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Best video editing software: Top tools in 2021

Woman Videographer Works on Her Personal Computer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best video editing software isn't just for full-time video editors. It's also vital for anyone creating video for YouTube, Vimeo or social media, to make their clips look polished, professional and slick. 

Plus, even if you just want to share the videos you've shot on your phone with friends, such as footage of holidays, family gatherings, local events or your kids growing up, video editing software can help you edit those clips and make them all the more enjoyable to watch back in years to come.

In this article, we look at the best video editing software available today, for all these use cases and more. And we'll give you the essential information to help you choose between them.

On this page you'll find the best video editing software for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, for a range of devices and skill levels. You'll also find links to longer reviews, so you can really dive deep into the detail of individual tools.

However, if you have no money at all to spend, then see our best free video editing software guide. To make sure you have the right kit to make edits, you can also peruse our guides to the best monitors for video editing, best laptops for video editing or best tablets for video editing

If you want an app specifically, then see our best video editing apps.

Today's top 3 video editing software in 2021

The best video editing software in full

Best video editing software: Premiere Pro interface

(Image credit: Adobe)

01. Adobe Premiere Pro

The best video editing software overall

Platform: Windows, Mac | Key features: Multi-cam editing, 3D editing | Free trial: 7 days | Best for: Video editing professionals, video editing students

Industry standard 
High end features
Creative Cloud integration
Expensive

Adobe Premiere Pro is one of two industry standard tools when it comes to video editing. It's routinely used by top professionals, on everything from YouTube videos, commercials and short films to TV and movies.

The other industry standard tool is Final Cut Pro (number 2 on our list), and both are closely matched in terms of features and sophistication. But as Final Cut Pro is only available for Mac, and Premiere Pro is available for both Mac and Windows, that cements the latter as the best video editing software overall.

If you're already a Creative Cloud subscriber, you'll already have Premiere Pro, and you'll be able to use it seamlessly with other Adobe tools, from motion graphics tool After Effects to importing assets from Adobe Stock. But even if you're not, it's still worth considering. 

Premiere Pro 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. It boasts customisable keyboard shortcuts, and great collaboration features too.

Like all Creative Cloud software, Premiere Pro is constantly being updated, and subscribers get all updates for free. For example, the latest big update in July 2021 provides a streamlined interface and new workflows to make it easier to import and export footage. 

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. You can take out a seven-day trial to make sure you like it before committing. 

For more details, check out our Adobe Premiere Pro review, as well as our guide how to download Premiere Pro.

Best video editing software: Final Cut Pro interface

(Image credit: Apple)

02. Final Cut Pro X

The best video editing software for Mac users

Platform: Mac | Key features: Muti-cam editing, intelligent colour balancing | Free trial: 90-day | Best for: Video editing professionals, video editing students

Versatile and powerful editing
Brilliant interface
Generous free trial
Expensive one-off payment

Apple's Final Cut Pro X is a highly capable and highly respected tool for professional video editing. The main thing that counts against it is that it's not available for Windows. On the upside, it's subscription-free. So if you don't want a Creative Cloud subscription, Final Cut Pro X lets you pay once, and once only.

With features including 360° video, HDR and advanced tools for colour correction, Final Cut Pro X is optimised to get the most out of your Mac, and integrates nicely with other parts of Apple's ecosystem, such as your Photos or iTunes collections. It's also surprisingly easy to use, despite being so powerful and feature-rich. 

Professional video editors particularly love its innovative Magnetic Timeline, grouping tools, wide range of effects, good organisational features and the simple ways to add and edit audio. For more details, check out our Final Cut Pro X review.

The downside of software that's not subscription-based usually means you don't get automatic updates. However, in practice every update to Final Cut Pro X since its release has been made free to existing users. For instance, the latest release in July 2021 (10.5.4) improves stability when playing H.264 or HEVC media.

Also take note of the generous 90-day trial period, which compares favourably with the miserly one-week trial offered by Premiere Pro. If you need more help choose between these two tools, read our article Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro.

Best video editing software: Premiere Elements interface

(Image credit: Adobe)

03. Adobe Premiere Elements

The best video editing software for beginners

Platform: Windows and Mac | Key features: Video stabilisation, face detection, automatic motion tracking | Free trial: 30 days | Best for: Video editing beginners and enthusiasts

Easy to use
Loads of features
Not as powerful as some tools
Not the fastest 

Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro are expensive, and a lot of work to learn if you just want to edit some videos for fun, such as family footage or your first YouTube video. In which case, we'd recommend Adobe's Premiere Elements, which we'd call the best video editing software for beginners.

