The best video editing software is more accessible than ever, and you don't need a souped-up computer to create professional-grade work. But that greater choice and accessibility means choosing the right app for you can be a challenge. Here, we've examined all the most popular apps on the market, gone hands-on to learn their pros and cons, and reported back with our expert recommendations.
Our team of expert reviewers have tried a lot of video editing software in their time, and are well-versed in assessing the different options against strict criteria such as power, speed and breadth of features. Of course, which you pick depends on what kind of device you'll be working on or whether you want to pay top dollar – and our advice takes all that into consideration as well. (If you've got limited budget check out our guide to the best free video editing software).
All this means you're in the right place to learn what video editing software is and how you can get it. Need hardware, too? Don't miss our guides to the best monitors for video editing, best laptops for video editing and the best tablets for video editing.
Quick links: top 3 best video editing software
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1. Premiere Pro: best video editing software for pros
Premiere Pro is the best video editing software for working video editors, YouTubers and creative pros. The industry-standard tool works on both PC and Mac, and a seven-day free trial is available.
2. CyberLink PowerDirector 365: the best video editing software for non-pros
CyberLink PowerDirector 365 is an affordable, subscription-only option for non-pros with some experience of video editing. We've found its interface easy to use and love that it gives you access to the Shutterstock library.
3. Adobe Premiere Elements: the best video editing software for beginners
For beginners, Adobe Premiere Pro is overkill. Instead, start with Adobe Premiere Elements, a simplified version of the software that's also cheaper, subscription-free, and comes with a generous 30-day free trial.
The best video editing software in full
Premiere Pro is routinely used to create everything from YouTube videos to Hollywood movies, such as 2021 Oscar nominee Mank. It's also commonly used in the workflow of designers, animators and VFX artists, and having extensively tested it ourselves, we can see why.
When we reviewed the software, we loved how it enhanced our productivity by dividing everything into different workspaces, including editing, effects and audio. Each workspace helps manage a specific task, minimising distraction. We found this to be true when testing it out on both Mac and PC.
In our experience, the automatic sync works like a dream when you have multi-angle shots, and it's hard to fault the fine-tuning tools that really make your video stand out from the crowd. Customisable keyboard shortcuts and superior collaboration features were the icing on the cake.
The software supports 4K, 8K and VR formats, and trimming and editing tools give you a high degree of precision and control. You can work on an unlimited number of video tracks (we fired up four 4K videos in our testing), which can be imported from pretty much any source.
Like all Creative Cloud software, Premiere Pro is constantly being updated, and subscribers get all updates for free. The latest update in June 2022 (version 22.5), introduces new workspaces for vertical video, the ability to add gradients to strokes and shadows for titles and graphics, and support for the RED V-RAPTOR camera.
Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the two industry-standard tools for video editing on our list. The other is Final Cut Pro, but that's only available for Mac. As Premiere Pro is cross-platform, we rate it as the best video editing software overall.
For more details, check out our Adobe Premiere Pro review, our guides to the best Premiere Pro tutorials, and our comparisons of Premiere Pro vs Premiere Elements and Adobe Premiere Pro vs Premiere Rush.
There is no doubt that BlackMagic DaVinci Resolve is a great video editing package. It's actually our top pick of the best free video editing software out there. But what if you want to pay to get a few more features? That's where DaVinci Resolve Studio comes in.
"I love this version of Resolve," said our reviewer. "It comes with all the industry-leading colour grading tools but includes some next-gen tools such as auto-subtitling and transcribing tools."
We've found its colour-grading options truly excel (unsurprising given its past). But it's no one-trick pony, and its smart video-stabilisation tool and built-in audio mixing abilities are powerful and capable. We also love its new Relight tool, which analyses your images and creates associated normal maps. Even better, you can do everything you need to within a single app, without the need to open and manage various different apps to achieve the best results.
Its interface can take a bit of getting used to, but shouldn't be too much of a problem if you're used to video editing. If you're looking for a full-feature package that can compete with the big names, DaVinci Resolve is definitely worth a look.
