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The best free video editing software

best free video editing software
(Image credit: SasinT Gallery via Getty )

The best free video editing software is often a good way to test the waters if you're considering getting into videography, or if you want to make simple edits to personal video projects. Free video editing software can't match the power and features offered by the best paid-for software, but if you don't have the budget for that, or you're not ready to commit, free options can get you some of the way there.

There's a wide range of free video editing software available now. Many programs are offered free as a promotion or trial for the full paid version (See all the paid-for options in our best video editing software post). Others are completely free forever, but note that some of these come with a lot of ads or put a watermark on your work. 

We've weighed up the pros and cons of the best options around to make it easier to choose which suits your needs. Below you'll find direct links to the best paid for video editing software that offers free trials, and below that our pick of the best free forever video editing software. We've looked for options with powerful features like stylised filters and transitions, layer-based editing, and even audio editing. It's hard to find free software that offers all of that in one package, but some come very close. Make sure you also check out our best video editing apps, many of which are free or at least very cheap.

The best video editing software with free trials

One of the best ways to get free video editing software to dip your toes is through free trials. This way you get powerful fully featured software free for a limited time.

1. Premiere Pro: the best video editing software overall

1. Premiere Pro: the best video editing software overall
You can try Premiere Pro for nothing for seven days. Adobe's video editing software, which works on both PC and Mac, is the industry-standard software, with the best features all round.

2.  Final Cut Pro X: the best choice for Mac users

2. Final Cut Pro X: the best choice for Mac users
Mac-specific Final Cut Pro also has a great reputation in the industry as the best video editing software for Apple users. It offers a generous 90-day free trial to test it out.

3. Adobe Premiere Elements: the best option for beginners

3. Adobe Premiere Elements: the best option for beginners
If you're new to video editing, you might want to start with Adobe Premiere Elements. A simplified version of Premiere Pro, it's also cheaper and currently has a 30-day free trial.

The best free video editing software

These are your best options if you're looking for video editing software that's completely free forever, but note that they can't compete with the paid for options above in terms of power and features.

Best free video editing software: Lightworks

(Image credit: LWKS)

01. Lightworks

The best free video editing software overall

Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
Key features: Multicam editing, Customizable UI
Best for: Advanced users
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Real-time project sharing+Import and export videos in the background+Multicam video editing
Reasons to avoid
-Complex user interface-Free version only renders videos in MPEG format

Lightworks is a free video editor with a drag-and-drop user interface. It boasts powerful features like multicam and multi-track video editing, which allows you to edit clips from multiple cameras into a single project. It also enables you to share projects with other users and collaborate with them while editing videos in real time. 

In addition, Lightworks lets you import and export videos in the background while continuing to work on something else in the foreground, which is a useful feature for those who like multitasking. A pro version of the software comes with more features, such as direct social media sharing and the ability to export videos in different formats.

One of the software’s biggest strengths is that the user interface is highly customisable, but this is also actually its biggest shortcoming because dragging windows across the interface to create endless layout combinations can be rather confusing for beginners. Thankfully, there are extensive video tutorials to help out. Read our Lightworks review for more.

Best free video editing software: Kinemaster interface

(Image credit: Kinemaster)

02. KineMaster

The best free video editing software for mobile

Platform: Android, iOS
Key features: Instant preview, smart effects
Best for: Beginners and lightweight pro use
Watermarks: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Surprisingly rich features+Good enough for professionals+Widely used and popular
Reasons to avoid
-Slow on lower-end devices

If you think professional video editing on your smartphone or tablet requires paid-for software, think again. KineMaster is available for Android devices, iPhones and iPads, and goes far above and beyond what you'd expect from a free mobile app. 

It has a smart, intuitive and lag-free interface, while features include the ability to edit multiple layers and add handwriting and text annotations. You can experiment with up to four audio tracks, and precisely edit at the frame and sub-frame level. 

The catch? Yep, you'll get watermarks on your videos. To remove them, you'll need to subscribe to the premium version, but that costs a pretty reasonable $4.99/month or $39.99/year. See our Kinemaster review for more details.

Best free video editing software: Openshot interface

(Image credit: Openshot)

03. OpenShot

The best free video editing software that's open source

Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
Key features: Layer-based editing, drag and drop UI
Best for: Open-source lovers
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Simple, drag-and-drop interface+Free and open source+Unlimited layers
Reasons to avoid
-Occasional lagging, slow response-Bugs and glitches

OpenShot is a solid basic video editor with some nice extra features. It has a minimalistic design with a drag-and-drop interface that's easy to used, even for newbies. While there isn't a lot of complex features, the software's completely free and open-source, so there are none of the usual ads, watermarks, or paid upgrades to frustrate you. 

Layer-based video editing capabilities let you stack an unlimited number of layers in your video, be it soundtracks, overlapping videos, or custom images. OpenShot also offers a range of title-card templates that can be customised. In addition, there are all the usual options to adjust and enhance your video, including crop, trim, rotate, and resize. You can also adjust elements like brightness, contrast, colour grading, and gamma. 

