If you're looking for a video editor there are some amazing free tools around, but they're not always the best choice. Developing a good editor is so difficult that even big-name companies often struggle, and if you're a demanding user it's unlikely that a free package will give you everything you need.
We're not just talking about the length of the feature list. Opting for a paid product might get you high-end extras like 360-degree video support, motion tracking and multi-cam editing, but that's just the start. The extra resources available to commercial projects help to refine the entire package, often bringing more accurate and configurable effects, an enhanced interface and a faster rendering engine.
Which paid editor is the best choice, though? That depends on what you're looking to do, and also on your budget, but keep reading – we've come up with 25 top packages to help steer you in the right direction.
- We’ve also highlighted the best laptops for video editing
Adobe Premiere Elements is a slimmed-down consumer version of the company's Premiere Pro CC video editor, dropping some of its heavyweight fine-tuning in favour of simplicity and automation.
The program workflow will be familiar to anyone who's ever used another video editor. Import your media here, organise them on a timeline there, apply effects and get a quick preview of the results – you know the drill.
Where Elements wins out is in its extras. This starts with doing some things better – for example, your media library isn't just a collection of files, it's intelligently organised and benefits from smart searches. Drag clips towards each other in the timeline and they conveniently snap together. Video stabilisation, de-hazing and smart toning do a great job of enhancing your footage all on their own, but also allow manual adjustments if you think it'll help.
There are features you won't often find elsewhere, too. Face detection, video collages, using the colours and textures of one clip in another, bundled movie soundtracks which automatically adjust their length to match your footage, and an excellent collection of audio effects to join the program’s video filters.
Adobe’s Guided Edit feature provides step-by-step help with many of the more advanced tools, and there are lots of interesting automated features.
Premiere Elements doesn't quite match the power of big-name competitors like CyberLink PowerDirector, but you may still prefer it for ease of use, and we'd recommend taking the trial for a spin.
Platform: Windows, Mac
Price: £60 ($75)
Adobe Premiere Pro CC is the industry standard video editor for professionals, the big brother of the aforementioned Premiere Elements, and it’s now used by everyone from experienced prosumers to TV and film studios.
The core of the package is much like other non-linear video editors, with familiar project and asset panels, timeline, a preview window and more. But it's also highly configurable, and now includes touch support in some areas for extra flexibility.
It doesn't take long to spot the program's power. Premiere Pro imports footage from everywhere – files, tapes, direct from smartphones, regular or professional cameras, 360-degrees VR footage and more – and it can import and export projects from Final Cut Pro (X) and Avid Media Composer.
Premiere Pro doesn't just support multi-cam editing: it handles as many sources as you need, with an unlimited number of angles, and can automatically sync them via time-code, audio and more.
The bundled Lumetri Colour Panel offers comprehensive tools for colour manipulation, audio adjustments, and fine-tuning of effects with Bezier keyframing, and on completion your masterpiece can be rendered to multiple formats or device profiles in a single job.
Home users won't need this level of power or the monthly bill (check out Premiere Elements instead), and professionals might prefer Apple's Final Cut Pro X in some situations, but overall Adobe Premiere Pro CC is hard to beat.
Platform: Windows, Mac
Price: From £20 ($25) a month (individuals)
Animoto is a simple online service which takes source videos and pictures, automatically adapts them to fit your chosen style, and exports some (occasionally) very professional results.
The website is mostly just a video creator and has minimal editor-type functions, but we're including it anyway because presenting your footage is a very important consideration for some users.
Animoto has simple iOS and Android apps, but you'll get the best results by accessing it from the website. That's where you can import your media, set a style, and choose a soundtrack (even the base account gives you 500 tracks to choose from). You can then customise each element, add your own captions and text, and share the results over email, Facebook, Twitter and more.
The service is a little expensive for the casual user, but if you'll make use of Animoto regularly it might be worth a look. If you're interested, the company offers a 14-day trial of the Pro plan, which offers everything we've described here and a lot more.
Platform: Web, iOS, Android
Price: From £8 ($10) a month (paid annually)
Avid has been developing film and video editing tech since 1989, and its Avid Media Composer package has been the main player in the film and TV industry for more than 20 years. It's been used everywhere from massive cinema titles like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Martian, to the HD visuals of games such as Squadron 42 (the single player campaign of Star Citizen).
