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Video editing software: The 17 best tools for 2020

The best video editing software: Person using laptop
Looking for the best video software? You'll find it here! (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Welcome to our guide to the best video editing software – applications that have never seemed more important as the world connects virtually more so than ever right now. Whether you're creating a short clip for social media or a full feature film, picking the right tool can make the difference between the success or failure of your video project. But with so many options available, how do you choose the best one for your needs?

Don't worry: we've already done the research, so you don't need to. In this guide, we bring together today's very best video editing software and explain what they do, what platform they run on, how much they cost, the pros and cons of each, and everything else you need to know to make your decision.

Even the most expensive options here are broadly affordable, and certainly offer excellent value for money. However, if you're totally cash-poor right now then don't stress: we've also listed the best free video editing software as well. And while these tools won't cost you a penny, they're all surprisingly powerful.

We've made sure that this guide to the best video editing software contains something for everyone, from keen amateurs to veteran pros. So whether you're using one of the best laptops for video editing or just working on your phone, you'll find some great options here, including the best video editing software for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. 

The best video editing software: Paid-for

The best video editing software: Premiere Pro

01. Adobe Premiere Pro

The best video editing software for Windows.

Platform: Windows and Mac | Key features: Multi-cam editing, 3D editing | Free trial: Yes | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts

Excellent automatic functions
Industry standard video editing tool
Free trial available
Expensive

If you're a Windows user, Adobe Premiere Pro is the best video editing software available right now. This one's a bit of a no-brainer: Premiere Pro is an all-singing all-dancing video editor from one of the biggest names in the industry, which is used by multitudes of creative professionals. And it's super simple to download Premiere Pro.

It's easy to see why it's so popular for Windows 10 users. It can handle an uncapped number of video tracks, which can be imported from pretty much any source you can think of (files, tapes, cameras of all standards... even VR). The automatic sync is a gem 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. There's also a free companion app – Adobe Premiere Rush – that makes it easy to work with footage captured on your phone: see number 4 on our list for more on that.

You can subscribe to just Premiere Pro on its own, but if you use more than one of Adobe's apps, it'll be worth your while subscribing to Creative Cloud for a slightly higher monthly fee. Want to know more? Check out our in-depth Adobe Premiere Pro review.

The best video editing software: Final Cut Pro X

02. Final Cut Pro X

The best video editing software for Mac OS.

Platform: Mac | Key features: Muti-cam editing, intelligent colour balancing | Free trial: 90-day (limited time offer) | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts

Versatile and powerful editing
Brilliant interface
Makes sense for Apple users
Expensive

Final Cut Pro X is our pick for the best video editing software for Mac. And, as you would suspect with Apple, the must-have editor is consummately easy to use and comes packed with enough features to warrant the (admittedly high) price tag. We like the grouping tools, effect options and the straightforward way you can add and edit audio. 

If you're already entwined in Apple's ecosystem, you'll appreciate how Final Cut cleverly coordinates with your Photos or iTunes collections. And if you want time to try it out properly then good news: in response to the Covid-19 crisis, Apple has recently bumped up the 30-day trial period to a very generous 90 days. 

The best video editing software: Adobe Premiere Elements 2019

03. Adobe Premiere Elements

Excellent video editing software at an affordable price.

Platform: Windows and Mac | Key features: Video stabilisation, face detection, automatic motion tracking | Free trial: Yes | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts

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

Adobe makes another entry in this list with Premiere Elements; a great choice for both beginners and experienced editors. It isn't as complex as the more heavyweight Premiere Pro video editing software (listed at number one above), which is best suited to full-time professionals. But Premiere Elements is still packed with excellent features, such as face detection, audio effects and bundled soundtracks. And it's friendly to use, too.

Whether you're an editing newbie or a pro, automated functions – such as motion tracking and smart toning – will make your life a lot easier. The same can be said of the video stabilisation option and simplicity of editing. Premiere Elements comes with all the video effects you’d expect in a consumer video editor: transitions, chroma-keying, opacity and so on. The media library is also intelligently organised, with smart searches making it easy to find finished and draft files.

Adobe Premiere Rush

(Image credit: Adobe)

04. Adobe Premiere Rush

Professional video editing software for your phone.

Platform: Android, iOS | Key features: In-app motion graphics, 4K support | Free trial: Free starter plan | Best for: Enthusiasts on mobile

All can be done in the app
Excellent for sound editing
Ideal if you already know Adobe
Don't rely on limited free plan

Any PC-using video editor worth their salt has inevitably used Adobe software at some point. Adobe Premiere Rush takes all the best bits that Adobe has perfected over the years and transports it to the palm of your hand.

So what does it offer the editor on the go? A straightforward user interface that will be immediately familiar to users of Premiere Pro or Elements; four video tracks; three audio tracks; easy instant export to your social media accounts; in-app editing tools...the list goes on! It's no wonder that it recently went to the top of our best video editing apps countdown.

