The Best Video Editing Software (Free, Beginner Friendly, YouTube)

David Utke •  Updated: January 14, 2022 •  Business Software

One often over looked aspect of creating YouTube videos and vlogs is the video editor. To create great videos you’re going to need reliable, feature rich software that allows you to create and design videos.

You have a lot of options for video editors depending on the operating system and device. PC laptops, Macbooks and tablets all have their own dedicated editors. In this complete beginers guide, we’re going to break down the best video editing software and their pros and cons.

What to look for in a video editor?

Video editors can be quite complicated and feature rich, so much so that they are designed for a professional film maker. Conversely, they can be extremely simple and easy to use, but limited in terms of your control over your edits. In general you are going to want a few things in any editor.

Good export settings and codecs

When shooting clips you can pick the frame rate that everything is recorded at. For example, if you’re using a GoPro you can record at 60 frames a second. When you edit, render and export your video you’ll want to set the frame rate so it matches your video.

Codecs are also important because you want a video editor with a modern codec that takes advantage of your laptops graphics card for quick editing. As cameras for YouTube are quickly having 4k become the standard instead of an option, you need a video editor that can handle big files.

Control over your timeline

Your video timeline is functionally your workspace. A good video editor will will allow you to zoom in, cut, close gaps, add transitions, fade in sound or other clips, adjust the audio and more.

Simple video editors tend to not offer the control you’ll want as your experience and skill grow.

Transitions, texts, color grading

Video editors should come out of the proverbial box with these features as they become more useful as you become a better video editor. They all help to make a more interesting and engaging video.

The Best Video Editors for YouTube Content Creation

So what are the best software options (both free and paid) that you as a beginner should be aware of? He is our breakdown as well as the pros and cons of each:

iMovie – The free, easy to use option

Leading off this list is iMovie. It’s a free app and software you get with your purchase of any iPhone or Macbook. It’s a fantastic free option for anyone looking to get started vlogging with their iPhone or needing to to do simple edits on their laptop.

You can put together different clips with modern transitions, text overlays and it also has a free library of music you can add to your videos. You can also export your videos at different frame rates depending on what you frame rate you set your iPhone too.

All in all, if you’re looking for a “good enough” video editor for a total beginner and you have an iPhone or a Mac, consider using iMove. Want an example? Checkout Johnny FD – he uses his iPhone and iMovie and built his channel to over 50K subs.

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Final Cut Pro – The Professional Option for IOS

When you’re ready to upgrade from iMovie, your best option as an IOS user is to get Final Cut Pro. This software does everything iMovie does and has none of the limitations.

It’s professional level software on par with industry standards like Adobe Premier Pro. What’s great about Final Cut Pro is that it’s easy to use like iMovie, but comes with advanced features for you to learn and grow with over time.

You can keyframe and create animations, overlay multiple clips and images, import quality LUTS and get into color grading as well as import text and transition styles. In addition, you also get a lot more control over your audio with the ability to reduce or increase the decibel per clip and adjust the EQ.

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Adobe Premier Pro – The Industry Standard

Courtesy Variety.

Want to learn a software that will enable you to work as a highly paid video editor at a creative studio? That software you’ll want to learn is Adobe Premier Pro. Part of the creative suite offered by Adobe; it is the industry standard for editing movies, documentaries and more.

While totally excessive for something like a simple vlog, if you’re looking for something as good as, if not more feature rich than Final Cut and you want to use a Windows machine, then Adobe Premier Pro is your editor.

As the industry standard, there are no limits to what you’re able to create and do. It’s simply a matter of learning and applying and getting better with each edit. From advanced color grading, overlays and transitions to audio adjustments and keyframing. Premier Pro can do it all particularly if you learn how to take advantage of Adobe After Effects.

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Vegas Pro – 4k Editor with a one time fee

Vegas Pro is fairly expensive but powerful software that’s intuitive and easy to use. Best of all, it’s only a one time fee and each upgrade you can get at a discounted rate. As for the editor itself, you simply drag and drop clips onto your timeline and can begin editing with ease. You can zoom in to specific clips, play back and edit at the same time and adjust audio and add text events.

I personally find Vegas Pro overall more intuitive than Davinchi Resolve when it comes to making groups on a timeline and adjusting clips, cutting and adding transitions. The catch? Vegas costs hundreds of dollars while Resolve you can get for free.

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Davinchi Resolve – The Premier Pro Alternative

Davinchi Resolve is the best alternative to Premier Pro and you can get it totally for free. Davinchi Resolve has become nearly as feature rich as Premier and allows you to do a lot of advanced edits.

While Premier relies on users understanding the After Effects program for advanced animations or Audition for editing audio, Resolve works in a much more intuitive way with all the features to edit clips, edit audio and add effects from one interface and timeline. Without you needing multiple programs.

Premier is truly designed more for film making as it relies on it’s ecosystem of associated software, Resolve by contrast is simply the Windows users professional video editor software that can handle 4k video clips.

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Premier Pro Elements – The scaled down version

Premier Pro Elements is a solid choice for a video editor. As a scale down version of Premier Pro and only costing a one time fee, it’s a mid range choice for any content creator looking to make YouTube videos that don’t involve complicated edits.

With Premier Pro Elements you can cut clips, add transitions, zoom in and out, add text overlays, adjust music and more. It’s perfect for a beginner looking to learn video editing and a seasoned pro looking for a simple interface for uncomplicated edits.