Developing software for this kind of high-end expert audience has its consequences. Media Composer is far more about functionality than ease of use, so although the interface has improved recently, it may still not appeal to the average user. And of course the price is decidedly premium, too.
That's really no surprise, though, for a package which can import just about anything, in any resolution – and combine them all on the same line, no encoding required. You can make use of dynamic HDR for top-quality imagery. Edit stereoscopic 3D. Mix and work with 64 audio tracks, and the list goes on…
That's just the start. Avid Media Composer doesn't just do well at regular features, it adds specialist extras that the competition hasn't even considered. The program doesn't just store your clips, for instance – it can automatically analyse their dialogue and sync it to the script, making it easy to match different takes of a scene. Now that's what we call smart.
Platform: Windows, Mac
Price: From £47 ($58) per month (annual plan)
AVS Video Editor is a consumer-oriented program which focuses on ease of use, but still manages to cram in plenty of features and functionality.
You only get a single video track, for instance, which will have expert editors heading swiftly for the exit. But you can still drag-and-drop in as many clips as you need, trim them, correct colours, brightness or sharpness, and add some worthwhile special effects (including simple chroma key – also known as green screen).
AVS Video Editor takes a similar straightforward approach elsewhere. You can't build credits with custom text objects, each carefully keyframed and with their own motion paths, but the app does give you simple templates which enable adding basic credits with a minimum of hassle.
There are plenty of welcome extras, including a slideshow builder and the ability to record your screen, and when you're done the program can export your movie in multiple formats, burn it to DVD and Blu-ray, or share it directly to social media.
Price: $70 (£87) as a part of AVS suite
Camtasia Video Editor is an unusual application which combines the company's popular screen recorder with a capable movie editor. It's designed to produce marketing or instructional-type clips which demonstrate some elements of software, but you can also import and work with regular MP4s and other common video formats.
This desktop-oriented approach means the core editing tools are quite basic. You can adjust colours, brightness, contrast, apply a simple green screen effect, enhance or correct audio, but there aren't nearly as many options as you'll get with the high-end competition.
There is still some power here. Camtasia imports sources from animated GIFs to 4K video, and enables organising these with pictures, audio files, transitions and effects on a multi-track timeline. It can include your webcam with a picture-in-picture effect, and there's a whole library of video assets you can use in your movie: animated backgrounds, icons, intro slides, music tracks and more.
Unusual touches include arrows, callouts, shapes and other elements you can drag-and-drop onto the screen. You're able to apply zoom and pan effects, or your own custom varieties, and there's even an option to include quizzes to see who's watching your clips, and what they've viewed. This is aimed at Camtasia's tutorial-creating business audience, but could be used in many other ways.
If you're interested, signing up at the site gets you a 30-day tutorial, no restrictions or credit card details required.
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Price: $199 (£160)
Corel VideoStudio may not be quite as well-known as Adobe Premiere or CyberLink PowerDirector, but don't let that put you off – it's one of the best consumer video editors around.
There are high-end features everywhere you look: 4K video support; multi-cam editing; 360-degrees VR video support; royalty-free music library; stacks of professional NewBlue and proDAD effects. Not to mention DVD, AVCHD and Blu-ray authoring for when it's time to share.
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate also has plenty of less obvious touches which you only begin to notice as you work. Some are small (checkmarks which highlight clips you've used), some save you time (group objects in your timeline and move or apply effects to all of them at once), and many give you options you might not have seen before (voice detection which can automatically match subtitles to speech in your video).
VideoStudio is also available in a marginally cheaper Pro version which has most of the same features, but includes fewer templates, effects and other extras. Check it out if you're on a budget, but Ultimate X10 is already cheap for the functionality you get, and that's the version we would recommend.
Price: £80 ($100)
CyberLink PowerDirector is an excellent video editor which delivers professional and high-quality features for a consumer-friendly price.
The package has great support for file standards, and can handle 4K video, H.265, XAVC-S, 120/240fps high frame-rate video, FLAC and AAC audio, and more.