There are some problems, including not insignificant lag issues and the fact that the features don’t always work the way they’re supposed to (or when they do work, they take a long time to apply, making the editing process frustrating). Ultimately, however, for free video editing software, Openshot has everything you could expect.

Best free video editing software: screengrab from Da Vinci Resolve 17

(Image credit: Da Vinci)

04. DaVinci Resolve

The best free video editing software for colour correction

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
Key features: Colour correction, audio tools, compatible with Fairlight consoles, multi-user collaboration
Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Colour correction+Audio post production+Collaborative working
Reasons to avoid
-More suited to finishing footage

DaVinci Resolve is a free video editing tool that offers professional 8K editing, colour correction, visual effects, and audio post-production all in one place. It's often used on big-budget film and TV productions thanks to its powerful colour correction and audio capabilities. 

As well as traditional colour features such as curve editors and primary colour wheels, there's also facial recognition and tracking, so you can adjust skin tones, eye and lip colour. 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 incredible really that this software offers a free version with nearly all of its features present. There are no watermarks added to your videos either, unless you use a non-free effect such as noise reduction. So if you’re looking for the best free video editing software for Windows or Mac, this could well be your best bet. To learn more, see our Da Vinci Resolve review.

Best free video editing software: VideoPad interface

(Image credit: VideoPad)

05. VideoPad

The best free video editing software for audio professionals

Platform: Windows
Key features: 3D editing, Unlimited audio tracks
Best for: Audio professionals, 3D video editors
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Sound mixing+3D video editing+Excellent shareability
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks advanced features-Slideshow-making isn't free

VideoPad is a free video editor with a simple interface suitable for novices but also plenty of features for advanced users. Most importantly, however, it offers a level of control over audio that’s not often seen in a video editor, making it a great choice for movie sequences that rely on audio effects. 

It supports an unlimited number of audio tracks and provides an entire library of sound effects to play with. Overall, it's not as robust as Lightworks, but VideoPad really stands out from competitors thanks to its audio editing features and sound mixing functionalities – all without the price tag of a professional video editor.

VideoPad also allows 3D video editing, a rare feature among free video editing tools. It also has great options for social sharing, with a library of social media-friendly effects and transitions and the option to post videos to platforms like Facebook or YouTube without leaving the software.

Best free video editing software: Windows Video Editor interface

(Image credit: Microsoft)

06. Windows Video Editor

Built-in video editing software for Windows

Platform: Windows 10
Key features: Custom animations, Simplified UI
Best for: Windows 10 users
Watermarks: No
Paid version: NA
Reasons to buy
+Simple and easy to use+Pre-existing collection of custom animations
Reasons to avoid
-Very basic, barebones video editor

If you have a PC running Windows, you'll already have Microsoft’s own built-in video editor, Windows Video Editor. What used to be called Windows Movie Maker was rebuilt from the ground up for Windows 10. It's not a massively powerful editor, but if you're looking for a quick, convenient way to make simple edits to your clips, it might serve you just fine.

It doesn’t boast a lot of features – in fact, it's really more of a photo editor with some video editing capabilities – but Video Editor has enough to get through basic tasks like trimming, cropping, speed adjustments and adding text or audio. It also has a 3D Effects section, which lets you soup up your video with pre-designed animations. These features don’t offer a lot of options for customisation, but Windows Video Editor is still a good application for basic video enhancement, especially for novice users looking who enjoy working in Windows. Its biggest advantage is how easy it is to use.

Best free video editing software: VSDC iMovie interace

(Image credit: VSDC)

07. VSDC

Free video editing software that's great for presentations

Platform: Windows
Key features: Supports wide range of file formats, built-in DVD burner, chart tool, video stabiliser
Best for: Enthusiasts and beginners
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of special effects+Large range of output formats+Works well with GoPro footage
Reasons to avoid
-More suited to presentations 

If you need to add text, lines, charts and other special effects to a presentation (and you use Windows), VSDC is probably the best free video editing software for the task. It has Instagram-style filters, lots of special effects such as colour correction and blurring, plus a mask tool for applying effects to part of a video (for obscuring faces, for example). There’s also a video stabiliser 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 can export to various formats including AVI and MPG, and it supports most video formats, so you shouldn’t have any trouble importing clips. You can even tailor the output so it works well on particular devices for playback, and there’s a built-in DVD burner. The paid-for pro version adds in features such as motion tracking, masking, and hardware acceleration. Read our VSDC review to find out more.

Best free video editing software: Hitfilm iMovie interface

(Image credit: Hitfilm)

08. Hitfilm Express

Free video editing software that's rich in features and add-ons.

Platform: Windows, Mac
Key features: Over 180 visual effects; 2D and 3D effects compositing; MP4 H.264 export; good range of import formats
Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Great community and training +3D compositing
Reasons to avoid
-Tricky download process-Powerful computer required

Hitfilm Express is the Swiss Army knife of free video editing software. It's capable of producing feature films or music videos with 3D effects, but it’s also good for making YouTube videos (it has direct uploading built in). It features a lot of features you'd expect to find only in expensive paid-for software, including 4K video support, 360-degree editing, and hundreds of special effects. 

