Editing videos usually requires a specialist program you'll need to download (and pay for), but there are some excellent online tools around that are just as powerful – if you know where to look. We've scoured the web for online editors that will have your videos looking and sounding great, without the need to download a thing. Best of all, they're free to use.
The quality of browser-based tools varies greatly, so here we've picked out the best program available today. Selecting the right tool will often be a case of seeing which closest meets your needs, so we've included a mixture of very basic and more advanced options.
Looking for a more powerful movie-making tool that you can use offline? Take a look at our guide to the best free video editing software, with recommended options listed (as well as paid-for software if you want some extra features). If you're thinking of buying a video editor, it may be worth waiting until Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when we're expecting to see some great deals from big names like Adobe.
1. Movie Maker Online
An amazingly flexible online tool, with royalty-free media to supplement your own movie clips, audio files and images
First, a word of warning: Movie Maker Online is funded by ads that you might find distracting, and you'll have to deactivate any ad-blocking plugins you have installed before you can use it.
If you can look past that, Movie Maker Online is an excellent tool (and it's only fair that its developers are reimbursed for their work). Movie Maker Online lets you upload video, images and music, and combine them into a project by dragging and dropping them onto a timeline. The page layout is a little strange, so you'll need to scroll down a little way to find it.
You can crop uploaded videos, and there are numerous filters available to give them a new look. Movie Maker Online provides fade options for both audio and video too, as well as text overlays, transitions and more.
There's even a selection of royalty-free images and music files that you can use to help complete your project.
It just might take you a while to find your way around the system of menus and you can only export your finished projects in MP4 format, but this is a minor complaint. Movie Maker Online is the best for your browser.
The free version of this online tool lacks some advanced features, but it's easy to use and is a good choice for simple movie-making tasks
ClipChamp strikes a good balance between power and usability, and might be just the tool for you if Movie Maker Online (above) offers more options and settings than you're likely to need.
The free version of ClipChamp has a few limitations, the biggest of which is that you can only export videos in standard definition. There are premium tiers starting at US$9 per month (about £7, AU$13), that give you more freedom, but if your needs a simple, the free version might well offer everything you need.
You can either upload a video you've already recorded or use your webcam to capture new footage. Either method works well, and once your footage is in ClipChamp, you'll have ready access to tools including trimming, cropping, flipping, rotating and brightness/contrast adjustment.
Processing is fast, and you can share the results online or download the video to use in other projects. Simple, but it gets the job done.
3. Adobe Spark
Slick and easy to use – ideal for creating clips for sharing on social media
Adobe Spark is something of a Jack-of-all-trades, offering browser-based tools for making greeting cards, flyers, Instagram posts and, yes, videos.
Spark gives you two options for making videos: use one of Adobe's own themed templates, or start from scratch. Whichever you choose, you'll be able to upload still photos and video clips, or import them from cloud services including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Adobe's own Creative Cloud.
You can record audio from your PC's microphone (a great way to annotate a video), add titles, apply color themes, and add music from an impressive choice of options. To adjust the length of a clip, just change the number at the bottom right of the preview image.
You won't get a huge choice of tweaking tools (there's no multi-track option, for example) but it's ideal for putting together stylish videos for social media. You can even create square formatted videos specifically for Instagram.
Your finished video will bear a small Adobe Spark watermark on the bottom, but it's unobtrusive.
4. Online Video Cutter
If some of the tools above look confusing, check out Online Video Cutter. It's simple to use, and is available as a handy Chrome extension
Despite the name, Online Video Cutter is about more than just cutting up videos. The free online video editor lets you upload files up to 500MB in size, or work with clips stored on Google Drive or other online service.
You can then opt to trim away unwanted footage, and crop in if you have taken too wide a shot. There's a rotate function for footage accidentally shot with your phone on its side, and there's even a Chrome extension available so you can access the tools more easily.
When you're happy with the changes you've made, you can take your pick from a variety of popular video formats and choose lower a quality setting if you need to minimize file size.
There may not be that many features on offer here, but the site is beautifully set out and everything is nicely streamlined, making it a joy to use.
Make fun videos and slideshows ready to share on Twitter and Facebook
Kizoa is designed for making fun slideshow-style videos to share on social media rather than crafting a cinematic masterpiece, but it's very good at what it does.
Although you can use it to rotate and trim video clips, paste several pieces of video together and add titles, in our experience Kizoa works best as a way to turn a set of still photos into something more exciting.
You can tag your finished creations with keywords, then save them to your desktop or share them immediately via email or social media. Kizoa also provides a shareable link, which is a nice touch.
You'll need to sign up for a free account to get started, but this doesn't take long. Free users get 1GB storage for their videos, which will be watermarked.