Rod Lawton picks out the best video editing software in 2023, including free programs as well as subscriptions and one-off downloads.

Video editing was once a highly specialised skill, requiring tools that simply weren’t accessible to the average consumer. Nowadays, however, anyone with an internet connection has the most powerful editing software in the world at their fingertips, provided they’re prepared to pay and their computer can run it. Even apps like TikTok and Instagram now have pretty powerful video editors as a key part of their functionality.

In this guide, we focus on desktop video editing software, and pick the ten best options for anyone looking to get seriously into editing video. We have of course included the top-end options for video editing right now. For a closer analysis of how some of them compare, take a read of our breakdown of DaVinci Resolve vs Adobe Premiere Pro: which is the best video editing software.

Not everyone is looking for premium software for power users, and not everyone has a high budget. So before we get into the pricey stuff, we’ve scoured the web for the best free video-editing software you can use right now. While they won’t give the same depth of control or dizzying array of options, these programs will let you get the job done quickly and easily – without spending a penny. For many video-editing tasks, they are all you need.

Those completely new to video editing can scroll to the bottom of this post for a quick explainer on what to look for in a good video editing program. Or just read right on as we start by counting off the best free video editing software to use, before covering the paid-for options. Note our other related guides on how to make great video recordings with your camera and the best cameras for vlogging and videography.

Best free video editing software in 2023

These are programs that can get you started in video editing at no cost, with some ‘freemium’ tools offering an upgrade path to more features as a paid upgrade to a full version or, more likely, via a subscription.

1. DaVinci Resolve

Image credit: Blackmagic

  • Pricing: Free (DaVinci Resolve Studio is the paid version and costs $295 / £245 – scroll down for more)
  • Platforms: Mac and PC
  • User level: Intermediate/Professional
  • Website:

DaVinci Resolve was one of the best-kept secrets of video editing software, yet more and more people are now adopting it. This is a free version of the professional DaVinci Resolve Studio program that has almost all the features and is entirely free. There are no watermarks, time limits or other restrictions beyond a maximum export resolution of 4K UHD, and 60p frame rate.

No other free video editor can even approach DaVinci Resolve’s power, though it does present a steep learning curve. New users will need to spend some time with the training videos to properly get to grips with what it can do. Each new version gets additional features and tools, and there are advanced audio processing options, including options to improve voices. For intermediate/professional users, this may be the only video editor you will ever need, free or paid.


  • Amazing level of functionality for free software
  • Can export at high resolutions
  • Suite of colour-grading options


  • Tricky to use at first

2. Apple iMovie

Image credit: Apple

  • Pricing: Free
  • Platforms: Mac and iOS
  • User level: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Website:

Apple iMovie doesn’t get a lot of respect from ‘serious’ filmmakers, but it should. Though it only supports one video track and a couple of audio tracks, you can add a wide range of titles, captions and motion graphics effects. And, as well as recording voiceovers, you can tune the audio with preset EQ effects.

There are basic but effective colour grading tools – iMovie even offers image stabilization, which is rare outside of mid-range or professional video editors. iMovie is easy to use, completely free without restriction and comes as standard with Macs and iOS devices. As you might expect, there’s no Windows version, though.


  • Simple to pick up and use
  • Pre-installed on Apple devices
  • Image stabilisation tool


  • Limited video/audio tracks
  • No Windows version

3. Adobe Premiere Rush

Image credit: Rod Lawton/Adobe

  • Pricing: Free/$9.99 / £21.98 a month
  • Platforms: Mac and PC/mobile
  • User level: Beginner
  • Website:

Premiere Rush is a kind of lightweight video editor designed for quick YouTube or social videos rather than serious filmmaking. Nevertheless, it has the tools that beginners and intermediate users should need: with up to three additional video tracks, three additional audio tracks, and a large selection of ready-to-go motion graphics templates and other design resources.

You can start with a free plan – all you need is an Adobe ID – and upgrade to a premium plan if you want more cloud storage, more assets, project synchronization across devices, and more. There is a Premier Rush plan, but it also comes with a Premiere Pro or an Adobe All Apps subscription.


  • Great for quick clips
  • Useful bank of visual assets


  • A fair few paywalled features
  • A bit simple for complex projects

4. ACDSee Luxea Free Video Editor

Image credit: ACDSee

  • Pricing: Free (with branding)
  • Platforms: PC
  • User level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Website:

Luxea Free Video Editor is a very effective mid-range editor from a company best known for its photo editing software. It offers unlimited tracks, screen capture, free content packs and more. Best of all, it’s free – though there is one drawback, in that the free version adds a branded intro and outro to exported movies.

