Here are 15 best video editing software in 2018: 15 Best Video Editing Software 2018 Because there are so many good options out there, to make it easier for you, in this article, we have divided the video editing software into several categories.
- Best Free Video Editing App For Apple
- Best Video Editing Apps For Windows
- Best Free Video Editing Software For Youtube Mac
Gone are the days of Windows Movie Maker and Final Cut. Although you may mourn the discontinuation of Final Cut Express, you're probably not weeping over Windows Movie Maker. Great video editing software usually comes with a steep price. That price tag typically includes professional tools and features you simply cannot find in free versions. How true is that, though?
Free video editing software may not have decades of development behind it, but the groundwork was laid by others, and now there are so many titles out there, it can be hard to pick one. Several free programs, whether you download them or use web-based apps, are worth your time.
First, you need to decide why you need video editing software. Are you splicing together shots of you trying to perform a kickflip and uploading it on YouTube? You're likely not going to need the full-featured software that's out there. Are you producing a music video, or a new food television show for your website? You'll need something more robust that's capable of handling several cuts, music, fades, special effects, and more.
This entry almost goes without saying. If you're a Mac user, you're probably already familiar with iMovie – even if you don't use Macs, you've at least heard of this famous software. Although professional editors turn their nose up at iMovie, it's an excellent free option for amateur filmmakers.
Although you won't find many feature films edited entirely in iMovie (a documentary titled Tarnation that premiered in 2004 at Sundance is an exception), you will find plenty of videos on YouTube, Vimeo and other websites.
The reason this is one of the best video editing options for Macs is that it's 100 percent free and comes bundled with your Mac. It's also easy to use with its intuitive interface and keyboard shortcuts. The obvious features are there, of course, like importing and exporting video, a timeline that shows you the video you want to edit, and the ability to move bits of your film here and there.
What's in the Toolbox?
- Enhance: Automatically enhance your video with a click of this magic wand that changes your video and audio slightly to make it a bit better (color correction, balance, etc.); you can make manual changes by heading over to Adjust.
- Adjust: This is where you'll find familiar editing features such as volume, noise reduction, equalizer, color correction, color balance, cropping, stabilization, video effects and sound effects.
- Slow Motion: You can find this option right in the timeline for easy access.
- Auto Upload to iCloud: This feature makes it quick and easy to get your clips hosted online, but you're limited to 15-minute videos.
- Multilayer Editing: Drag and drop a clip on top of another to quickly create a straightaway cut to the next clip, green or blue screen, split screen or create picture-in-picture edits.
- Speed Control: Slow clips down by 50 percent, or speed them up to 20 times their original speed; you can also create instant replays.
- Sharing: You can share directly via Facebook, YouTube, email, iMovie Theater or other options.
Whether you've heard of Lightworks or not shouldn't concern you. This video editing software has been developed over decades and has been used to edit feature-length films you've probably seen, unless you hate good movies like 'Pulp Fiction,' 'Moulin Rouge' and 'The King's Speech.' To be fair, that was the pro version of Lightworks. However, there's a free version meant for home users that's, yes, limited, but still has powerful features.
Originally, Lightworks was only available for Windows users, but it's been made available for Mac and Linux users, too. The biggest downside of the free version of Lightworks is debatable. Some editors claim it's the lack of audio editing tools, while others complain about the lack of support. Either way, you should remind yourself that this is free software. It's safe to assume you get the basic editing tools of any video editing software.
What's in the Toolbox?
- Titling Effects: You get basic titling effects such as fade and typewriter effects for your video titles.
- All Imports: All of the supported formats in Pro are also supported in the free version, and there's a long list, including DVCAM, MPEG formats, Avid, XDCAM HD, Apple Pro Res.
- Exports: Exporting is more limited; you can export to MPEG4 with a max resolution of 1280 x 720, and you can upload directly to YouTube.
- Video Effects: Color correction, blurs, masks and others – you get more than 100 presets of effects you can apply to your video in real time.
- Autosaving: There's no need to hit Ctrl + S over and over — Lightworks autosaves your work often.
- Multicam Editing: You can easily sync edits from multicam footage and see everything in the viewer for flawless syncing.
- Mark & Park: You can apply a mark and play the clip, and when you stop playing, an end mark is automatically added wherever you left off.
- Multiple Keyboard Layouts: If you're coming from professional video editors such as Final Cut Pro or Avid, you can choose these keyboard shortcut layouts until you're ready to use Lightworks' style.