If you're not working as a professional video editor but do a lot of editing (as a YouTuber, for example, or in the course of your marketing or graphic design job) Premiere Pro may be overkill. In which case, you'd be better off with a cheaper, simpler, middleweight video editor.
Based on our review, we rate CyberLink PowerDirector 365 as the best video editing software for non-pros who have some experience of editing video. While beginners might still be freaked out by the apparent complexity of the interface (in which case, we'd recommend Premiere Elements, below), those who've used any type of video editing tool before will find it pretty easy to pick up and run with.
When we reviewed it, we found it to be one of the most simple, well-designed, and attractive video editing interfaces we've used to date. There are a lot of intuitive controls that speed up the process, too, including automatic gap filling and an overlay channel that sits beneath the primary video on the timeline. We were particularly impressed by the free, unlimited access to an extensive, royalty-free library of content from Shutterstock. And when it came to exporting our test piece, we loved the simplicity of clicking the Produce button.
CyberLink PowerDirector 365 is available for Windows and Mac and features a 100-track timeline, strong stabilisation and video correction tools, professional effects, multi-cam editing, motion tracking and surprisingly easy trimming. There's also 360-degree video editing, together with support for all the file standards and formats you can imagine.
Then there are slideshows, screen recording, DVD menus, object design tools and more. And its cost, either as a one-off purchase or a monthly or annual subscription, is much more affordable than Premiere Pro.
To learn more, read our Cyberlink PowerDirector review and our comparison article CyberLink PowerDirector vs Corel VideoStudio Ultimate.
If you don't need to edit video for work and just want to do it as a hobby, the two tools listed above are probably more complex than you need. Similarly, if you'd like to get into video editing but are completely new to it, they offer quite an intimidating learning curve.
In both cases, we recommend Adobe's Premiere Elements, which is the best video editing software we've tested that suits beginners and casual users.
As the name suggests, Premiere Elements is a simplified version of Premiere Pro. It's cheaper and easier to learn, but it still has a lot of useful, high-end features including face detection, audio effects and bundled soundtracks. Its interface is very simple and visual, and you get all the video effects you need, including transitions, chroma-keying and opacity.
In our review, we found it possible to develop a fast workflow by using features like its smart search functionality, video stabilisation options, and automated functions like motion tracking and smart toning. And if you don't know what any of that means, don't worry. The set-up wizard and general interface is very much geared towards beginners, making it easy to start with the basics (such as importing and trimming clips) and then working your way up as you gain confidence. The software helps you learn through 'guided edits', which take you step by step through various tasks.
Although it's made by Adobe, Premiere Elements is not part of a Creative Cloud subscription, but available for a one-off fee. There's also a 30-day free trial. For more details, see our Premiere Elements review and our comparison article, Adobe Premiere Pro vs Adobe Premiere Elements.
Along with Premiere Pro, Apple's Final Cut Pro is an industry-standard app used throughout the TV and movie professions – and there's now an iPad version too, so you can have a cohesive workflow across devices. One of the main reasons to choose it over Premiere Pro would be that it's subscription-free on a Mac: you pay once and once only for the software (though the iPad version is a subscription).
When we reviewed Final Cut Pro (which was known as Final Cut Pro X until the X was dropped in 2020), we particularly loved its Magnetic Timeline, which works brilliantly, although it can be intimidating if you're used to other editing software. If you're having trouble, though, there are lots of resources to help newbies get up to speed. See our guide to the best Final Cut Pro tutorials for more.
In our testing, we also found the organisational features very strong, and enjoyed using the grouping tools, the wide range of effects, and nuanced audio tools. There are plenty more high-end features on offer too, include 360-degree video, HDR and advanced tools for colour correction.
As Apple software, Final Cut Pro is optimised to get the most out of your Mac. And so we weren't surprised to see it integrates nicely with other parts of Apple's ecosystem, such as your Photos or iTunes collections.
Every update to Final Cut Pro since its release has been made free. For instance, the latest release in October 2022 (10.6.5) improved stability, added faster H.264 and HEVC exporting, and more.
