With the best video editing software installed on your laptop or smartphone, it’s never been easier to become a movie-maker and produce some impressively professional-looking videos.
The best video editing software gives anyone – no matter what their experience or budget is, or what kind of equipment they have – the ability to make eye-catching videos, and the tools that are on offer these days are getting better all the time, offering tools and features that wouldn’t have been possible only a few years ago.
However, with the sheer amount of video editing software out there, it can be difficult to choose what the best video editing software is for your needs – and that’s where we come in.
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.
01. Adobe Premiere Pro CC
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Platform: Windows, Mac | Key features: 4k support, built-in effects and titles | Free trial: Free version available | Best for: Enthusiasts
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 1-year plan, 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.
08. CyberLink PowerDirector 17 Ultra
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.
09. Pinnacle Studio 22
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.
10. DaVinci Resolve
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.
11. Apple iMovie
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.
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.