It basically a simplified version of Premiere Pro, number one on our list. But while that makes it cheaper and easier to learn, it's still a very capable tool, packed with high-end features such as face detection, audio effects and bundled soundtracks. 

The approach to video editing is very simple and visual, and you get all the video effects you need, including transitions, chroma-keying and opacity and so on. You can develop quite a fast workflow too, by harnessing smart search functionality, video stablisation options, and automated functions, such as motion tracking and smart toning. And Adobe is working to constantly improved the software: the latest (2021.1) release, for instance, means that more NVIDIA GPU cards are supported for GPU acceleration.

Although it's made by Adobe, Premiere Elements is not part of the Creative Cloud but is available for a one-off fee. There's also a 30-day free trial if you want to try before you buy. For more information, check out our Premiere Elements review.

Best video editing software: Premiere Rush interface

(Image credit: Adobe)

04. Adobe Premiere Rush

The best video editing software for working on the move

Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android | Key features: In-app motion graphics, 4K support | Free trial: Free starter plan | Best for: Enthusiasts (Premiere Rush alone), professionals (with Premiere Pro)

Self-contained app
Great choice for sound editing
Ideal for Adobe users
Limited free plan

Going to be working on the move? Then check out Premiere Rush, which makes all the most important bits of Premiere Pro available on your tablet or phone. Available for iOS and Android, this is the best video editing software for working on mobile. 

Premiere Rush offers a simplified version of the Premiere Pro interface, with large icons and panels that are easier to click on a small touchscreen. And while there this means fewer features, you still get all the fundamentals, such as adding videos to the timeline through drag-and-drop, and mixing in background music.

One of the best video editing apps around, Premiere Rush can be used as an app in its own right, or in conjunction with Premiere Pro. For instance, when you're on the train, you could make some extra edits to footage you're previously worked on at the studio on your desktop PC. 

Alternatively, if you're just a casual YouTuber who wants to make simple edits to your clips, Premiere Rush is good for that too. As it is for making social media videos: the app has export options optimised for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and more. Like all Adobe software, it's updated regularly and the recent April 2021 release (version 1.5.58) included timeline and reset enhancements on iOS, and reset enhancements on Android. 

You can get Premiere Rush as part of the Creative Cloud, or subscribe to Premiere Rush alone. Alternatively, there's a free starter plan that includes access to the app, 2GB of cloud storage and unlimited free exports on mobile. That free version alone makes it among the best software for editing videos for YouTube. For more details, check out our Premiere Rush review.

Best video editing software: Corel VideoStudio Ultimate interface

(Image credit: Corel)

05. Corel VideoStudio Ultimate

Solid video editing software for novices and Corel users

Platform: Windows | Key features: Real-time effects, colour correction | Free trial: 30 days | Best for: Beginners, Corel users

Easy to pick up
Relatively inexpensive
Too basic (and unusual) for pros
Unusual approach to layers

If you're a beginner who wants to get started with video editing software, Adobe tools aren't your only option. It's also worth checking out Corel VideoStudio Ultimate, particularly if you're already a fan of Corel's illustration and graphic design software.

This solid and relatively cheap video editing software for Windows has a clear and visual interface that makes it easy to get started. Then once you've mastered the basics, there are more powerful features to discover, such as motion tracking, 4K support, 360-degrees VR video support, a music library, multi-cam support, 3D text editing and thousands of effects. 

The way it works with layers is a bit unusual, and on the whole this is not sophisticated enough to be considered a pro tool. But for starters in video editing software, it is very good value for the relatively low price. To learn more, read our Corel VideoStudio Ultimate review.

Best video editing software: Filmora interface

(Image credit: Wondershare)

06. Filmora

Low-cost video editing software for enthusiasts

Platform: Windows, Mac | Key features: 4K support, built-in effects and titles | Free trial: Yes (with watermarks) | Best for: Enthusiasts

Simple to use
Low price
4K support
Too basic for pros

Wondershare's Filmora is a solid video editing tool for enthusiasts, or those just getting started with editing, for a surprisingly low price. It has an intuitive interface that's easy to use, whatever your level of familiarity with video editing. 

There are a large number of handy built-in titles, effects and filters designed for YouTubers and like, as well as a library of royalty free sound effects and music to give your videos impact. You also get the ability to record your own media directly within the tool. 

The most recent version in June 2021 (10.5), meanwhile, brought a handy new feature for anyone posting across different social platforms: Auto Reframe allows you to instantly recreate the same video in different aspect ratios.

