Best free video editing software in 2021

Edited by Ben Jacklin

July 15, 2021

Video editing isn’t just for people with money to spend on top-of-the-range, cutting-edge technology. But finding the best video editing software for free can be difficult for those who are not experienced enough – that’s why we’ve tested out a range of free editing software and put together the best 18 that were free, quick, and didn’t leave a watermark.

Program name

Best for

Download

Movavi Video Editor PlusThose who seek simple yet powerful video editor
Pinnacle Studio 23 PlusMaximum usability for both novice and advanced users
MAGIX Movie Edit ProEasy and quick editing
ShotcutApplying filters and effects
Windows Movie MakerUsers of the older versions of Windows
OpenShotBoth professionals and beginners
AVS Video EditorBasic video editing
LightworksCreating multi-format 4K videos
DebugMode WaxCombining with other programs
DaVinci ResolveLarge-scale projects
AvidemuxBeginners with some programming knowledge
HitFilm ExpressProfessional editing
BlenderCombining video-editing and 3D animation
VideoPad Video EditorMaking videos for YouTube
VSDC Video EditorMulti-monitor editing
KdenliveLinux users
Machete Video Editor LiteSimple editing tasks
Movie CreatorMaking videos for Instagram

Excellent features wrapped up in an intuitive interface

OS: Windows, Mac

Best for: those who seek simple yet powerful video editor

Find out more about the Movavi Video Editor Plus in CNET’s review.

Review by CNET

Movavi aims to create the best video editing software for PC for everyone in 2021. When you open up the video editor, you should be able to make professional-quality videos without the headache of annoying interfaces, complicated effect options, and filters that are difficult to get right. When you can find freeware that does that, it’s brilliant.

That’s why Movavi Video Editor Plus has been built with an intuitive interface that allows you to get the best ready-made effects, transitions, filters, and stickers with one click. You can also make the most of a range of backgrounds which can be combined with the Quick Video mode – making slideshows out of pictures and adding music can be done within a couple of minutes. This program can also act as a video montage maker.

The Movavi Video Editor Plus allows you to:

  • Enhance video quality. Making use of a range of options such as contrast, saturation, and white balance makes improving your videos as easy as one click. You can also rely on the auto-adjustment options to help you out if you’re not sure of your color correction skills.
  • Add Chroma key effects. Adding background color effects onto your footage is easy with the range of Chroma tools.
  • Add speed effects easily. Speeding up or slowing down a video can be a difficult process of programming in the exact increase or decrease. Not with Movavi – you can simply use the slider to set the speed, and your video is done.

Supported on Windows 7/8/10 and Mac OS X 10.10 and higher, Movavi is one of the best video editing software for Windows 10. If you use an older OS, you can even use a legacy version of Movavi software by searching in the Legacy Store for Windows or Mac.

Pros

  • Intuitive interface with simple and compact feature layout
  • Easily set up your audio, video, and subtitles on different tracks
  • A range of video editing options such as clipping, contrasting, and adding text

Cons

  • The trial version comes with certain restrictions

Best free video editiors

A huge selection of tools and features

OS: Windows

Best for: maximum usability for both novice and advanced users

To find out more, check out this review by TopTenReviews.

Review by TopTenReviews

Finding a free video editor that offers loads of features is great, especially when it combines itself with other useful software like screen recording. Pinnacle Studio 23 Plus is one of the best free video editors around for that reason: great features, a huge number of filters and effects, and a simple interface.

Offering features like a multi-cam module and lens correction, Pinnacle Studio 23 Plus has plenty to offer as an upmarket video editor. In addition, you get excellent features that are missing from some other names like fish-eye effect correction, stop-motion support, and split-screen design.

Something that pushed this software up our list was that it also has an intuitive interface – something a lot of big names in free video editing software are missing! The trial is only limited, but you can get a lot of worth out of it.

Pros

  • Excellent suite of tools and features
  • Friendly interface

Cons

  • Limited trial

4K editing capabilities made easy

OS: Windows

Best for: easy and quick editing

To find out more, look at this review by TechRadar.

