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Best video editing software 2020

best video editing software
(Image credit: Photo by Peter Stumpf on Unsplash)

The best video editing software today is more powerful, easier to use, and more widely accessible than ever before. In fact, you won’t need to spend more than $100 for top-notch video editing software that lets even amateur video editors add special effects, apply stunning filters, cut together complex scenes, add musical scores and sound effects, and more. 

However, not all video editing software is built for the same audience, so you’ll need to think carefully about what you’re looking for. Price is one factor, of course, but most of the software on this list comes in at around $100.

You’ll also want to think about the user interface, what tools or features are most important to you, what kind of video formats you need support for (like 4K and 5K), and which platforms are supported (macOS, Windows, or Linux).  


The best video editing software right now

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021
Adobe Premier Elements is user-friendly, has sophisticated features, and supports 4K and stabilized video. Its 'Guided Edits' feature demystifies the whole editing process making it the ideal choice for beginners.
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CyberLink PowerDirector 18
CyberLink PowerDirector 18 offers accessible-yet-advanced video editing features, wrapped in a brilliant user-friendly package. While PowerDirector is aimed squarely at the consumer market, it also appeals to the most creative and adventurous of amateur filmmakers.
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Corel VideoStudio Ultimate
VideoStudio Ultimate is an outstanding video editing package for beginners on the Windows platform. It's powerful but easy-to-learn and for anyone who wants to make simple videos quickly without fussing around with complex controls. It supports 4K, 360-degree video, multicam, and more.
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What is the best video editing software?

After testing a number of programs, Adobe Premiere Elements 2021 is the best video editing software overall. Although it’s missing some newer technologies, like 360-degree video or multicam editing, it’s got an intuitive interface and a gentle learning curve, something amateur video editors will especially appreciate. That said, it’s got plenty of advanced features, so professionals will also feel right at home. And, it works with both Mac and Windows.

Windows users will also want to check out CyberLink PowerDirector 18. It’s got an impressive range of features but still manages to shape everything into an easy-to-use interface. Unlike Elements 2021, PowerDirector 18 supports 360-degree video editing. It also has more advanced audio editing tools and a larger library of visual effects. 

If you’re on a tight budget, HitFilm Express is a solid pick. It came out on top in our round-up of the best free video editing software, and with good reason. It’s user-friendly, with a great selection of resources and online tutorials, and frequent updates. 

All that said, the “best” video editing software for you will depend on your needs. That’s why we’ve rounded up the top 10 best video editing apps in one list. We’ve included a list of pros and cons in each case to help you decide, and if you need more information, just head into one of our in-depth reviews. 

The best video editing software you can buy today

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021 Review

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021 (Image credit: Adobe)

1. Adobe Premiere Elements 2021

The best video editing software overall

Compatible with: Mac, PC | Minimum system requirements: Windows 8.1 (64-bit), 2GHz processor, 6.8GB hard disk space; MacOS 10.13, 4GB RAM, 7.4GB hard disk space

Works with both Macs and PCs
Easy to learn and use
New artificial intelligence features now include video
4K support and video stabilization
No 360-degree or VR support
No multicam support

When it comes to user-friendliness, sophisticated features and ways to output your video, the best video editing software is the cross-platform Adobe Premiere Elements. 

The program uses Adobe's Sense.ai artificial intelligence to make it easier to perform edits. Its Guided Edits feature remains a great tool for demystifying the entire process for novice filmmakers, and there's now additional support for 4K resolutions and stabilized video. This edition includes such upgrades as selecting a subject and making selective edits, double-exposure video, and real-time effects.

However, it still lacks features such as 360-degree video editing, or support for multicam editing. But Adobe's program is the most well-rounded of all the video editing software we've tested.

Read our full Adobe Premiere Elements 2021 review.