The latest edition supports 360-degree video, too, and we don't just mean some fixed import. You can also edit the footage, apply colour correction, use titles, transitions, PiP objects and more, and export the 360-degree results.
All the action takes place on a 100-track timeline. There are all kinds of stabilisation and video correction tools to give you the look you need, quick and easy trimming, professional effects, assorted NewBlue and other add-ons, and modules for multi-cam editing, motion tracking, title design and a whole lot more.
Video editing newbies might find all these options intimidating, at least initially, but PowerDirector does its best to help. The Express Projects feature enables creating professional videos and sharing them on social media with little more than some careful dragging and dropping. And when you're ready to go further, PowerDirector has plenty of help files, video tutorials and other documentation to point you in the right direction.
Price: £48 ($60)
DaVinci Resolve Studio is an industrial-strength video colour correction tool and comprehensive video editor with the power to handle any project, right up to blockbuster films and TV shows.
The package tramples all over the competition in many areas. You get film quality effects, advanced correction tools (temporal and spatial noise reduction, lens distortion corrections), stereoscopic 3D support, HDR grading, 32-bit processing and multiple GPU support.
As you can see from the price, DaVinci Resolve Studio isn't aimed at home users, and it's far more about functionality than being user-friendly. Colour correction isn't restricted to a few sliders and panels here, for instance – it has an interface of its own.
Still, this is an amazing editor, and if you're not on Hollywood wages there's a free DaVinci Resolve available. It doesn't have nearly as many effects and can ‘only’ output SD, HD and Ultra HD files, but it’s still a very capable product.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Price: $995 (£800)
Filmora is an appealing video editor which tries to offer something for everyone, from the total editing novice to experienced prosumers.
Beginners will appreciate the ability to import clips directly from social media. A drag-and-drop interface keeps most operations very simple, and fun extras include the ability to import, edit or save clips as animated GIFs.
More expert-level features include 4K video support, simple colour corrections, video stabilisation, tilt shift and green screen effects, and an audio equaliser.
Filmora doesn't have the depth or the power of the top consumer editors, but there's plenty here for casual users. The price is good, especially for the lifetime licence, although the developer does offer plenty of other ways to spend your money. There's a Filmora store absolutely stuffed with bonus effects packs to take your movies to the next level.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Price: $60 (£48) lifetime licence
Final Cut Pro X is Apple's answer to Adobe Premiere Pro, a comprehensive video editor which blends highly professional features with prosumer-level ease of use.
You could use the program to simply import a couple of source movies from a folder, for instance. But it can also grab media from cameras or DSLRs, organise content into libraries, run searches on metadata, even directly access content from your Photos or iTunes collections.
Organising content on the timeline also begins very simply. Drag-and-drop source media and the clips magnetically snap together to avoid unwanted gaps, while others move out of the way to prevent collisions. But there are also plenty of smart extras, including tools to group clips together, apply effects to multiple clips at once, or instantly expand audio files to play with channels, set transitions or adjust volume, directly from the timeline.
Final Cut Pro X offers professional tools including multi-cam editing, versatile chroma key effects, intelligent colour balancing and more. Export options are more essentials-only than some of the competition, but a vast ecosystem of add-ons can extend the program to do just about anything you need.
Price: £300 ($380)
HitFilm Pro is an unusual mix of a professional video editor with a compositor. Not only can it load, trim and organise regular clips, you're also able to import, animate and render 3D models, and there's even a physics engine to ensure realism.
There are plenty of appealing high-end features. You're able to import and mix footage in many different formats, resolutions (up to 8K) and frame-rates on the same timeline – there's a dedicated trimmer, professional transitions, capable colour grading, 2D and 3D title generation, 360-degree video support, OpenFX plugin support and more. Whatever you're doing can be previewed on a second monitor while you work on the first.
HitFilm Pro's focus on compositing means there's still not quite as much video editing power as you'll get elsewhere, and it can be complex to use in some areas, but if you'll use features like the 3D model import it could be interesting.
A demo version gives you full access to every feature and will never expire, but has no export option. A limited free HitFilm Express edition will give you an idea of the interface and basic editing features, although export is limited to 1080p at 8-bit pixel depth (HitFilm Pro supports up to 8K UHD at 32-bit pixel depth).