Review by TechRadar

When software is beginner-friendly and still packed with professional-level features, you know you’re working with some real top-quality equipment. If you’ve only just started to use video editing software, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro might be the top free video editing software for Windows 10 and other platforms.

Getting the best quality clips is easy with the 4K editing capabilities of MAGIX, as well as the huge selection of transitions and features to help you out. We particularly like the one-click video stabilization feature to get everything looking clean. And if you ever get lost in what you’re doing, there are loads of useful wizards to provide step-by-step support at every stage.

Again, this is a piece of software that only comes with a free trial. To get the most out of it, you will have to subscribe.

Pros

  • A huge suite of features
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Can burn to Blu-ray

Cons

  • Limited free trial

An open-source program that rivals subscription-based ones

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Best for: applying filters and effects

To find out more about this free video editing software, follow the link below:

Review by TechRadar

The next app on our list of the top free video editing software is Shotcut. This piece of video-making freeware is available for all 3 major platforms and we love the range of features it offers. But it has a slightly weird feeling to it on Windows and Mac that you might not anticipate if you’ve never run Linux.

The drag-and-drop interface of Shotcut makes everything simple and intuitive, especially as the rest of the feature set is extremely complex. But that complexity is a real bonus – when you know how to use the platform, you will be using filters, applying effects, and even streaming directly from the console.

Its interface is clean and compact, but it’s dissimilar to what we’re used to seeing on Windows or Mac. Because the feature set is already so complex, this could be a real challenge for people who aren’t used to video editing.

Pros

  • Clean interface
  • Direct streaming support
  • Huge range of effects to use

Cons

  • The interface is a little confusing for beginners
  • Filters and some other effects can’t be previewed

Windows Movie Maker

Simple, elegant, and easy enough for a child to use

OS: Windows

Best for: users of the older versions of Windows

If you ever used a Windows computer before 2012, you’ll know Windows Movie Maker. Maybe it’s just the nostalgia affecting the judgment, but it was an excellent program for video editors. Sadly, it’s not available on Windows 8 or Windows 10, so this is only for people who still have the older versions of Windows (such as for Windows 7).

A drag-and-drop interface with simple one-click settings for adding effects, Windows Movie Maker was a fantastic tool for beginners. Everything was wonderfully simple and made creating a simple but sleek video edit straightforward.

Pros

  • Drag-and-drop interface
  • Simple-to-use effects
  • Sleek interface

Cons

  • Not available for Windows 8/10
  • A rather simple set of tools

Offers Mac functionality on other platforms

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Best for: both professionals and beginners

Take a look at Accurate Reviews’ review to find out more about this free movie maker.

Review by Accurate Reviews

Another open-source video editor, so you know everything is for free with this top free video editing software for PC. With a feel very similar to iMovie, this has all the tools you’ll need to make a simple, slick-looking video. Drag-and-drop functionality is always nice as well as the ability to add animated titles and transitions with effects.

Just like the Apple program, you’ll get to use a multitrack timeline to arrange your video, and applying your effects is as easy as lining them up in the dock. The problem with OpenShot is that it is rather light on the feature side – it’s lacking a lot of advanced features, which makes this a good choice for beginners, but most of them will grow out of it with experience.

Pros

  • Good-looking interface
  • Supported on all platforms
  • Open-source

Cons

  • Limited feature set

Baby steps tutorial to guide you on every step of the journey

OS: Windows

Best for: basic video editing

Take a look at this PC World review to find out more.

Review by PCWorld

So new to video editing that you have no idea what you’re doing at all? AVS Video Editor might be a good free editing software option for you. Coming with pre-loaded instructional videos and bonus tips, you will have expert support every step of the way to make sure that your project goes well.

Because AVS is so focused on being user-friendly, you’ll never get lost with it. The range of features and effects is excellent and well explained, so you can just plug in and play. The main problem, however, is that you cannot export unwatermarked videos without upgrading to the paid version. No watermark is a premium feature – that’s a real kick in the teeth.

Pros

  • Intuitive interface
  • Excellent set of effects
  • Tips and videos to guide you at every step

Cons

  • Features are limited in the trial
  • Watermarking on free trial exports

Highest quality editing available once you understand the interface

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Best for: creating multi-format 4K videos

See this review by Capterra to find out more.

