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The Best Video Editing Software Under $100

Chances are, there are hundreds of videos languishing on your smartphone, DSLR or compact camera. Instead of letting it collect dust, why not polish it up to share with family and friends? That's where a good video editing program comes in.

Among the paid software, only one — Adobe Premiere Elements 2019— is truly cross-platform, and it emerged as our top pick. Despite its lack of emerging popular technologies, like 360-degree video handling and multicam editing features, it's the easiest video editor to learn and use, and offers plenty of advanced functions, such as guided edits and a revised home screen.

CyberLink PowerDirector 16 is the best video editing software for Windows, featuring a dazzling array of tricks and treats; plus, it's great for editing 360-degree videos, too. 

Apple’s iMovie, which competes only with cross-platform free apps and Adobe Elements, is the obvious choice for the best Mac video editing software, thanks to its outstanding output, themes and trailers, macOS integration, and features that encourage good moviemaking skills. 

For the best free software, HitFilm Express gets the nod for its abundant cinematic capabilities and stylish interface. If you often share your videos on YouTube and other social media platforms, the free, cross-platform VideoPad is your best option.

New versions of our two top picks have recently been released, so stay tuned for our reviews of CyberLink PowerDirector 17 and Adobe Premiere Elements 2020.

Best Overall

Adobe Premiere Elements 2019

(Image credit: Adobe)

Adobe Premiere Elements 2019

Best Overall

Supports new HEVC and HEIF file formats for images and videos
Quick Edit update streamlines most editing tasks
New home screen provides continuous access to all functions and apps
Auto-generated slideshows and photo/video collages make social media sharing quick and easy
Works on Macs and PCs
Intriguing new guided edits
Built-in asset manager
Some aspects of automated video trimming seem counterintuitive
No support for HEVC and HEIF file formats on Windows
Must sign in with an Adobe ID to use the app
No support for 360-degree video
Can't resize Home Screen window
No support for multicam editing

When it comes to user-friendliness, sophisticated features and ways to output your video, nothing beats the cross-platform Adobe Premiere Elements. For 2019, Adobe streamlined the Quick Edits interface, making it all the more easy for novices to jump in. The company's AI now creates collages and slideshows automatically, and can also trim the fat off your videos.  

Read our full Adobe Premiere Elements review.

Best for Windows

CyberLink PowerDirector 16

(Image credit: CyberLink)

Best for Windows

Speedy rendering
Advanced editing control over 360-degree footage
New video collage feature
Professional color matching, toning and effects
Needed to reinstall the app following a Windows 10 update
Certain color lookup tables are not compatible with the program
Motion-tracking techniques felt a bit awkward at the outset

CyberLink PowerDirector offers a dazzling array of fun, advanced video editing features wrapped in a stunning, easy-to-use package. For this version, Cyberlink has beefed up its 360-degree capabilities, making it far easier to edit 360 videos.

Ed. Note: CyberLink PowerDirector 17 is now available, and features such improvements as better green-screen editing, nested video editing, and multi-cam editing. PowerDirector 17 Ultra is $99, while PowerDirector Ultimate, which includes 360-degree video editing, is $129. 

Best for Mac

Apple iMovie 10.1.8

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple iMovie 10.1.8

Best for Mac

Simple interface
Professional-looking themes and trailers
Abundant audio tools
Theater feature shares movies to all Apple devices
Supports 4K
Lacks multicam, motion tracking and 360-degree features
Limited output controls

Apple iMovie is the ultimate Mac video app for novice filmmakers, combining professional trailers and themes,abundant special effects and an easy-to-learn interface. Version 10.1 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.

Update (June 2019): 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 iMove review.

Best Free Video Editor

HitFilm Express 12

(Image credit: FXHome)

HitFilm Express 9

Best Free Video Editor

More traditional interface
Reusable templates
Animated text editor
Some popular features require an add-on purchase
Publishing features are not intuitive

For version 12, the free HitFilm Express has a redesigned, more intuitive interface and plenty of powerful features. While meant for prosumers—there is a bit of a learning curve—beginners shouldn't have too much trouble creating YouTube projects. 

Read our full Hitfilm Express review.

Best for Beginners

Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2018

(Image credit: Corel)

Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2018

Best for Beginners

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

Corel VideoStudio, an outstanding editing package for beginners on the Windows platform, 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 360-degree video editing, enhanced lens-correction tools, and 3D text editing.

Read our full Corel VideoStudio review.

Best for YouTube

VideoPad

(Image credit: VideoPad)

VideoPad

Best for YouTube

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
Difficult to tell whether you have downloaded the free or trial version, especially in Windows.

VideoPad is a comprehensive cross-platform software package for the YouTube social media crowd. While this app lacks the flashy, whiz-bang appeal of some commercial apps, it’s still a rock-solid choice for simple video editing. From the main menu, you can choose which social network you want to upload to. The app offers a number of YouTube choices ranging from 480p to 4K, as well as Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox and Google Drive, and is free for non-commercial use.

Read our full VideoPad review.

Best for advanced enthusiasts

DaVinci Resolve 15

DaVinci Resolve 15

Best for advanced enthusiasts

Cross platform for Mac, Windows and Linux
Free with no limits or watermarks
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 app, cross platform you’ll want to use a system with discrete graphics to get the most out of this 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. This video editor 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.

Read our full DaVinci Resolve review

How We Tested

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.

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.

Speed

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.