First, What Do I Look For in a Video Editing Program?

As you’re searching for that program that fits you best, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will the program run on my computer? Compare the requirements to your computer’s specs.
  • What Operating System is it compatible with, Windows or Mac (or both)?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do they offer a free trial period?
  • Are you wanting to do simple or complicated edits?
  • What is the end goal for your video?
  • Does the program offer customer support, documentation, tutorials, or user forums?
  • What types of files, ie. MP4, MOV, AVI, etc, will you be working with and will they import into your program?
  • What are the export options, MP4, Mobile, YouTube, Facebook, etc?
  • How much time are you willing to invest in learning this program?

Video Editing Programs You Probably Already Have

Depending on when you purchased your computer, iMovie (Macs), and Windows Movie Maker (Windows) should come preloaded for you. If not they are either free or very cheap (see links below). These are the default programs for both major operating systems and each has the basic editing tools you’ll need for a simple editing experience.

iMovie

Description: It has the standard features you’ll find in any basic editing program such as clip trimming, titles, transitions, effects and audio/narration.  On top of that though it has quite a few other helpful features like color balance/correction, cropping, filters, and picture in picture along with plenty of export options such as Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. The upside is it has probably all you’re going to need to do basic editing. The downside to iMovie is that some of the features aren’t as intuitive as I’d like but if you search and click around you can find what you need.

System: Available for Mac and iOS

Download: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imovie/id408981434?mt=12&ls=1&v0=www-us-mac-imovie-app-imovie

Help: https://www.apple.com/support/mac-apps/imovie/

Windows Movie Maker

Description: It has a very simple interface that’s easy to import, edit, trim, add titles, transitions, etc. and export. The upside is it can perform all the basic editing functions for little to no cost. The downsides are it only allows around 1-2 video and audio tracks, it’s exporting functions are limited, and it only allows Windows compatible media formats so you might need a converter.

System: Windows

Download: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/get-movie-maker-download

Help: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/getting-started-with-windows-movie-maker

Online Browser-Based Video Editor

There are several online video editors that I’m sure are sufficient, but I’m going to recommend the YouTube Editor for a few reasons you can read below.

YouTube Editor

Description: First off it’s free, you just need a YouTube account. Upload videos to your account, combine multiple videos and images, trim them, add music/narration, rotate your video or add titles. When you’re done, publish your edited projects directly to YouTube. The upside is you can work on your projects on any computer in any browser. The downside is you always need an internet connection since it is an online based editor.

System: Mac & Windows available in your browser

Link: https://www.youtube.com/editor

Help: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/183851?hl=en

Consumer / Advanced Video Editors

Don’t be intimidated by the word “advanced”. They import, edit and export just like any other basic editing program, just with more functionality. The question is do you need any of the extra bells and whistles they have to offer? You may not use any of the features now, but it couldn’t hurt to have them.

Adobe Premiere Elements

Description: This is the more consumer version of Adobe Premiere Pro. Has all the basics of trimming, titles and transitions with features such as pan/zoom, adjusting color, lighting, temperature, tint and even utilizes adjustment layers to apply changes that affect all of your footage. The upside is it’s a great editing program for under $100. The downside is the learning curve could be a bit steep if you’ve never edited before but there are plenty of tutorials (see link below).

System: Mac & Windows

Download: https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-elements/kb/premiere-elements-downloads.html 

Help / Tutorials: https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-elements/tutorials.html

Adobe Premiere Pro

Description:  The upside is this program can just about do it all. It’s one of the industry leading video editing programs and can handle almost any file you throw at it, perform complex edits, and export to a variety of formats.  Like Premiere Elements, I’d say the downside would be the learning curve but again there are plenty of tutorials (see link below). Also Adobe has switched many of their applications to be cloud based so if you want Premiere Pro, you’ll probably have to pay a monthly subscription for it.

System: Mac & Windows, Cloud Based

Download: https://creative.adobe.com/products/download/premiere?promoid=KSPHF

Help / Tutorials: https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/tutorials.html

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