The best video editing software allows you to turn raw footage into slick and polished videos. But it’s not cheap, so which tools should you buy? Well, that largely depends on your level of experience and what you’re using it for.
Anyone working as a professional will want the most advanced video editing software, which usually comes at a premium price. But if you’re a beginner, or just want to edit your holiday footage or make short clips for social media, you’ll probably be better off with a cheaper tool that’s simpler and easier to use.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered together the best video editing software of all kinds, so wherever you sit on the spectrum between novice and pro. We’ve included tools for Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone and Android, and some that work across all platforms. (If you only want to use your phone or tablet, though, see our roundup of the best video editing apps.)
Need hardware too? Then don’t miss our guides to the best monitors for video editing, best laptops for video editing and the best tablets for video editing.
How we test
We’ve hand-tested all this video editing software ourselves, so we know they’re good. That said, no tool is perfect in every way. So in the article below, we outline the pros and cons of each option, and explain what kind of video editing projects it’s best for. At the top of each entry, we’ve also included key info, so you can make a quick comparison by glancing down the list.
Our testing has involved several hours of editing our own projects, to check how the different software compares in terms of ease of use, speed and reponsiveness, the power of adjustment, blending and transition features, and video and audio effects. We’ve included links to these full reviews below. And to find out more about our reviewing process, read our article on how we test software.
Quick links: top 3 best video editing software
The best video editing software in full
Premiere Pro is routinely used to create everything from YouTube videos to Hollywood movies, such as 2021 Oscar nominee Mank. It’s also commonly used in the workflow of designers, animators and VFX artists, and having extensively tested it ourselves, we can see why.
When we reviewed the software, we loved how it enhanced our productivity by dividing everything into different workspaces, such editing, effects, and audio. Each workspace helps manage a specific task, minimising distraction. We found this to be true when testing it out on both Mac and PC.
In our experience, the automatic sync to work like a dream 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. Customisable keyboard shortcuts and superior collaboration features were the icing on the cake.
The software supports 4K, 8K and VR formats, and trimming and editing tools give you a high degree of precision and control. You can work on an unlimited number of video tracks (we fired up four 4K videos in our testing), which can be imported from pretty much any source.
Like all Creative Cloud software, Premiere Pro is constantly being updated, and subscribers get all updates for free. The latest update in June 2022 (version 22.5), introduces new workspaces for vertical video workspaces, the ability to add gradients to strokes and shadows for titles and graphics, and supoort for the RED V-RAPTOR camera.
Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the two industry-standard tools for video editing on our list. The other is Final Cut Pro (number 5 on our list), but that’s available only for Mac. As Premiere Pro is cross-platform, we rate it as the best video editing software overall.
For more details, check out our Adobe Premiere Pro review, our guides to the best Premiere Pro tutorials, and our comparisons of Premiere Pro vs Premiere Elements and Adobe Premiere Pro vs Premiere Rush.
If you’re not working as a full-time video editor, Premiere Pro may be overkill and you’ll probably be better opting for a middleweight tool. Based on our review, we rate CyberLink PowerDirector 365 as the best video editing software for non-pros who have some experience of editing video.
Again it’s available for Windows and Mac, and while PowerDirector 365 isn’t as powerful and feature-rich as Premiere Pro, it’s not so far off. Meanwhile, its cost, either as a one-off purchase or a monthly or annual subscription, is much more affordable. Get cracking on the 100-track timeline and you’ll soon find yourself making the most of lots of stabilisation and video correction tools, professional effects, multi-cam editing, motion tracking and surprisingly easy trimming.
There’s 360-degree video editing, together with support for all the file standards and formats you can imagine. Then there’s slideshows, screen recording, DVD menus, object design tools and more. When we got our hands on it, we were impressed by the free and unlimited access to an extensive, royalty-free library of content from Shutterstock. When it came to exporting our test piece, we loved the simplicity of clicking the Produce button, but also liked the many other, more complex options available too.