So why not choose Final Cut Pro? Well if you don't use a Mac it's simply not an option. And while there's no subscription, Final Cut Pro is pretty expensive. That said, there is a 90-day free trial, which is a lot more generous than the seven-day trial offered by Premiere Pro. For more information, read our article Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro and see our full Final Cut Pro review.
Using Windows and never edited video before? We've found Pinnacle Studio to be another good choice of video editing software for getting started. Like Premiere Elements, it sits somewhere in the middle between the more basic free tools and professional-level video editing apps, both in terms of price and capability. In our review, we found its interface similarly easy to use.
So why opt for Pinnacle Studio over Premiere Elements? In our experience, the biggest benefit lies in the Pinnacle Studio's more sophisticated audio tools and use of masks to overlay effects, shapes and text in particular areas of your video.
Other sophisticated features include 8K import, keyframe groups, and advanced blend modes, although if you're a total newbie, it's probably going to take you a while to make use of those. We also liked the 1,500+ effects, titles, and templates on offer, as well as the six-track HD video editing, good colour correction tools, stop motion feature, and time remapping tool. On the downside, we experienced occasional lags and crashes, slowing down our workflow overall.
Pinnacle Studio is pretty cheap, and if you like it, you can always upgrade to one of the more fully-featured packages, Pinnacle Studio Plus and Pinnacle Studio Ultimate. To learn more, read our full hands-on Pinnacle Studio review. And if you're a beginner in need of guidance, check out our video editing for beginners guide.
These days, tablets and smartphones are so powerful that it's perfectly possible to do even pro-level video editing on the move. Out of all the video editing software for mobile we've reviewed, we've found Premiere Rush to be best option on the market today.
Available for iOS and Android, Premiere Rush uses a simplified version of the Premiere Pro interface with large icons and panels that are easier to use on a small touchscreen. This means there are fewer features, but you still get all the basics, such as adding videos to the timeline through drag-and-drop and mixing in music. (For more details on the differences, see our article comparing Premiere Pro vs Premiere Rush.)
In testing, we found that the easier interface means that our workflow in Premiere Rush was refreshingly quick. That was particularly the case when it came to making simple edits for social media, with export options optimised for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo working smoothly and really saving us time. Premiere Rush is also nicely integrated with Premiere Pro.
So that meant we found it useful to make extra edits to footage we'd previously worked on in that software, while on the go and using a tablet.
You can get Premiere Rush as part of the Creative Cloud (which means you get Premiere Pro, too), or via a single-app subscription. There's also a free starter plan that includes access to the app, 2GB of cloud storage and unlimited free exports on mobile.
Overall, Premiere Rush's simplicity means it's suitable for beginners, while more experienced video editors will find it useful for editing on the go. If you're a beginner who doesn't travel a lot, though, you'd be better off opting for Premiere Elements, as this desktop software is similarly easy to use, but has more features once you've mastered the basics. For full details, see our complete Premiere Rush review.
Apple's iMovie video editing app is completely free for macOS and iOS users, making it an attractive option if you're getting started in movie editing and don't want to pay through the nose for a powerful app. But being free doesn't mean iMovie skimps on features, and it's got plenty to offer for beginners and intermediate users.
One of its key features is dubbed Magic Movie, and it aims to take the pain out of throwing together quick videos. Set it to work and it'll combine clips, add titles, and choose accompanying music, all with just a couple of clicks. You can dive in and edit the resulting footage as needed, or export it as-is. It's a really strong tool if you want to put together a quick-and-dirty edit with your available material.
Another way iMovie excels for beginners is with its Storyboards feature. This provides templates and guides on a range of video topics, from cookery videos to product reviews. Each template suggests shots you can get and ways you can edit your footage together. It's a handy way to learn the ropes.
It's packed with other useful tools, from a Cinematic Mode that lets you adjust depth of field on the fly to included filters, soundtracks, title cards and more.
