capability now hiding behind a paywall. Although it is no longer a genuine replacement for other paid-for tools, our review finds it does still have useful elements that are accessible for free, making it perfect for an intermediate workflow.
We especially appreciate the comprehensive set of tutorials, easily accessible within the interface; the media library, which features built-in music, sound effects and templates to use in your editing; and the colour correction and colour grading tools are exceptionally good.
However, many of the tools, effects and resources are now watermarked if you are on the free version. This isn't unusual, of course, but it does mean pros won't view this software as the viable option it once was, it's more suited for YouTubers, vloggers, amateur/enthusiast video editors. Da Vinci Resolve is the only full-blooded free option for professional videographers.
If you're willing to pay, you can get rid of the watermarks. The Pro version unlocks everything at $12.99/£12.99 a month, and the Creator version unlocks fewer features at $7.99/£7.99 a month. See our Hitfilm 2022 review for more.
The best beginner free video editing software
This is an easy-to-master piece of software that has surprising power. We've tagged it 'best for beginners' thanks to its simple interface and how quickly you can get going with it, but it is really a good pick for a variety of light users.
We especially like the interface, which is thoughtfully put together, with separate sections for each main features – this is one of the parts that makes it especially good for beginners, as it isn't overwhelming.
The feature set is impressive, when we tested it we especially liked the editable camera movements including tilts, rolls and trucks, and the multiple motion effects. The colour grading and correction is standout, as is the control speed.
We gave this software an almost perfect eight out of ten in our VideoProc Vlogger review.
The best free video editing software for social media
Adobe Express is a free app for people who aren't experienced designers – and after testing it, we think it's a perfect option for content creators. It's available as a web app, an iOS app and an Android app. Its main aim is to make it easy to create both static and video content for social media. (Don't confuse this simple app with the Creative Cloud suite, which includes heavyweight options like Premiere Pro).
As well as simply trimming your clips, you can add music, text and images, and resize everything for different social media destinations, with pro-designed templates. It also now has Firefly integration, which means you can use generative AI to augment your work. You can also upload directly to platforms.
We found the interface very simple to use, and we were impressed by the quality of the templates. That said, its video editing capabilities are certainly the most limited on this list; in all honesty, it's more like a glorified slideshow maker than a 'proper' video editing app. But if you're just getting started with video editing, and want to get a social media video live as quickly as possible, that may be all you need.
For more, see our Adobe Express review.
The best Apple free video editing software
If you're a novice looking for something easy to get started with, you won't find anything much easier than Apple iMovie. And if you have a Mac, you already have iMovie installed on it! You can also download it for free onto iPads and iPhones. It's the only free native-Apple video editing software option, and therefore the best in its niche.
iMovie is low on features, making it suitable for basic tasks. But that does make the interface clean, uncluttered and simple to get started with, making it a great choice for newbies. We found it quick, easy and fun to use, making it perfect for simple projects. We particularly admired the shake and noise reduction tools, which do a good job of stabilising your footage and dampening background noise.
But it is more versatile than we first imagined. For example, you can record footage on one device, edit it on another, and pull in assets from a different one. That, plus the fact that you can export at 4K at up to 60fps, helps to makes it stand out from other basic video editors. It also has a lot of great templates and audio tools.
While this tool felt a little abandoned for a time, Apple has been updating iMovie of late, adding support for features found on newer i-devices. If you're at the beginning of your editing journey, you could start off with this and move onto Final Cut Pro X (Apple's full-featured, paid-for editing software). For more information, read our full iMovie review.
Best free video editing software for Chromebook
We'll be honest: there's not a lot of free video editing software for Chromebooks. But Kinemaster, which is also available on Android and iOS, is a fairly decent exception. As long as you're fine with watermarked videos, that is. (To remove these, you'll need to subscribe to the premium version.)
When we reviewed it, we found its interface to be very intuitive, and so it should be relatively easy for beginners to use, especially for simple tasks like applying Instagram filters and using sliders to adjust brightness, contrast and saturation. And we especially appreciate the recent addition of a background remover tool.
At the same time, this tool would also be useful for more experienced video editors wishing to make tweaks on the fly on their phones, tablets or Chromebooks. It won't replace full desktop software by any means, but it's a handy complement to it. And it's certainly more feature rich than most mobile-focused editing app, with colour grading, chroma key, audio mixing and beat sync all on the menu. See our Kinemaster review for more information.