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Price: £310 ($385) for up to 3 PCs
At first, ivsEdits seems much like many other video editors. There's support for importing a range of video types and resolutions, including 4K, a full timeline for layering video and audio assets, along with colour correction, chroma key, and hundreds of top quality keyframe-able effects.
What's not-so-usual is the program's support for live footage, as well as pre-recorded media. You're able to add up to four ‘live clips’ and combine them with your regular project assets, for instance, and ivsEdits also supports TV production-like capture and switching signals coming from up to nine cameras, all in real-time.
The bundled ivsCapture package gives you more options by enabling footage to be captured in the background, then you can begin to work with clips on your timeline while the footage is still being recorded.
If all that sounds too specialist for you, a cut-down free version gives you an idea of the other capabilities of ivsEdits, and it works very well on its own.
Price: From €495 (£429, $530)
Most mobile video editing apps are underpowered disappointments, but KineMaster is a rare exception which delivers far more than you might expect.
The app doesn't just organise individual video clips, for example. You can have multiple layers to add unlimited handwriting, text, or layers of images and stickers, or indeed even another layered video on some hardware. There are up to four audio tracks available, and each one can contain as many clips as you need.
Precision matters, so it's good to see that KineMaster enables frame-level video and sub-frame audio trimming, as well as including precise tuning for colours, brightness, contrast, saturation and more.
Smart effects include a surprisingly configurable chroma key, easy speed control for fast or slow motion, and there are some polished 3D transitions to explore.
An instant preview gives you a very quick idea of how your masterpiece is progressing, and when you're happy it can be shared directly on YouTube, Facebook, Dropbox and more.
As usual with demanding Android apps, KineMaster won't work smoothly with every device, and if your hardware is underpowered then it may be very sluggish. But you can sample the basic app for free, and overall KineMaster is one of the most capable mobile editors around, so it’s certainly worth a look.
Price: £0.56 ($0.70) – £27.99 ($35) in-app purchases
It may not get quite as much attention as some of the competition, but Lightworks Pro is still a hugely capable pro-level video editor which has been used to edit some truly great films: LA Confidential, Pulp Fiction, Heat, Road to Perdition, Hugo, The King’s Speech and more.
The program's highly configurable interface is a standout feature. You're not stuck with the usual asset, preview and timeline panels – Lightworks can easily be reorganised to show the features and tools you need, when and where you need them.
The core principles are familiar – drag-and-drop source media, apply effects and view the results – but LightWorks Pro offers plenty of fine control. Fast and accurate trimming, advanced colour correction, real-time effects and multi-channel audio mixing are just a click or two away.
Leading competitors such as Adobe Premiere Pro have longer feature lists and may be easier to use, but Lightworks Pro delivers a lot for your money, and there's a stripped-down free version available if you'd like to check out the editing basics.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Price: £100 ($125) per year, £250 ($310) one-off purchase
LumaFusion is a new iOS video editor with a surprising heritage: it's a product of Luma Touch, a company founded by the developers behind Pinnacle Studio for iOS.
Even though it's built for mobile devices, LumaFusion still includes the core features you'd expect from a desktop editor. A multi-track timeline, quick and accurate trimming, configurable titles, colour correction, multiple effects with optional layering, and keyframe support for fine-tuning.
There's no way you'll want to keep all your project assets on a mobile device, of course. Fortunately, LumaFusion imports files from iCloud, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and more.
LumaFusion offers surprisingly wide control over your exported footage. You can set aspect ratio, frame-rates, or choose resolutions up to 4K. The finished movie can be uploaded back to your cloud storage service, or shared directly on Facebook, YouTube and more.
Price: $20 (£16)
Most video editors are all about giving you complete creative control over your movie, providing the maximum number of effects and options to produce the results you need. But Magisto's web service and apps take a very different approach.
The emphasis here is all about ease of use. You point Magisto at your source videos, photos and music, maybe choose a style, but after that the app does almost everything on its own, automatically optimising footage to deliver a polished, professional movie.
