Thanks to the sheer quality of the best video editing software you can get in 2019, a decent smartphone and a little creative spark are all you really need to become a movie-maker. These tools just keep getting better and better, meaning it's never been easier to capture and perfect high-quality video footage. But which is the right video editor for you?
In this buying guide, we've rounded up a selection of today's very best video editors. These tools make cutting, editing and perfecting really simple. The software we've picked out won't break the bank, but if you're really short on cash (or aren't ready to commit to a paid option just yet), lower down the page you'll find our list of the best free video editing software.
The video editors we've recommended in this buying guide are jam-packed full of features to turn your footage into celluloid gold. Whether you're using one of the best laptops for video editing or another device, we've picked the best options to suit you. You'll find the best video editing software for Windows PCs, Mac and Android machines. There are also brilliant choices for beginners and experienced video editors alike.
The best video editing software: Paid-for
01. Adobe Premiere Pro CC
The best video editing software for Windows
Platform: Windows and Mac | Key features: Multi-cam editing, 3D editing | Video tracks: Unlimited | Free trial: Yes | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts
If you're a Windows user, Adobe Premiere Pro CC is the best video editor 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.
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 an all-new free companion app – Adobe Premiere Rush – that makes it easy to work with footage captured on your phone. At time of writing, it was available on iOS, macOS and Windows.
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.
02. Final Cut Pro X
The best video editor you can get for your Mac
Platform: Mac | Key features: Muti-cam editing, intelligent colour balancing | Video tracks: Unlimited | Free trial: 30-day | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts
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.
03. Adobe Premiere Elements 2019
A great all-round video editor to suit most users
Platform: Windows and Mac | Key features: Video stabilisation, face detection, automatic motion tracking | Video tracks: Unlimited | Free trial: Yes | Best for: Professionals and enthusiasts
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 editor (listed at number one above), which is best suited to full-time video editing 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.
04. Adobe Premiere Rush
All the Adobe goodness but on your mobile
Platform: Android, iOS | Key features: In-app motion graphics, 4K support | Free trial: Free starter plan | Best for: Enthusiasts on mobile
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.
Best video editing software for Android...for pros
Platform: Android, iOS | Key features: Instant preview, smart effects | Free trial: Free app | Best for: Beginners and lightweight professional use
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've highlighted this option as the best video editing software for Android 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.
06. Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2019
Best video editing software for beginners
Platform: Windows | Key features: Real-time effects, colour correction | Free trial: 30-day | Best for: Beginners
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate offers a great way into video editing for novices. A well-designed interface means it's very easy to get going with straight away, but 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 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.
07. CyberLink PowerDirector 17 Ultra
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: Enthusiasts
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.
08. Pinnacle Studio 22
An easy-to-use video editor if you're starting out
Platform: Windows | Key features: Multi-camera capture and editing, color controls, stop motion animation | Free trial: 30-day (money back guarantee) | Best for: Beginners
Going for Pinnacle Studio 22 is well worth considering if you've never edited video before and want to delve in for the first time. The pricing is below the average of those above and you can always bail out if you find within the first 30 days that it's just not for you.
But honestly, we'd be surprised if you need to. For in the region of $60/£60, you get more than 1,500 effects, titles, and templates, 6-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 money.
Of course it doesn't have the full suite of features that some others in this list offer, that's not what Studio 22 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.
The best free video editing software
Amazingly, some of the best free video editing software is almost the same as that used by professionals working on big budget Hollywood productions. In most cases, there’s a paid-for version with more features (click back to page one to read our pick of the best paid video editing software), but the free versions we’re going to show you have the majority of the functionality intact. 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 these free video editing software tools is remarkable; if you have the talent there’s nothing to stop you putting together a technically accomplished production.
If your needs are simpler and you just want easy-to-use software that sits between Windows Movie Maker and a top-end professional package, then there’s a free video software download for you here.
09. DaVinci Resolve
Professional-quality colour correction and audio mastering
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux | Key features: Great colour-correction, Fairlight audio tools, compatible with Fairlight consoles, multi-user collaboration | Good for: Specialised colour and audio editing
DaVinci Resolve is a free video editing tool used on big-budget film and TV productions. It has especially powerful for 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.
A Hollywood-grade editor with only a few restrictions
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X | Key features: Almost any format imported natively; outputs directly to YouTube/Vimeo; multicam editing; project sharing for groups | Good for: Slick-looking films
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 license 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 $24.99/£14.99.
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.
Add special effects and text that will output in a range of formats
Platform: Windows | Key features: Supports wide range of file formats, built-in DVD burner, chart tool, video stabiliser | Good for: 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 editor 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.
12. Hitfilm Express
A powerful editor with add-ons to suit your needs
Platform: Windows, Mac | Key features: Over 180 visual effects; 2D and 3D effects compositing; MP4 H.264 export; good range of import formats
No list of the best free video editors 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.
This superb free tool offers powerful editing
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac | Key features: Support for wide range of formats; comprehensive video and audio editing; supports 4K resolutions; uses FFmpeg | Good for: Basic video editing
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.
14. Apple iMovie
A Mac classic
Platform: Mac | Key features: Supports 4K resolutions; effects and filters | Good for: Basic video editing
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. Although we'd like to see support for 360-degree video and multi-cam editing added to future iterations.
The mobile sensation may be just what you're looking for
Platform: Android, iOS | Key features: Simple sharing, customised videos | Free trial: Free app | Best for: Social media users
OK, so we know that this is a bit of a wildcard and of no interest to serious video editors. But you can't really ignore the world's 4th most downloaded app of 2018. And depending on what you're planning, TikTok might just be what you're looking for.
The elevator pitch for TikTok is that it's a cross between Snapchat and the dearly departed Vine. That is to say that it allows you to make short, social media sharing sized videos that can be personalised and customised. Starting life as a lip-syncing app, it's used by singers, comedians, YouTube stars and, most commonly, Chinese teenagers.
Again, you won't be creating the next Citizen Kane with TikTok, but the app's free on both iOS and Android so you can download it now to see what all the fuss is about.