Luxea Free Video Editor can get you going but for much more control and no watermarked intro/outro, it’s worth considering Luxea Pro Video Editor 7 which costs $49.99 a year or $54.95 for a Lifetime Licence until 6th December.

Luxea does not offer as much support for beginners as some programs, and it’s not a serious professional tool either. But for Windows users bemoaning the lack of a free iMovie-style program for their platform, Luxea could be the ideal alternative.


  • Unlimited tracks
  • Good suite of editing tools
  • Useful content packs


  • Free version adds branded intro and outro
  • Quite complex for beginners, a bit simple for pros
  • Windows only

5. Canva

Image credit: Rod Lawton

  • Pricing: Free. Canva Pro costs $119.99/ £99.99 per year
  • Platforms: Mac and PC, mobile, web
  • User level: Beginner
  • Website:

Canva is not only a video editor. It’s really a tool for creating business or social media visuals of all kinds, with a wide range of ready-to go templates and assets for quickly building dynamic and professional-looking content. You can combine, trim and re-order multiple video clips in the timeline, add titles, intros and outros that produce basic but perfectly serviceable videos for YouTube, websites or other social channels.

Although it uses the same basic non-linear editing (NLE) principles as other video editors, Canva uses its own jargon and editing processes, so it can take a little while to work out what it does and how to make it do it. The free Canva plan will get you started, but Canva Pro adds premium templates, a huge stock asset library, social media scheduling, branding, AI editing tools and more – though at $119.99 / £99.99 a year, it’s not cheap.


  • Lots of useful visual assets
  • Works in browser
  • Engineered well for social media creation


  • A little idiosyncratic to use
  • Not the best for long-form work

Best paid-for video editing software in 2023

These are some of the top paid-for video editing programs right now. Video editing skills take a long time to master, and while pro software costs the most, it can save you time (and therefore money) in the long run and can prove a valuable professional qualification.

6. Adobe Premiere Elements

Image credit: Rod Lawton

  • Pricing: $99 / £86.56
  • Platforms: Mac and PC
  • User level: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Website:

Adobe Premiere Elements is to Adobe Premiere what Photoshop Elements is to Photoshop. It takes many of the features of Adobe’s professional video editing software and re-packages them as a simpler video editor for beginners and intermediate users who don’t need professional features.

More significant for many will be the fact that it exists outside the Adobe Creative Cloud ecosystem so it’s subscription-free and can be purchased with a single one-off payment. Having said that, there’s a version update every year and an upgrade fee that goes with it.

The editing interface follows the usual format, with a timeline/track display at the bottom with preview and content panels above. As with Photoshop Elements, there are Quick, Guided and Expert modes and, as with Elements, these are a great way to get started with learning about video editing, though some may find the ‘family feel’ tedious. There is a 30-day free trial but, annoyingly, it’s watermarked.


  • Can be purchased as a standalone download
  • Well laid-out editing interface
  • Modes for beginners and experts


  • Free trial watermarks videos
  • Updates cost a fee

7. CyberLink PowerDirector

Image credit: CyberLink

  • Pricing: Power Director 2024 Ultimate $19.99 / £109.99 perpetual, or Power Director 365 at A now discounted at £44.99 /  a year
  • Platforms: Mac and PC, mobile
  • User level: Intermediate/Professional
  • Website:

PowerDirector delivers a lot of power at relatively modest cost. It includes some unexpected tools and innovations such as AI Sky Replacement (yes, in video), AI motion tracking and tools for designing masks, titles/motion graphics and picture-in-picture effects.

You get green screen effects, customisable intros/outros and Adobe-style speech-to-text transcription. The audio tools are impressive too, with AI speech enhancement and wind noise removal, a ‘Vocal Transformer’ and Audio Ducking for narration or voiceovers. PowerDirector is not really a professional editing tool in the same vein as Premiere Pro, Final Cut or DaVinci Resolve, but it could be a great choice for enthusiasts and keen experimenters.


