The best video editing software will enable you to turn your video clips into professional-looking final edits. No matter whether you're just starting out as a vlogger or a seasoned filmmaker, our guide will help you choose which editing software to use depending on whether you're planning to edit on a desktop computer, laptop or tablet.
A big part of any content creation is the video editing process which needs an entirely different skill set than editing photos. Even the most basic videos will need to be trimmed, cut together and exported as a watchable file. As you get more advanced in filmmaking, you may want to start adding transitions and effects to your footage as well as color grading your film to give it a cinematic feel.
Videography is now such a broad category and people do it for all different reasons. From the more traditional uses such as creating documentaries and films to creating content for social media, vlogs for YouTube or even live streaming an event.
For that reason, we've split our guide into three sections so you can jump directly to the part that most suits your needs:
• Pro video editing software: What you need if you make most of your money from filmmaking
• Budget video editing software: A cheaper alternative to the pro-end software but with the basics features you need to select, trim and export footage.
• Mobile video editing software: Ideal for bloggers and content creators who shoot primarily on mobile devices and want to be able to edit on the move and upload as soon as it's finished.
There's never been a better time to get acquainted with video. Chances are there'll be a time in your life where it'll be a handy skill to have such a documenting a holiday, growing your business or creating visually engaging content for your social media. For that reason, it's a good idea to know what the best settings for your camera are, regardless of whether you're shooting with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera system.
Of course, you can also shoot with your camera phone and these days you buy some of the best gimbals for your smartphone which will help with stabilization so you can shoot really smooth footage. The 2018 horror film, Unsane was shot entirely on an iPhone which proves just how good they can be.
Don't assume you can't get great results with simple software! Great filmmaking skills come from the photographer and their own unique vision, so don't assume you have to pay a fortune and learn a whole dictionary of video jargon to make your mark.
1. Adobe Premiere Pro: best video editing software overall
Adobe's Premiere Pro is our pick for the best video editing software overall. Available for both PC and Mac users, this pro-standard software offers everything you need for serious video editing.
2. Cyberlink PowerDirector:
best video editing software for beginners
This our pick for those looking for a cost-effective entry into video editing. PowerDirector has a wealth of features and tools on offer - and can be bought outright as PowerDirector 19, or on a subscription basis as part of Cyberlink PowerDirector 365.
Best video editing software in 2022
Best professional video editing software
Premiere Pro is pretty much the industry standard and for good reasons. For starters, it integrates seamlessly with Adobe's Creative Cloud which includes software such as Lightroom, Photoshop and After Effects. If you already have a full all apps subscription to Creative Cloud you'll already have access to Premiere Pro, you might just have to download it to your computer. This is a professional-grade video editing tool that offers lots of customizable options with its interface or you can select from predefined workspaces. It's brimming with handy tools, pre-installed effects and transitions, an audio alignment feature and you can download third-party effects if it doesn't have quite what you need. Premiere Pro will take a while to get your head around as it has so many features but once you've sussed it, it's a powerful tool for video editing. The past year has seen some substantial upgrades – and don't forget these are all included in the subscription. They include a speech-to-text feature for captioning, Apple M1 support, a Sensei-powered Remix feature to make your music fit your clips and, more recently, Frame.io integration for cloud-based collaboration, and Sensei Auto Color adjustments.
Final Cut Pro X is the video editing software created by Apple. It's perfectly optimized for Macs so so long as you're running on a new enough machine, it should be more stable and quicker to render projects than if you were using Premiere Pro. It's jam-packed with pro-grade features such as multi-camera edits to HDR support, in-app color grading and even 360-degree video. Its image-heavy user interface might have startled seasoned video editors when it was first introduced but for anyone just starting out in video editing who want a more professional programme, it makes the process a lot simpler. If you already own a Macbook or iMac and want someone more advanced than iMovie, there's a good chance that Final Cut Pro X will provide the upgrade you're looking for. Latest features include the ability to drag effects titles and graphics into the viewer to automatically detect and track objects and faces, editable focus points for iPhone 13 Cinematic movies, and optimization for the latest Mac M1 Pro and Max chips.
