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Best home video editing software

Video editing software
Video editing software (Image credit: Windows Central)

Update 16 January 2017: We've refreshed this list to ensure we're still bringing you the best home video editing software available right now.

What if your family and friends actually wanted to see the footage from your week away? You'd be proud to show off your home movies if they had a little extra flare, and editing software can take you from amateur to award nominee with just a little more time and effort. Whether you've been editing since you bought your first camcorder or you're just starting to think that this software is a good idea, we have a list of the best home video editing software that everyone can use.

Lightworks

Not only is there a powerful, free version of Lightworks, its suite of tools has been used to create Hollywood films like Pulp Fiction, The Departed, and The Wolf of Wall Street. It has an expansive range of compatible video format, you can share your movies straight to the web, trimming is incredibly easy, and you can edit multiple cameras at the same time. Work with film up to 60fps, and export at up to 720p in the free version, and up to 4K in the Pro version.

This is great software for anyone who doesn't mind taking the time to learn a wide range of tools — if you're more interested in a quick and dirty edit, you might want to look elsewhere. The free version is available for download now and subscriptions to Lightworks Pro start at about $25 a month.

See at Lightworks

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve is another editing program that has been used on a bunch of Hollywood films, and the user interface is easy to navigate and seems familiar for beginners and pros alike. A powerful trimming tool, multi-cam support, compatibility with a wide array of film formats, and the ability to upload straight to the web make this a great choice no matter your intentions.

OpenFX plug-in compatibility gives you the ability to add a ton of third-party tools, and you can create a render queue that outputs your finished project in multiple formats, great if you want a sample copy and a master copy of your work.

The free version of DaVinci Resolve has almost all of the same features as the paid version — you won't be able to export in 4K in the free version and you won't find some of the more advanced tools, but definitely give the free version a try first, as the paid version costs about $1000. If you find you need the extra tools, you can always upgrade.

Grab this video editing software if you're not afraid of taking the time to figure out the tools of the trade. It won't take as long to master as some of the other professional-grade programs, but there's still a learning curve.

See at Black Magic Design

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro is subscription-based software that could be just the thing you're looking for. Its CreativeSync feature connects all of your work and files across your desktop and all of your mobile devices, so you can literally take your show on the road.

This software is loaded with tutorials; everything from creating a YouTube video to creating a feature-length film from your family memories. Tools within the app fix shaky footage, adjust colors and thread together media from a variety of sources on a user-friendly interface. The extended version of the app includes over 55 million royalty-free videos, graphics, and images courtesy of Adobe Stock's library.

The app can be purchased on its own or as part of the Creative Cloud with over 20 additional apps included; alone, you're looking at around the $20-per-month mark (opens in new tab) if you subscribe for a year, and about $30 (opens in new tab) if you only want one month.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

If you've been out shooting 3D video for VR, PowerDirector 15 Ultimate is probably the software you want to go with. It has an insane number of tools at your disposal, including 3D and 4K editing, yet it won't bog down your system — PCMag calls it the "fastest and most capable consumer-level video editing software for Windows around".

The user interface is easy to navigate and has all your most-used tools on display, and there are a bunch of templates you can use for quick creations. There are also plenty of special effects and transitions built right in, making it easy to create pro-grade projects.

Toss in image-stabilization and multi-camera support, and you have a powerful program that works with your VR video. It starts at about $60 (opens in new tab).

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Vegas Pro 14

There's no way around it — Vegas Pro is on the pricier side at about $450 (opens in new tab), but is great if you loathe subscription-based services. It is also adored by many video editors, both professional and amateur.

The same user-friendly interface Vegas Pro is known for is found here in the most recent version, making it easy to implement its wide array of advanced tools, plus you have access to plenty of third-party plugins thanks to OpenFX integration.

Work on up to 4K video in a wide array of formats, use one of hundreds of built-in filters and effects and take advantage or powerful image stabilization when working with footage from action cams.