How to choose the best free video editing software
The best free video software for you will depend on what kind of video editing you're doing, what devices you're using and whether you're a professional, an enthusiast or a beginner. It will also depend on whether you're content to try a free trial of a paid-for program or you want an option that's free for ever. In our selection above, we've attempted to recommend who we think each app is best suited for.
If it's for non-commercial projects – such as editing your personal holiday footage, or working on a student project – then any of the software on our list will be fine. If you need it for commercial work, though, then some free tools don't allow this at all, while others such as Kinemaster will add watermarks, making them unsuitable for such purposes.
Another factor is your level of experience. If you're an old hand at video editing, particularly if you work as a professional, you'll want a range of sophisticated features to draw on; in which case, DaVinci Resolve and Hitfilm Express are our top picks. If you're more of a beginner, amateur or hobbyist, though, these packages may well be too confusing and difficult to use. In which case, we'd recommend looking at numbers 4-10 on our list, which have much simpler, more user-friendly interfaces.
Be aware that free software often comes with restrictions. For example, there may be limits to the number, format or resolution of files you can export. Customer support may or may not be available via phone or email. And the software may only support Windows, Mac or Linux rather than all three platforms.
Davinici Resolve is our pick as the best free video editing software overall because even though the free version doesn't include all of the features of the full version, Davinci Resolve Studio, it does include an incredible range of tools for a free program. However, even its more limited features involve a steep learning curve and will be much more than what you need if you just want to make a few simple edits to a social media video.
How we test the best free video editing software
To choose the best free video editing software for this guide, we compared the results of our own hands-on reviews, in which our experience reviewers spent an extended length of time testing each app to be able to compare their capabilities, features, ease of use and value for money. Our reviewers used each piece of software to edit a number of videos from short social videos to longer pieces following a realistic workflow and using most of the features provided by each program.
We considered what type of user each free video software program is targeted at, how good it is at what it aims to do and how it compares to other products on the market in order to recommend the best product for different needs. We also considered platform compatibility. For most of the products that we have chosen above, you can click the links provided to see our full hands-on reviews to learn more about our experiences with them.
What is the best free video editing software?
In our view, the best free video editing software for professionals is DaVinci Resolve from Blackmagic. Whilst it began as a colour correction tool, it's grown over time to cover everything for basic trimming to visual effects, motion graphics, audio post-production and more. In short, DaVinci Resolve gives you a full video editing suite at your fingertips, for zero cost.
That said, it is quite complex, and not suitable for a beginner. So for something simpler to get started with, we recommend VideoProc Vlogger. Its interface is super-easy to use, there are no ads or watermarks, and it has some great features.
What video editing software do professionals use?
The overwhelming majority of professionals working in video editing use either Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. The former is produced by Adobe and is available for both Windows and Mac; the latter comes from Apple, and is Mac-only. Other than that, each has its pros and cons, and you can take a deep dive into the differences in our article Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro.
However, our top free pick, Davinci Resolve, is used by professionals in either its free version or its paid Studio version, making the time investment in learning Resolve worth it for professional use.
What free video editing software do YouTubers use?
In 2024, there are more than 114 million YouTube channels on the platform, covering a huge range of ages, nationalities and levels of professionalism. So it's tricky to generalise about what software is normally used by YouTubers to edit their videos, as most people don't publicly share this information.
In terms of overall popularity, iMovie is believed to the most widespread free editing software used by YouTubers, quite simply because it comes pre-installed on Apple devices, and does most of the basic things you need.
That said, the best known YouTubers tend to invest in paid-for software to give their footage the most professional look. For example, PewDiePie, Zack from Jerry Rig Everything, Theo Jo, Linus Tech Tips, Jake Paul and Devinsupertramp use Premiere Pro, and iJustine, Marques Brownlee, Austin Evans, Dude Perfect and Jonathan Morrison favour Final Cut Pro.
If you're new to video editing, we'd personally recommend VideoProc Vlogger for editing your YouTube clips, as in our experience its interface is nice and easy to pick up, plus it works on Windows and Mac. If you're a video editing veteran, however, our top choice is DaVinci Resolve, which is packed with sophisticated pro features, despite being free. For tips on how to use your software, see our guide to how to edit video.