There's free, and then there's free. What we're talking about is open source software, and Avidemux is the super free version. This means you can use the free software on any operating system, including Windows, Mac and Linux. What this also means is that you can add your own code and modify the program, but let's focus on the editing functions of this program.
The developers constantly update Avidemux with bug fixes and new features, so if you choose this software for video editing, be sure to check for updates frequently. The biggest benefit of using this free software is that there is no paid version, so you aren't losing out on features you could have if you paid for a heftier version. Also, the developers take suggestions from users often, so you could see future features you're longing for. For all the features and tools, though, this is still free software and it lacks what many professional video editors offer.
What's in the Toolbox?
- Transform: Add a logo, rotate your clips, crop, fade in and out.
- Adjustment: Change brightness, contrast and color correctness, alter hue and saturation, eliminate 'color ghosting.'
- Sharpen/Blur: Just like in everyone's favorite photo editing software, you can sharpen, blur, add a Gaussian blur, adjust high frequency video noise.
- Subtitles: Add hardcoded subtitles to your video (they cannot be turned off) and choose the color, font, size and position.
This is another big name in the open source video editing software game. This software is touted as one of the best free video editing programs because it lends itself well to video, animation and even video game creation. Blender is one of the more robust free applications and allows for much more than just film editing.
Compare Blender's video editing tools to the other software out there and you'll see that it holds up. Although video editing isn't its focus, it doesn't seem to lack the features that others have. You can use Blender on a PC that's running Windows or Linux, or you can use it on a Mac. It's also worth mentioning that many filmmakers and animators have created original, full-length films and animated movies using Blender.
What's in the Toolbox?
- Masking: Remove parts of a video or replace those bits with another piece of video.
- Audio Mixing: Add the tracks you want, see their waveforms in the timeline with your video, and mix away.
- Adjustments: Change the saturation and hue, brightness and contrast, and more.
- Filters: Fade in/out, flip, cross and gamma cross, glow, transform, wipe.
- Speed Control: Change speed of video for slow motion, or speed it up for comedic effect.
BlackMagic DaVinci Resolve
Hollywood editors love BlackMagic DaVinci Resolve. Colorists used DaVinci Resolve to grade films like 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' and 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.' Professionals likely snap up the paid version, but the free version is almost as feature-rich and powerful as the pro version. What's different about DaVinci Resolve is its developers' willingness to include features and tools from other video editing software, but with their own spin.
If you're editing a feature-length film, you're looking at many hours of editing, so any shortcuts to save you time are welcome, and DaVinci Resolve has them. The free version of DaVinci Resolve is packed with nearly the same number of features as the studio version that costs about $1,000 for a single license.
What's in the Toolbox?
- Audio Sync: You can add up to 16 audio tracks per clip, and DaVinci Resolve offers a feature to auto-sync audio with video.
- Color Grading: Desaturation, white balance, color correction, brightness, contrast, etc.; you can also save settings you like and apply them to other clips.
- Split View: Displays both clips when you're edit trimming.
- Auto Tool Selection: DaVinci Resolve predicts editing tools you need based on where you hover your cursor over a clip in your timeline.
- Simultaneous Multiple Edits: Select several clips and apply the same edit across the board.
When Free Just Won't Cut It
As powerful as these free video editing programs are, there are situations in which you need the bigger, more feature-filled, faster software that's available. When you're color grading and editing a full-length feature film, you may need collaborative workflow options, specific noise reduction or effects that you just can't get in the free versions.
Students: Read This First
If the free versions aren't enough, and you need access to tools and features to help you with your burgeoning film editing career, be sure to check for student prices. Many software companies offer deep discounts. For example, Avid offers students a single license for only $299, with annual upgrade option at only $99 – a fraction of the retail price.
The best video editing software that's trusted by the professionals who create music videos, Hollywood films, television programs and commercials include:
Avid: This is the gold standard. More pro editors than ever use this suite of software. It comes at a hefty price, though. An individual license (with a $299 upgrade plan every year) is $1,299.
Final Cut Pro: The film 'Focus,' starring Will Smith, was edited on Apple's film editing software. It includes powerful tools and features, and it's more affordable than you'd think. The cost for a single license is $299.
Adobe Premiere Pro: Indie studios can't afford what the major Hollywood studios can, so they typically opt for this popular video editing software. The big benefit to using this software is that you can integrate other Adobe software, such as After Effects, Photoshop, Story and Prelude. The cost isn't prohibitive either, but Adobe is pushing its cloud version, so you'll pay $19.99 per month for the single app or $49.99 per month for the whole suite.
