The Five Best Free Video Editing Apps for PC [February 2021]
From your smartphone camera to handheld action cams like GoPro, we’re all recording more of our lives than ever before. And whether you want to save that footage for yourself or become a blossoming YouTuber, knowing how to edit video is a skill you should have as we enter a new decade. It’s not worth it to record a bunch of video from your recent vacation just to let it sit on your phone or your computer’s hard drive to gather virtual dust. Instead, editing your footage into a professional-looking video for later viewing is the way to go.
But how do you edit your video? If you’re trying to get the job done, editing on your computer is the best experience. While apps like Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and Final Cut Pro are all used in professional settings by knowledgeable editors, they’re also extremely expensive. For beginners who are just starting out, there’s no reason to waste money on an app you won’t fully utilize. There are plenty of free video editing apps on Windows in 2021 that can help you polish up your clips before publishing them online, and we’ve gathered them here in this handy guide.
So whether you’re knocking out a quick video or getting started with your vlogging career, these are the best video production apps in 2021.
When it comes to finding a good free video editor for your PC, it’s hard to find something better than Lightworks, a freemium piece of software that lets you edit professional looking videos without dropping a single cent. As a non-linear editor (NLE), it’s the only piece of software on this list that can truly resemble apps like Premiere Pro or Avid.
It’s hard to even see Lightworks as a free app—it’s so jam-packed with features, you’ll wonder how it can possibly be free. The app features a simple interface that includes multitrack editing, a must-have for editing apps in 2020. Tools are directly implemented with your timeline, making it simple and easy to control your videos without having to hunt down the utilities you’re after. Effects and even royalty-free media are also built right in, so you can polish up your video with a nifty effect or add free music to your video without having to hunt it down on the web.
With preview monitors, sound tools, color correction, and the ability to import previous projects, it’s hard to see the downside to using Lightworks. The app has even been used to edit by the same editors behind films like The King’s Speech and Road to Perdition. The tools you can grab from Lightworks for free aren’t just good—they come recommended by the pros.
The only catch with Lightworks as a free application is simple: though you can use all the tools offered by the app, you’ll be limited in your export formats unless you step up to a paid tier. Lightworks still allows you to publish to YouTube in 720p on its free tier, so if you’re ready to get started as an editor, Lightworks is the app for you.
If Lightworks isn’t for you, you aren’t out of luck. Shotcut is another application for those who want power. It looks and feels different from all the others because it began life as a Linux application. It has since been converted to Windows, but retains the Linux look and feel. Like many video editing apps, Shotcut comes with quite the learning curve, but like the others in this list repays that investment with some superb results.
Shotcut has a huge array of filters, transitions, effects and more that you can add to a video. Shotcut also has a number of features that make it easy to trim and manipulate voiceover or sound effects. The interface and its potential takes a while to get used to but once you do, you will be creating professional standard videos in no time. Shotcut has come a long way in the years since it came to Windows, and you’re probably going to have to get used to hearing about it—it’s only getting more popular as time goes on.
Although it might not be the first editor that comes to your mind, depending on what you want and need from a video editor, Blender might be perfect. As an open-source editor, it’s primarily used as a 3D modeling application that also happens to work with video. Blender is used often by NASA, The History Channel and helped create effects in Spider-Man 2. That’s how good it is.
While it is a 3D program, the included video editor is relatively full-featured, and includes lots of effects, compositing tools, transitions, corrections and editing tools and a whole lot more. Plus you have all that animation power to call on once you get to grips with the package. The community is strong too which means an answer to your problems is never far away. Just remember that, if you’re looking for something similar to Premiere, this may not be the app for you.
If you have some solid video skills but you don’t have the cash to pick up Premiere Pro, OpenShot might be the app for you. As a cross-platform open source editor, OpenShot is perfect for anyone on Windows, Mac, or Linux. Although it’s not the prettiest app in the world, the app allows you to cut together videos using a full NLE interface. Unlimited tracks allows for everything from audio tracks and backgrounds to watermarks, and full keyframe support for animation, effects, and transitions.
OpenShot also includes some more advanced tools you won’t find in every app on this list, including a video effects engine that functions like a light version of After Effects. Customizing the background of your video, manipulating time, and adding 3D particle effects are just a few examples of what the app allows you to do. Overall, OpenShot is an excellent alternative to something like Lightworks. It might not look as good, but it’s worth an install to play around with.
VideoPad Video Editor is much more accessible and useful for people who just want to edit a quick video here and there but not have to spend a month mastering an application. It is simple yet powerful, intuitive and very straightforward. That is not to say it doesn’t have lots of tricks up its sleeve because it does.
There is a lot of potential in VideoPad Video Editor. It has tons of tools, audio tricks, transitions and effects. Lots of camera and video optimization features and a whole lot more. It isn’t as in-depth as Lightworks or Blender but still creates excellent productions. Ideal for someone who just wants to fool around with a video but still produce something decent.
Those are what we consider to be the best free video editing software you can grab for PC in 2020. Each delivers a solid, if not exceptional, video editing experience, with varying levels of complexity for beginners and experts alike. Still, if you want one final recommendation, stick with Lightworks. It’s a surprisingly great app for free, and it can help you learn how to use NLE programs like Premiere Pro down the road.