The latest version, released in December, lets you add text or graphics that automatically follow the motion of any object, and introduces three AI-driven features: AI Audio Denoise, AI Video Denoise and AI DeReverb.
With all these sophisticated features, PowerDirector 365 can still be quite a learning curve for beginners, for whom we’d recommend Premiere Elements (next on our list). However, for anyone who already knows something about video editing but doesn’t need the top-flight pro features of Premiere Pro, it’s an excellent option.
To learn more, read our Cyberlink PowerDirector review and our comparison article CyberLink PowerDirector vs Corel VideoStudio Ultimate.
If you don’t need to edit video for work and just want to do so as a hobby, the two tools listed above are more complex than you probably need. Similarly, if you’d like to get into video editing but are completely new to it, they offer quite an intimidating learning curve. In both cases, we recommend Adobe’s Premiere Elements, which is the best video editing software we’ve tested that suits beginners and casual users.
As the name suggests, Premiere Elements is a simplified version of Premiere Pro (number one on our list). It’s cheaper and easier to learn, but it still has a lot of useful, high-end features including face detection, audio effects and bundled soundtracks. Its interface is very simple and visual, and you get all the video effects you need, including transitions, chroma-keying and opacity. In our review, we found it possible to develop a fast workflow by using features like its smart search functionality, video stabilisation options, and automated functions like motion tracking and smart toning.
The latest version, Premiere Elements 2022, was released last October, and includes a number of cool new features. You can now edit and export video in social-friendly formats. There’s also a new auto-reframing tool that lets you select a subject and then focuses on it throughout your video; a new easy-to-use video compression feature based on sliders; and the ability to view animated GIFs within the interface.
Although it’s made by Adobe, Premiere Elements is not part of a Creative Cloud subscription, but for a one-off fee. There’s also a 30-day free trial. For more details, see our Premiere Elements review and our comparison article, Adobe Premiere Pro vs Adobe Premiere Elements.
Using Windows and never edited video before? We’ve found Pinnacle Studio to be another good choice of video editing software for getting started. Like Premiere Elements, it sits somewhere in the middle between the more basic free tools and professional-level video editing tools, both in terms of price and capability.
For a one-off payment, you get more than 1,500 effects, titles, and templates, six-track HD video editing, colour correction tools, a dedicated stop motion feature, time remapping and more. It’s very easy to use too. The latest edition, version 25, was launched last August, and brought everything nicely up to date. Highlights included the introduction of smart object tracking, 8K import, keyframe groups, new blend modes and new audio features.
Pinnacle Studio is pretty cheap, and if you like it, you can always upgrade to one of the more fully-featured packages, Pinnacle Studio Plus and Pinnacle Studio Ultimate. To learn more, read our full hands-on Pinnacle Studio review.
Along with Premiere Pro, Apple’s Final Cut Pro is one of the industry standards when it comes to video editing software. It’s used throughout the TV and movie professions – at least by people who use Macs, as there’s no Windows version. One of the main reasons to choose it over Premiere Pro would be that it’s subscription-free: you pay once, and once only.
Professional video editors love Final Cut Pro (which was known as Final Cut Pro X until the X was dropped in 2020) for its Magnetic Timeline, grouping tools, a wide range of effects, good organisational features and simple ways to add and edit audio. Other features include 360° video, HDR and advanced tools for colour correction. It’s powerful and feature-rich, but when we reviewed it, we found
it to be surprisingly easy to use. There also are lots of resources to help newbies get up to speed: see our guide to the best Final Cut Pro tutorials for more.
As Apple software, Final Cut Pro is optimised to get the most out of your Mac. And as you might expect, it integrates nicely with other parts of Apple’s ecosystem, such as your Photos or iTunes collections.
Every update to Final Cut Pro since its release has been made free. The latest release in April (10.6.2) has improved the clarity of speech by adjusting the level of background noise via machine learning. It also allows you to quickly locate media that appears more than once in a project, by using highlighted clip ranges or the Timeline Index.