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Filmora – A Good Mid Range Option

Filmora has been continually developed and overall as come a long way since it’s humble beginnings. It has an intuitive, easy to use timeline and workspace where you can add clips and adjust the audio and video. You can cut clips, add transitions, music and text very easily with Filmora.

Filmora allows you to color correct videos to your liking or you can use their built in presets. You can also adjust audio levels to blend in music. Last, you can export your video to different formats. It works by way of adding different pieces of content to your timeline so you’re able to lay everything in one view.

What I find lacking however with this software is the ability to fine tune audio. Depending on your microphone, you may want to increase the highs and lower the base or vice versa. With Filmora it’s all a bit lacking. Last, you can get download Filmora for free but all videos made with the free version have a watermark.

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Blender – The Linux Solution

Blender is software that was originally designed to create dynamic 3D animations, modeling and graphics. But you can simply edit video clips with Blender and it’s a surprisingly good, open source video editor.

Where Blender really shines is how it supports all types of video formats that other editors do not. It also is your best video editor if you’re a Linux user. Unlike Resolve which is free, it does put some features behind a pay wall and does not support select video formats.

With Blender, you get a free open source editor that has a lot of helpful features to all built in. There are also numerous high quality tutorials with which to follow along with and learn how to create high quality videos.

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Hit Film Express – The Community Optio

Hit Film was originally the best free editor on the market but has been overtaken by Davinchi Resolve in our opinion. This is not to say the Hit Film is bad, it’s just not seen the same level of development that Resolve has experience and appears to have plateaued since 2018.

But we want to bring up Hit Film because they do have a free version and a premium version as well as an active community where you can learn how to do advanced edits with Hit Film.

Personally we like how clean and simple the interface is on Hit Film. For a beginner, it’s an easy to use editor but the timeline can be a bit confusing when trying to do simple edits like cutting clips and using transitions. Also, as it has not developed as much as Resolve, it still tends to be heavy on your computers CPU and not the GPU.

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Lightworks – The freemium option

Lightworks is another solid video editor choice for vloggers. It comes with the ability to edit clips in various ways like cutting, speeding up or slowing down. You can adjust the audio as well as add special effects to specific clips.

What I love about Lightworks is how easy to use and understand the timeline is. It works by layering clips with their associated audio on a timeline and then selecting features, FX and transitions to each clip.

Overall this is a video editing tool that is used by film professionals and social media marketers for video content improvement. It has a wide range of format support, and it benefits from multicam editing, built-in presets, text effects, real-time collaboration, and an entirely configurable interface are among the features available.

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Luma Fusion – The iPad Pro Option

Luma Fusion is the best mobile app video editor on the market. It’s only available on the App Store for IOS and is a significant upgrade over iMovie. While iMovie is a great editor on a Macbook, the app version is quite limited.

If you’re someone who has an iPad and wants to use said iPad to edit your vlogs with, then you’ll love Luma Fusion. It has all the essentials you need in an editor. Optimized for mobile, a quick and snappy interface when editing, great color grading, text and transitions options. You can also add animations through keyframing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Let me address some frequently asked questions regarding video editors. You have a lot of options and some editors are better for different use cases or operating systems.

What is the best video editor for YouTube?

I covered a wide range of options for making YouTube videos. But if I’m hard pressed to pick I love Final Cut Pro if you’re on a Mac, Vegas Pro if you’re creating vlogs or educational content and Davinchi Resolve if you’re on PC and want a powerful, full featured suite of editing tools.

What is the best video editor for beginners?

Without a doubt, iMovie is the best overall editor for beginners. It’s surprisingly feature rich if you have the laptop version (the iPhone version is much more limited) and easy to learn. You can easily add in nice transitions text, video overlays and render in modern formats.

The only downside is that iMovie is exclusively on IOS and Windows does not have a comparable software that’s free, easy to use and feature rich. Davinchi Resolve is free and feature rich, but it does have a significant learning curve.

What is the best video editor for Mac?

Final Cut Pro is the best editor available for Mac and is still to this day one of the most compelling reasons to switch to IOS as this software is so feature rich with a large community and lot’s of great free tutorials online to learn from.

What is the best video editor for free?

The best free editors are iMovie and Davinchi Resolve. With iMovie you get a video editor ideal for vlogs and educational content. It provides enough features for a skilled creator to make a high quality video. When you’re ready you can then upgrade to Final Cut Pro.

Davinchi Resolve is a suite of tools built into one software. It’s not at all easy to use and has quite a learning curve, however it’s totally free and does not come with any annoying limitations like having a watermark on your video or only being able to render out a 720p video.

Best Video Editing Software for YouTube

So that’s it for our guide to the best video editors. In general, Final Cut Pro is the best option as it’s feature rich and easy to use, but the downside is it’s only available on IOS. If you’re set on editing on an iPad then consider using Luma Fusion or iMoive and if you’re on a PC it really comes down to Davinchi Resolve or Sony Vegas / Movie Studio (depending on your workflow).

If you’re on a Windows machine we would suggest trying out Movie Studio (you’ll have to pay but it’s less than $50) and downloading Resolve (free). Then start editing and see which work flow you like more. If you gravitate more towards Movie Studio, then you can consider upgrading later to Sony Vegas.

David Utke

David Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 20k+ YouTube subscribers!

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