Do you want to pick a suitable tool for video editing? Read our in-depth review of the 8 best editing software programs and unleash your creative power.
Video editing is a creative work, and any rules are there to be broken. Among the best video editing software applications, there is no absolute best, since the very concept of best is not quantifiable given the different situations, editing needs, and the level of film editing skills of the potential user.
If you are searching for industry-standard tools, Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro gain popularity among professionals and hobbyists. Another most mentioned program is DaVinci Resolve, with its powerful color grading and editing tool, and a strategy of free licensing that stands out against the subscription-based licensing of its competitors.
If you want to find free video editing software to produce vlogs and mini-movies for fun or for learning NLEs by practicing, freeware like VideoProc Vlogger is a new option.
After testing and sifting through, we narrow the list down according to specific situations and needs:
- Best for creators who need freeware: VideoProc Vlogger
- Best for professionals: Adobe Premiere Pro| Apple Final Cut Pro
- Best for prosumers: DaVinci Resolve| Lightworks
- Best for easy video editing: iMovie
- Best for rich features: HitFilm Express
- Best for audio mixing: VideoPad
Best Video Editing Software for Windows and Mac
The following top video editing software tools take a large share in the post-production market and are well received by users for good reasons.
1. VideoProc Vlogger
The best free video editing software for beginners and creators
VideoProc Vlogger is the best free option for creators to make cinematic videos and vlogs. It is intuitive and feature-rich, with basic tools to cut, crop, add text, change music, and apply effects, and so on. Users can edit videos and audios on the timeline, re-sequence the clips, add multiple tracks/overlays, add watermark, add borders, reverse videos, correct fisheye distortion, etc.
This freeware has several outstanding features, including the speed ramping with 14 Bezier Curve presets, a Motion editor to fake camera movements in clicks, a color panel with 3D LUTs and HSL Secondary, and a visualized audiogram to edit video to the beat and make precise audio toning.
Creators can also make a green screen, split screen, picture-in-picture, slow-motion, or time-lapse video using specific features in VideoProc Vlogger. Better still, you can enjoy all the features of VideoProc Vlogger free without limitations and even output 4K resolutions without a watermark!
Availability for: Windows, Mac
Price: Free (no limits, no watermark, no ads, no fee-based services)
- Zero learning curve for beginners and hobbyists
- Have both simple and advanced features
- Change video speed, create motion effects, edit audio, correct colors
- Smooth 4K video editing, rendering and exporting
- Full GPU Acceleration powered by NVIDIA, Intel, AMD, Apple M1 series
- Fully compatible with virtually any video, audio, and image formats
2. Adobe Premiere Pro
The best video editing software overall
Adobe Premiere Pro is gaining momentum in recent years. Unlike Mac-exclusive Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro works on both Mac and Windows computers. For small studios and enthusiasts, Premiere Pro works fine, although less stable to handle hundreds of Gigabytes of large projects, and it is popular outside the Hollywood industry. Don't forget that Deadpool was cut solemnly on Premiere.
Programmed with powerful tools you need in post-production, Premiere helps you do serious editing on mini-movies and long feature films. It may look daunting for beginners. But once you understand the logic behind video editing, it is analogical to other video editing software.
Availability for: Windows, Mac
Price: Free trial; $239.88/year subscription
- Seamless integration with Photoshop and After Effects to enhance your video
- Powerful multi-cam editing utility to shift between different angles
- Move-insert editing without leaving any gaps on the timeline
- Effective motion tracking to apply a mask over an object in motion
- Lumetri color grading panel for color design
3. Apple Final Cut Pro
The professional video editing software for Mac
Let's first get things clear. Final Cut Pro 7 or earlier versions – referred to as Final Cut Pro Classic by many professional editors – are different from Final Cut Pro X in terms of media management, interface, and editing workflow.
Unlike FCP which has a mainstay in Hollywood, FCPX has enjoyed success outside the Hollywood market, partly due to Apple's strategy to appeal to more prosumers instead of professionals-only.
There are more editors and hobbyists use this Apple video editing app. When Final Cut Pro 7 was discontinued, many editors flocked to Premiere or other NLEs that have similar workflows or conceptual designs.
It might not do justice to Final Cut Pro X, which has been updating and evolving with modern architecture to take advantage of multi-core CPUs. It has utilized all the RAM (FCP7 only access 4GB of RAM regardless of how much RAM you have), and background processing.
Availability for: Mac
Price: 30-day free trial; $299.99 for a full package. Available at Mac App Store
- Codec support REDCODE RAW, H265/HEVC, AVCHD, H.264, AVC, Sony XAVC, MXF, etc.
