The best video editing software lets you add post-production polish to your raw footage from seamless cuts to effects and eye-catching transitions.
With visual content constantly growing in popularity, video editing software isn’t just for movie-makers. It’s essential for marketing a business, helping customers and clients, or creating clips for your YouTube channel. Today’s audiences demand high-quality visuals – whether they’re watching Hollywood epics or scrolling past a social media ad. For creators and companies serious about their visual content output, the best video editing software offers the professional tools needed to engage viewers on every platform.
Our expert team of reviewers have hand-tested all the top video editing software, including the best video editing apps and the best video editing software for beginners. As part of our review process, we’ve compared each app’s interface and user experience, and pricing. We analyzed all post-production features like VFX, titles, and output selection and quality across a range of desktop and mobile video editing software.
The quick list
The gold standard for professional video editing, the feature-packed Adobe Premiere Pro is our top choice for best software. It might feel overwhelming if you’re new to Adobe’s video production tools. But for cutting Hollywood-grade projects, it’s one of the best in the business.
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It might be free to use, but don’t let that fool you. DaVinci Resolve from Blackmagic Design is a powerful editor for pros and enthusiasts, with all the tools you’ll need for social media clips right up to studio productions.
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Best for prosumers
3. CyberLink PowerDirector
If you know your way around video editor software, but don’t need all the advanced studio-grade tools of Premiere Pro and Resolve, then CyberLink PowerDirector is an excellent pick. It’s powerful enough for most projects, and we found it a delight to use during our tests.
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Best for Mac
Final Cut Pro is Apple’s answer to Adobe’s offering: ultra-slick video editing software for professionals. It’s a serious step up from iMovie, a free app for editing videos, while maintaining a simple and efficient editing process.
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5. Pinnacle Studio Ultimate
If you want full video editing software without a monthly charge, there are a few available with a lifetime license instead. And we found Pinnacle Studio Ultimate to be one of the best, with its pro-level features and a welcoming, easy-to-use interface.
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Best for content creators
Lightworks is great for creating social media content. That’s not to say it can’t handle more complex projects – it’s been used in multiple big-name Hollywood movies and includes a built-in VFX workspace. However, the simple, free version is ideal for social media feeds and channels.
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Best for built-in VFX
Many of the best video editing software like Resolve and Lightworks include VFX tools built into the app. But for a really streamlined workflow with professional polish, Hitfilm is ideal – especially if you’re a novice. An all-in-one post-production tool for every skill level.
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Best for novices
Just starting out in the world of video editing? The ever-popular Magix Movie Studio is a great place to start. The non-linear video editing suite offers easy-to-use tools, fast rendering, and a convenient user experience.
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Best for mobile
Adobe Premiere Rush may lack Premiere Pro’s advanced tools, but for editing on mobile, you can’t go wrong. It’s super-simple to use, with polished results. We also found it paired exceptionally well with other Creative Cloud apps for omni-channel content creation.
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Best on a budget
Wondershare Filmora is a really straight-forward and affordable video editing tool. It’s nowhere near powerful enough for professionals, but if you just want simple video editing software that won’t break the bank, it hits the mark.
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What is the best video editing software in 2023?
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Best video editing software overall
Adobe Premiere Pro is considered the best video editing software by many for a very good reason: as an industry-standard tool, it has all the features professional videographers and editors need to add pro polish to any project.
Newcomers should be warned that Premiere Pro’s interface can feel overwhelming at first. Once you’re familiar with the software, though, the experience becomes easy to the point of child’s play. Thanks to Adobe’s uniform UI, you can apply that knowledge to other tools, including Photoshop and After Effects. So, it’s a steep curve worth learning in that respect.
When we tested the latest version, we found it streamlined to near-simplicity, with a heavy focus on easing the import process. It houses all workflow-critical tools – fit for almost any scale of project, big or small. There’s even a smart auto-transcription tool for captioning videos – Adobe Sensei AI runs through the entire Creative Cloud toolstack, and we found it especially effective here.
Premiere Pro is only available on subscription. Adobe offers a standalone plan, and includes the video editing software as part of the Creative Cloud All Apps package.
Read our full Adobe Premiere Pro review
Best free video editing software
DaVinci Resolve is one of the best video editors for those looking to produce Hollywood-grade results on a budget.