Vegas Pro 14 is great for anyone already serious about or who plans on getting serious about video editing and needs software that can keep up with increasing demands.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Shotcut

Shotcut is a free program that comes full of powerful tools for editing your video. The only problem is that the user interface can be a little confusing for new users — not everything is immediately apparent and starting a new project can seem a little jarring. If you put in the time and get used to where your tools reside, you'll be more than pleased with how your finished videos turn out.

Plenty of video formats are compatible here, you can work on 4K content, and there are templates for quick projects. If you don't mind putting in time, you'll no doubt end up with a very impressive set of skills. Grab this software if you don't mind a steep learning curve and don't feel like shelling out big bucks for an editing program.

See at Shotcut{.cta .shop}

Blender

Blender might be immediately familiar to some of you as a 3D-modeling engine, but it also sports an impressive video editor. First, it's completely free, but that doesn't mean it's lacking a wide selection of tools. The user interface can be a bit overwhelming for beginners and might take some time getting used to, but once you get the hang of things, you'll be off to the races creating impressive video projects.

There is a large community of Blender-users ready to offer support for anyone who needs it. If you already use Blender or if you want a video editor with all the standard tools, this is a great choice considering it is completely free.

See at Blender

Adobe Premiere Elements

Adobe Premiere Elements

Editors who are familiar with Adobe Photoshop will find the transition to video editing easy with Premiere Elements. First-time users of either program might find it a bit frustrating at first, but a little time and patience go a long way.

It's so easy to navigate, Tom's Guide named Adobe Premiere Elements 14 "the most user-friendly video-editing program available for consumers." Now with Premiere Elements 15, you get a larger selection of tools and some neat new features, including haze removal, to work with.

Premiere Elements isn't the quickest to render video, nor does it have as many tools as some of the pricier options, but it will still do a great job with high-resolution content and plenty of video formats. If you're looking for a great introductory option, Premiere Elements, with its intuitive user interface and modest set of tools, is a smart choice. You can download it now for about $90 (opens in new tab).

