For years, you needed access to expensive equipment and software to edit videos. But now there are so many amazing free programs that anyone can use. Whether you use Mac or Windows, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on professional video-editing software.
If you want to learn how to edit videos, you can start with the best free software for editing videos. We’ve reviewed some of the best programs you should try.
Most of the software programs in our roundup can’t boast Hollywood credentials like Lightworks can. EditShare’s non-linear editing system has helped produce films from LA Confidential and Pulp Fiction to Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street, offering a reliable set of both free and premium tools that we simply can’t ignore.
Notable features include professional-level color correction, GPU-accelerated real-time effects, and nearly all-encompassing format support. Lightworks also offers traditional tools for importing, trimming, and seamlessly weaving audio and video together with a few effortless mouse clicks. However, the free version is only capable of exporting MPEG-4 files with a resolution of up to 720p.
Another great inclusion is the program’s ability to select Avid and Final Cut Pro keyboard layouts if you refuse to adopt Lightworks’ default design. Despite its brawny capabilities, it’s quick and on-point, and the full-screen interface is polished and well organized as well. Also, given the open-source nature of the software and steep learning curve associated with the freemium product, the program’s forums are more bustling than most.
Lightworks is by far the most fully featured video editor on our list; however, it’s also the one that requires the user to be the most tech-savvy to make full use of its robust framework and flagship feature set.
Apple’s iMovie has long been one of the most consumer-oriented video editors out there. It’s bundled with all new Macs and touts some serious practicality for the everyday user. The latest version of the software allows you to import and edit 4K video clips from a variety of external devices, such as smartphones and GoPro cameras, and sports a clean interface that is attractive and easy to navigate. The ability to start editing on iPhone or iPad and finish on a Mac renders it even more convenient.
Aside from video, images and audio can also be incorporated into your project by simply dragging your desired multimedia into the project area and arranging them in a timeline-like fashion. The resulting video can always be previewed in real-time, as well as any effects — themes, text, filters, music, voice-overs — before exporting the file directly to YouTube, Facebook, or a wealth of other platforms.
Other recent features include a basic audio editor, the option to make previews for apps you’ve developed, built-in green-screen effects, compatibility with ClassKit for educational projects, and even the ability to make your movie trailers complete with transitions and end credits. It’s not a tour de force in terms of video editing, but it’s perfectly suitable for home videos and minor projects. Consider combining it with free audio recording software!
Blender is often used as a tool for animation, rendering, and 3D sculpting — and even as a benchmark for new PC hardware — but it’s a great, free editing tool too. Alongside its more advanced 3D features, Blender lets you perform cuts and splices in your video through the detailed and intuitive timeline. You can also perform tasks like video masking and color grading to make your output video look just how you want it.
Other features include audio mixing, grease pencils, a live preview, integration with various pipeline tools, and several fancy transitions and filters you can use to enhance the look and feel of your video.
Shotcut is a great video editor for at-home hobbyists who want as much compatibility as possible and a simple, highly customizable interface. It supports most (literally hundreds) of formats via the FFmpeg project, and makes it easy to capture and use video right from your computer with support for up to 4K resolution. Also, users can enjoy audio features like cross-fade, scopes, filters, pitch compensation, and audio mixing.
We also like the modular style of the interface, which is straightforward except for the ability to “dock” as many panels as you want to customize a particular editing job with just the right tools. Professional editors will appreciate this feature when working on complex projects.
HitFilm Express makes much of its contemporary approach to video editing, promising tools to create the latest in effects. However, the software beneath the flashy visuals is useful at a range of 2D/3D compositing projects. The ability to lock individual tracks and layers ensures that painstaking work won’t be accidentally edited, while the combined timelines feature allows users to edit and composite simultaneously without needing to open separate apps.
You can find video tutorials that will walk you through using the different features of HitFilm Express. This video editor lets you create a customized workstation to access the features you use the most, and a convenient search algorithm that helps you find the most relevant tool for your needs. Lastly, HitFilm Express supports all the main file formats used in the movie industry. This makes HitFilm Express a great setup for new editors who are mostly interested in making their video effects pop, and who may want to search for particular effects within the HitFilm community.