• Read our full Final Cut Pro X review
DaVinci Resolve initially started out as a color-grading tool but has since become an industry-standard editor. If you've moved across from Premier Pro, the familiar interface complete with timeline, monitor window and media pool should make you feel at home.
It also has a lot of more advanced features such as a new 'cut page' in the Dual Time and its new Neural Engine uses machine learning to apply advanced effects such as removing objects from a scene and morph transitions focusing on a face. The Pro version also supports HDR color grading, collaborative working and so much more. There's a one-time purchase fee but after that, it's yours so you don't have to worry about paying for a monthly subscription.
DaVince Resolve 18 is a major update that adds a cloud-based workflow via Blackmagic Cloud, automatic proxy generation linked to original files, optimization for the Apple M1 Ultra, new Resolve FX features and more besides.
• Read our full DaVinci Resolve Studio 17 review
Best budget video editing software
CyberLink is recognized for its range of reliable creative applications. PowerDirector is a popular video editing suite and the choice of many enthusiasts and professionals alike. Each year a new release adds functionality and incremental improvements to the software and version 19 welcomes a raft of useful tweaks including a new, simpler interface, cleaner timeline controls and the ability to easily duplicate title attributes and clips allow users to edit footage efficiently. There are also updates to PowerDirector's keyframe tools, color matching and motion graphic titles. Cyberlink still offers PhotoDirector as a perpetual license – but the subscription offer is the best overall value, as it gives you free access to Shutterstock HD clips, make it one of the best video editing software programs for those on a budget.
With expanded color grading options and a range of automatic filters, VideoStudio Ultimate is seriously competitive. It gives you control of highlights, mid-tones and lowlights, just like Lightroom does for photos, and the pricier Premiere Pro for videos. It even offers control over specific colors, so you can make a shade of green pop without affecting the rest of the scene. The software also supports the creation of text masks, so you can easily overlay dynamic titles on your videos without having to jump into another application. Even transitions are handled in a novel, customizable way, so you can align elements across scenes so the fades, blurs or wipes happen exactly how you want them to. With a core interface that’s very similar to much of the more premium competition, it’s a great gateway editor for beginners to get started with. Now up to VideoStudio 2022, the latest version adds face effects, a new speech to text converter, animated AR stickers, GIF creator, camera movement transitions and more besides.
• Read our Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2021 review
Premiere Elements can be bought as a standalone product or bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements as a twin pack. For many enthusiast users or beginners this is a big deal, as it is not necessary to pay for other apps you may have limited or no use for on a regular basis. Adobe Premiere Elements 2022 helps video-editing novices hit the ground running as it guides you through simple and then more sophisticated techniques. You can then develop your video editing skills using the tools in the Expert workspace. Its focus on using animated overlays to create eye-catching social media content helps it keep pace with competing non-linear apps such as CyberLink PowerDirector19. If you’re already using Photoshop Elements 2022 then Premiere Elements will slot smoothly into your organising, editing and sharing workflow.
• See our Adobe Premiere Elements 2022 review
iMovie remains a popular editing option for people of a range of expertise levels. Its consumer-level focus however does mean it is easy to use, so even if you have never experienced it before you should fall right into step with the design philosophy without too much effort. It is incredibly simple to import media into a project from your Apple devices, spanning iMacs, MacBooks and iPhones. Within mere minutes you can create attractive videos using the provided templates.
You can also add pre-prepared titles and overlays. Feature-wise iMovie is a little more limited than other applications on this list. You are limited to just a couple of clip tracks, and once you create a project you cannot swap between types – if you want to change the look and style of your video you’ll have to start a new project. It’s not fancy and is a little on the basic side for more advanced users, but for creating quick, short videos iMovie is ideal for beginners and enthusiasts. What’s more, it’s free, so it represents tremendous value and makes it one of the best video editing software programs for those who like to get creative without breaking the bank.