How well this works varies depending on your source media, but a feature-packed engine – boasting video stabilisation, face recognition, filters, transitions and more – can deliver excellent results, at least some of the time.
The baseline Premium+ package limits the movie length to two-and-a-half minutes, and even upgrading to the $10 (£8) a month Business account only lifts this to four minutes, so it's really for quick clips only. But it may still be interesting if speed and user-friendliness are top priorities for you, and there's a limited free plan available to help you check it out.
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android
Price: From $2.50 (£2) monthly (annual plan)
Some video editors target home users. Others try to reach the professionals. Magix Movie Edit sits somewhere in the lower-middle range, easy for beginners to learn yet with just about enough higher-end features to keep more experienced users happy.
Experts probably won't be impressed, but there's usually enough power here to get by. The baseline Movie Edit Pro edition ‘only’ supports 32 video and audio tracks, for instance, but the typical user probably won't care. Even the high-end Plus and Premium editions limit you to 5.1 audio and 16-bit colour processing, and support multi-cam editing for four cameras only, but that'll be just fine in most situations.
There's a decent set of core features. Even the £35 edition has 4K and HEVC support, keyframe editing, chroma key and other effects, object tracking, DVD and Blu-ray authoring.
The Plus and Premium packages take things further with more effects, more fine-tuning (transitions, masks), 360-degree video editing and export, a music editing and mastering suite, and the Premium edition includes MotionStudios Vasco da Gama 9 and Essential NewBlue Titler Pro Express.
Magix Movie Edit doesn't compete so well with its rendering engine, which is notably slower than the best of the rest. But you do get a lot for your money, and a 30-day trial allows for checking out any potential performance issues.
Price: From £35 ($43)
Movavi Video Editor is a very simple back-to-basics application for the editing novice.
There's nothing advanced here. No 4K support, no H.265, 3D or 360-degree video, multi-cam editing, keyframes, DVD or Blu-ray authoring. Even the timeline only has one video and one audio track.
This simplicity does make for a very straightforward and comfortable interface. Open the Preferences dialog, for instance, and you'll find only four tabs with a grand total of 13 settings, and four of those are default output folders. Even complete beginners will quickly find their way around.
Movavi can still handle basic tasks, and occasionally more. You're able to rearrange and split clips, apply some basic corrections, add titles and use some simple effects. You even get basic chroma key and stabilisation tools.
Put it all together and Movavi Video Editor might work as a first video editor for kids, or anyone else who wants the very basics with no need to learn anything complicated. But if you have ambitions to do anything more, opt for a low-cost competitor like Nero Video (coming up next).
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Price: £30 ($37)
German developer Nero AG has been producing quality media software for years, and Nero Video 2017 is a solid example of its range, stuffed with essential features while also being one of the cheapest packages here.
4K import? Check. H.265? No problem. Multi-track timeline, easy trimming, video and audio effects, keyframing? Of course. There are handy extras like the ability to preview footage full-screen on a second monitor, advanced or express video editing modes for improved ease of use, and you can author your finished movie to DVD or Blu-ray with custom menus and more.
You also get some bonus media management and playback features, including iOS and Android apps to stream or transfer media between devices.
While Nero Video 2017 has a wide range of features, there isn't a lot of depth here. Individual effects aren't as configurable as you'll see with the best of the rest, the interface hasn't been significantly updated for some time, while rendering and effects are slow. Also, some modern features are missing (360-degree video support) and Nero has failed to catch up on some other fronts (there's no sharing on social media).
Nero Video 2017 still gives you more for your money than just about anyone else, and it could be a good choice for budget users, but if quality is top of your requirements list check out the likes of Adobe Premiere Elements or CyberLink PowerDirector.
Price: €30 (£26, $32)
Corel's Pinnacle Studio Ultimate is a consumer-oriented video editor which also includes some surprising high-end features.
The package supports editing 4K and 360-degree footage, for instance. There's multi-cam editing for up to six cameras. The timeline supports an unlimited number of tracks, there are more than 2,000 effects (including NewBlue Video Essentials III), transitions and templates, along with extras including motion tracking and live screen capture. And you can save your creation locally, burn it to disc or share it online.