  • Impressive AI-powered tools
  • Pleasing array of audio options


  • Relatively high up-front cost (though it works out as good value)
  • Lacking some professional tools

8. Adobe Premiere Pro

Image credit: Adobe

  • Pricing: From $20.99 / £26.49 a month
  • Platforms: Mac and PC
  • User level: Professional
  • Website:

For many professional filmmakers and editors, Adobe Premiere Pro is simply the go-to video editing tool, in the same way that Lightroom and Photoshop are for photographers. It’s one of three pro-level video editors fighting it out at the top end of the market, and while a lot of users still balk at the whole concept of software subscriptions, it does mean that Premiere Pro gets regular updates as part of your subscription, the latest including clever AI-driven tools like automatic transcripts and captioning, automatic reframing for different social channels and more.

Premiere Pro might be a gold standard for pro video editors, but at a cost. It’s only available as a single app subscription at $20.99 / £26.49 per month or as part of Adobe’s All Apps plan at a huge $54.99 / £61.99 a month.


  • One of the best editors you can get
  • New AI-powered features


  • Expensive
  • Ongoing cost

9. DaVinci Resolve Studio

Image credit: Blackmagic

The free version of DaVinci Resolve is so good that you might not even need the professional version. But what this brings is the ability to work beyond 4K UHD resolution and a 60p frame rate, support for multiple GPUs and GPU processing – lens corrections (useful given that raw footage won’t be corrected), noise reduction and some more advanced effects.

This does mean paying a hefty $295 / £245 for a license or it may not, because if you buy a Blackmagic controller or camera, a Davinci Resolve Studio license is included. Resolve has its own particular way of working, and its Fusion (effects) and Fairlight (audio) panels don’t have the most obvious names, but this a very powerful professional video editor that’s also a pretty good deal, especially since you might not even have to pay for it. If you do pay for it, you get free upgrades for life!


  • Support for lens corrections and high resolutions
  • Advanced visual effects
  • Comes bundled with many Blackmagic products


  • Hefty charge to upgrade (though when you do, it’s yours for life)

10. Apple Final Cut Pro

Image credit: Apple

  • Pricing: $299.99 / £299.99 outright purchase
  • Platforms: Mac, iPad
  • User level: Professional
  • Website:

In a way, you could think of Final Cut Pro as like ‘iMovie Pro’ in that it uses the same clean and streamlined approach and is typical of the way Apple ‘rethinks’ regular software tools. Its magnetic trackless interface takes a little getting used to at first – it uses ‘lanes’ for multiple audio/video content – but the in situ timeline editing tools are excellent. With AI-powered motion tracking you can match the movement of titles, for example, to subjects in the scene, and with Compound clips you can group related video and audio clips into a single entity for easier organization.

Final Cut Pro is Mac only, of course, and it comes with a pretty stiff one-off license fee. But the cost of ownership over time should prove comparable with Premiere Pro (around $20.99 / £26.49 a month) and Davinci Resolve Studio. Final Cut Pro is a very clever, very powerful professional video editor that every Mac owner should check out – especially since there’s a generous 90-day trial.


  • Excellent streamlined interface
  • Great features for organising clips
  • Powerful editing capability


  • Mac only
  • Fairly expensive to license (though again, it’s probably worth it for serious users)

What to look for in the best video editing software

Almost all video editing software works in the same basic way. More advanced programs will go into these areas much more deeply, while more basic software might offer some, but not all of these features. Here are some of the things you’ll want from video editing software:

  • Cutting, trimming and assembling clips: finished videos/movies will usually be made of a series of clips you assemble in a ’sequence’ or ‘timeline’.
  • Audio editing: at the very least you should be able to adjust the volume of your video, but ideally you should be able to add audio tracks or voiceovers and some programs will offer EQ (equalization) settings too.
  • Transitions: you can cut straight from one clip to another, but most filmmakers like to use transitions to smooth the, er, transition. You don’t need a thousand flashy effects, just the basics like ‘wipes’ or ‘dissolves’.
  • Titles: your movies will usually need titles, perhaps end credits and often captions at different points in the video.
  • Tracks: imported video will consist of a video and an audio track combined. More advanced video editors will let you add and combine additional audio and video tracks.
  • Grading and effects: colour grading tools are useful for fixing exposure or colour errors, giving all your clips a similar ‘look’. More advanced programs may offer special effects or custom ‘LUTs’ for a specific movie look.
  • Codecs and formats: this is harder to pin down because there are so many permutations of video formats, bit depths and colour depths that the only way to be sure a program can work with your specific camera, shooting formats and projects is to check the trial version before you buy. We always recommend this for any software.

Text by Rod Lawton, with contributions from Jon Stapley.

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