I’m not sure if we should praise Apple’s staunch, consistent stance about its own software or continue to rage against their longstanding resistance to having computer programs deployed on other operating systems. No matter which camp you’re in, there’s no denying that there’s a huge demand for software like iMovie on Windows PC, but since that’s not currently possible to achieve, we have a list of viable alternatives for you that won’t break the bank. Keep in mind, it’s always possible that Apple will reverse its stand and release Windows-compatible version of some of its best-regarded software, but as of right now, this doesn’t look likely in the least. With that in mind, let’s dig into this issue–we’ll explore the features that make iMovie popular and look at ways that you can find them in software that works on your Windows PC.
There’s a reason that iMovie has such a wide demand from Windows users, and it doesn’t have much to do with jealousy or the Apple logo fitted onto the iMovie product. Instead, it has to do with how well the software is streamlined; how much it’s capable of in a deceivingly lightweight package. Since it’s built for Mac and only runs on Apple hardware, its optimization allows it to perform blazing fast video edits and viewing, the speed of which is difficult to match in alternative software. It can be used to share personal videos or create professional video materials, both with the same relative ease and with a remarkably approachable learning curve. Much of the competing software on other platforms suffer from feature bloat that makes them look sluggish, heavy, and cumbersome next to Apple’s iMovie.
All of these are genuinely good reasons to want iMovie on a Windows PC, but since we’re nowhere close to getting it, that particular market has been wide open for software developers that have a niche demand ready to be met. Here are some of the criteria that we’ll want to see in anything that purports itself to compare to iMovie:
- Fast, lightweight, accessible.
- Inexpensive (since iMovie comes bundled with Mac computers.)
- Capable of producing casual and professional-quality videos.
- Reliable, streamlined aesthetic that doesn’t fail.
See? With only four criteria, you’d think that such a software package wouldn’t be that hard to find, but you might be surprised! If the success of iMovie was easy to reproduce, Windows users wouldn’t still be eager to find some method of getting their hands on it. Still, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t high-quality alternative software available, so without further ado, let’s take a look at some of those video editors that are worth your time, attention, and money.
iMovie Alternatives for Windows
A brief word of warning, before we dig in: when you’re looking for alternatives to iMovie for your Windows PC, you’re going to get what you pay for. Though Apple’s software may come bundled with the purchase of a new Mac computer, Windows doesn’t have a comparable equivalent. This is a consequence of the operating system being so open; it installs and runs across a wide variety of computer hardware that Microsoft never sees or touches–comparatively, Apple’s OS X operating system and all of the software bundled with it are designed to only run on Apple hardware.
You can maybe see where I’m going with this. If you want a true video editor that’s on the same level as iMovie, you’re probably going to have to pay for it. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t good, free editors out there; it only means that the free options aren’t going to have the same level of professional polish and performance as Apple software.
Wondershare’s video editor, Filmora, makes it to the top of my list of recommendations purely based on how much it follows the themes and aesthetic of Apple’s iMovie. Don’t get me wrong–the two don’t particularly similar–but Filmora hits a ton of our requirements listed above. It’s streamlined, fast, considerably lightweight for how capable it is, and not very expensive.
You get most of the basic audio, video, and image-editing features that you’d expect from this type of software, as well as advanced features that help you to cut videos together for specific ends. Text application, picture-in-picture, and image stabilization are just a few of the things available in Filmora. You can download a free trial version of the software from the Wondershare website, or opt for a 1-year license for $29.99. If you like the software and plan to use it for more than a year, you can buy a lifetime license (for a single PC) for $49.99.
If you’ve heard of VLC Media Player, then you know what you’re in for with VideoLAN Movie Creator. The interface is very similar to the developers’ other software, and it also tends to work just as well. It has less of the professional polish (and thankfully, less advertising) than many other video editors available online, and doesn’t have as many of the powerful editing features as you’ll find in more expensive programs.
Considering that it’s free, however, this leaves very little to complain about. VideoLAN Movie Creator is far and away my highest-recommended “free” software, and while you’re giving it a whirl, why not try out VLC Media Player, as well?
Now, we’re going right from free to pricey, with some of the best video editing software that you can find. Often regarded as the best-of-the-best when it comes to visual art software, the Adobe Creative Suite carries an equivalent price tag, to match. When you buy into an Adobe program, you’re practically guaranteed to have every editing feature available at your fingertips. Premiere has a difficult learning curve, and is probably best-suited to those with professional video editing interests, but it’s nevertheless one of the best investments you can make in editing software.
Thankfully, the current price structure for Adobe software allows people to give it a try without a huge, up-front entry cost. Instead of buying a single software package (which use to run several hundred dollars), you now pay a monthly licensing fee based on the programs that you want to use.
If you’re looking for a simpler Adobe program, try out Premiere Elements. It’s a refined, tuned-down version of the same software that’s meant for more casual use, and isn’t built with the huge amount of cross-application that comes with the full Adobe Premiere software.
We’re still in a “premium” price range with the Pinnacle Studio line of products, but they each work exceptionally well as standalone video editors capable of professional-quality work. If you like to shoot scenes with multiple cameras, Pinnacle touts its “Multi-Camera” editing capabilities to be among the very best, allowing you to effortlessly meld together scenes out of footage shot from different angles. If you often shoot sporting events or active motion, this makes Pinnacle a great option for your work.
Pinnacle comes in standard, Pro, and Ultimate packages, varying in price from $59.95 to $129.95. Unless you’re planning on doing some deep (and repeated) filming and editing work, the standard version will suit most users just fine!
CyberLink’s PowerDirector software has been around for quite a long time, and in that time, it’s managed to establish itself as a frequently-used standard for video editing capabilities on Windows PCs. On many machines (depending on the manufacturer), CyberLink editing software comes pre-bundled in the same way that iMovie does for Mac computers, though you’ll still need to upgrade PowerDirector if you want to work beyond what’s offered in the trial version of the program.
In terms of cost, it sits right in the middle of the road at $79.99, but you get a huge wealth of features for it. Picture-in-picture, themes, titles, transitions, image stabilization, and more are presented in an accessible, streamlined interface. CyberLink’s software has managed to stay relevant even as many competing programs have come and gone, and in that time, it’s fine-tuned its editing software into a precise set of features that are both affordable and reliable.
There’s no real replacement for iMovie on Windows. Because of Apple’s proprietary software development and Windows being a more open platform, the climate simply isn’t right for Windows to create a video editing package that can compete with Apple’s. However, some of the recommendations I’ve made above can most certainly keep up with anything that iMovie can do, and a few even surpass it. If you’re a newbie to video editing, give Wondershare’s Filmora or VideoLAN Movie Creator a try. If you’ve been cutting and editing your own videos for a while and are simply making the transition to PC, something like Adobe Premiere (or Premiere Elements) might suit you better.
Regardless of how excellent these programs are, the clamor for a Windows version of iMovie isn’t very likely to stop anytime soon. And since Apple has made no move to bring iMovie to Windows computers, that market for viable alternatives is going to persist. Whether you have experience editing videos on your computer or not, let us know what you thought of the guide in the comments below!