The best free video editor 2016

Cut, filter, combine and convert videos in seconds

The best free video editor

Free video editing software has come a long way since the glory days of Windows Movie Maker. Today's best free video editors are packed with professional level features and is astonishingly easy to use, and all the software we've rated here does a brilliant job of balancing power, flexibility and convenience.

Perhaps your needs are very basic and you simply want to trim unwanted sections out of a clip. Alternatively, you might want to get more adventurous – cutting clips together, adding transitions and special effects, applying video and audio effects, and using greenscreen tools to create a masterpiece. 

We've got both scenarios covered – and all the best free video editors featured here are free to download and use.

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Lightworks

Lightworks is a superb free video editor trusted by professional filmmakers, and is free to download and use. It's surprisingly intuitive for such powerful software, and you'll achieve brilliant results

1. Lightworks

Download Lightworks free

Lightworks puts professional-quality tools within reach of everyone. The best free editor around

Lightworks is far much more than just basic video editing software – it's been used to create real, big-name movies including The King's Speech and Road to Perdition.

It really is that impressive and powerful. As you would expect for such a powerhouse, this isn't an application you are going to learn or master overnight, but that's certainly not something you could hold against it.

Lightworks is described as the professional editor for everyone, and we reckon that's a fair summary. Despite its power, it will run well on fairly modest hardware, and it handles video capture and editing with aplomb.

If you've tried other free video editing software you'll probably find that the interface is a little different to anything you're used to, but you can arrange the various controls and windows to create something that suits your way of working.

Download here: Lightworks

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VideoPad Video Editor

If you've ever used Windows Movie Maker, you'll pick up VideoPad in seconds. Its interface is similar, though it's much more powerful

2. VideoPad Video Editor

Download VideoPad Video Editor

Simple to use, even for complete newcomers. Not as feature-packed as Lightworks, but still excellent

Free video editing software has a tendency to be either simple to use and limited in terms of features, or powerful and time-consuming to learn. VideoPad Video Editor does an excellent job of straddling both camps, falling into the rare category of being a powerful video editor that you can easily find your way around even if you've never used anything similar in the past.

This ease of use plays a very big part in VideoPad's appeal, but it also comes highly recommended because of the sheer range of tools it has on offer.

VideoPad Video Editor may not be quite as feature-packed as Lightworks, but it's much easier to just jump straight into. You can work with video footage that's already on your hard drive, or capture from your connected camcorder. You then have access to a plethora of video and audio editing tools (effects, transitions, sequencing and more), the likes of which would not be out of place in premium video editing software.

Download here: VideoPad Video Editor

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Shotcut

Free video editor Shotcut offers an array of advanced options for fine-tuning audio and video. Its interface takes some getting used to, but it's worth the effort

3. Shotcut

Download Shotcut free

It takes a little time to master Shotcut's unusual interface, but once you do, you'll reap the benefits

Shotcut is another professional-feeling free video editor that requires a little patience if you are achieve the results it is so capable of delivering. The slightly unusual interface can be put down to the fact that this started life as a Linux application, and little has changed in its conversion to Windows.

To start with, the layout of the interface may seem a little stark. You will need to not only load a video, but also choose which editing mode you would like to work in and which tools you'd like to use.

There's no getting away from the fact that Shotcut has a steep learning curve. It's possible to achieve some impressive results by simply applying one of its many filters to your video, but the real rewards will only be reaped by those willing to invest the time and energy in fully getting to grips with what's on offer.

Download here: Shotcut

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VSDC Free Video Editor

VSDC Free Video Editor has recently received a major upgrade, and now boasts a vastly expanded array of editing tools and filters to enhance your clips

4. VSDC Free Video Editor

Download VSDC Free Video Editor

A non-linear editor stacked with tools and filters, VSDC is very impressive and in constant development

Despite VSDC Free Video Editor's proclamation that it features a "modern and highly intuitive interface", you might feel slightly intimidated by it at first. There's a huge array of effects and filters to work with to enhance your footage, and while there's a wizard on hand to help you to import videos into the program, you're soon left on your own.

This is a shame because VSDC is highly capable, and can yield superb results. As a non-linear editor, it works in rather a different way to many other similar tools, letting you position video clips and other elements on the timeline wherever you like and edit them there.

This approach makes VSDC incredibly powerful and enables you to achieve results that would be impossible with other free video editing software, but a little guidance or better labelling would be welcome.

With the ability to not only work with multiple scenes and transitions, but also to add sprites and text to videos, you can create a professional-quality movie if you're willing to stick with VSDC Free Video Editor's slightly odd way of working and unusual interface.

Download here: VSDC Free Video Editor

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Avidemux

For basic editing jobs, Avidemux is ideal. It's uncomplicated and has all the essentials covered

5. Avidemux

Download Avidemux free

An accessible collection of key video editing tools, Avidemux is ideal for small tasks

One thing to understand about Avidemux from the outset is that it is not going to help you create the next Star Wars or to become a master movie producer. Rather, this free video editing software is a set of essential tools for everyday video editing covering all of the basics such as converting between formats, trimming footage, appending one clip to another, and applying filters and effects.

While Avidemux doesn't offer the most extensive video editing feature set, it's not a pared-back Windows Movie Maker style affair either. You might have to go hunting for some of the more advanced options, and using them may require you to look at some of the many online tutorials written by its community of users.

There's also a handy quickstart guide to get you rolling if you're totally new to video editing. If you can't see a tool you need, Avidemux is also expandable via plugins that add features like subtitles and watermarks.

Download here: Avidemux

See all the free video editors available to download on TechRadar