Using the best video editing software can help you transform your raw footage into slick, polished videos. However, these feature-rich programs all come with a serious price tag, so where exactly you should spend your money can be a little fraught. That's where this buying guide comes in.
Professionals will usually want to invest in the most advanced software, which comes at a premium price (Premiere Pro for instance). But for beginners, who may just want to edit their holiday footage or create simple clips for social media, a cheaper program, which is simpler and easier to use would be much more suited to them.
In this guide, we've selected the best video editing software you have to pay for (if you have no budget, head to our best free video editing software guide). So whatever your experience, you're likely to find what you need here. There are tools for Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone and Android – and some which work across all platforms. If you do want to use your phone or tablet exclusively, though, you'll want our roundup of the best video editing apps.
We've hand-tested all this video editing software ourselves, so we know exactly why they're good. That said, no tool is perfect in every way, for every user. So in the list below, we outline the pros and cons of each option, and explain what kind of video editing projects it's best for. At the top of each entry, we've also included key info, so you can make a quick comparison by glancing down the list.
Our testing has involved several hours of editing our own projects, to check how the different software compares in terms of ease of use, speed and responsiveness, the power of adjustment, blending and transition features, and video and audio effects. We've included links to these full reviews below. And to find out more about our reviewing process, read our article on how we test software.
Quick links: top 3 best video editing software
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1. Premiere Pro: the best video editing software for pros (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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, such 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 to work 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 workspaces, the ability to add gradients to strokes and shadows for titles and graphics, and supoort 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 (number 5), but that's available only 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.
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 tool.
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 one of the most simple, well-designed, and attractive video editing interfaces we've used to date. We found there were 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 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's 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 so as a hobby, the two tools listed above are more complex than you probably 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 (number one on our list). 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 setup wizard and general interface is very much geared to 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.
The latest version, Premiere Elements 2022, was released last October, and includes a number of cool new features. You can now edit and export video in social-friendly formats. There's also a new auto-reframing tool that lets you select a subject and then focuses on it throughout your video; a new easy-to-use video compression feature based on sliders; and the ability to view animated GIFs within the interface.
Although it's made by Adobe, Premiere Elements is not part of a Creative Cloud subscription, but 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.
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 tools, 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 here 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 occassional 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.
Along with Premiere Pro, Apple's Final Cut Pro is an industry standard used throughout the TV and movie professions. One of the main reasons to choose it over Premiere Pro would be that it's subscription-free: you pay once, and once only. However, you'll need a Mac, as there's no Windows version.
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 on that.
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° 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 May (10.6.3) improved reliability when using drag and drop to replace a transition, and when dragging a transition onto a connected clip.
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.
These days, tablets and smartphones are so powerful, it's perfectly possible to do even pro 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 click 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 quick 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. The most recent release in December, version 2.0, introduced unlimited exports on desktop and availability in additional languages, as well as adding new audio tracks.
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.
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 its software.
In general, this is a good Windows-based video editing software 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 mastered the basics, you can explore more powerful features, such as motion tracking, 4K support, 360-degrees VR video support, a music library, multi-cam support, 3D text editing and thousands of effects. Plus, the most recent 2022 update has some handy new tools such as an auto Speech to Text Converter, Face Indexing and Non-Linear Keyframing (and many others).
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 bit 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 version (11.3) was released in May, and brought a number of improvements including speech-to-text, text-to-speech, support for HDR, an easy way to add subtitles to your video, and an audio visualiser.
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 were 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 are 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 tool 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 the ones to go for.
Beyond that, there are technical considerations to take into account to. Do you wish 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab). 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 How to edit a video on TikTok (opens in new tab).
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.