Adobe Premiere Pro CC is one of two industry-standard tools when it comes to video editing. It’s used by top professionals, on everything from YouTube videos, ads, and short films to broadcast TV and movies.
The other industry-standard tool in Final Cut Pro (number 2 on our list), and both are closely matched for features and sophistication. But as Final Cut, Pro is only available for Mac, and Premiere Pro is available for both Mac and Windows, that cements the latter as the best video editing software overall.
If you’re already a Creative Cloud subscriber, you’ll already have Premiere Pro, and you’ll be able to use it seamlessly with other Adobe tools, from motion graphics tool After Effects to importing assets from Adobe Stock. But even if you’re not, it’s still worth considering.
Premiere Pro supports 4K, 8K and VR formats. Its trimming and editing tools give you a high degree of precision and control. You can work on an uncapped number of video tracks, which can be imported from pretty much any source you can think of. And automatic sync makes it easy to handle multi-angle shots. It boasts customisable keyboard shortcuts, and great collaboration features too.
Like all Creative Cloud software, Premiere Pro is constantly being updated, and subscribers get all updates for free. For example, the latest 2021 release (version 15), includes a new and comprehensive toolset for adding, customising, and styling captions and subtitles.
You can subscribe to Premiere Pro alone, but if you use more than one of Adobe’s apps, you’ll save money overall by subscribing to Creative Cloud. You can take out a seven-day trial to make sure you like it before committing.
Apple’s Apple Final Cut Pro X is a highly capable and highly respected tool for professional video editing. The main thing that counts against it is that it’s not available for Windows. On the upside, it’s subscription-free. So if you don’t want a Creative Cloud subscription, Final Cut Pro X lets you pay once, and once only.
Wth features including 360° video, HDR and advanced tools for colour correction, Final Cut Pro X is optimised to get the most out of your Mac, and integrates nicely with other parts of Apple’s ecosystem, such as your Photos or iTunes collections. It’s also surprisingly easy to use, despite being so powerful and feature-rich.
Professional video editors particularly love its innovative Magnetic Timeline, grouping tools, wide range of effects, good organisational features and the simple ways to add and edit audio. For more details, check out our Final Cut Pro X review.
The downside of software that’s not subscription-based usually means you don’t get automatic updates. However, in practice every update to Final Cut Pro X since its release has been made free to existing users. For instance, the latest release this March (10.5.2), adds support for a new Universal RED plugin, enabling native RED RAW decoding and playback.
Also take note of the generous 90-day trial period, which compares favourably with the miserly one-week trial offered by Premiere Pro. If you need more help choose between these two tools, read our article Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro.
Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro are expensive, and a lot of work to learn if you just want to edit some videos for fun, such as family footage or your first YouTube video. In which case, we’d recommend Adobe’s Premiere Elements, which we’d call the best video editing software for beginners.
It basically a simplified version of Premiere Pro, number one on our list. But while that makes it cheaper and easier to learn, it’s still a very capable tool, packed with high-end features such as face detection, audio effects and bundled soundtracks.
The approach to video editing is very simple and visual, and you get all the video effects you need, including transitions, chroma-keying and opacity and so on. You can develop quite a fast workflow too, by harnessing smart search functionality, video stablisation options, and automated functions, such as motion tracking and smart toning.
Although it’s made by Adobe, Premiere Elements is not part of the Creative Cloud but is available for a one-off fee. The software is constantly being improved: the latest (2021) release, for instance, adds GPU accelerated editing, 21 new background music tracks, and two new Guided Edits – Double Exposure and Animated Mattes. So if you haven’t looked at it in a few years, it’s well worth taking a fresh look by taking out a 30-day free trial.
For more information, check out our Premiere Elements review.
Going to be working on the move? Then check out Adobe Premiere Rush, which makes all the most important bits of Premiere Pro available on your tablet or phone. Available for iOS and Android, this is the best video editing software for working on mobile.
Premiere Rush offers a simplified version of the Premiere Pro interface, with large icons and panels that are easier to click on a small touchscreen. And while there this means fewer features, you still get all the fundamentals, such as adding videos to the timeline through drag-and-drop, and mixing in background music.
One of the best video editing apps around, Premiere Rush can be used as an app in its own right, or in conjunction with Premiere Pro. For instance, when you’re on the train, you could make some extra edits to footage you’re previously worked on at the studio on your desktop PC.
Alternatively, if you’re just a casual YouTuber who wants to make simple edits to your clips, Premiere Rush is good for that too. As it is for making social media videos: the app has export options optimised for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and more. Like all Adobe software, it’s updated regularly and the recent March release added 24 new color presets that work in a similar manner to Instagram filters, with effects added in real time to your timeline.
You can get Premiere Rush as part of the Creative Cloud, or subscribe to Premiere Rush alone. Alternatively, there’s a free starter plan that includes access to the app, 2GB of cloud storage and unlimited free exports on mobile. That free version alone makes it among the best software for editing videos for YouTube. For more details, check out our Premiere Rush review.
