Windows Movie Maker Review
Edited by Ben Jacklin
April 13, 2021
Looking for the right editing software to upgrade your next video production project? Whether you’re posting challenge videos to Instagram or TikTok, you’re creating professional instructional videos for work, or you have a great idea for an independent film – you want video editing software that does the job. So, how can you choose? Should you just grab a free Windows Movie Maker download and try it out? Keep reading!
For this Windows Movie Maker review, we explored the ins and outs of Windows Movie Maker, including installation, user interface, and key features that video makers need. Then we used our experience with multiple video editing applications to dive into a couple of Windows Movie Maker alternatives to compare and contrast how they perform against each other. First, let’s go in depth with a detailed video Win Movie Maker review. Then you can get the info you need to make the right choice for your video-making projects.
|Freeware||No way to change saturation or contrast|
|Transitions||No adjustments on visual effects|
|Effects auto preview||Installation challenges|
|Audio features include voiceovers|
Windows Movie Maker Review: Is Windows Movie Maker Right for You?
The first thing we want to look at for any video editing software is installation. Easy and quick installation is a major bonus when you need to edit videos on different machines or devices.
Windows Movie Maker is designed to run on Windows desktops and laptops. So, if you want to install it, you’ll need to download it on a desktop or laptop PC. Windows Movie Maker won’t work for Mac.
Once you’ve downloaded Windows Movie Maker, installation is fairly straightforward. Because Windows Movie Maker was included in Microsoft’s Essentials bundle, a single installer would open for all of the apps in the bundle. Users could then toggle the apps on and off to choose which ones they wanted to install and which they wanted to leave out. The installer then prompts you through the installation process, and you can then open Windows Movie Player on your desktop or laptop and start editing.
Windows Movie Maker was first introduced over 20 years ago as an included part of Windows ME (and compatible with Windows 7), and it was included in the next Windows versions (for Windows 8 and XP), as well. Today, though, it isn’t included, and it isn’t officially supported by Microsoft anymore. That means Windows Movie Maker is not available to download directly from Microsoft, and you may have trouble getting help with problems and errors. Likewise, getting an update to the newest version may be a challenge, especially if your current version is not working. Movie Maker's modern replacement for Windows 10 is Photos – a photo editing and organizing application with video editing functionality.
You may, however, be able to find and download Windows Movie Maker online. Always be careful when searching for video editing software online, as you want to ensure that you choose a safe distributor and trusted software.
Interface and Functions
After you install Windows Movie Maker, it’s time to get started on some editing. iMovie users will feel at home with the interface, as it’s a very similar environment. The editor gives you a somewhat stripped-down version of a video editor timeline, and you can edit clips by dragging them to different places on the timeline. Each clip looks like a long thumbnail image with a clear image of the first frame and faded images of the subsequent frames.
When editing audio for a video clip, you have the option to look at the audio waveform for each thumbnail clip. This gives you a fairly quick and easy way to see where the loudest and quietest parts of your video are. The size options on the thumbnails make it a little easier to handle long and short clips when you’re working on tiny details or when you’re making bigger edits on a longer project. And there’s also a zoom control at the bottom of the screen that lets you zoom in and out on clip thumbnails to cut down on guesswork when you’re doing detailed editing on specific frames.
Cropping and splitting video clips can be done on the fly by hovering your cursor over the area where you want to make a cut, or you can use the edit buttons for more precision. Like most video editing software, Windows Movie Maker takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve found the tools and features you need, it can get the job.
So, what key features can you expect when working with Windows Movie Maker? Whether you’re editing together a few clips for fun, or you’re editing a feature-length film, there are a few key features that you’ll need, including:
- Import and Organize
- Audio effects
- Visual effects
- Sharing options
Import and Organize
Windows Movie Maker lets you import and organize footage in several formats, including WMV/ASF, AVI, WMA, MP3, MP4, MPG, WAV, and MOV, among a few others. Basically, with few exceptions, you will likely be able to import clips in whatever format you prefer. Organizing media is done by moving clips around on the timeline.
In addition to importing and organizing a wide range of video formats, Windows Movie Maker lets you select a range of audio tracks, as well. Import capabilities include MP3, M4A, WAV, WMA, AIF, and OGG. Microsoft also designed in the ability to browse for music files on Vimeo and some other sources. The Music Tools tab lets you further tweak your audio. With the tools here, you can increase or decrease volume, create fade-in and fade-out effects, and cut audio tracks to match video clips.
Like other video editing software, Windows Movie Maker lets you add and customize titles for your videos. You can choose from any of your system’s fonts, and there are several animations to choose from, including slide, spin, and zoom. If you want to include captions for English translation or hearing-impaired viewers, you can add a text box and move it around on the screen to place it where you want.
Available on the latest versions of Windows Movie Maker, stabilization is a key feature that you can find in the Edit menu. This feature lets you “edit out” mild camera shakes and wobbles that may have occurred during shooting. When you use stabilization features, you have the choice of applying low and high versions of anti-shake and wobble correction. Basically, if you only have a very minor shake or wobble, use the low version for a small correction. If the issue is more severe, try to correct it with the high level.
Along with stabilization, good transitions are essential to creating professional-looking videos. This is another area where veteran video editors will feel at home with Windows Movie Maker, or almost any other at-home video editing application. Windows Movie Maker offers a range of transition options, including curls, slides, wipes, patterns, and reveals.