Best video editing software: Cyberlink PowerDirector 18

Cyberlink PowerDirector 18 (Image credit: Cyberlink)

Best video editing software for Windows users

Compatible with: Windows | Minimum system requirements: Windows 7 (64 bit); Processor: Intel Core i-series or AMD Phenom II; Memory: 4 GB RAM; Graphics: 128 MB VGA VRAM; Storage: 7 GB

Square, 1:1 aspect ratio is great for social media
Track-order flexibility is more intuitive for newcomers
New motion-graphic titles are handy for beginners
Nested-projects update adds more creative functions
Several features (including 4K video editing, audio scrubbing, library preview) available for Ultimate version only

CyberLink PowerDirector is the best video editing software for Windows users, in that it offers a dazzling array of fun, advanced video editing features wrapped in a stunning, easy-to-use package. New features include a refreshed interface and the ability to edit and export video in a social-app-friendly 1:1 ratio. While PowerDirector is a consumer product, it appeals to the most creative and adventurous of amateur filmmakers. 

CyberLink offers two versions: PowerDirector Ultra ($99) and PowerDirector Ultimate ($129). Several features (including 4K video editing, audio scrubbing, library preview) available for Ultimate version only. Additionally, Cyberlink has a subscription version, PowerDirector 365, currently available for $52 per year, and includes PowerDirector Ultimate, as well as unlimited access to plugins, backgrounds, and soundclips, as well as 50GB of online storage.

Read our full review of CyberLink PowerDirector 18.

Best video editing software: Corel VideoStudio Ultimate

Corel VideoStudio Ultimate  (Image credit: Corel)

3. Corel VideoStudio Ultimate

Great video editing software for novices on Windows

Compatible with: Windows | Minimum system requirements: Windows 7 (64 bit); Processor: Core i3 or AMD A4 series; Memory: 4 GB (8+ GB highly recommended); Display resolution: 1024 x 768

Extensive 360-degree-editing features
Split-screen video facilitates elaborate video collages
Broad 3D-text support
Windows only
Certain advanced features got really dense

Corel has long been a competitor to Adobe for video editing software, and continues that rivalry with VideoStudio Ultimate, an outstanding editing package for beginners on the Windows platform.

VideoStudio is a powerful but easy-to-learn app for anyone who wants to make simple videos quickly without fussing around with complex controls. Its spare but inviting interface offers a huge array of tools, including 4K support, 360-degree video editing, multicam support, more than 2,000 effects, enhanced lens-correction tools, and 3D text editing.

Editor's Note: Corel VideoStudio 2020 has been released; stay tuned for our review.

Read our full Corel VideoStudio review.

Best video editing software: Apple iMovie 10.1.8

Apple iMovie (Image credit: Apple)

4. Apple iMovie

Best video editing software for novice Mac users

Compatible with: Mac | Minimum system requirements: macOS 10.14.6; 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended); OpenCL-capable graphics card; 1280 x 800-pixel display

Simple interface
Abundant audio tools
Supports 4K
Lacks multicam, motion tracking and 360-degree features
Limited output controls
Mac only

Apple iMovie is the best video editing software for novice filmmakers on Macs, combining professional trailers and themes, abundant special effects and an easy-to-learn interface. In addition, it's free, so this is a great place to start, or if you need to do simple video edits. Version 10.1 of iMovie added 4K editing and sharing, as well as extended handling to video shot at 1080p and 60 fps. Recent updates tweaked the interface and added Touch Bar support for the latest MacBooks.

iMovie is now on version 10.1.12. Recent updates have disabled sharing videos to iMovie Theater and Facebook; you have to save your movies to iCloud Photos to watch them on other devices including Apple TV.

Read our full Apple iMovie review.

Best video editing software: HitFilm Express

Hitfilm Express (Image credit: FXHome)

5. HitFilm Express 14

Best free video editing software

Compatible with: Mac, Windows | Minimum system requirements: Windows 8 (64-bit), Mac OS 10.13 Sierra

Customizable interface
Drag and drop special effects are easy to apply
Cross platform
New users must pay to switch to the dark interface

Hitfilm Express is one of the best values among the best video editing software, not just because it's free to start, but also because you can add on more features at reasonable prices. The program is compatible with both Macs and PCs, and also supports discrete Nvidia and AMD GPUs for threaded rendering and decoding. 

