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The best free video-editing software for 2021

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 editing software. We’ve reviewed some of the best no-cost programs you should try.

The best

Lightworks (Windows, MacOS, and Linux)

Lightworks

Most of the software programs in our roundup can’t boast the Hollywood credentials that Lightworks can. This non-linear editing system has helped produce films from L.A. Confidential and Pulp Fiction to Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street, offering a reliable set of both free and premium tools that we can’t ignore.

Notable features include professional-level color correction and GPU-accelerated real-time effects. 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 can only export 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 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.

The rest

iMovie (MacOS and iOS)

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 various 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.

While editing your video, you’ll have access to features such as being able to stabilize any shaky camera work, 48 audio and video effects, and the ability to add a soundtrack with content from iTunes or GarageBand.

Other recent features include 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 trailer templates 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

Blender

Blender is often used as a tool for animation, rendering, and sculpting — and even a benchmark for new PC hardware — but it’s a great, free editing tool. Alongside its more advanced 3D features, Blender lets you perform cuts and splices in your video through a 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 transitions and filters that you can use to enhance your video’s look and feel.

Shotcut (Windows, MacOS, and Linux)

Shotcut

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 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. Shotcut includes additional editing features, like cross-fade, scopes, filters, pitch compensation, and audio mixing.

This editing tool has an intuitive and straightforward interface. If you find that the interface is too simplistic, you can customize it by adding more panels with the different tools you need for your project. Professional editors will appreciate this feature when working on complex projects.

HitFilm Express (MacOS and Windows)

HitFilm Express makes this list because of its modern approach to editing videos. This impressive tool lets you create new effects; however, the software running the flashy visuals is handy for various 2D/3D compositing projects. HitFilm Express’s track locking feature will ensure you never edit over work.

Get to know all of the tools with step-by-step tutorial videos and learn how to personalize your working station. This video editor allows you to personalize your workstation, so all your favorite features are readily available for you. The search tool also helps you find the feature needed to complete an editing project. 

HitFilm Express supports the major file formats, making it great for new editors to share their unique work with the world. 

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