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

59 Comments
  • What about other options?
  • Seriously? The author has written an atricle on what she thinks are the 6 best ones. There re always other options. Do you want an article on the ones she thinks are bad?
  • in a word: yes Doing a quick google (or Bing) search for a few seemingly random video editing applicaitons and slapping them in an article does not constitue as 'research' or 'writing'
  • These aren't random choices.  They're the best consumer and prosumer options on the market right now. And I don't even know why she wasted people's time by putting WIndows MOvie Maker there.  It simply hasn't been updated enough to be a factor anymore.  You're better off getting the free Premier Pro CS2 (it's easy to find, Adobe basically gave it away a couple/few years ago) off the internet and using that.
  • I didn't know that there's "she" editor here
  • Go to Top10reviews.com for more...
  • Hit Film 4, they have a free version to get you going, even does 3d
  • http://hitfilm.com/ Hit Film 4 , and hit film4 (express) is the free version they even do 3d
  • Vegas much better and easier )
  • I've been using Premiere Pro for years now, since I heavily use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Audition, and After Effects already, but I'll agree fully here. I can't think of another product that bridges the Pro/Home divide better than Vegas. It's dead simple to use, and extremely powerful. Premiere Pro is probably a bit more powerful for the pro user, but the learning curve is nuts, like a lot of Adobe products.
  • I prefer Vegas Pro to Premiere Pro, but I wonder if that will change if I dive into After Effects.  For non-effects editing, I don't think there is anything I can't do on Vegas Pro that I'd be able to do with Premiere Pro or even the FCP in the iWorld.  When clients ask for something, I'm always able to deliver. :) Of course, you'd probably have a different experience since you are so deep in the Adobe world. You'd probably get the job done much easier/faster in Premiere Pro than Vegas Pro.  
  • Can't believe Camtasia wasn't mentioned.
  • Vegas mixies Pr and Ae. But Pr and ae is the best package ever. Vegas nope...
  • Sounds like a strong opinion you've got there. I have both Premiere Pro and Vegas and choose Vegas for every job I get.  So Vegas yep...for me. 
  • For little editing, without big effects , vegas is a good choice. But in my everyday work, Creative Cloud is still the best one
  • It still comes down to preference. "big effects" likely means After Effects, which I could still use.  I don't think there is a a feature set that Premiere has that is lacking in Vegas.  It all comes down to which you are most comfortable using. I don't think it means, "whichever I like is the best" or "if you use it, it must be for 'little editing'", whatever that means.  Can't we all just use the tools we like without judging? That being said, I stand by my original point that Vegas should be one that people consider, and it is my opinion that it belongs on this list.
  • Agree! Vegas is very easy and powerful video edit app. Better than many in the list.  
  • Count me in for Vegas as well
  • Agreed Vegas much more satisfaction as if in Las Vegas convenient advance and powerful then premiere and final cut pro.
  • Absolutely. When I started editing video, I got Vegas and couldn't believe how intuitive everything was. I'm using the pro version, and even that is super simple.
  • 100% agree here. I'm not sure how you can exclude Vegas Video Pro.  I was going to let it pass until they Put Adobe Premiere Pro, so the list isn't just entry/consumer level.  I use Vegas Video Pro for PAID work and my own short film work.  I have not used the consumer level Vegas, but it seems to get good reviews and has a lot of the power of the Pro version.
  • I completely agree with Vegas.  However, I'm apprehensive about where it is headed with the transition of ownership to Magix.  Vegas was in bad need of an engine rewrite.  It isn't as nimble as competitors.  Magix is investing in the recoding.  We'll see how it turns out.
  • Would have been nice to be able to compare prices without having to follow each link.
  • I purchased Power Director while it was on sale over the Christmas holiday and I love it. As the article said, fairly easy to use for beginners and seems to be quite powerful for those that know what they are doing. I am in the middle somewhere. I am a fan for sure.
  • You missed DaVinci Resolve. It's free for personal use, and it's powerful like a hell. I switched to it from Premiere Elements and didn't regret for a second.
  • Yep, I am still using Premiere Pro CS5, but it is starting to get long in the tooth. Rather than moving to a subscription for modern adobe software I am moving to Davinci Resolve. I have not used it a whole lot yet, but I like the bits of it I have used.
    Wish there were more pro software titles that were free for home users! Great model, and a great way to lock in students and enthusiasts.
  • Wow, thanks a ton for the suggestion! DaVinci Resolve looks really, really impressive, and quite incredible that it's free for personal use. Been fairly annoyed with Premiere Pro these days, will give this a shot.
  • Just Adobe Premier Pro... B| Nothing else is needed....
  • Should have mentioned freeware options, I chose shotcut which works well. Depending on usage it may not make sense to buy an expensive program.
  • Movie Maker is free. "If you haven't experimented with Movie Maker or similar free programs, that's a great place to start​."
  • Yep, Shotcut is really good!