HitFilm Express 14 has a new Light theme, which is the default interface; if you pay $9, you get a Dark theme, as well as color-editing tools, picture-in-picture support, and more. And if you want to add even more functionality, HitFilm offers a variety of add-on packs for visual effects such as neon lights, 360 video, and more. 

Read our full Hitfilm Express 14 review.

Best video editing software: Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro X (Image credit: Apple)

6. Final Cut Pro X

One of the best video editing applications for professional Mac users.

Subscription-free
Very intuitive interface
Fits into the larger Apple ecosystem
No Windows version
No stabilization / motion tracking for 360º

Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro are pretty much neck and neck when it comes to feature-rich, professional-level video editing. Both are industry leaders, and it’s hard to say that one is better than the other overall. However, there are some important differences. 

One of those is the pricing model. Unlike Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro isn’t subscription-based. However, it does come with a bit of a hefty price tag. While in the long run it’s certainly cheaper than shelling out each month for a subscription, some users may be hesitant to commit to spending such a large sum. Fortunately, Final Cut Pro also comes with a free 90-day trial, so you’ll have time to play around before making any decisions.

While Premiere Pro works beautifully with Creative Cloud (and if that’s your primary workspace, then we recommend Adobe’s video editing software), Final Cut Pro fits perfectly into the larger Apple ecosystem. It’s built to take advantage of Metal for wicked-fast graphics, and is optimized for Mac Pro. 

There’s no shortage of advanced features, like the Magnetic Timeline, range-of-effect options, and intelligent Smart Conform cropping, which follows dominant motion on screen to ensure nothing essential gets cut. It’s smart, fast, and built for Mac. Unless you’re wed to Creative Cloud, Final Cut Pro has a lot to offer. 

Best video editing software: Pinnacle Studio

Pinnacle Studio (Image credit: Pinnacle Studio)

7. Pinnacle Studio

Fast and feature-rich video editing with a clean new interface.

Much improved, clean interface
Fast and feature-rich
Audio tools
Windows only
Sometimes buggy in use

Pinnacle Studio comes to us from the same makers of VideoStudio Ultimate, graphics and media heavy-hitter Corel, so it should come as no surprise that it’s made our list. It’s built for a more professional audience than VideoStudio and includes support for multicam video, stop-motion video, motion tracking, 360-degree VR, and 4K video. 

Recent updates have brought a much cleaner interface, and the software is now easy and enjoyable to use, although we occasionally ran into some buggy or slow behavior. An initial Home screen includes helpful tutorials, news and feature updates, and add-ons. Three additional modes, Import, Edit, and Export, include all the tools you need to create professional-looking videos. 

Pinnacle also boasts impressive rendering speeds and a large library of effects, plus good audio editing tools. Professional editors will be happy to find a range of pro features, like video masking, clip nesting, LUT presets, and batch processing. 

Fans of Corel will feel right at home with Pinnacle’s newly polished look and wide array of pro-level features. 

Best video editing software: Filmora9

Filmora9  (Image credit: Filmora)

8. Filmora9

Simplicity and usability take centre stage with Filmora9

Simple and intuitive to use
Low price
A variety of effects & filters
No motion tracking
No support for DVD menus or chaptering

Filmora9 by Wondershare is a great tool for enthusiastic amateurs and those just starting out. It has a simple, clean, and intuitive interface that’s easy to understand and navigate, and plenty of effects and filters that can be easily applied to footage (YouTubers rejoice). The royalty-free sound library, with effects and music, makes it easy to add emotion and flair.

It lacks many of the pro features you’ll find in Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro, like support for motion tracking, multicam, or VR, but then it’s not made for the same audience or level of knowledge. It also doesn’t carry a professional price tag. There’s a fully-featured free version (with watermark), and the full version costs just $59.99, with no watermark and full user support.

If you’re just getting started with video editing and want to learn the ropes with a super-simple but powerful app that won’t break the bank, Filmora9 is a great option.