Similarly to Adobe’s Premiere Elements, Filmora does not require a subscription and is aimed at users who are not necessarily expert, which is one of the reasons why we list it as one of the best video editing software programs. However that does not mean the application does not come with an extensive range of professional features. Impressively you have the option of adding up to 100 video and audio tracks, which opens up immense possibilities for complex edits and pro-level videos. There is also a great range of transitions, title effects and trimming options. The automated scene detection feature is great for dividing longer, unbroken clips into workable pieces, for later arrangement on the timeline. It’s easy to work with titles and other content, while the transitions are perfectly acceptable for pro-looking projects. Filmora 11, the latest version, brings new FX Plug-ins, Wondershare Drive online file sharing, Speed Ramping and more.
For a video editing suite to be considered truly professional it needs to offer some level of local-adjustment capability, enabling the user to adjust clips based on area. Much like photo-editing in Photoshop, pro video which has been edited using masks can be optimised for color and detail in every zone of the image. Pinnacle Studio 23 enabled the use of Masks to overlay effects, shapes and text by making selections of areas for isolated work. This is a powerful tool and sets Pinnacle apart from some of its competitors. Look-up Tables (LUTs) are another welcome feature for color grading, allowing quick application of complex colour effects. For manual editing you get full Curves control for adjusting colour and exposure. Also present is 360° video compatibility, Multicam editing for simultaneous work on several camera angles and motion tracking, completing an all-encompassing specification list. We liked version 24, and the latest Pinnacle Studio. 25 adds smart object tracking, blend modes, audio noise reduction, pitch scaling, multi-channel sound mixing and even 8K import.
Best video editors for mobile
With iMovie being an included app for iOS devices, the lack of a robust editing tool in the Android ecosystem was acutely felt until PowerDirector hit the scene. As the best video editing software for mobile, PowerDirector features a traditional timeline, and all the tools you’d expect for trimming, editing and exporting your movies, but it also goes much further.
Support for layers means you can have multiple audio tracks, a voiceover and backing track for example. A host of effects and transitions are included, and even advanced features like chroma key, for green screen editing, are available, while if you opt for the paid version you get access to 4K output too.
The application can feel a touch clunky, especially on smaller-screened devices, so try the free version first to make sure it runs well on your device. In addition, the pricing may feel steep for an Android app – but what you get is an incredibly comprehensive solution that could even replace your desktop editor if your needs are mobile-first.
Magisto will put a lot of video professionals and purists off. It relies heavily on templates, and employs a cookie cutter backend system for creating videos. You simply select the photos and videos you want, pick a theme, upload your music or choose from a range of backing tracks, and hey presto: your video is done after a few minutes' rendering. There is a desktop version of the software, but we're focusing on the mobile experience, as it’s where Magisto shines
Within the application, you can decide whether you want your video rendered 1:1 for Instagram, or 16:9 portrait, or landscape, though the max output resolution is 720p.
There’s also an option to overlay a logo, dictate how heavy the theme effects are, and even the pace of the final movie. Using what Magisto refers to as its AI engine, it determines the order of the clips, and applies effects as it sees fit.
While there’s some scope for reordering, it’s largely automated and this is a double-edged sword. It has some neat capabilities - face detection for example, so it knows to keep faces in frame. On the other hand, there’s no granular control over individual elements, so if one scene is slightly off, you either remove it, or press the re-edit button, and hope for the best.
There is a free version, but to unlock 720p video, it will cost you $19.99 for a month month, or $119.88/year, making it pricey and potentially better suited to businesses rather than individuals.
Based on the premise that your best photos and videos can get lost in the dross, GoPro’s reimagined Quik app works as an effective private content feed and makes it easy to produce slick-looking auto-generated highlight videos set to music. Initially a free download, Quik automatically pulls photos and videos from your smartphone, whether the original source was a GoPro, a DSLR or any other device. It’s completely device agnostic, as the previous iteration of the Quick app was, though the new version can also be used to operate a GoPro, transfer content to a phone and live-stream.
Much improved on the original Quik app and a total refresh for all GoPro users, the action camera maker’s new device-agnostic app has a slick new user interface including new filters, tools and music. Star of the show is a ‘mural’ page for keeping track of your favourite photos and videos, though it’s video-centric and you do have to subscribe to get unlimited access to its editing tools, which will put off many.
• Read our GoPro Quik review
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