What's the best video editing software you can download today? That largely depends what you want to use it for, and your level of skill and experience. For instance, the right software for a film-making professional with a high-powered Mac will not be the same as the best video editing software for a newbie YouTuber wanting to edit footage on their smartphone. So in this guide, we bring you a selection of top quality software for different situations, and give you the knowledge you need to decide which is best for you.
We'll go through each piece of video editing software, one by one, and explain what it does, what equipment you need to run it, how much it costs and whether it requires a subscription, the pros and cons of buying it, and any other information you'll need to make your choice.
The good news is that the days when you had to invest serious amounts of money in order to edit video are now long gone: even the most priciest options in this article are generally affordable. That said, if you have no money at all then don't despair: scroll down the post and you'll find the best free video editing software too. And even these zero-cost tools boast surprisingly sophisticated video editing features.
In short, whether you're using one of the best laptops for video editing or just working on your phone, and whether you're a total beginner or an industry veteran, you'll find tools here to make your life easier and your workflow faster. So read on to discover the best video editing software for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS available today. And don't forget to check out our guide to the best headphones for video editing too.
The best video editing software: Paid-for
Adobe Premiere Pro is one of two video editing software packages used by top professionals, on everything from YouTube videos and commercials to TV shows or blockbuster movies. The other one is Final Cut Pro, the second on our list. So how do you choose between them? That will depend on a number of factors, but the first and most obvious is that Final Cut Pro is only available for Mac. So if you're a professional using Windows, we can definitely say that Premiere Pro is the best video editing software for your needs.
Another factor to bear in mind is that Premiere Pro is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, and interacts seamlessly with everything from the motion graphics tool Adobe After Effects to Adobe Stock, from which you can import stock video, stock audio and stock images. So if the Creative Cloud is already part of your workflow, then that's another very good reason to choose Premiere Pro.
That said, even if you're a Mac user with no interest in the Creative Cloud, Premiere Pro is still worth considering. It's widely used up and down the industry for all common video editing tasks necessary for producing broadcast-quality, high-definition video, and also supports 4K, 8K and VR formats.
Its trimming and editing tools give you a high degree of precision and control; you can work on an uncapped number of video tracks, which can be imported from pretty much any source you can think of; and automatic sync makes it easy to handle multi-angle shots. There are customisable keyboard shortcuts make for a speedy workflow, and there are great options for remote team collaboration too.
The latest release (14.4) has a couple of nifty new features too. The software can now automatically detect and add edits where cuts occur in a video. Plus you can now choose to use proxies while exporting if you want a quick export that doesn't require full resolution media. As Premiere Pro is part of a subscription service, you'll get updates like this every month automatically: you won't need to pay any extra.
You can subscribe to Premiere Pro alone, but if you use more than one of Adobe's apps, you'll save money overall by subscribing to Creative Cloud. Need more info? Check out our in-depth Adobe Premiere Pro review, and our explanation of to download Premiere Pro.
As we mentioned above, it's difficult to say that Final Cut Pro X is better overall than Premiere Pro, or vice-versa, because they are both highly respected tools used throughout the industry. However, there are some clear differences between them to help you choose, and one of those is the fact that Final Cut Pro X is subscription-free. So if you're a Mac user (note: there's no Windows version) and don't like the idea of a never-ending Creative Cloud subscription, then Final Cut Pro X allows you to pay once, and once only.
Optimised for Mac, Final Cut Pro X cleverly coordinates with relevant parts of the Apple ecosystem, such as your Photos or iTunes collections. It also has the advantage of being relatively easy to use, despite being packed with pro-level features. Of these, we particularly like the innovative Magnetic Timeline, grouping tools, range of effect options, organisational features and the straightforward way you can add and edit audio. Plus in the latest version, released in August, clips can now be automatically analysed for dominant motion and intelligently cropped with Smart Conform to convert them into square, vertical, or any other sized video; a handy addition for anyone exporting to social platforms.
Still not sure about Final Cut Pro X? Then the good news is that you have plenty of time to play with it before committing any cash: there's currently a generous 90 day trial period. Meanwhile, if you need more help deciding between these two top tools, then read our in-depth guide to Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro for more details.
Maybe you're not a professional, and have no ambitions to become one, but just want to edit some videos for fun, such as family footage or your own not-too-serious YouTube channel. Or maybe you have thoughts of being a professional one day, but want some easy to use video editing software to get you started? For such purposes, Adobe's Premiere Elements is a great choice.
It isn't as complex as Premiere Pro, number one on our list, so the interface will look less scary to a novice, and your learning curve will be a lot more straightforward. But it's still packed with powerful features, such as face detection, audio effects and bundled soundtracks.
You get all the video effects you’d expect in a consumer video editor: transitions, chroma-keying, opacity and so on. The approach to video editing is very simple and visual. Plus smart search functionality, video stablisation options, and automated functions, such as motion tracking and smart toning, all help speed up your workflow. One thing we especially like in the latest (2020) release is the eye-catching ability to replace static skies with moving ones in your footage.
Premiere Elements is not part of the Creative Cloud but is available for a one-off fee. For more information, check out our Premiere Elements review.
There's one more piece of Adobe video editing software to consider: an app for iOS and Android called Premiere Rush. This relatively new cross-platform app makes all the best bits of Premiere Pro available on your tablet or phone.
One of the best video editing apps around, Premiere Rush features a simplified version of the Premiere Pro interface, with large icons and panels that are easier to click on a small touchscreen. You're able to edit four video tracks and three audio tracks. And while there are fewer features available than on its desktop cousins, all the basics are available, such as adding videos to the timeline through drag-and-drop, and mixing in background music.
