Finding the best video editing software for your Windows PC can be a tricky labyrinth to navigate, mostly made difficult by just how popular it currently is to shoot and broadcast one’s own life. Look at the surging sales of everything from GoPro cameras to smartphones equipped with increasingly better video recording technology, and then look at just how many ways that people are sharing everything that they record. It’s no wonder that the market for editing software is booming and thriving right alongside it.
I recall the first time that I ever used a video camera, growing up. It was Churchill, Canada, and I was lugging around a little Sony VHS-C camcorder (I’ll wait while you look up “VHS”). I distinctly remember having to keep the batteries for that old beauty close to my own body, so they didn’t get too cold to use while we were out on the frozen tundra. I also distinctly remember being constantly conscious of just how much recording time I had left on the various VHS tapes packed away in my camera bag.
Oh, how things have changed. Mostly, they’ve changed for the better.
Now, recording and editing one’s own video is all done through digital flash and hard-disk storage, thereby liberating videographers from all of the obstacles that had to be constantly kept in mind when out on a shoot. For this reason, everyone from video hobbyists to extreme sports enthusiasts is shooting everything and the proliferation of popular platforms such as YouTube and Snapchat are the rushing waters pouring through those now-removed floodgates.
This is the digital era, right? A big part of that is the inaccessible made accessible.
However, you’re not going to get very far with any video editing on a Windows PC without the right software. Mac users are living easy, given that their computers come packaged with a fairly exceptional piece of software already, but if you’re on the Microsoft side of the fence, it’s going to take a little bit of work on your part to get properly set up.
Much of that work is going to involve figuring out your own needs before you start shopping for the right editing software. I say “shopping,” and the interesting thing is you might not even need to spend a cent! As long as you’re not looking for professional-grade programs, there are actually several open-source and freeware options that you can choose from, even though some are better-rated than others.
In the following guide, Appamatix will point out the best of the best, so that you can make the most informed decision before dropping any money (or not!) on new video editing software for your Windows PC.
When you want a top-notch, open-source program that’s free to download and relatively easy to learn, Blender is the first direction that I point any eager videographer. If you’re not looking to spend any money on new software, this remains the best choice that I can recommend and has been my go-to for a while now.
The odd part? Blender isn’t necessarily designed for video editing; instead, it’s just an included feature (albeit a very good one) for the larger animation and modeling software that digital designers use in their work. Therefore, if you’re at all interested in 3D modeling and design, Blender should be an obvious choice for you. If you’re not, then you can work around the core functions of the software and just use the video editor, an easy sacrifice to make when the software itself is free to download and use.
Many reviews and articles that present the best video editing software tend to gloss over Windows Movie Maker, but not us! While it’s certainly not iMovie (we can wish!), it’s definitely suitable as a free software choice that you’ll automatically have access to with your purchase of Windows. It won’t give you the crazy amount of output options that you’ll get from good third-party software, but in terms of making simple edits and adding quick post-production effects, you can’t go wrong with the software that comes bundled right along with your operating system.
All of the basic options are here–video cutting, audio editing, pre-generated themes and post-production effects for your videos, and sharing options to deliver your content to wherever it needs to go.
Lightworks is easily another favorite on this particular list, simply because it’s versatile in just about every way that you’d want a good editor to be. It has excellent multi-cam support, it processes fast, has strong post-production features that you don’t need to buy the Pro version to access (though, I’d definitely recommend that, as well) and works with just about every video format that you can throw at it.
You get access to a surprising number of features without any need to upgrade to the “Pro” version of Lightworks, but the big thing that you get for your investment is access to a wide range of output formats. Vimeo and YouTube (at 1080p and 720p, respectively) come with the free version, but the upgrade will allow you access to three times as many formats, at resolutions up to 4k Ultra HD. It’s going to cost a pretty penny for those professional features, however; the “outright” option without any licensing subscription is $437.99, while the monthly license is $24.99 per month.
Here is where we start getting firmly into the arena of “professional” grade video editing software that will, without a doubt, cost you a chunk of money to use. It should be said up front that the average user looking to cut and assemble their own videos probably doesn’t need the number of tools available in this popular portion of the Adobe Creative Suite, but in the case that you do, it’s one of the best purchases that you can make.
It’s hard to pinpoint anything that’s actually missing from Adobe Premiere, which is a testament to just how comprehensive Adobe’s design programs tend to be. They’re often considered an industry standard, and for good reason. What truly makes them versatile, though, is how they fit into the larger niche of the entire Creative Suite. Premiere is great on its own, but when you mix in the likes of Adobe Photoshop (available on the same license purchase), you can mix the toolkits of one of the best video editors with one of the best image editors.
Adobe recently changed its purchasing options from outright, full-package purchases to a monthly licensing option. Though it’s been met with some wide criticism, it’s overall made the Adobe software more user-friendly and accessible to those interested in it. Where you might have had to spend hundreds of dollars for a single version of Premiere years ago, you can now pay $19.99 per month and get the full version of the software. Not only that, it will automatically update as soon as a new version is released, thereby eliminating the worry that your version of Adobe Premiere will ever be out-of-date.
The final entry on our list is an excellent bit of software but sits somewhere just below the bar set by Adobe Premiere. In reality, that’s just fine; Premiere has a ton of tools and features that the average user will never make use of, and average consumers are exactly who CyberLink PowerDirector is meant for.
PowerDirector’s interface is easier to navigate than many other video editing kits, and it also comes with a smartphone companion app that allows you to make smaller edits on the fly. Don’t let the simplicity or accessibility fool you, though–this is a powerful piece of software and, once you learn how to use it, you’ll likely think that it’s $74.99 price tag is a bargain. It’s a speedy little video editor that is excellent for handling “action” shots; image-stabilization, multi-cam support, and easy editing for fast cuts all make it a great choice for sporting enthusiasts that like to film with a GoPro or professionals who shoot from multiple angles.
Of course, the above list isn’t meant to be a comprehensive tell-all about the wide world of video editing software available for Windows. These are our favorites among the pack; the programs that stood out against their competitors for various reason, be they features, price, or some combination thereof. There are literally dozens of available video editors at varying price points that we didn’t even touch on, but as long as you have a solid grasp on the reasons that you want to use a video editor, the above choices are some of the best options on the market.
What constitutes the “best” video editing software for a Windows PC is fairly subjective, but even if you’re not looking to spend any money at all, you can snag some pretty fantastic programs that boast a professional development quality. Of course, if you have your own recommendations (or feedback!) don’t hesitate to share our article and also leave your own thoughts in the comments below!