If you’re a beginner who wants to get started with video editing software, Adobe tools aren’t your only option. It’s also worth checking out Corel VideoStudio Ultimate, particularly if you’re already a fan of Corel’s illustration and graphic design software.
This solid and relatively cheap video editing software for Windows has a clear and visual interface that makes it easy to get started. Then once you’ve mastered the basics, there are more powerful features to discover, such as motion tracking, 4K support, 360-degrees VR video support, a music library, multi-cam support, 3D text editing and thousands of effects.
The way it works with layers is a bit unusual, and on the whole this is not sophisticated enough to be considered a pro tool. But for starters in video editing software, it is very good value for the relatively low price.
Wondershare’s Filmora is a solid video editing tool for enthusiasts, or those just getting started with editing, for a surprisingly low price. It has an intuitive interface that’s easy to use, whatever your level of familiarity with video editing.
There are a large number of handy built-in titles, effects and filters designed for YouTubers and like, as well as a library of royalty free sound effects and music to give your videos impact. You also get the ability to record your own media directly within the tool.
The most recent version in March, 10.2, brought a flurry of extra features including Auto Reframe, fresh split-screen templates for Instagram, HEVC Codec support for the instant cutter tool and direct importing from photo libraries.
The free version includes all the same features and tools as the paid tool, but all your videos will have a watermark on them. To remove this, you can choose between paying for an Annual plan, and taking out a Lifetime plan for a one-off fee. Alternatively, there’s an Unlimited plan, which includes unlimited downloads from an stock library, and new effects each month.
CyberLink PowerDirector 365 is a serious bit of consumer-level video editing software that long been available for Windows, and has recently been released for Mac users too. It’s available either as a one-off purchase or a monthly or annual subscription, and both options are pretty cheap.
Despite this, PowerDirector 365 has many professional and high-quality features. Get cracking on the 100-track timeline and you’ll soon find yourself making the most of multitudes of stabilisation and video correction tools, professional effects, multi-cam editing, motion tracking and surprisingly easy trimming.
There’s 360-degree video editing as well, together with support for all the file standards and formats you can imagine. Then there’s slideshows, screen recording, DVD menus, object design tools and more. And the latest version, released this March, comes with free and unlimited access to an extensive, royalty-free library of content from Shutterstock.
In fact, with all those options, the interface can admittedly appear a little complex to newbies. But if you’re finding it all a bit of a struggle, there are plenty of video tutorials to help to get you started.
Pinnacle Studio isn’t the best known video editing software for Windows. But it’s well worth considering if you’ve never edited video before. For a quite reasonable price, you get more than 1,500 effects, titles, and templates, six-track HD video editing, colour correction tools, a dedicated stop motion feature, time remapping and more. It’s very easy to use too.
The latest version, 24, was released last August, and featured a redesigned title editor, enhanced video masking, and improved keyframe controls. Overall, Pinnacle Studio sits somewhere between the more basic free tools and professional level video editing tools, both in terms of price and features.
This video editing software is available for a one-off purchase. And if you like it, you can always upgrade to one of the more fully-featured and professionally oriented packages, Pinnacle Studio Plus and Pinnacle Studio Ultimate.
Vimeo is keen to creative professionals. So it’s not surprising that its Vimeo Create service, aimed at helping businesses produce social media videos, is pretty impressive. Aimed at people with zero experience, it allows you to use and customise pre-prepared video templates. And there are millions of stock video clips, photos and commercially licensed music tracks available to use for free. There are lots of built-in styles, too, that you can apply to your video at the click of a mouse.
Vimeo Create makes it easy to produce videos for a variety of aspect ratios (eg square, horizontal and vertical) to suit different social platforms. It all works in the browser, so there’s nothing you need to download. Yes, it lacks the advanced features expected from a full-service video editing program. But what it’s designed for, it does very well.
Vimeo Create is not sold as a separate app, but included as a part of paid-for Vimeo Pro, Business and Premium memberships. For more information, read our Vimeo Create review.
The best free video editing software
The best free video editing software is nowadays pretty capable. Of course, you won’t get the kind of high-end features you would with paid-for software. But if you have the talent, there’s nothing to stop you putting together a technically accomplished production with them. Alternatively, if you have simple needs and just want to edit your footage for fun, we have you covered here too.
If you think professional video editing on your smartphone or tablet requires paid-for software, think again. KineMaster is available for Android devices, iPhones and iPads, and goes way above and beyond what you’d expect from a free mobile app.
Kinemaster has a smart and easy-to-use interface that’s both intuitive and lag-free. Features includes the ability to edit multiple layers, add handwriting and text annotations, experiment with up to four audio tracks, and precisely edit at frame and sub-frame level.
The catch is that you’ll get watermarks on your videos. If you want to remove them, you’ll need to subscribe to the premium version at (a still reasonable) $4.99/month or $39.99/year. For more information, see our Kinemaster review.