So why not choose Final Cut Pro? Well if you don’t use a Mac it’s simply not an option. And while there’s no subscription, Final Cut Pro is pretty expensive. That said, there is a 90-day free trial, which is a lot more generous than the seven-day trial offered by Premiere Pro. For more information, read our article Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro and see our full Final Cut Pro review.
These days, tablets and smartphones are so powerful, it’s perfectly possible to do even pro video editing on the move. Based on our reviews, the best video editing software for mobile is Premiere Rush, which makes all the most important bits of Adobe’s Premiere Pro available on tablets and phones.
Available for iOS and Android, Premiere Rush uses a simplified version of the Premiere Pro interface with large icons and panels that are easier to click on a small touchscreen. This means fewer features, but you still get all the basics, such as adding videos to the timeline through drag-and-drop and mixing in music. (For more details on the differences, see our article comparing Premiere Pro vs Premiere Rush.)
If you’re a YouTuber who wants to make quick edits to your clips, Premiere Rush is good for that too. There are export options optimised for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and more. Meanwhile, if you’re a professional, Premiere Rush is nicely integrated with Premiere Pro. So for instance, when you’re on a train, you could make some extra edits to footage you previously worked on at the studio on your desktop PC.
You can get Premiere Rush as part of the Creative Cloud (which means you get Premiere Pro too), or via a single-app subscription. There’s also a free starter plan that includes access to the app, 2GB of cloud storage and unlimited free exports on mobile. The most recent release in December, version 2.0, introduced unlimited exports on desktop and availability in additional languages, as well as adding new audio tracks. For full details, see our complete Premiere Rush review.
If you’re familiar with Corel’s illustration and graphic design software, such as Corel Painter and you like its way of doing things, then the best video editing software for you might be Corel VideoStudio Ultimate, which has the same kind of interface and general approach as the rest of its software.
More generally, this is a good Windows-based video editing software option for beginners and casual users. It has a clear, intuitive interface that makes it easy to get started with video editing. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can explore more powerful features, such as motion tracking, 4K support, 360-degrees VR video support, a music library, multi-cam support, 3D text editing and thousands of effects.
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate certainly isn’t for everyone. The way it works with layers is a bit different to rivals, and we found this to be a bit jarring. It might not be an issue if you’re not used to how this is done in other video editing software, but if you are, it can be a pain to have to adjust. Also, on the whole, it’s not advanced enough to be suitable for video editing professionals. However, for newcomers, it offers very good value. To learn more, read our Corel VideoStudio Ultimate review, and our comparison of Corel VideoStudio Ultimate vs Adobe Premiere Pro.
If you’re new to video editing or only need to edit video occasionally, Wondershare’s Filmora is a decent choice at a very reasonable price. It benefits from an intuitive interface that should be easy to use whatever your level of experience. There are a large number of handy built-in titles, effects and filters designed for YouTubers and social media users. There’s a library of royalty-free sound effects and music to give your videos impact, and you can also record your own media directly within the tool.
The most recent version (11.3) has been released this month (May), and brings a number of improvements including speech-to-text, text-to-speech, support for HDR, an easy way to add subtitles to your video, and an audio visualiser.
There’s a free version of Filmora, but all your videos will have a watermark on them, so it’s really only useful for learning video editing, or trying out the tool. To remove the watermarks, you’ll need to take out either an Annual plan, a Lifetime plan for a one-off fee, or an Unlimited plan, which includes unlimited downloads from a stock library, and new effects each month. To learn more, read our Filmora review.
Need to make a social media video, but don’t have any experience of doing so? YouTube rival Vimeo offers a paid-for service that helps you do it quickly and easily, without needing any particular skills. Vimeo Create provides a range of pre-prepared templates, so you just drag and drop in your own clips and you’re most of the way there.
If you don’t have your own content, you can also access millions of stock video clips, photos and commercially licensed music tracks for free. It all works in the browser, and the easy interface allows you to produce videos for a variety of aspect ratios for different social platforms, such as square, horizontal and vertical. It’s very basic and aimed at those with no experience or inclination to learn to edit video from scratch, but we found it gets the job done for social media content.