Yes, you can give it a good go for free with the Rush Starter Plan, but it's only enough to export three videos. Luckily, it doesn't cost a lot to grab the full version of the Adobe Premiere Rush app on iOS or Android.

The best video editing software: corel videostudio ultimate

05. Corel VideoStudio Ultimate

High quality video editing software for beginners.

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

Really easy to pick up
Nice selection of features
Relatively inexpensive
Too basic (and unusual) for pros

Corel VideoStudio Ultimate offers a great way into video editing software for novices. A well-designed interface means it's very easy to get going with straight away, and yet it doesn't lack in features. There's multi-cam editing, 4K video support, 360-degrees VR video support, a music library and loads of effects, to name but a few. Not bad at all for the price.

The more you use Corel VideoStudio Ultimate, the more you'll notice and make use of its little features and flourishes. It's a great option for beginners, and still has plenty to offer more experienced video editors – although pros will probably want to opt for one of the standard video editing software options.

(Image credit: Wondershare)

06. Filmora9

Easy to use video software with plenty of effects and resources.

Platform: Windows, Mac | Key features: 4K support, built-in effects and titles | Free trial: Free version available | Best for: Enthusiasts

Simple to use
Reasonable price
4K support
Free version to try

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.

The best video editing software: CyberLink PowerDirector

07. CyberLink PowerDirector

Powerful video editing software for experienced filmmakers.

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

Really powerful tool
Stacks of features
Surprisingly affordable
Tough for newbies

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.

The best video editing software: Pinnacle Studio 22

08. Pinnacle Studio

A good choice of video editing software for beginners.

Platform: Windows | Key features: Multi-camera capture and editing, color controls, stop motion animation | Free trial: 30-day (money back guarantee) | Best for: Beginners

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

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.

Vimeo Create interface

(Image credit: Vimeo)

09. Vimeo Create

Template-driven software for making social media videos.

Platform: Browser, iOS, Android | 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

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.

Kinemaster interface on mobile

(Image credit: Kinemaster)

10. KineMaster

Superior video editing software for Android and iOS.

Platform: Android, iOS | Key features: Instant preview, smart effects | Free trial: Free app | Best for: Beginners and lightweight professional use

Surprisingly rich features
Good enough for professionals
Widely used and popular
Slow on lower-end devices

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.

The best free video editing software: DaVinci Resolve

11. DaVinci Resolve

Top-quality colour correction and audio mastering software.

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux | Key features: Great colour-correction, Fairlight audio tools, compatible with Fairlight consoles, multi-user collaboration | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts

Exceptional colour correction
Powerful audio post production
Good for collaborative working
More suited to finishing footage

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.

The best free video editing software: Lightworks

12. Lightworks

Hollywood-grade tool with only a few restrictions in free.

Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X | Key features: Almost any format imported natively; outputs directly to YouTube/Vimeo; multicam editing; project sharing for groups | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts

Extremely powerful
Good set of tutorial videos
Restricted format output
Challenging to master

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 down-side, 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.

The best free video editing software: VSDC

13. VSDC

The best video editing software for spicing up presentations.

Platform: Windows | Key features: Supports wide range of file formats, built-in DVD burner, chart tool, video stabiliser | Best for: Enthusiasts and begineers

Plenty of special effects
Large range of output formats
Works well with GoPro footage
More suited to presentations 

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.

The best free video editing software: Hitfilm Express

14. Hitfilm Express

Feature-rich video editing software, with great add-ons.

Platform: Windows, Mac | Key features: Over 180 visual effects; 2D and 3D effects compositing; MP4 H.264 export; good range of import formats | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts

Great community and training 
3D compositing
Tricky download process
Powerful computer required

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. 

The best free video editing software: Shotcut

15. Shotcut

Superb free video software with powerful editing capabilities.

Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac | Key features: Support for wide range of formats; comprehensive video and audio editing; supports 4K resolutions; uses FFmpeg | Best for: Enthusiasts

Lots of filters and effects
Customisable, intuitive interface
Great file format support
No good for more advanced projects

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.

The best free video editing software: Apple iMovie

16. Apple iMovie

Industry-standard video editing software for Mac OS X.

Platform: Mac | Key features: Supports 4K resolutions; effects and filters | Best for: Enthusiasts

Easy to make something polished
Great for audio
Already on your computer
Mac-only

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.

Promo showing Apple Clips on three phone screens

(Image credit: Apple)

17. Apple Clips

The best free video editing software for social-media videos.

Platform: iPhone, iPad | Key features: Captions, titles, stickers, filters | Best for: Beginners

Easy to use
Fun features
Pretty basic
iOS only

If you're just looking to shoot and edit a short, snappy 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. 

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