It’s hard to believe a tool as powerful as Resolve can be downloaded free – and with absolutely no limitations. No time-limits. No export restrictions. No watermarks. If you’re a professional content creator, there is an option to buy a perpetual license that upgrades the kit, but it’s not essential.
Like Adobe’s offering, Blackmagic Design’s video editing software is filled with industry-standard tools to bring creations to life. It also includes Fusion, a built-in visual effects editor.
But if you thought Premiere Pro’s learning curve was steep, it’s nothing compared to DaVinci Resolve, which is built with professional video editors front of mind. Inevitably, that makes it slightly more overwhelming for novice video editors. However, there’s plenty of community support for the tool, and given time, you’ll find this one of the best video editing software solutions on the market.
Read our full DaVinci Resolve review
Best video editing software for prosumers
CyberLink PowerDirector is a great choice for prosumers – those who demand more power than beginner video editors offers without the ultra-advanced professional tools (or the learning curve) served up by the likes of Adobe and Blackmagic Design.
When we tested CyberLink’s stable software, we found it could ably handle everything from simple cuts to complex projects, complete with effects, titles, and smooth transitions.
Using PowerDirector is a delight, thanks to an attractive and efficient interface. The experience will be familiar to any intermediate editing professional. The software also continues to receive regular updates. Recently, this has seen the introduction of precision keyframing tools and a sizable animation library. The premium PowerDirector Ultimate also unlocks AI tools like wind removal, sky replacement, and speech enhancement.
You’ll find four different versions of CyberLink’s top video editing software. PowerDirector Essentials is a free but limited video editor. Ultra and Ultimate offer most core features for a one-off purchase. PowerDirector 365 is the monthly/annual subscription plan, with consumer and commercial packages available.
Overall, a strong choice for indie content creators and small teams or businesses looking to increase their visual content output.
Read our full CyberLink PowerDirector review
Best software for editing video on Mac
Apple’s flagship video editing program Final Cut Pro has had an unsatisfying track record. It’s an excellent tool, but for a time felt like it was languishing, ignored by its developers. That’s changed recently, with updates improving stability and introducing professional features.
Running on Apple silicon chips, Final Cut Pro now includes noteworthy tools including the well-received Cinematic Mode, for videographers shooting on iPhone 13’s, and the brilliantly deployed Object Tracker. During our tests, we felt that while FCP’s object tracking was underpowered, lacking some functionalities, it was incredibly easy – even fun – to use. AI effects are also a great addition, ensuring Apple’s video editor keeps pace with the competition.
It’s hoped that Apple will continue on this welcome trajectory. After receiving an open-letter signed by professional film & TV editors, pleading with Apple to make FCP an industry-standard tool, the company has promised more user focus in future updates.
Apple Final Cut Pro is a smart choice for Mac users who don’t want to engage in subscription deals. The video editor is available with a one-time-buy lifetime license.
Read our full Final Cut Pro review
Best subscription-free video editing software
Pinnacle Studio is a pro-level video editor that’s more powerful than many realize. It might be one of the best video editing software solutions for professionals, but thanks to a great interface and a series of in-app tutorials, its tools are easy to use.
One feature that impressed us during our review was the inclusion of blend mode. As with Adobe’s recent Lightroom update, this lets you image-edit your videos, altering the lighter and darker tones, and blend them with other visuals. Elsewhere, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate houses an effective audio editor, smart motion tracking, and keyframing tools.
Pinnacle Studio is available in three editions: Standard is the base-level video editor, with resolution capped at HD and video and audio tracks limited to six. For professional editors, Ultimate and Ultimate bundle (which includes animation and VFX software) include advanced-level tools and up to 4K exports.
All versions feature one-off lifetime licenses, ideal for those avoiding on-going subscription costs.
For a more beginner-friendly video editor, Corel VideoStudio, from the same developer, offers a pleasing entry-point into the art.
Read our full Pinnacle Studio Ultimate review
Best video editor for content creators
Lightworks has a great pedigree, being used in the post-production of many big-name Hollywood movies. So, you know you’re getting some of the best video editing software on the market. Being a free editor certainly sweetens the deal.
LWKS’ offering a powerful non-linear editor, and overall we felt it packed in enough tools to satisfy most users. It’s also seen a number of recent updates that improve the experience and performance of the tool.
The real problem is that while Lightworks is genuinely free, that version is disappointingly limited. Exports, for example, are capped at 720p – and no HD option is somewhat unacceptable these days, even in a free video editor download. There’s also little support for ProRes encoding and exporting to selected cloud storage providers.