Using Vimeo Create is free, but to save and share your video you’ll have to pay for a Vimeo Pro, Business or Premium membership. For more information, read our Vimeo Create review.
DaVinci Resolve Studio is the paid-for version of DaVinci Resolve, our #1 pick of the best free video editing software. The latter has a lot to offer high-end production professionals for no money at all… so why would you want to upgrade?
Well, firstly, at just $295 it’s not a lot of cash. You’ll also benefit from GPU acceleration for rendering, as opposed to just playback with the free version, speeding up your workflow considerably. Furthermore, while Da Vinci Resolve can “only” export at 4K at 60fps, Da Vinci Resolve Studio can export up to 32K at 120fps. Plus you get advanced noise removal tools, motion blur and mist effects, support for HDR color grading, facial recognition, object removal, speed warp re-timing and other sophisticated AI-driven tools.
If you’re a professional working in the TV and movie industry, then, Da Vinci Resolve Studio is well worth paying for, especially if you’ve already got to grips with the free version. For more on the latter, see our Da Vinci Resolve review.
Which software is best for video editing?
Right now, Premiere Pro from Adobe (opens in new tab) tops our list of the best video editing software. This industry-standard, subscription-based tool is aimed at professionals and comes packed with sophisticated and powerful tools. And the latest features, released in October 2021, show just how committed Adobe is to continually updating and improving it.
If you’re more of a hobbyist, though, you’re probably better off with our second choice, CyberLink PowerDirector 365 (opens in new tab). It’s cheaper and easier to get started with, and it’s available to buy via a one-off fee.
What is the easiest software to edit videos?
If you’re just starting out in the world of video editing, and using a desktop PC or Mac, our top recommendation is Premiere Elements. It’s a simplified version of the more powerful Premiere Pro, so there’s not such a steep learning curve, and it’s cheaper too. Plus unlike most Adobe tools, it’s available for a one-fee rather than a subscription.
What’s the best video editing software for mobile?
If you want to edit videos on your phone or tablet, we’d suggest checking out Premiere Rush, which makes all the most important bits of Premiere Pro available for iOS and Android devices. Its interface is nice and simple, with large icons and panels that are easier to click on a small touchscreen. But you still get a range of useful features, such as adding videos to the timeline through drag-and-drop and mixing in music. It’s nicely integrated with Premiere Pro, too, so you can work on the same footage on your desktop computer and on the move.
What is the best video editor for free?
If you have zero cash to spend, then our guide to the best free video editing software will give you lots of options. But bear in mind that many of these tools have serious limitations, such as ads, watermarks or limited features.
An alternative to these free-but-flawed tools is to opt for a free trial of one of the paid options that we list above. This will enable you to explore your options before making a decision. Just don’t forget to cancel your trial if you don’t want to be charged!
How difficult is video editing?
Learning to edit video isn’t something that should intimidate you. If you’ve ever used any kind of app on web or mobile, you’ll be able to use video editing software. You just have to start with the basics and build up your skills from there. Whatever video editing software you use, there are plenty of tutorials online to get you started, and often the best ones are provided free by the makers themselves. Check out our guide to Premiere Pro tutorials to get an idea of what’s out there, and read our Premiere Pro tips for further pointers.
What do most YouTubers use to edit their videos?
Anecdotally, the most popular video editing software amongst YouTubers are iMovie, Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. iMovie is a common choice among beginners and casual YouTubers, because it’s free, already installed on Apple devices, and does everything you need for basic editing. If you’re on Android, though, we’d recommend Adobe’s Premiere Rush.
Pro and semi-pro YouTubers, meanwhile, need something more sophisticated, and so most opt for either Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. For more details, read The best software for editing videos for YouTube.
How do you edit a video for TikTok?
You don’t need to be a video professional to edit videos for TikTok; nor do you need video editing software. The TikTok app itself offers everything you need to create your video, including editing your footage, adding effects and transitions, adding music or other audio clips, and posting it to TikTok. Find out more in our article How to edit a video on TikTok (opens in new tab).