Go to the Capterra website

Here’s another interesting option for people that want to get the very best quality of video editing without spending a penny. Lightworks comes with a range of features that could give Adobe® Premiere® Elements® a run for its money, but it is still held back by some constraints like its complexity.

Loaded with multitrack video support and a non-linear editor, getting excellent quality videos isn’t a problem. You can also speed up your total editing time by importing and rendering content in the background as well as a helpful preview video effects mode to make sure you’re getting everything right.

But the complex interface just might be a little too much for someone who is not used to it. This steep learning curve gets a little easier when you start to customize and arrange your interface panel. Another real problem is that it only exports in MPEG – you’ll need another piece of software if you want to create FLV or WebM files.

Pros

  • Great range of features
  • Change the interface to be exactly how you want it

Cons

  • Confusing for beginners
  • Limited exporting options

Plug it into any other program you want to combine functionality

OS: Windows

Best for: combining with other programs

Take a peek at CNET's review of DebugMode Wax.

Go to the CNET website

Like old school layouts? DebugMode Wax brings back memories of some classic video editors that we used to use a long time ago, but it also comes with a range of modern add-ons. The range of 2D and 3D video effects is impressive and, thanks to a plugin mode, you can even add DebugMode Wax to premium programs like Adobe® Premiere®. You can get this video editor for free from the official website.

If you don’t like old-school layouts, this is going to look dated. But the bigger problem is that DebugMode Wax only exports in AVI – this isn’t a problem if you only ever use Windows products, but you may need to find a piece of software to convert the video if not.

Pros

  • Excellent range of features
  • Plugin mode allows you to get the features on other programs

Cons

  • Outdated look
  • Only exports AVI files

Getting creation, security, and collaboration all in one place

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Best for: large-scale projects

TrustRadius' review of DaVinci can be read here.

Go to the TrustRadius

When you need to manage large-scale projects but don’t have the funds for a professional service, DaVinci Resolve can offer a huge range of editing, security, and collaboration features. Controlling every single minute detail becomes easy thanks to a range of supporting features. DaVinci Resolve is one of the best free video editing software on the market.

Quick creation is also possible, but DaVinci’s complexity might make this difficult for beginners. It’s not the easiest tool to use, but the range of features makes it a powerful piece of equipment. Of course, if you want to get the most out of the platform, you’ll have to pay for the premium version.

Pros

  • Excellent range of editing features, including 500 royalty-free sound effects
  • Security add-ons and collaboration support

Cons

  • Some of the best features are locked behind a paywall
  • Can be overwhelming for newcomers

A simple editor that is perfect for beginners in the world of editing

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD

Best for: beginners with some programming knowledge

See what Capterra has to say about Avidemux.

Go to the Capterra website

I love open-source programs. Have you been able to tell yet? Avidemux is another great piece of open-source software that is great for video mixing. Because the user interface is pretty straightforward, this is good for beginners. It also offers all the basic features that you would expect a video editing program to offer – editing tools, cutting, filtering, etc.

But it’s quite buggy. Yes, you can use it on pretty much all platforms, but there are a few bugs here and there which make using it a little annoying. This is especially difficult if you are expecting premium quality every time and Avidemux might be best for someone with some programming knowledge.

Pros

  • A simple suite of straightforward features
  • Easy-to-navigate interface

Cons

  • Bugs; a surprising number of bugs

A powerful editor that really is a professional standard program

OS: Windows, Mac

Best for: professional editing

Take a look at the PC World review of HitFilm Express.

Go to the PC World website

Loading up a video editor with professional-level tools is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, you want those features – they will make your videos better! On the other hand, you’re going to need a powerful desktop to get the best out of them.

When I was testing this out, working with the color, trimming, and exporting were all pretty standard features that I could easily use. But what I liked was that the feature set was loaded with great tools like green screen chroma keys, the option to create your video masks, and a collection of tools for 3D composition.

Once you get your head around the weird installation process, you get one of the better free pieces of video editing software on the market. But do you have a computer powerful enough to use it? Make sure to check if your Windows or Mac computer has the correct specs before installing this, otherwise you’ll be wasting your time.

