Skip to main content

The best video editing software in 2021

Woman uses video editing software on her desktop computer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best video editing software is aimed at professional video editors, VFX artists and filmmakers, but that doesn't mean it's only for them. It can also be an important purchase for anyone looking to create video for YouTube, Vimeo or social media and who wants their content to look slick, polished and highly professional.

In fact, 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, the best video editing software can help you edit those clips to make them more enjoyable to watch in years to come. And the great thing is that many of these tools are actually surprisingly affordable.

On this page, we've selected the best video editing software for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, for a range of skill levels, and budgets. We set out all the essentials to help you choose between them, and you'll also find links to longer reviews if you want to dive deeper into the detail of the individual tools. 

Only interested in mobile apps? Then check out our guide to the best video editing apps instead. Once you've decided on the best video editing software for you, it's also worth thinking about hardware, so check our guides to the best monitors for video editing, the best laptops for video editing and the best tablets for video editing

Below you'll find quick links to our top three best video editing software choices. Scroll down further for the full list and comparisons.

The best video editing software: Our top 3

Image

1. Premiere Pro: the best video editing software for pros
Aimed at professional editors, Adobe's Premiere Pro is the best video editing software overall. The industry-standard tool works on both PC and Mac, and offers everything you need. A seven-day free trial is available.

Image

2. CyberLink PowerDirector 365: the best video editing software for everyday use
CyberLink PowerDirector 365 is a capable piece of software available for a one-off fee, or via a monthly subscription. It offers an array of video editing tools, plus access to the Shutterstock library. You can try it with a 30-day free trial.

Image

3. Adobe Premiere Elements: the best video editing software for beginners
If you're new to video editing, Premiere Pro can be a bit of a tough learning curve. A more accessible option is to start with Adobe Premiere Elements, a simplified version that's also cheaper (and there's a 30-day free trial, too).

The best video editing software in 2021 in full

best video editing software: Premiere Pro screenshot with logo

(Image credit: Adobe)

The best video editing software for professionals

Specifications
Platform: Windows, Mac
Key features: Multi-cam editing, 3D editing
Free trial: 7 days
Best for: Video editing professionals, video editing students
Reasons to buy
+Industry standard +High end features+Creative Cloud integration
Reasons to avoid
-Requires subscription

Alongside Final Cut Pro (see number 5 on our list), Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the two main industry-standard tools for video editing. It's routinely used by top professionals for everything from YouTube videos, commercials and short films to TV and movies. These two giants are closely matched in features and sophistication, but Final Cut Pro is only available for Mac. Since Adobe Premiere Pro is available for both Mac and Windows, that cements its place as the best video editing software overall.

If you subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud with an All-Apps plan, you get access to Premiere Pro as part of the package, and you'll be able to use it seamlessly with other Adobe tools, from the motion graphics tool After Effects to Adobe Stock for importing assets. However, even if you don't want the full Creative Cloud suite, Premiere Pro's still worth considering as a standalone app.

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 unlimited number of video tracks, which can be imported from pretty much any source you can think of. Automatic sync makes it easy to handle multi-angle shots, and the software offers customisable keyboard shortcuts and great collaboration features.

Like all Creative Cloud software, Premiere Pro is constantly being updated, and subscribers get all updates for free. For example, the latest big update (15.4) introduced Speech to Text; an integrated, automated, and faster workflow for adding and customizing captions; and native support for Apple M1 devices. 

You can subscribe to Premiere Pro alone, but if you use more than one of Adobe's apps, you'll save money 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 guides to how to download Premiere Pro and the best Premiere Pro tutorials.

best video editing software: CyberLink PowerDirector 365 screenshot with logo

(Image credit: CyberLink)

The best video editing software for everyday use

Specifications
Platform: Windows, Mac
Key features: Multi-cam editing, 360-degree video, motion tracking (and loads more)
Free trial: 30 days
Best for: Experienced filmmakers
Reasons to buy
+Powerful tool+Stacks of features+Choice of payment models
Reasons to avoid
-Tough for newbies

CyberLink PowerDirector 365 is a serious bit of consumer-level video editing software. It's long been available for Windows, and now it's 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 the very reasonable price, 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 lots 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. You get free and unlimited access to an extensive, royalty-free library of content from Shutterstock. And the latest version, released in September 2021, comes with AI-powered tools such as Sky Replacement, Object Detection, Speech Enhancement, and Wind Removal to speed up your workflow.

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

best video editing software: Adobe Premiere Elements screenshot and logo

(Image credit: Adobe)

The best video editing software for beginners

Specifications
Platform: Windows and Mac
Key features: Video stabilisation, face detection, automatic motion tracking
Free trial: 30 days
Best for: Video editing beginners and enthusiasts
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Loads of features
Reasons to avoid
-Not as powerful as some tools-Not the fastest 

Premiere Pro and some of the other options on this list are quite expensive, and also a lot of work to learn if you just want to edit some family video footage or your first YouTube video for fun. For something simpler, we'd recommend Adobe's Premiere Elements, which is the best video editing software for beginners.