The main downside is that it uses a lot of system resources, so it won't work well on a low-powered laptop, for example. The basic version contains everything you need to make a professional-quality production, but if you want something specific, such as 360-degree text or extra colour grading tools, there are packs of add-on features that start at around $7/£6. For more information, see our Hitfilm Express review.

Best free video editing software: Shotcut interface

(Image credit: Shotcut)

09. Shotcut

Powerful and easy-to-use free video software

Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac
Key features: Support for wide range of formats; comprehensive video and audio editing; supports 4K resolutions; uses FFmpeg
Best for: Enthusiasts
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Lots of filters and effects+Customisable, intuitive interface+Great file format support
Reasons to avoid
-No good for more advanced projects

If you’ve outgrown more basic video editing software but don't need the complexity of a professional program like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X, in steps Shotcut. This open source option supports a massive range of formats, offers a great array of filters and special effects and can handle up to 4K. It also has support for AV1 decoding and encoding. 

The interface is easy to use and can be customised if desired (it has dockable and undockable panels), and we especially love the surprisingly sophisticated timeline. On the downside, the process of adding transitions is a little strange, and you can only add filters to one clip at a time, which can become time-consuming. However, for a free video editing tool, it's very impressive. See our Shotcut review to learn more.

Best free video editing software: iMovie interface

(Image credit: Apple)

10. Apple iMovie

Free video editing software that comes with your Mac

Platform: Mac
Key features: Supports 4K resolutions; effects and filters
Best for: Enthusiasts
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Easy to make something polished+Great for audio+Already on your computer
Reasons to avoid

If you're a Mac owner, you already have iMovie pre-loaded on your machine. It's far from being a professional tool, but its finish and sheen are actually fairly sophisticated. iMovie supports editing and rendering in 4K, for starters, and it makes it fairly easy to knock together a polished-looking (and sounding) edit that makes home-movie footage shine.

Another benefit is the cloud-based work environment, which allows you to sync projects to iCloud, Apple’s native cloud storage service, as you work. iMovie is constantly updated, so you can always expect the latest features. It's also worth mentioning that if you have a recent MacBook Pro, iMovie comes with fully functioning Touch Bar support. 

The software contains the usual options to insert titles, backgrounds, and audio to your clips, but it lacks more advanced tweaking options. The video editing capabilities are not as extensive as those of software like Lightworks, but the few filters and effects you get are studio-grade and look professional. Importing and rendering take some time, which can be frustrating, but on the plus side, it's available on pretty much every device from Apple, with no special system requirements to worry about. To learn more, read our iMovie review.

Best free video editing software: 3 screenshots from Apple Clips

(Image credit: Apple)

11. Apple Clips

Free video editing tools for making social media videos

Platform: iPhone, iPad
Key features: Captions, titles, stickers, filters
Best for: Beginners
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Fun features
Reasons to avoid
-Pretty basic-iOS only

If you only need to shoot and edit a casual video, most of the video editing software on this list will be overkill. At the opposite end of the spectrum from Adobe's Premiere Pro, if you're looking for pure simplicity (and you're an iOS user), you can turn to Apple Clips

Apple Clips lets you add stickers, titles, captions, audio and filters to video that you import from your Camera Roll, or just record using your device. That's about it, but if this is all you want to do, you don't need anything else. If you've tried it before and didn't like it, note that it had an update in October 2020. That introduced a refreshed interface, support for vertical and horizontal video, and HDR recording with iPhone 12. For more information, see our Apple Clips review.

Movie Maker Online interface

(Image credit: Movie Maker Online)

12. MovieMaker Online

Free browser-based video editing software

Platform: Web browser
Key features: Timeline, basic editing
Best for: Trying out video editing
Watermarks: No
Reasons to buy
+Totally free+Free stock assets+No watermarks
Reasons to avoid
-Odd layout

Want to edit video without leaving your browser? MovieMaker Online allows you to do just that, on any computer wherever you are. It's completely free to use, you don't need to register your details and there are no watermarks. Moreover, it offers proper timeline-based editing, and you even get free music and stock photos to include in your video.

It takes a bit of time to get used to since the layout of the web page is a bit odd, the timeline being vertical rather than horizontal, and there are lots of ads everywhere, which can be somewhat distracting. Features are very limited too when compared to most of the tools on this list. But if all you want is basic video editing, or perhaps to discover what video editing involves, this is a great option that's 100 per cent free.

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Ritoban Mukherjee

Ritoban Mukherjee is a freelance journalist from West Bengal, India. His work has been published on Tom's Guide, TechRadar, Creative Bloq, IT Pro Portal, Gizmodo, Medium, and Mental Floss. Ritoban is also a member of the National Association of Science Writers.