Pros

  • Huge range of professional-level tools
  • Excellent knowledge base available online
  • Unlimited tracks and transitions

Cons

  • The strange installation process – why do I need to contact the creators to use it?
  • Very demanding on your computer

Add 3D animations to make your videos pop

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Best for: combining video-editing and 3D animation

Check out Capterra's review by following the link below.

Go to the Capterra review

If you also need to make 3D animations to accompany your videos, Blender was designed exactly for your needs. Although creating any 3D animations can be difficult, you can get the most out of this software thanks to its range of video editing tools. Cut, splice, video mask, 3D render. It’s all really impressive stuff.

But just like a few other open-source programs, this one is held back by bugs. You may not find a better free 3D animation tool, but if you’re only using it for editing videos, you may want to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Great features to support editing and 3D animation
  • 3D creation built-in

Cons

  • Too many bugs

Get your videos on YouTube with this easy editor

OS: Windows, Mac

Best for: making videos for YouTube

Read the PC World review of VideoPad by following the link below.

Go to the PC World website

Another one for newbies, thanks to its sleek interface, basic functionality, and friendly set of tools that make doing simple tasks in video editing, adding transitions and sound effects is straightforward.

This might be the perfect video editing software for an aspiring Youtuber who just wants to add a few small effects to their videos without the headache of complex software.

Sadly, some of the best features are unavailable with the free trial, but if you’re only using it to add transitions and sound effects, does it matter that much?

Pros

  • Intuitive interface
  • Great for beginners who only need simple effects

Cons

  • Paywall locks out some of the features

An updated and powerful program that has years of experience guiding the interface

OS: Windows

Best for: multi-monitor editing

Find out what TechRadar had to say about VSDC.

Go to the TechRadar website

If you’ve been video editing for as long as I have, you’ll probably have some preconceived ideas about VSDC Video Editor. Clunky, unnecessarily complex in places. But that’s changed with the latest update in the VSDC series – now it’s powerful, sleek, and really good for people that mainly do their video production with two monitors at once.

Designed with dual monitor interfaces in mind, you can detach and rearrange windows across your screens to give you greater control. This is especially useful when you are trying to get the most out of VSDC’s powerful feature set – animations, sprites, blends, overlays, and more.

Because there is also a premium, paid version of VSDC, expect a few features will be locked behind the paywall, like the color chroma key tools and exporting at resolutions over 1080p. Because the software can’t accelerate your hardware, you may also find this to be one of the slower free video editing apps.

Pros

  • Sleeker design
  • Designed for supporting multiple monitors

Cons

  • Paywall locked features
  • Limits on resolution outputs
  • Speed can suffer due to a lack of hardware acceleration

Huge user base will keep improving this software for as long as it is available for download

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux, GNU

Best for: Linux users

Kdenlive was broken down by Pat Research here.

Go to the Pat Research website

Something for our Linux users (but also available for Windows), Kdenlive is a video-making software that comes with a range of features that can help with your basic and advanced video editing needs.

Tools are available for free thanks to their open-source nature and you can make the most of this non-linear video editor with multi-track editing and huge support for audio, video, and transitional effects.

Open-source means buggy. But thanks to a push from the user base, those bugs become fewer and fewer each day (especially in comparison to other open-source free video software). There’s even a version for Macs in the works, so keep an eye open for what Kdenlive will be up to in the coming years.

Pros

  • Committed user base which is always updating the software
  • Huge range of features

Cons

  • Bugs, but fewer than there used to be

A straightforward editor that is best for short tasks

OS: Windows

Best for: simple editing tasks

Check out the CNET review by clicking the link below.

Go to the CNET website

First things first – this is not Machete. Machete is a premium piece of software, and Machete Video Editor Lite is the free little brother version. Don’t come in expecting all the tools that you would expect a fully-fledged video editing program to have.

It is excellent for simple tasks like the usual cut, copy, and paste takes you would expect. It’s also excellent for removing audio from videos, especially thanks to its excellent hotkeys functionality.