It's basically a simplified version of Premiere Pro, number one on our list. But while that makes this video-editing software 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 stabilisation options, and automated functions, such as motion tracking and smart toning. 

Although it's made by Adobe, Premiere Elements is not part of a Creative Cloud subscription. Instead, it's 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 and our comparison article, Adobe Premiere Pro vs Adobe Premiere Elements.

best video editing software: Pinnacle Studio screenshot and logo

(Image credit: Pinnacle)

Another good choice for beginners using Windows

Specifications
Platform: Windows
Key features: Multi-camera capture and editing, colour controls, stop motion animation
Free trial: No, but 30-day money back guarantee
Best for: Beginners
Reasons to buy
+Super-simple to use+Varied features+Free effects, titles & templates
Reasons to avoid
-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 edition, version 25, includes a host of new features including smart object tracking, 8K import, keyframe groups, new blend modes and new audio features. Overall, Pinnacle Studio sits somewhere between the more basic free tools and professional-level video editing tools, both in terms of price and capabilities.

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

Final Cut Pro X screenshot and logo

(Image credit: Apple)

The best video editing software for Mac users

Specifications
Platform: Mac
Key features: Muti-cam editing, intelligent colour balancing
Free trial: 90-day
Best for: Video editing professionals, video editing students
Reasons to buy
+Versatile and powerful +Optimised for Mac+Generous free trial
Reasons to avoid
-No Windows version

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. Professional video editors particularly love Final Cut Pro X's innovative Magnetic Timeline, grouping tools, a wide range of effects, good organisational features and simple ways to add and edit audio. For full information, check out our Final Cut Pro X review.

Despite being so powerful and feature-rich, this video editing software is surprisingly easy to use. And there's a lot of resources online to help newbies get up to speed: see our roundup of the best Final Cut Pro tutorials for details.

When software is not subscription-based, that 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: Adobe Premiere Rush

(Image credit: Adobe/Jason Parnell-Brookes)

The best video editing software for working on the move

Specifications
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)
Reasons to buy
+Simple interface+Good for social videos+Interoperable with Premiere Pro
Reasons to avoid
-Less powerful than Premiere Pro

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. (To help you choose between them, see our comparison article Premiere Pro vs Premiere Rush.)

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 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 screenshot and logo

(Image credit: Corel)

The best video editing software for Corel users

Specifications
Platform: Windows
Key features: Real-time effects, colour correction
Free trial: 30 days
Best for: Beginners, Corel users
Reasons to buy
+Easy to pick up+Relatively inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Too basic (and unusual) for pros-Unusual approach to layers

If you're a beginner who wants to get started with video editing software, it's 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, visual interface that makes it easy to get started.

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, it's not sophisticated enough to be considered a pro tool. However, for newcomers to video editing software, it offers very good value for a relatively low price. To learn more, read our Corel VideoStudio Ultimate review, and our comparison of Corel VideoStudio Ultimate vs Adobe Premiere Pro

best video editing software: Filmora screenshot and logo

(Image credit: Filmora)

The best value video editing software for enthusiasts

Specifications
Platform: Windows, Mac
Key features: 4K support, built-in effects and titles
Free trial: Yes (with watermarks)
Best for: Enthusiasts
Reasons to buy
+Simple to use+4K support+Royalty free sound effects and music
Reasons to avoid
-Too basic for pros

For a surprisingly low price, Wondershare's Filmora offers a solid video editing tool for enthusiasts, or for those just getting started with editing. 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 the 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) 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: Vimeo Create screenshot and logo

(Image credit: Vimeo)

Online video editing software for crafting social media clips

Specifications
Platform: Browser
Key features: Templates, stock content, intuitive interface
Free trial: 30 days
Best for: Beginners
Reasons to buy
+Excellent templates+Lots of stock content
Reasons to avoid
-Limited use cases-Requires membership

Vimeo is keen to appeal to creative professionals. It's not surprising then that its Vimeo Create service is pretty impressive. Aimed at helping businesses produce social media videos with zero experience, it allows you to use and customise pre-prepared video templates. There are millions of stock video clips, photos and commercially licensed music tracks available to use for free, and lots of built-in styles, too, which 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, 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 every feature you'll need to create show-stopping video. 

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. 

Meanwhile, if you're just starting out in the world of video editing, opt for Premiere Elements. It's a simplified version of 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.

Can I edit videos for free?

If you have zero cash to spend, then see our guide to the best free video editing software, but bear in mind that many of these options 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!

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. 

Read more:

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.