The best free video-editing software

Done paying for Premiere and Final Cut Pro? Here are the best free alternatives

youtube shuttering video editor editing
Ammentorp/123RF

People like movies — no question about it — but not everyone likes to go through the painstaking task of filming and editing their own feature-length film.

However, simple editing can be done on the cheap if you’re willing to ditch powerful, high-end software such as Final Cut Pro, or Adobe Premiere, in favor of a more modest program. Let’s face it, you’re probably not going to be taking home the Palme d’Or with the film you cut on your laptop, but your home movies and YouTube uploads can take on a whole new shine with a few straightforward tools.

Below are our picks for the best free video editing software available for Windows and MacOS (for free photo editors, check here!). Now you can channel your inner Michael Kahn, Thelma Schoonmaker, or Arthur Schmidt on a nonexistent budget. Ready, set, EDIT.

The best

Lightworks — Windows, MacOS, and Linux

Lightworks Screen Shot

Most of the software programs in our roundup can’t boast Hollywood credentials like Lightworks can. EditShare’s non-linear editing system has been used to help produce everything from LA Confidential and Pulp Fiction, to Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street, offering a solid 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, video capture, and nearly all-encompassing format support. However, the free version is only capable of exporting MPEG-4 files with a resolution of up to 720p. Thankfully, Lightworks also offers traditional tools for importing, trimming, and seamlessly weaving audio and video together with a few effortless mouse clicks.

Other great inclusions are the program’s instant auto-save functionality, which works flawlessly in the background, and the 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 truly tap into its powerful framework and flagship feature set. On that note, check out the best graphics cards arounds, too.

The rest

iMovie — MacOS and iOS

best free video editing software imovie01

Apple’s iMovie has long been one of the most consumer-orientated 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 timeline-like fashion. The resulting video can always be previewed in real time, as well as any effects — themes, text, 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, and the even ability to make your own 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!

Avidemux — Windows, MacOS, and Linux

avidemux screen shot

Avidemux is the Instagram of video editing software — quick, dirty, and impressively capable. The software is designed for quick trimming, filtering, encoding, and a slew of other basic features. The cross-platform software also remains open-source — with a resourceful wiki page to boot — and tasks can be automated using assorted projects, job queues, and custom scripting capabilities that push it beyond barebones functionality.

With light features also comes a light footprint, and Avidemux takes up little space compared to the other programs in our roundup. It also allows users to change extensions and select individual output formats when they’re finished editing a video, but the less-than-friendly interface makes it difficult to utilize the more intricate features and worthwhile tools. It may remain a bit buggy and prone to crashing, but the program’s defaults still work as intended, making Avidemux a standout choice once you’ve learned your way around the software. Just remember to save your work.

Shotcut — Windows, MacOS, and Linux

Shotcut

Shotcut is a great video editor for at-home hobbyists who want as much compatibility as possible and 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.

We also like the modular style of the interface, which is simple except for the ability to “dock” as many panels as you want to customize a particular editing job with just the right tools. This makes Shotcut ideal for the experienced editor working on their own projects.

Hitfilm Express — MacOS and Windows

best free video editing software hitfilmexpress01

Hitfilm Express makes much of its trendy approach to video editing, promising tools to create the latest in Star Wars or Westworld effects. However, the software beneath the flashy visuals is effective at a range of 2D/3D compositing projects and includes 180 pre-made visual effects (with the option to purchase additional packages).

There are also tutorials and training videos showing you how to use them. It’s a good setup for new editors who are mostly interested in making their videos look cooler, and who may want to search for particular effects with the Hitfilm community.

Photography

Not just for photographers anymore, Loupedeck+ now supports Adobe Premiere Pro

Video editors can now get physical with the Loupedeck+ control board. Originally for Lightroom, a software update allows the controls to adapt to video editing, including color grading, clip trimming, and navigating through the timeline.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with 12 of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation. Updated meta…
Computing

Need to convert video in a flash? These free apps and services will do the job

Devices that are capable of playing video can be a picky bunch to say the least. Fortunately, the best free video converters can render format issues a thing of the past. Here are our current favorites.
Computing

Wi-Fi vulnerability could allow attackers to steal your data on unencrypted sites

A 20-year-old security flaw in the design of the Wi-Fi standard and how computers communicate using the transmission control protocol could allow hackers to perform a web cache poisoning attack to steal your data and login information.
Deals

Walmart takes $380 off the MacBook Air for a limited time

Walmart is offering a steep discount on the MacBook Air. Though the $380 discount is lovely, this offer comes with an extra charger to sweeten the deal. If you're looking to pick up an Apple MacBook for less, now is an excellent time.
Product Review

The powerhouse Alienware 17 R5 will leave your desktop in the dust

With a 17-inch display and a chassis weighing in at nearly 10 pounds, the Alienware 17 R5 is truly massive. Between its weight and its hardware, it’s certainly outfitted like a gaming desktop so let’s find out if it performs like one.
Computing

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.
Computing

Documentation shows data recovery possible for Macs with T2 coprocessor

New documentation from Apple shows that data recovery is indeed possible for Macs with T2 Coprocessor thanks to internal diagnostics software, giving users of the 2018 MacBook Pro new hope in the event of a system failure.
Computing

Smart Reply not smart enough? Desktop Gmail users can soon opt out

Google will soon give desktop Gmail users the ability to opt out of Smart Reply. If you'd prefer to compose a short email the old-fashioned way, you can do so without seeing the auto-generated suggestions in the future.
Product Review

The HP Chromebook x2 takes Chrome to the next level

HP’s Chromebook x2 acts a lot like Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, with a well-equipped tablet that plugs into a keyboard base that’s heavy enough to keep the combination mostly stable. Is this premium Chromebook the best one you can buy?
Computing

Pain in the wrists? Type in comfort with one of these great ergonomic keyboards

Long typing sessions can leave anyone's wrists aching, but if you have one of the best ergonomic keyboards, that doesn't have to be the case. Our list of favorites will support good typing posture while being comfortable to use.
Gaming

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Computing

Ripple cryptocurrency jumps 70 percent in 24 hours after news of bank deal

The Ripple cryptocurrency has seen its value reach the highest point since late 2017 after a tease from a Ripple Labs regulator suggested it could soon be adopted by banks for international money transfers.