Video editing software doesn't have to be expensive to be feature-filled and high quality. These programs we've highlighted are excellent options that can help you on your way to becoming a YouTube sensation, the favorite uncle at your next holiday gathering (video is just so much better than a photo slideshow) or the next It Editor in Hollywood.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
- Best From Hobbyist to Pro:Final Cut Pro X at Apple.com, “A video editing software that you can use even if you don’t have much experience.”
- Most Accessible Apple Editor: Apple iMovie at Apple.com, “If you haven’t done video editing before, this is a good place to get started before moving on to more serious software.”
- Best for Pros:Adobe Premiere Pro CC at Amazon, “A powerful video editor for professionals putting out movies, short films, and the like.”
- Easiest-to-Use Cross-Platform Editor:Adobe Premiere Elements 2018 at Amazon, “An easily approachable video editing software for those just getting started.”
- Best Open-Source Software:Shotcut at Shortcut.org, “A multi-track editing software like any other serious software, and you can readily rearrange the workspace to suit your editing needs.”
- Best Starter Freeware:Lightworks at Lwks.com, “Whether or not you need the free or paid versions is a question you can answer for yourself.”
- Best Freeware:DaVinci Resolve 15 at Blackmagicdesign.com, “Plenty of functionality to take your footage, organize it with data to help you find what you need, and edit it all together.”
- Best for Tutorial and Presentation Videos:Camtasia at Techsmith.com, “It’s a screen recorder and video editor built into one product.”
Our Top Picks
Best From Hobbyist to Pro: Final Cut Pro X
If you want a video editing software that you can use even if you don’t have much experience (and you plan on growing as a video editor while using it), then Final Cut Pro X is well worth your consideration. It may take a few tutorial videos to really get yourself ready to start doing much, but once you get your feet wet, you can do basic editing and learn more and more advanced tricks over time.
While Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing tool, it’s approachable enough for hobbyist videographers to get on board with. And it has a bit more reasonable price than some of the other serious pro video editing software. As a pro software, it comes packed with handy features to help you realize your vision.
The latest version of Final Cut Pro X has the multi-track timeline needed for editing but brings in the future of video and pro features. It supports 360-degree video, graphics, and effects. You can edit together video from multi-cam recording setups and easily switching between multiple angles. And, you can create HDR content. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Apple offers a free trial so you can see if this one is up your alley before you dive all the way in.
Most Accessible Apple editor: Apple iMovie
If you really just want to get started editing videos on your Mac, or even on your iPhone or iPad, then the easiest way is to get Apple iMovie. This is Apple’s free video editing software, and it runs on both Mac OS and iOS platforms, so you can do you video editing just about wherever you go.
For hobbyist and amateur filmmakers, Apple iMovie will have approachable tools to help you easily take your footage and edit a video with a clear flow. You’ll be able to combine multiple video files, layer different video and audio tracks, and add title screens to your video without much fuss. It even includes video filters and some special effects, including picture-in-picture.
The latest version of Apple iMovie keeps up with the trends in video, supporting 4K video editing. So, all that 4K video you capture on your iPhone can be turned into a movie in iMovie. If you haven’t done video editing before, this is a good place to get started before moving on to more serious software.
Best for Pros: Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC (Creative Cloud) software is a powerful video editor for professionals putting out movies, short films, and the like. Of course, it’s also a viable option for hobbyists looking to sharpen their teeth on a video editor that gets used in professional positions. If you’re not trying to go professional with your editing quite yet, you may want to check out the next pick.
Adobe Premiere Pro CC is a constantly evolving video editing software, as Adobe rolls out updates over time. Rather than buying a single edition of the software, you pay for a subscription as long as you’re using it. An added perk is that the software isn’t exclusive to Mac, so you can switch between different computers with different operating systems if you need to.
That subscription gives you access to Premiere Pro for editing all sorts of video, from 3D and even 8K. You’ll also be able to handle audio tracks, add graphics, manage light and color, and effectively put together whatever video you can imagine. If you use Adobe’s other software, like Photoshop or Illustrator, then Premiere Pro will be a great option for easily integrating different workflows.
Easiest-to-Use Cross-Platform Editor: Adobe Premiere Elements 2018
Adobe Premiere Elements 2018 is almost exactly what it sounds like. It’s a stripped down version of the pro Premiere software. This does make it a little less capable, and new features aren’t constantly rolling out to it, but it works as an easily approachable video editing software for those just getting started. And, without a subscription model, you can pay for the software once and you’re set.