Best video editing software: VideoPad

VideoPad (Image credit: VideoPad)

9. VideoPad

Best video editing software for YouTubers

Compatible with: Windows | Minimum system requirements: Windows 10, XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1; Processor: 1.5 GHz; Memory: 4 GB; Storage: 100 MB

Intuitive and easy to learn
Supports 360-degree camera editing and output
Works on Macs and PCs
Lacks some advanced features like multi-cam editing and motion tracking
Mac and Windows free versions work differently
Certain features time out of the free non-commercial program

VideoPad is one of the few video editing software programs that works on both Macs and PCs, which broadens its appeal and reach. You can download a non-commercial version of VideoPad for free, but a Home Edition ($39) and Master's Edition ($69) offer more features. For example, the Master's Edition gives you unlimited audio tracks and plugins, while the Home Edition only lets you use two audio tracks and no plugins.

While VideoPad lacks the flashy, whiz-bang appeal of some commercial apps, it’s still a rock-solid choice for simple video editing. The app offers a number of YouTube choices ranging from 480p to 4K, as well as Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox and Google Drive.

Read our full VideoPad review.

Best video editing software: DaVinci Resolve 15

DaVinci Resolve

10. DaVinci Resolve 15

Best video editing software for advanced enthusiasts

Compatible with: Windows, Mac, Linux | Minimum system requirements: PCs: Windows 10; Memory: 16GB; GPU: OpenCL 1.2 or CUDA 10 support, 2GB VRAM. Macs: macOS 10.14.6; Memory: 16GB; GPU: OpenCL 1.2 or Metal support, 2GB VRAM. Linux: CentOS 7.3; Memory: 32GB; Discrete GPU with at least 2GB of VRAM and support for OpenCL 1.2 or CUDA 10

Cross platform for Mac, Windows and Linux
Intuitive interface for most routine functions
Exquisitely deep app for color grading, compositing and audio production
A powerful computer is needed for high-end graphics functions
Learning curve for advanced features
No direct export to social media

A powerful pro-level, cross platform app, you’ll want to use DaVinci Resolve on a system with discrete graphics to get the most out of this video editor. The latest version of DaVinci incorporates Fusion, previously a stand-alone application, which brings with it four high-end video-production modules for editing, color correction, audio production, and video effects and motion graphics. 

DaVinci is quite powerful, but has a bit of a learning curve. If its 256-page manual doesn't intimidate you, high-level enthusiasts will find a lot of tools at their disposal.

Note: DaVinci Resolve is now on version 16, and includes such new features as a Neural Engine that uses machine learning for such things as facial recognition and speed warp. It also has a new Cut Page, a streamlined interface for editors who need to turn projects around quickly.

Read our full DaVinci Resolve review

How to choose the best video editing software for you

Free or Fee?

There’s no reason for the occasional video jockey to fork over any cash, as there are plenty of free apps available for both Windows and Mac. But while the deciding factors for free and paid software may appear to be based on cold hard cash, that’s not the whole story.

People who are looking for a more powerful editor with a variety of built-in resources, responsive technical support and more would be better off dropping some cash on a video editing program.

However, there’s a third option: You can download software such as VideoPad or HitFilm (which offer all of the basics) for free, and then purchase additional features à la carte as your experience and needs grow.

How we test video editing software

We tested more than a dozen programs — paid and free — on consumer Mac and Windows laptops for more than 100 hours, to see which are the best for editing, as well as sharing your videos with friends and family.

We evaluated all of the software based on functionality, ease of use, performance, sharing options and new features in the latest versions. We also judged the packages based on real-life uses for a number of categories, including best overall, best free app, best for beginners, best for YouTube maestros, best for Mac users and best for Windows platforms.

Performance results are important, but they’re not critical components of software evaluations, because depending on your hardware setup, your mileage will vary. By comparison, ease of use, interface and features carry more weight than export clock speed. Nonetheless, as a single measure among many, speed testing provides valuable comparative information.

As several of the programs on this page have been updated with newer versions since their initial review, we are currently in the process of re-testing them. At the same time, we are upgrading our testing platforms, from laptops with integrated graphics to those with discrete GPUs. This will better reflect the improvement in performance from apps that can take advantage of discrete graphics cards. Stay tuned for the results.