Pinnacle Studio isn't as polished as Adobe Premiere, CyberLink PowerDirector or the other market leaders. There's not quite as much functionality, what you get isn't always impressive (more than half the 2,000 ‘effects, transitions and templates’ could disappear without anyone noticing), plus usability doesn't quite match up.
Be wary of the base Pinnacle Studio edition, too. It looks cheap at £40-£50 but drops many of the best features – 4K and 360-degree support, NewBlue effects, motion tracking – and even the timeline is restricted to six tracks.
Still, overall Pinnacle Studio Ultimate is a likeable package, and if you're a fan of the product from previous editions there's a lot to enjoy here.
Platforms: Windows, iOS
Price: From £75 ($95)
Although it has never been one of the top video editors, Vegas has come a long way recently and more than deserves a place in our list.
The package can polish your clips with image stabilisation, colour matching, primary and secondary colour correction. The built-in effects now include a neat vignette, there's support for OpenFX plugins, and Sony's media experience comes across in the audio features with support for VST plugins, ASIO drivers, ACID loop properties and more. The DVD and Blu-ray authoring package is a plus, too.
But there are also issues. No H.265 or MKV support, no 360-degree editing, no motion tracking, limited multi-cam editing for up to four cameras only, and assorted quirks which make the program a little more awkward to use.
Long-term fans of Vegas Studio will find plenty of improvements, and if you need the audio extras it could also be worth a look, but if you're just hunting for the best general-purpose video editor there are better products around.
Price: £70 ($88)
Mobile devices wouldn't be our first choice for video editing, but iOS app Vee for Video shows the platform can work well. Active stabilisation uses your device sensors to reduce camera shake, a ‘Ghost’ feature helps you line up your next shot with a transparent overlay of the last, and clips are added directly to the video as you shoot to cut down on Camera Roll clutter.
The app scores well on the editing basics, too. You can drag-and-drop your clips around, trim them precisely, apply effects and transitions, add a soundtrack and more.
There's support for 720p, 1080p and 4K video, and the finished movie can be saved and shared in all the usual places.
What we're not seeing is much in the way of updates, and Vee for Video looks like one of those apps which gets a big launch, but doesn't see much attention afterwards. Still, it's not like buying the app requires much of a financial commitment, and overall it's a smart addition to your iDevice.
Price: $2.99 (£2.40)
NCH Software has developed apps covering everything from invoicing to guitar tuning and home design, but it's best known for multimedia packages such as VideoPad Video Editor.
The program is relatively basic. The interface is plain, ordinary Windows. Media handling is powered by the open source FFmpeg, rather than any special custom engine. If you're looking for anything faintly advanced – such as motion tracking, or multi-cam editing – VideoPad will leave you disappointed.
There are still creative opportunities here. Clips can be dragged-and-dropped onto the timeline and you're able to apply effects, add transitions or soundtracks. There are some unexpected extras, including 3D video editing, video stabilisation, 4K export, and uploading to YouTube, Facebook or Flickr. And although the standard Windows interface isn't optimised for editing, it's also very familiar, and keeps the program easy to use.
Factor in the wide platform support (with free offerings in some cases) and VideoPad Video Editor could work for some users. It's expensive for what you get, though, and much closer to the bottom of our list than the top.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Kindle
Price: $70 (£56)
While most video editors understand that it's important to be able to share your clips online, WeVideo goes one step further by allowing you to create them in the cloud, too.
WeVideo's browser-based approach involves plenty of compromises; features are strictly basics-only. Standard tools like slow motion are classed as ‘premium’ here, and although the Unlimited account supports 4K video, the lesser plans limit you to 720p.
What you get in return is unlimited cloud storage, which makes for much more flexible working. Shoot a clip anywhere and you can add it to your account immediately, start editing if you're in a hurry, but then finish the process off on any other device. You could even use it to collaborate on a project with others.
The core editing features are basic, and reviews are mixed, with some people complaining of reliability issues. But if a browser-based solution makes sense for you then we'd give WeVideo a try. There's a free plan available, and although it's extremely limited, and adds watermarks to your video, it'll give you a quick idea of how the service works.
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android
Price: £8 a month (limited free plan)