Premiere Rush can be used as a complement to Premiere Pro. For instance, a video editing professional on the train might want to do some extra work on some footage they've previously worked on in Pro on their desktop. However, Premiere Rush can also be used entirely independently, by a casual user wanting to do some simple video editing. It's particularly useful for anyone involved in social video, with export options optimised for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and more.
Premiere Rush is part of the Creative Cloud subscription, or you can subscribe to Premiere Rush alone. Alternatively, there's a free starter plan that includes access to the app, 2GB of cloud storage, unlimited free exports on Premiere Rush mobile, and up to three exported projects on Premiere Rush desktop. That zero cost commitment makes it among the best software for editing videos for YouTube.
Adobe may dominate the top half of our list, but if you're a beginner who wants to get started with video editing software there are plenty of other options to choose from. So it's well worth checking out Corel VideoStudio Ultimate, particularly if you're already familiar with Corel's illustration and graphic design software.
This very capable tool has a lovely, very visual interface that makes it easy to get started with video editing, while there are some powerful features to discover once you've mastered the basics. These include motion tracking, 4K support, 360-degrees VR video support, a music library, multi-cam support, 3D text editing and thousands of effects. All of which makes this tool very good value for the relatively low price.
Wondershare's Filmora9 is a strong video editing tool for enthusiasts, or those just getting started with editing. The intuitive interface should make it easy to get started with, and there are built-in titles, effects and filters designed for budding YouTubers. There's also a library of royalty-free sound effects and music to give your videos impact – plus the ability to record your own media to include, directly within the tool.
If you're using the tool professionally, you'll probably want to opt for the more advanced FilmoraPro – explore the differences between the two tools here.
Price-wise, there are a few different options to choose from. If you're just starting out, the free version includes all the same features and tools as the paid tool, but all your videos will have a brand watermark on them. You can then choose between a one-year plan, and a lifetime plan for a one-off fee. Finally, there's a supercharged Unlimited plan, which throws in unlimited downloads from an stock library and new effects each month.
CyberLink PowerDirector is a serious bit of software for serious video editors: this is excellent video editing software that delivers professional and high-quality features, without a Hollywood budget. Get cracking on the 100-track timeline and you'll soon find yourself making the most of multitudes of stabilisation and video correction tools, professional effects, multi-cam editing, motion tracking and surprisingly easy trimming.
There's 360-degree video editing as well, together with support for all the file standards and formats you can imagine. And if you're finding it all a bit of a struggle, then there are plenty of video tutorials to help to get you sorted.
Going for Pinnacle Studio is well worth considering if you've never edited video before and want to delve in for the first time. It's cheaper than most of the paid-for tools on this list, and you can always bail out if you find within the first 30 days if it's just not for you.
But honestly, we'd be surprised if you need to. For your money, you get more than 1,500 effects, titles, and templates, six-track HD video editing, handy colouring 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 amounts of cash.
It doesn't have the full suite of features that some others in this list offer, but that's not what Pinnacle Studio 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.
Following its acquisition of short-form video editor Magisto in 2019, this February Vimeo launched Vimeo Create, a new app aimed at businesses wanting to produce professional looking social media videos. Those with no experience of video editing software can use and customise pre-prepared video templates, with millions of stock video clips, photos and commercially licensed music tracks available to use for free.
The tool also makes it easy to produce videos for a variety of aspect ratios (eg square, horizontal and vertical) to suit different social platforms. Note, though, that it's not a standalone app, but available as part of Vimeo’s Pro, Business and Premium membership plans.
The best free video editing software
Looking for free video editing software? In most case, you're not going to get the range of features that you would with paid-for software, but the free tools we've listed below are surprisingly capable. 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 this free video editing software is remarkable; if you have the talent there’s nothing to stop you putting together a technically accomplished production. Alternatively, if you have simple needs and just want easy-to-use software that sits between Windows Movie Maker and a top-end professional package, we have you covered here too.
If you think that trying to edit video on your smartphone or tablet is a pointless exercise, KineMaster will make you think again. Available for Android devices, iPhones and iPads, we'd describe this option as the best video editing software for Android (free or paid-for), because it goes way above and beyond what you'd expect from a mobile app.
It packs the ability to edit multiple layers, add handwriting and text annotations, experiment with up to four audio tracks and precisely edit at a frame and sub-frame level. We could go on with a long list of features, but perhaps the best endorsement is the average review score from on both the App Store and Google Play. Plus, it's free, so it's probably worth just downloading this video editing app and giving it a try.
DaVinci Resolve is a free video editing tool used on big-budget film and TV productions. It has especially powerful colour correction and audio capabilities, so if those are priorities then this could be the software for you.
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 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.
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 licence 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 licence for a relatively small fee.
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 downside, 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.
If you’re making a presentation and want to add text, lines, charts and other special effects to it, VSDC is the free video editing software 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 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 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.
No list of the best free video editing software 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.
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 customise 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.
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. We'd like to see support for 360-degree video and multi-cam editing added to future iterations, but otherwise Apple iMovie remains a strong contender for the title of best free video editing software.
If you're just looking to shoot and edit a casual video to share on social media using your iPhone or iPad, then most of the video editing software on this list will seem like overkill. In contrast, if you're looking for a tool that's super-quick and easy to use, we'd recommend Apple Clips. This nifty little app lets you add stickers, titles, captions, soundtracks and filters to video that you import from your Camera Roll or just record there and then.
Free to download from the App Store, Clips has recently been given some cool new features by Apple, including a Duplicate button to make copies of your clips, and Split button to divide your clip into two sections.