To access those ‘advanced’ features and get the most out of Lightworks all but demands upgrading to the social media-focused Create package, or the Pro plan for professional-grade editing. Both are available on a monthly/annual subscription or through a perpetual license.
Read our full Lightworks review
Best video editing software with simple VFX tools
The revamped, rebranded HitFilm – formerly HitFilm Express – is generally a delight to use, with a modern (and ultra-simple) UI, the introduction of a start-up wizard, and even stroke and vector effects. It’s also seen dramatic and welcome under-the-hood improvements.
When we compared the free editor to the competition, we found it less intimidating than DaVinci Resolve and more aligned to Lightworks.
It’s an undeniably impressive all-in-one post-production tool. VFX software is included. However, the free edition is noticeably feature-light in this area. That’s an issue across the board – and hardly unusual for any free video editor; for absolute utility, you’ll need to upgrade to HitFilm Pro.
This is, arguably, HitFilm’s biggest problem. If you’re on the free package, you’ll be incessantly nudged to upgrade. And iIn an attempt to persuade users to jump to the premium version, developer FXHome has stripped out some core support and features, like Vegas Pro integration.
Still, it’s a delightful video editing software – and the free version at least gives you the option of trying your hand at the editing process.
Outside of the free edition, you can subscribe to Creator or Pro, or buy the HitFilm Pro perpetual license. Custom enterprise pricing is available.
Read our full HitFilm review
Best video editing software for novices
If you’re looking for a beginner video editor, Magix Movie Studio is a great start thanks to its simple interface and easy-to-use operation. If you’ve never tried full video editing software before, it’s a good place to begin your journey.
When we tested out the program, we were impressed with its performance – it’s now running on the Infusion engine v3, which gives it some much-needed power and offers smoother real-time playback of complex projects, even in 8K.
The ease-of-use also impressed us. Many of the tools have been redesigned to facilitate a streamlined experience, suitable for all skill levels. Content creation, whether it’s videos, collages, or even split-screens, is a lot more enjoyable as a result.
For marketing teams and SMBs, the social media templates will be a welcome addition. It means you can quickly build videos in the correct size and aspect ratio for each platform. And we especially liked the way Magix Movie Studio handled camera-phone footage, automatically correcting the orientation of a clip.
At the premium tiers, the video editor also adds a comprehensive library of stock music, images, videos and animation.
Magix Movie Studio and Magix Movie Studio Platinum are available on a monthly or annual subscription plan, or through the purchase of a perpetual license. The feature-rich Suite package is only available via annual subscription or perpetual license.
Overall, we found the powerful video editing software offered good value for money – especially for creators on a budget.
Read our full Magix Movie Studio review
Best software for editing video on mobile
Adobe Premiere Rush is a lightweight, no-nonsense, multi-platform video editor designed for editing videos at home, in the office, or on-the-go. Whatever device you’re on, the experience remains largely identical.
As such, the interface is slick and simple. But, so too are the features. Unlike some of the other best video editing software, Premiere Rush is built for quick cuts and trims rather than extensive projects. It’s about making your footage look professional and getting it published fast.
That’s not to say it’s feature-free. While many recent improvements have been of the under-the-hood variety, Premiere Rush has some very clever tools that streamline the creation process, including color manipulation and the Flip options.
If the program feels too basic, Adobe Premiere Elements offers a suitable middle-ground between Premiere Rush and the high-end Premiere Pro.
The base version, Starter, is a free download with plenty of restrictions and just enough on offer to assess whether it fits your needs and workflow. Premium features are only available through Adobe Express, which unlocks more design tools, including the overly simplistic Adobe Express free online video editor.
Read our full Adobe Premiere Rush review
Best budget video editing software
Filmora, from Wondershare, is a good choice for beginners. Thanks to a clean (but never basic) interface and light-touch pop-up hints, it’s easy to navigate to the right areas and tools to get the job done.
The welcome screen is a nice touch, which we heartily approved of, letting you start a new project or launch the built-in screen recorder. And if your videos require very little edits – a minor tweak, perhaps – the Instant Cutter, Auto Reframe, and AI Styliser tools will be invaluable.
Once you dive into the video editing software, it’s familiar territory. We found the editing process very straightforward. Filmora isn’t reinventing the wheel here, making it a decent starter program to really learn the ropes if you’ve never tried video editing before.
