If free editors don't cut the mustard but you can't justify a costly subscription, this could be the software for you. It offers all the features you need to get your videos ready for YouTube, and its one-off lifetime license is a bargain.
Clean, straightforward interface
Stock sound effects included
Thoughtfully designed timeline
Lacks advanced effects and filters
More tutorials would be useful
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VideoPad Video Editor has long been an example of one of our favorite free video editing software, and the premium Master's Edition is a great step up for anyone who's outgrown free software but doesn't need something as powerful as Adobe Premiere Pro.
This is a desktop application, but if you're looking for an alternative for your phone, take a look at our guide to the best video editor for iPhone.
Price and availability
NCH Software offers two premium video editors: the Home Edition, which only allows users to create two audio tracks, and the Master's Edition, which is unlimited and can be further expanded with downloadable plugins.
At the time of writing, the Master's Edition is discounted from its regular price of $99 (about £75, AU$140) to $49.99 (about £40, AU$70), and the Home Edition from $60 (about £45, AU$85) to $29.99 (about £25, AU$40). That's a pretty reasonable price for a premium video editor, particularly for a lifetime license.
The Master's Edition is also available on a subscription basis for $11.64 (about £10, AU$15) per quarter, which includes all premium features and future upgrades. All options are available through NCH Software's website.
When you first fire up VideoPad Video Editor Master's Edition, you'll be struck by its similarity to its free counterpart, but that's no bad thing – it makes it easier to transition between the two, and its relative simplicity means it's easy to nagivate, even if it doesn't look quite as polished as some of its rivals.
There are no potentially confusing menus and panels to worry about, and all the essential features are labelled clearly.
If you do happen to get lost, you'll find help in the form of tutorials explaining the software's fundamentals. These are ideal if you’re new to video editing, or making the switch for another program where things worked differently.
Tutorials take the form of videos that open in a browser window. It would be better if they played within the software’s own interface, but it’s a minor quibble.
Like most editors, you begin by importing your video, audio and image files. Whereas many programs combine these all in a central pool of resources, VideoPad Professional sorts them into bins – a small touch, but a helpful one that makes it easy to differentiate between still images and videos, which can otherwise be easy to mix up.
You can also capture video footage from your screen, record video from a webcam, capture audio from a microphone and take still screen grabs without the need to leave the program, which could be a real time-saver, particularly if you’re making a software tutorial or demonstration.
You can add your own subtitles, or have them auto-generated using voice recognition. This isn’t perfect, but worked well in our tests and only needed minimal tweaking. Again, it’s a great way to save time if you have a lot of videos to work through.
Video clips, images and sound files snap together on the timeline, and mixing audio tracks, and overlaying video and images is refreshingly simple – just drag and drop them into the timeline and new tracks will be created automatically.
If you need to delete an object from the timeline, there are two options: one that simply removes it, leaving an empty space, and ‘Ripple’, which automatically shifts everything back to close the gap.
The range of effects is less impressive than you’ll find in some premium editors (such as CyberLink PowerDirector) and some of them are very simple PowerPoint-style pans and zooms, but there are some advanced options to whet the appetite of more ambitious amateur videographers. Crucially, these include color grading tools, plus chrome keying (green screen) and transparency. Effects are non-destructive, and can be stacked, switched and removed as you see fit.
As a premium subscriber, you get access to developer NCH’s collection of stock sounds – an impressive collection of music clips and audio effects. This is a welcome touch that avoids the need to trawl through stock audio sites looking for something suitable, then download and import it.
Once you’ve finished, you can export your work as a video file, or send it directly to YouTube, Flickr, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive or Vimeo without the need to open a separate browser window.
VideoPad Professional doesn’t offer quite the same level of polish as some of its rivals, but it’s nevertheless a dependable editor that’s ideal if you’ve found free software too limiting. The fact that it’s available for a one-off fee makes it even more appealing.
- Check out our complete guide to the best video editing software
Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)