Creating movies and videos that stand out is a lot easier when you have a variety of visual effects to choose from. Windows Movie Maker offers a few options to create different visual effects for your video clips. From the Visual Effects tab, you can choose Edge Detection to make your video look like an animated sketch. You can also intensify and saturate the colors in a clip, create a pixelated look, or warp a shot. As many visual effects as Windows Movie Maker has, though, you can’t adjust the intensity of any of the effects once you choose them. You can either use them or discard them, but you can’t adjust them.
Once you’re finished editing a video project, you’ll want to share it, right? Windows Movie Maker gives you several options to share directly from the app, including:
With this capability, you can ensure that you share the right size and aspect ratio version of any video to its intended platform. However, to share to your favorite platforms, Windows Movie Maker does require you to sign into an Microsoft account – which may add a barrier for users who don’t have MS Office accounts. Since Windows Movie Maker is no longer actively supported by Microsoft, this capability may not continue to be an option in the future.
Windows Movie Maker Alternatives Review: Movavi Video Editor Plus v. Cyberlink PowerDirector
So, how does Windows Movie Maker stand up to other video editing applications? Let’s look at a couple of Windows Movie Maker alternatives and review the features and capabilities that let video makers work their magic. For this Windows Movie Maker review, we tested Movavi Video Editor Plus and Cyberlink PowerDirector. So, what are the differences? Let’s take a closer look at Movavi Video Editor Plus first.
Movavi Video Editor Plus is video editing software that’s available at Movavi’s site. Available for Mac or PC. If you’re a Mac user and/or you’re concerned about finding a viable download for Windows Movie Maker, Movavi’s accessibility and installation might be attractive features. Beyond getting started, Movavi Video Editor Plus has a familiar look and feel to other video editing programs. Cutting, splitting, and inserting video and audio clips are done in the timeline or with editing tools. The interface gives you a full view of your video projects from start to finish, and you can drag and drop clips, elements, and effects into the timeline where you need them to create the results you want.
With Movavi Video Editor Plus, you can import and organize all of the most commonly used video formats, including WMV/ASF, AVI, WMA, MP3, MP4, MPG, WAV, and MOV. And, like Windows Movie Maker, you can also import audio files in different formats, including MP3, M4A, WAV, WMA, AIF, and OGG.
Among other key features, Movavi Video Editor Plus includes:
- Chroma key
- Vertical video
- Picture in picture
- Titles, filters, and transitions
Chroma key allows video makers to change the backgrounds of their videos. Shoot in front of a green screen and then use chroma key to replace the background with any image or video you want. This feature is especially useful for gaming vloggers and bloggers, streamers, TikTok content creators, and anyone who doesn’t have the budget for exotic shooting locations.
Vertical video allows you to change the aspect ratio of your videos. With the capability to choose between 16:9, 4:3, 1:1, 9:16, and custom aspect ratios, video makers can select the correct aspect ratio to upload to multiple video-sharing platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Like Windows Movie Maker, Movavi Video Editor Plus allows you to remove camera shake and correct wobbles with the stabilization tool. By turning on stabilization, you can achieve a smoother, more professional-looking shot. And you can toggle stabilization on and off to achieve different results.
The picture-in-picture effect is great for live streamers. It lets users place smaller photos or a video clip within a full-sized video. This feature is useful for commentary videos, reaction videos, and for showing events and scenarios from different angles at the same time.
Filters allow you to create a specific style or mood for a video with a simple click. Movavi Video Editor Plus offers multiple filters, including:
- Light leaks
- Selective color
- Motion blur
When you’re shooting a video on the go, getting the shot is more important than making sure the lighting is just perfect or that you haven’t accidentally captured a random stranger’s face in the background. Filters and other visual effects like blur motion and light leaks give you the power to fix all of these issues and enhance your videos in post-production.
Finally, Movavi Video Editor Plus’ voiceover tool makes it easy to record and edit voiceovers for your videos. Get a visual representation of where your voiceover might be too loud or too soft. And you can use visual cues and tools to ensure that the voiceover is the right length and syncs appropriately with the video.
Now, let’s talk about another Windows Movie Maker alternative: Cyberlink PowerDirector has a slightly different interface from Movavi Video Editor Plus or Windows Movie Maker. It does have a timeline like the other two, but accessing the tools and effects might feel closer to using Adobe Photoshop than a traditional video editing application. Some users may like this, while others may find it jarring. Effects are similar to Windows Movie Maker. You have multiple options for adding visual effects to a video, but you cannot adjust the effects once you’ve applied them. Design packs are available at an additional cost, and PowerDirector connects to Shutterstock if you’re looking to buy stock images to add to your videos.
Windows Movie Maker
Movavi Video Editor Plus
Cyberlink Power Director
|Versions for Windows and Mac|
|Easy download and install|
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We hope this Windows Movie Maker review has been informative and helpful as you decide which video editing application is right for you. While the video editing applications we tested are similar in many ways, there are differences that will set them apart from each other. And there are aspects of each that will be attractive or to different video makers.
If you’re looking for video editing software that is familiar and user-friendly, Movavi Video Editor Plus and Windows Movie Maker will likely stand out as a win over Cyberlink PowerDirector. If you need more control over your visual effects, Windows Movie Maker might be a bit lacking, especially for projects that require just the right look and feel. If you’re going to be doing a lot of green screen work, Movavi Video Editor Plus is a great choice. You may want to try more than one editing application before you choose the best option for your videos. So, download Movavi Video Editor Plus from Movavi’s website today and see if it’s the best fit to create professional-grade videos for work or fun.
* 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