All that said, iMovie isn't the greatest option for professionals. As we said in our review, it's not updated as often as we'd like, and lacks some of the more powerful tools you'll find in apps like Premiere Pro. It's also not available outside Apple's ecosystem, which is an obvious weakness if you're working on Windows, Android or Linux.
But if you're a beginner who doesn't fancy the more complex apps in this guide, or just want a simple way to get started with your clips, iMovie is worth considering.
If you're familiar with Corel's illustration and graphic design software, such as Corel Painter, and you like its way of doing things, then the best video editing software for you might be Corel VideoStudio Ultimate, which has the same kind of interface and general approach as the rest of the company's software.
In general, this is a good Windows-based video editing option for beginners and casual users. When we reviewed it, we found its interface was clean and intuitive, and we'd recommend it to any beginner wishing to get started with video editing. Once you've got a handle on the basics, you can explore more powerful features, such as motion tracking, 4K support, 360-degree VR video support, a music library, multi-cam support, 3D text editing, and thousands of effects.
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate certainly isn't for everyone. The way it works with layers is a bit different to rivals, such as Adobe Premiere Elements or Pinnacle Studio, and we found this to be a tad jarring. It might not be an issue if you're not used to other video editing software, but if you are, it can be a pain to adjust.
If you're new to video editing or only need to edit video occasionally, Wondershare's Filmora offers excellent value at a very reasonable price.
When we reviewed it, we found its interface more intuitive and easy-to-use than Premiere Elements or Pinnacle Studio. On the flipside, you get less scope to fine-tune your edits. So if precision is your main priority you may prefer these rivals. If, however, speed is of the essence, then Filmora is probably your best bet.
Filmora comes with a large number of handy built-in titles, effects and filters designed for YouTubers and social media users. There's a library of royalty-free sound effects and music to give your videos impact, and you can also record your own media directly within the tool.
The most recent update (version 12) was released in December 2022 and brought new collaboration tools, AI-based smart cutout abilities, 3D titles, and much more.
There's a free version of Filmora, but all your videos will have a watermark on them, so it's really only useful for learning video editing or trying out the tool. To remove the watermarks, you'll need to take out either an Annual plan, a Lifetime plan for a one-off fee, or an Unlimited plan, which includes unlimited downloads from a stock library and new effects each month. To learn more, read our Filmora review.
Need to make a social media video but don't have any experience of doing so? Vimeo offers a paid-for service that helps you do it quickly and easily in your web browser, without needing any particular skills. Vimeo Create provides a range of pre-prepared templates, so you just drag and drop in your own clips and then tweak them accordingly using simple tools. If you don't have your own content, you can also access millions of stock video clips, photos and commercially licensed music tracks for free.
When we reviewed Vimeo Create, we were surprised by just how easy the interface was to use. While the number of features was pretty limited – this is certainly the most basic video editing software on our list – we did find everything we'd want to make quick social clips. We particularly liked how you can produce videos for a variety of aspect ratios for different social platforms, such as square, horizontal and vertical.
Using Vimeo Create is free, but to save and share your video you'll have to pay for a Vimeo Pro, Business or Premium membership. For more information, read our Vimeo Create review.
How to choose the best video editing software
There are a number of factors you need to consider when choosing the best video editing software for you. The first is what you want to use it for. If you're a professional, even if you're new to the industry or still studying the discipline, Premiere Pro Final Cut Pro or Da Vinci Resolve are our top picks. These are the only tools on our list with the range of advanced features you need to do your job properly, such as multitrack editing, motion tracking, and advanced colour grading. That said, you might find other software useful for quick tweaks, particularly Premiere Rush if you want to edit while on the move.
If you're a beginner, however, pro tools will probably be a little overwhelming in their complexity. You'd be better off with a simpler app like Premiere Elements, Pinnacle Studio or Filmora, which offer an easy way to get started. Once you've got some editing experience under your belt, you may need more advanced features, especially if you're creating content for social media or YouTube that needs to look slick and polished. At this point, intermediate software such as Corel VideoStudio Ultimate or CyberLink PowerDirector 365 will be your best bet.