The free version of Filmora includes all the same features and tools as the paid tool, but all your videos will have a watermark on them. To remove this, you can choose between paying for an Annual plan, and taking out a Lifetime plan for a one-off fee. Alternatively, there's an Unlimited plan, which includes unlimited downloads from a stock library, and new effects each month. For more details, read our Filmora review.

Best video editing software: Cyberlink interface

(Image credit: Cyberlink)

Consumer-level video editing software that's rich with features

Platform: Windows, Mac | Key features: Multi-cam editing, 360-degree video, motion tracking (and loads more) | Free trial: 30 days | Best for: Experienced filmmakers

Powerful tool
Stacks of features
Surprisingly affordable
Tough for newbies

CyberLink PowerDirector 365 is a serious bit of consumer-level video editing software that long been available for Windows, and has recently been released for Mac users too. It's available either as a one-off purchase or a monthly or annual subscription, and both options are pretty cheap.

Despite this, PowerDirector 365 has many professional and high-quality features. 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. Then there's slideshows, screen recording, DVD menus, object design tools and more. And the latest version, released in March 2021, comes with free and unlimited access to an extensive, royalty-free library of content from Shutterstock.

In fact, with all those options, the interface can admittedly appear a little complex to newbies. But if you're finding it all a bit of a struggle, there are plenty of video tutorials to help to get you started. To learn more, read our Cyberlink PowerDirector review.

Best video editing software: Pinnacle Studio interface

(Image credit: Pinnacle)

08. Pinnacle Studio

Capable video editing software at a reasonable price

Platform: Windows | Key features: Multi-camera capture and editing, color controls, stop motion animation | Free trial: No, but 30-day money back guarantee | Best for: Beginners

Super-simple to use
Varied features
Attractive pricing
May be too basic for some

Pinnacle Studio isn't the best known video editing software for Windows. But it's well worth considering if you've never edited video before. For a quite reasonable price, you get more than 1,500 effects, titles, and templates, six-track HD video editing, colour correction tools, a dedicated stop motion feature, time remapping and more. It's very easy to use too.

The latest version, 24, was released last August, and features a redesigned title editor, enhanced video masking, and improved keyframe controls. Overall, Pinnacle Studio sits somewhere between the more basic free tools and professional level video editing tools, both in terms of price and features.

This video editing software is available for a one-off purchase. And if you like it, you can always upgrade to one of the more fully-featured and professionally oriented packages, Pinnacle Studio Plus and Pinnacle Studio Ultimate. To learn more, read our Pinnacle Studio review

Best video editing software: Vimeo Create interface

(Image credit: Vimeo)

09. Vimeo Create

Online video editing tool for crafting social media clips

Platform: Browser | Key features: Templates, stock content, intuitive interface | Free trial: 30 days | Best for: Beginners

Excellent templates
Lots of stock content
Limited use cases
Requires membership

Vimeo is keen to appeal to creative professionals. So it's not surprising that its Vimeo Create service, aimed at helping businesses produce social media videos, is pretty impressive. Aimed at people with zero experience, it allows you to use and customise pre-prepared video templates. And there are millions of stock video clips, photos and commercially licensed music tracks available to use for free. There are lots of built-in styles, too, that you can apply to your video at the click of a mouse. 

Vimeo Create makes it easy to produce videos for a variety of aspect ratios (eg square, horizontal and vertical) to suit different social platforms. It all works in the browser, so there's nothing you need to download. Yes, it lacks the advanced features expected from a full-service video editing program. But what it's designed for, it does very well. 

Vimeo Create is not sold as a separate app, but included as a part of paid-for Vimeo Pro, Business and Premium memberships. For more information, read our Vimeo Create review.

What is the best video editing software right now?

Right now, Adobe Premiere Pro tops our list of the best video editing software. Final Cut Pro comes in a very close second, but being available on Mac, whereas Pro is available for both Mac and Windows, Adobe's app just pips it to the post. 

The industry standard tool, Adobe Premiere Pro is aimed at professionals, and is packed with every feature you could possible need to create show-stopping video. 

If you're just starting out in the world of video editing, opt instead for Adobe Premiere Elements. It's a simplified version of its bigger sibling, so there's not such a steep learning curve, and it's cheaper too.

When is the best time to buy video editing software?

Discounts on the top video editing software products do come up every now and then, however there are specific times of year that you're more likely to see slightly higher mark downs. Near the end of the year, during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, we've seen Adobe offer up to 40% off its apps. 

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design, photography and tech. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He has previously been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.