Video editing isn’t an easy skill, even for the technically-inclined. It doesn’t help that the software to do it is generally expensive. If you’re hoping to get into video editing without spending a bundle, we have a few suggestions.
We’ve made selections for both paid and free options on standard PCs, plus the obvious choice for macOS. For those of you who are limited to a smartphone or tablet, we also have an app pick, plus one for users who are confined to web-only interfaces. Whatever your platform or budget, you should be able to use at least one of the software options below.
The Best Paid Video Editor for Beginners: Corel VideoStudio Pro ($70)
Corel is a software company that’s been around for longer than many of their users have been alive (no, really, the company was founded over 30 years ago), and that experience shows. Their beginner-friendly VideoStudio video editor is an ideal choice for those looking to get started.
For one, its interface isn’t as complex or advanced as Adobe’s options (even Premiere Elements is a little overwhelming), but it still contains some of the basic principles that you’ll need to master if you ever want to move on to more advanced editing. That said, it’s perfectly capable of basic timeline and effects if all you need is a simple presentation or YouTube video. At under $100 for the full version—with a 30-day free trial if you’re still not sure—the 2019 edition of the software is an excellent choice for the aspiring videographer.
The Best Free Video Editor for Beginners: HitFilm Express
Most free video editing software is a little basic, but HitFilm Express includes a system that can handle surprisingly advanced editing duties without overwhelming the user with a super-complex interface. The system also includes access to a few special effects—a great tool for youngsters or students hoping to make some fun stuff.
HitFilm includes unlimited audio and video tracks—not a given with free software—but you may need to purchase some of the add-on packs to access the most advanced features. You can see which features are free and which are paid here.
The Best Mobile Video Editor for Beginners: Quik
Editing video on a phone screen is not an easy task: the touch-based interface means the precision of a mouse isn’t really an option. But if you’re looking for something quick and dirty for an easy share or YouTube upload, and your phone’s built-in editor isn’t cutting it (sorry), then give Quik a try.
This free app is published by GoPro, the action camera people, specifically to be used with their camera hardware. But it works great with video taken on your phone as well. It can even sync with a music track, and it supports advanced video options like slow motion and 60 FPS output.
The Best Web-Based Video Editor for Beginners: Kizoa
There are a few options for editing video solely on the web, notably the built-in upload tools on YouTube and Vimeo. But if you’re looking for something quick that has more features than the simple stuff, check out Kizoa. It includes standard clip editing, music and title support, and intro and outro templates—handy if you have only twenty minutes to make that presentation video.
The Best Mac Video Editor for Beginners: Apple iMovie
While most of the choices above are available on multiple platforms, if you happen to have an Apple computer, just use iMovie. It’s the gold standard for free video editors, and it’s already installed on your Mac.
While it’s not as powerful as Apple’s own Final Cut Pro X, it’s much more user-friendly, and recent updates include iOS support and direct sharing to YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook. The only real downside is that the basic iMovie titles will look a lot like many other videos on the web. Oh, and of course, it’s not available on Windows.