If you’re an amateur just getting started with video editing, and especially if you’re not planning on going pro, then Premiere Elements 2018 will be an excellent pick for you. While Premiere Elements does give you plenty of tools for putting together multiple video, image, and audio files into one complete video, it also has some tools to help you make a better video if you’re not a savvy editor already. Plus, the software is available on both Mac and PC.
Premier Elements 2018 helps you organize the files you’ll be using in your video, and it can guide you through the editing process from beginning to end. It will also let you add in some fun little effects to spice up your video. And, in keeping with the times, it supports 4K video.
Best Open-Source Software: Shotcut
Shotcut is highly versatile free video editing software available on Mac and PC. Once you get past the somewhat steep learning curve, you’ll find you can do quite a lot with Shotcut. And, since it’s a free software, you have the option of seeing whether or not you like it without having to pay a cent.
Shotcut is a multi-track editing software like any other serious software, and you can readily rearrange the workspace to suit your editing needs. Shotcut supports a wide variety of file types for both input and output, including 4K video. Plus, you can edit audio, color, and lighting effects in Shotcut.
Best Free Video Editing App For Apple
Though Shotcut isn’t the easiest software to just pick up and start editing videos with, the nature of being a free software means plenty of people are using it and making incredibly helpful tutorial videos or guides on how to use it. And, if you want a readily portable option, Shotcut is it, since you can run it directly off an external storage drive.
Best Starter Freeware: Lightworks
Lightworks blends the offerings of a free editing software with a paid one. Compared to Shotcut, it has an easier learning curve, but some of the features that you’ll want may be part of the paid Lightworks Pro version, such as the ability to export your final product in more video formats and higher resolutions.
Whether or not you need the free or paid versions is a question you can answer for yourself later on though, as either will let you import a wide range of file formats, easily edit together multiple files, manage your audio, add titles, and tweak your visuals.
The free version of Lightworks will be a fine option for anyone who isn’t concerned much about video resolution, as you’ll still be able to output web-ready 720p videos. But, if you try out Lightworks, like how it works, and want to stick with it as your video editor of choice, you can upgrade to the Pro software and start putting out high-quality video. Plus, Lightworks is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, so you’ll be able to stick with Lightworks even if you stop using a Mac later on.
Best Freeware: DaVinci Resolve 15
If you’re ready to get started editing all kinds of videos and putting out the final product in a high-quality, 4K format without having to pay a cent to do so, then DaVinci Resolve 15 is a great option. While there is a paid Studio version, you’ll really only need to go with that if you’re planning to do some collaboration or want access to a few of the software’s more advanced tools and effects.
For the most part, DaVinci Resolve 15 is going to give you plenty of functionality to take your footage, organize it with data to help you find what you need, and edit it all together. Once you’re done, you can output in just about any format you need, whether you want the highest quality or something that’s ready to upload quickly to YouTube.
If you want a video editing software you can get serious with, then DaVinci Resolve 15 fits the bill. It’s just a bonus that the free version is so capable because it’ll give you a chance to try it for yourself and see if it feels like something you can really use.
Best for Tutorial and Presentation Videos: Camtasia
Camtasia is particularly handy if you’re planning to make videos that will use footage captured from your computer screen. That’s because it’s a screen recorder and video editor built into one product.
With Camtasia, you’ll be able to record the screen and audio of your computer or even your iOS device. If you’re putting together tutorial videos, this capability will be incredibly useful. Plus, you have the option of adding webcam footage on top of the screen-captured video.
Beyond screen-capture, Camtasia also gives you multi-track timeline editing and tools for transitions, animations, audio and video effects, and annotations. If you want to make a presentation video, you can also add in a PowerPoint. So, whether you’re an educator, business professional, or just trying to put some tutorials up on YouTube, Camtasia offers tools you can use to capture and edit the video you need. A free trial will give you a chance to see if its tool and features a good fit for you.
Best Video Editing Apps For Windows
What to Look for in Video Editing Software for a Mac
Free vs. paid - If you’re a beginner just dipping your toes into the world of video editing, a free software program is probably your best bet. If you have more advanced needs, you’ll likely need to pay to access the features you’ll need. However, most software programs have free trials that let you try them before you buy them.
Best Free Video Editing Software For Youtube Mac
File compatibility - Before you commit to a new program, make sure it’s compatible with the type of video you’ll be shooting. While some programs support 4K video, others don’t, and yet others will support 3D and 4K. Be sure to consider both the input and output formats you’ll need.
Extra features - Most video editing programs can handle the basics—merging clips, adding transitions, and laying down audio—but the extra features are what will take your video from amateur to expert. Look for handy features like multi-track timelines, filters, special effects, and more.