Elsewhere, there’s a small music and SFX library. The range of titles, effects, elements, and transitions are exceptional, helping add more polish to any production. However, we did note that, with transitions in particular, we weren’t able to fully control and manipulate the effect. A rare and minor black mark, to be fair.
One of the main reasons why Filmora remains one of the best video editing software tools is it’s broad accessibility. The program may be designed for novices first and foremost. But there’s there’s plenty of advanced features for intermediate and veteran video editors. This includes chroma keying, video stabilization, motion tracking, and the very fun Time Remapping.
Wondershare Filmora is available via annual subscription or perpetual license.
Read our full Wondershare Filmora review
Best video editing software: FAQs
What is video editing software?
Video editing software is a way to present different types of media, such as video, audio, images in a linear, visual format. It’s how YouTube videos, films, and television are assembled from raw footage, although you don’t have to have an interest in these areas to find a video editor useful. You’ll typically find two kinds of video editor available – the more traditional non-linear style, and node-based video editing software.
The very best video editing software will offer an intuitive interface, and in-built presets that will export to common video formats, such as .MKV and .MP4, These will play on most modern devices, such as phones, televisions, and computers. Most video editors will also allow you to drill down into these presets to finetune the output file.
Can video editing software be used for VFX?
Some of the best video editing software includes built-in VFX – notably HitFilm Pro, Lightworks, and DaVinci Resolve’s Fusion.
Generally, though, while many now let you apply preset special effects over footage, you shouldn’t expect to be applying blockbuster levels of finish to their projects. For that, you’ll need the best VFX software such as Adobe After Effects or one of the best alternatives to Adobe After Effects.
You don’t need to add these effects, but be aware that VFX software is far less intuitive than the timeline-view video editors that we feature in our buying guides, as is only recommended to intermediate, if not advanced users.
Who should use video editing software?
Video is now one of the most widespread mediums – and video editing software is no longer just for professional filmmakers.
Whether you’re in a sales & marketing team looking to boost your company’s reach or a social media content creator or YouTuber, video editors are a great way to give your footage extra professional polish.
They’re also very suitable for personal projects such as video scrapbooking or adding hardcoded subtitles to a video file. Essentially, if a project you’re planning involves multimedia, the best video editing software could be the easiest way to make it happen.
How to choose the best video editing software
When choosing which video editing software is best for you, it’s a good idea to evaluate the skill-level of all users. Adobe Premiere Pro may produce Hollywood-grade results, but you’ll find plenty of best Adobe Premiere Pro alternatives out there – whether you’re an experienced editor, freelancer, or new to the art. If you or your team have never cut footage before, start small with a beginner’s video editing software or online video makers.
Have a clear idea of cost. There are some great free video editors available if you’re working with a tight budget. For more advanced tools, do you want a Creative Cloud-style subscription or buy your software outright.
Check what extra features you need, and whether your chosen video editor is best-suited to your use-case. For example, you may need built-in VFX tools, or a dedicated app like After Effects. Alternatively, you may want to increase accessibility for your videos with the sort of speech-to-text tools found in Premiere Pro.
Also consider the platform you’re on. Final Cut Pro is excellent, but Mac only; Pinnacle Studio is PC only. Only a handful of video editors run on Linux. Adobe Rush is one of the best video editing apps for mobile devices.
Finally, you want to select the video editing software that best fits your own creative flow.
How we test the best video editing software
We’ve tested, reviewed, and rated a wealth of video editors, including the best free video editing software.
When we test the best video editing software, we’re looking at what the user needs, how well the tool meets those expectations, and how they compare against each other.
As an example, we’ve compared Adobe Premiere Pro vs Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro vs Lightworks, to help you find the best video editor for you.
During the testing phase, we expect an intelligent user interface and smooth experience. Even in more advanced programs like DaVinci Resolve, a steep learning curve should be no barrier to mastering the software.
Performance is critical – whether users run a video editor for low-end PCs or use the best video editing laptop or best video editing computer paired with the best monitor for video editing. Editing in a hardware-intensive process, and we want to see stable performance, speedy rendering, and optimal results.
We assess how well the program meets the needs of the intended audience. Not all video editors are created equal – and those tools that are ideal for a small business or marketing department might not hit right for content creators on YouTube and similar platforms.