- Ability to fully utilize multi-core of your CPU for background rendering
- Optimizing media and adopting proxy work and taking advantage of hardware acceleration
- Multi-cam editing supported with an intuitive interface
- Clear support of timeline index makes it handy to jump to the desired frame based on keywords, makers, and self-defined to-do items
4. DaVinci Resolve
Best for color editing
The name of DaVinci Resolve often comes along with color grading, and now, it is changing the scene together with fusion (composition software, Black Magic's version of After Effects) and fair light (professional audio editing software).
DaVinci Resolve enables you to build your color-correction node tree for both basic tasks and complex color-grading jobs. Working with RAW files is a breeze, and you can use color management for the entire project, such as setting colors to YRGB, and ACEScc so that you have a very flat image to start with.
Besides, you can do all the editing in DaVinci as other NLEs, including timeline-based cutting, post-editing, audio correction, and graphic design.
Availability for: Windows, Mac, Linux
- Powerfully programmed to utilize hardware acceleration
- Apply your color grading settings to other clips in 1-click
- Extremely powerful color tracker palette to bring focus on an element of a particular color without messing up with a similar color element
- Select an individual hue for a fine-tune with a qualification tool, for example, you can adjust the color of a man's cloth without affecting the color of his face
- Manage color grading and correction with nodes for you to be more productive and the sessions more disciplined
Best video editor program for prosumers
You may not have heard of this software as often as Adobe Premiere, but the fact is, Lightworks has been around in the early 90s, as long as Avid and Premiere.
Pulp Fiction and The Kings Speech were cut with Lightworks. If you have a powerfully built computer, you can enjoy the real-time effects and color correction tool offered by this video editing software. Note that there are Limited export settings and no 4K editing in the free version.
Lightworks has a video routing utility that displays the flow of your effects. You can freely add, remove, and reattach connections to create different effect flows, and it is fun to play with the sequence and effects type to surprise you. If you are editing a movie with complex effects, video routing helps you make things clearer.
Availability for: Windows, Mac, Linux
Price: Free Trial; License starting from $240
- Powerful team sharing utility to task managing large project
- Numerous FX plugins (.prm) are supported
- Video routing feature to record your activities and better manage video effects
Best for easy and quick video editing
Making movie trailers with iMovie is a no-brainer. Even if you have zero experience with video editing, you can pick up iMovie and cut a ready-to-share with all the elements needed for a trailer: clips, text, background music, animations, and transitions. It is more like a movie trailer maker, which has guided storyboards so that you don't need to write your own. Just follow the instruction and cut clips accordingly.
For instance, it might instruct you to add a scene of the character running, and next is a wide portrait of the character, followed by a closed-up. Or you can trust your creative mind, and freely edit your short film and movie trailers without a template.
Nicely enough, iMovie adopts a library management mechanism that is typical of the Apple system. It is similar to how you use the photo library or iTunes music library. You can create multiple libraries to keep separate resources such as one for family and another for work.
Availability for: macOS, iOS
- Seamless integration with iMovie for iOS and Final Cut Pro
- Pre-installed on Mac, free to use
- Handling 4K HEVC without bogging down
- Multi-track editing with ease
7. HitFilm Express
Best video editing software with rich features
HitFilm is among one of the most fully-featured video editing software in the pool of free pieces. Besides basic editing tools for splicing and assembling clips, there are a plethora of professional visual effects packed into this free video editing software.
And the even better news is, there are active communities and supporting tutorials that help beginners to create awesome effects and scenes that are cinematic – all for free.
From detailed video tutorials that walk you through the basic operations of HitFilm Express, there are also video editing techniques and color grading tutorials.
ou can even learn by themes, such as sci-fi fantasy or gaming such that you can start to edit and produce your movies with themes.
Availability for: Windows, macOS
Price: free with full features; expansion pack starting from $9.99
- Support 8K with RAM preview to speed up your video editing
- Batch dealing with multiple sequences on the timeline, thus enabling you to edit in one tab and composite in another tab flexibly
- Better assets management: labeling media resources to differentiate shots, music, and other elements easily
- Enhanced mask editing that allows you to rotoscope characters in a movie, add matte to create video effects
Basic editing software with good audio features
VideoPad might be too basic for pro users, but easy to begin with for zero experience users. Developed by NCH Software, VideoPad as a video editing tool is part of the NCH suite for media solutions. This suite includes the sound-editing program WavePad, the sound-mixing app MixPad, and the image tool PhotoPad. You can see the naming pattern here.
If you are already a user of one of the Pad, you might want to give VideoPad a try for better integration, after all, there is no harm since it's free.
Availability for: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Price: Free to use with the basic version; $20 to upgrade to a more capable pro version
- Built-in voiceover feature, handy for narration in mini-movies
- support a wide multitude of input and output formation
Video editing is a creative process. Don't be the slave of countless software and tools. Play with it!
Many inspirational moments flash in the middle of video editing when you are experimenting with even the simplest cutting tools. Download the editor and let your creative juice flow right now.