The big problem for Machete Video Editor Lite? It’s just a bit too lite – you can’t add, edit, or replace audio streams and it can’t support many major file types. Even then, you need to upgrade to the full version to get these basic features.

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Hotkey functionality

Cons

  • Some of the best features are limited in the free version
  • Some features just don’t exist

Record, edit, and upload to Instagram all in one place

OS: Windows

Best for: making videos for Instagram

Click the link below to read the CNET's review of Movie Creator.

Go to the CNET website

Are you an aspiring influencer on Instagram or Youtube? Movie Creator is designed to give your videos a small range of features like cutting and merging. Nothing is outstanding about Movie Creator, but it isn’t trying to be.

This is a video editing program that is only for absolute beginners. You can get the most basic functions easily, but nothing much else.

Pros

  • Intuitive interface
  • Instagram support

Cons

  • Basic features that mean this isn’t for advanced users

Conclusion: what to look for in a video editor

We hope this article has helped you to choose a video editor. Here is the summary of the most important things to consider when choosing the best video editing program:

  • Usability: ensure that the app or software you choose suits your level of experience. Apps which offer many features may be tempting, but they are usually complicated to use. If possible, choose software that offers a free trial so you can ensure it’s right for you.
  • Support: check out what support is available – for example live chat, online, or email support.
  • Features and special effects: check that the program you choose offers all the features you need and has enough filters, transitions, and other special effects. Check the developer’s website and read through the features before purchasing the software.
  • Supported formats: it’s best to choose software that supports the widest range of formats possible including the most common file formats.
  • User reviews: it’s a good idea to check out the ratings and user reviews for any software before you purchase it to see how happy other users are with the software, as well as highlight any problems, bugs, or issues.

Ben Jacklin

Ben is a writer from the UK with qualifications in Media and Music Technology, he specialises in software reviews and tutorials. Ben has been blogging about media and tech subjects since he was a teenager from his base in the East of England.

* The free version of Movavi Video Editor Plus has the following restrictions: 7-day trial period, watermark on the output videos, and, if you’re saving a project as an audio file, an ability to save only half the audio length. Learn more

Video editing software for free: frequently asked questions

What do most YouTubers use to edit their videos?

YouTubers all around the world are using a range of free video editing software. Getting the best services doesn’t mean having to spend money, especially when you use some of these services:

  • Movavi Video Editor Plus
  • AVS Video Editor
  • CyberLink PowerDirector
  • Nero Video
  • MAGIX Video Easy

These editors give YouTubers a range of tools to animate, transition, and improve their videos.

If you are thinking about using a video editor with your videos, check out our article for the best video editing software for Youtubers here.

The best YouTube video makers

What is the best free online video maker?

Looking for the best video maker means finding one which gives you a range of tools for working on videos that are easy to navigate. But finding something that isn’t rubbish can be difficult.

That’s why you should look at our guide on the top free online video editors that are available right now. Then you’ll know which one can cater to all your needs.

Top free online video editors

What is the best professional video editing software?

When you’re ready to make the jump into using top-of-the-range video editing software, there can be confusing questions about the options that are available. If you want our suggestion, the top 5 services are:

  • Adobe® Premiere® Pro CC
  • Final Cut Pro
  • DaVinci
  • Lightworks
  • Magix Video Pro X

If you want to find out more about these programs, look at our writeup on the best free professional video editing software.

The best free professional video editing software

What are the best smartphone video editors?

Editing on your smartphone is a different game to editing with a computer or laptop, but a number of excellent smartphone video editors are available on the market today. These include:

  • FilmoraGo
  • Adobe® Premiere® Rush®
  • VideoShow
  • PowerDirector
  • KineMaster

If you want to edit videos on your Android or Apple device, check out the link below. This is top 7 apps to try on your smartphone:

The best video editing apps for your Android or iPhone

What is the easiest video editor for beginners?

Finding an easy-to-use editor can save you a lot of time in the long run, especially by removing the learning curve for some of the professional apps. We recommend you try Movavi Video Editor Plus – a handy video editor with all the features for video and audio editing that is extremely easy to use. Check out the video below to learn more.