  • I also missed Hitfilm Express which is free to use for private persons
  • I purchased PowerDirector. I will never buy it again. It's spamming me every time I open it and suggest I buy the latest version of it. It's the last time I buy any product from CyberLink.
  • I have been using PowerDirector for about two years now. But seriously? You are complaining about that little pop-ups that, according to you, appears ONLY during the opening of the program? That is not even close to spamming, Dude.
  • Why would I care what you think? I don't accept to be spammed with ads when I buy a premium software.
  • Or, you know, use the free stuff that the pros use?  Things like Blender or Davinci Resolve are fantastic tools!  Little bit of a learning curve, but nothing that a few youtube videos won't get your through for basic use. Personally I use Premiere Pro CS5 (and more often than that Adobe Audition for audio, which is fantastic).  But I am not about to buy software on a subscription basis to upgrade to anything newer.  As CS5 becomes outmoded by newer video standards and features I'll be moving off to the free pro software going forward.
  • Thanks, I'll look into those free tools you're talking about, you were more informative than the article in this respect.
  • Man, "Movie Maker"? Are you serious? This site is about the latest MS updates and recent OS developments and you honestly recommend a program that only runs up to Windows 7??? Frankly, I expected to see some free options in this list. Clearly to be available for Windows 10. This was not a good article, I'm sorry to say.
  • Someone totally forgot lightworks. Still the best editor.
    1. Its used in hollywood
    2. Its free .
    3. Its has basically all the good functions all the others have , but combined
  • I wish more of these were available in the app store.
  • windows-sony vegas pro (simple and at same time very advanced) osx-final cut pro (you can edit 4k with 1.1ghz cpu. crazy) linux-kdenlive (free but more way more advanced than wmm)
  • Nero Video is much easier than Adobe Premiere Elements and better than CyberLink PowerDirector. It can be bought with our without Nero 2015 Suite (a Platinum version does also exist).
    Sony Vegas is also a very good choice. Perhaps, I thought Windows Central would know that Windows Movie Maker is an abandoned project since years thanks to Windows Live Essentials which didn't had any updates since 2012 and which is TOTALLY incompatible with Windows 10 (on my computer, Movie Maker and Live Mail were uninstalled during the upgrade).
  • It works on my win10 pc without problems.
  • I've found Sony Movie Studio to be pretty good. Runs really well, but it does have a learning curve greatly helped with tutorials on YouTube.
  • I'll always go with adobe, large no. of templates...
  • I love movie maker. It is more workable for me. I do hope microsoft will still consider an upgrade soon.
  • I did a similar feature a while ago, whittled it all down to two and then one. See http://allaboutwindowsphone.com/flow/item/21074_Pinnacle_Studio_19_and_N... but I can't believe you haven't included Nero Video 2016.
  • Another good editor is Wondershare Filmora. It has a bunch of fairly advanced features like chroma-key, but is still very easy to use.
  • I have been using Wondershare for a couple of years and think it's great. They keep adding updates and making it better. I use it to edit my sons soccer game highlights into a couple of minutes, max.
  • Guys talking about a "she-editor". Did you just arrive?
  • I exclusively use Premiere Pro 5.5 (none of their subscription crap) & Avid.
  • I mostly just use Blender anymore. I used to use Windows Movie Maker 2.1 when I was using XP, but in 2014 I started using Kdenlive after I built my new computer. Used that for awhile until I got fed up with it crashing and potentially corrupting my project file and decided to use the Blender VSE for editing. Blender is quite easy to use once you learn how to use it. The only problem I have with the VSE is that it's not GPU accelerated. But it's still way better than Kdenlive 0.9.10 (I used it on Mint 17.x.)
  • lol never thought I'd see Windows Movie Maker on this list.
  • I've had such horrible luck with Blu-ray authoring...is the format that annoying for others to create a simple menu and have it play on most PCs/Blu-ray players? Has anyone had good luck with any video editing/authoring program out there? I've tried Magix, CyberLink, and Sony. I feel like PowerDirector has had the best looking menu templates, but I cannot get any consistent playable Blu-ray burning done with that.
  • Sony Vegas is good as well, even have a cut down version call Vegas studio. A couple of good free ones, Black magic Devinci is a great little editior, a couple of limitations, 720p or below and it don't like AVCHd files, which is a pain for sony camcorders, but there are convertors around. The other editor that is free is Hitfilm 4 express, it is not just a editor it can also be used to create effects, like After Effects, but it is all in one and it is free. Again it do not like AVCHD, but again you can convert your files and if you like the software you can get a add on to allow you to import AVCHD for about £13. DaVinci is here Hitfilm is here. I use Vegas myself, but i have been mucking around with Hitfilm and i like it.      
  • I just use Camtasia Studio 8.
  • My son has the Adobe Cloud suite for school so I use Premiere. Given all the feedback for Vegas though... might need to check that out because as others mentioned, the learning curve is no joke!
  • How can you not i