Beyond that, there are technical considerations to take into account to. Do you want to edit videos on Windows or Mac, or other platforms such as Linux, Android, iOS or in the browser? What export formats do you require, and at what resolution? (HD, 4K, 8K?). Finally, there's the question of budget. While free versions of video editing software exist, to unlock all the watermarks, remove ads and get all the features, you'll generally need to pay. Some video editing software is available for a one-off fee while others require a subscription, so that may factor into your decision too.
Which software is best for video editing?
Right now, Premiere Pro from Adobe tops our list of the best video editing software. This industry-standard, subscription-based tool is aimed at professionals and comes packed with sophisticated and powerful tools. And the latest features, released in October 2021, show just how committed Adobe is to continually updating and improving it.
If you're more of a hobbyist, though, you're probably better off with our second choice, CyberLink PowerDirector 365. It's cheaper and easier to get started with, and it's available to buy via a one-off fee.
What is the easiest software to edit videos?
If you're just starting out in the world of video editing, and using a desktop PC or Mac, our top recommendation is Premiere Elements. It's a simplified version of the more powerful Premiere Pro, so there's not such a steep learning curve, and it's cheaper too. Plus unlike most Adobe tools, it's available for a one-fee rather than a subscription.
What's the best video editing software for mobile?
If you want to edit videos on your phone or tablet, we'd suggest checking out Premiere Rush, which makes all the most important bits of Premiere Pro available for iOS and Android devices. Its interface is nice and simple, with large icons and panels that are easier to click on a small touchscreen. But you still get a range of useful features, such as adding videos to the timeline through drag-and-drop and mixing in music. It's nicely integrated with Premiere Pro, too, so you can work on the same footage on your desktop computer and on the move.
What is the best video editor for free?
If you have zero cash to spend, then our guide to the best free video editing software will give you lots of options. But bear in mind that many of these tools have serious limitations, such as ads, watermarks or limited features.
An alternative to these free-but-flawed tools is to opt for a free trial of one of the paid options that we list above. This will enable you to explore your options before making a decision. Just don't forget to cancel your trial if you don't want to be charged!
How difficult is video editing?
Learning to edit video isn't something that should intimidate you. If you've ever used any kind of app on web or mobile, you'll be able to use video editing software. You just have to start with the basics and build up your skills from there. Whatever video editing software you use, there are plenty of tutorials online to get you started, and often the best ones are provided free by the makers themselves. Check out our guide to Premiere Pro tutorials to get an idea of what's out there, and read our Premiere Pro tips for further pointers.
What do most YouTubers use to edit their videos?
Anecdotally, the most popular video editing software amongst YouTubers are iMovie, Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. iMovie is a common choice among beginners and casual YouTubers, because it's free, already installed on Apple devices, and does everything you need for basic editing. If you're on Android, though, we'd recommend Adobe's Premiere Rush.
Pro and semi-pro YouTubers, meanwhile, need something more sophisticated, and so most opt for either Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. For more details, read the best software for editing videos for YouTube.
How do you edit a video for TikTok?
You don't need to be a video professional to edit videos for TikTok; nor do you need video editing software. The TikTok app itself offers everything you need to create your video, including editing your footage, adding effects and transitions, adding music or other audio clips, and posting it to TikTok. Find out more in our article on how to edit a video on TikTok and our general tips on how to edit video.
What's the best computer for using video editing software?
If you're using high-end, pro-level video editing software such as Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro, you do need quite a powerful computer to get the best out of it. In our view, the best desktop computer for video editing right now is the iMac (24 inch, 2021) thanks to its super-fast processor and gorgeous 4.5K display.
Alternatively, if you want a little more screen, then the iMac (27 inch, 2020) will also give you the powerful system resources you need to edit video quickly and responsively. If you'd rather use a Windows machine, though, we recommend the Surface Studio 2, boasts a fantastic 28-inch touchscreen display, has a resolution of 4,500 x 3000 pixels, and allows you to switch colour profiles from sRGB to DCI-P3. For more details, see our article the best video editing computer.