Video editing is one of the first skills that new YouTubers have to learn. However, while iMovie or Windows Movie Maker might be good programs for editing your first few videos, you probably want to look for more professional editing software in the long term. That’s why in this article, I’m going to review the most popular and most professional video editing software for YouTube.
What to look for in video editing software for YouTube
Before we get into reviews, it’s a good idea to think about what kind of editing software you’re looking for. Not all programs are perfect for everybody - and especially if you’re budget-conscious you want to make sure you’re making the right decision. So what should you consider when you make your pick?
There are two things to look at when it comes to compatibility: Operating systems and hardware requirements.
Not all video editing software on this list is available for all operating systems. Make sure you choose something that’s compatible with your system.
Video editing is one of the most demanding tasks you can tax your computer with. That’s why editing programs can run into problems when the tech requirements are not fulfilled. Especially lighter, smaller laptops can run out of memory (RAM) quickly, which will shut down your video editing efforts quickly.
If you don’t know what hardware your computer is equipped with, here’s how to find out on Windows and on Mac.
Number of Features vs Appropriate Learning Curve
When you’re starting out on YouTube and are super motivated to grow your channel, it can be tempting to want to buy the most professional, most expensive editing software on the market. However, the high-end editing suites usually have one problem: They are not easy to learn. In fact, they are often more complex than what the average beginning editor would need. Obviously, if you are already experienced in editing, you might actually need a more complex program with more features. That’s what I was looking for when I upgraded from Magix Movie Edit Pro (which is a semi-professional editing suite) to Adobe Premiere (which is what the pros use).
However, when I made the switch, I noticed one thing: It took me longer to edit. The reason was that I just had to learn so many new things that it slowed down my editing process considerably. I also did a ton of stuff “wrong” - for example, I would use keyframes to do audio fades instead of using the very simple audio fading effects. You don’t need to know what that means exactly; the point is that I used a more complex, tedious process to get something very simple done (and I didn’t even get it done well!).
Now, for me, this learning curve was acceptable, because I benefit from all of Premiere’s advanced functions. However, if you don’t need a lot of functions because your video editing is simpler, you might not want to go through that. Instead you can get a program that’s less complex and doesn’t require you to watch tons of tutorials.
Video Editing Software Reviews
Now, let’s get to it!
Magix Movie Edit Pro
I used Magix Movie Edit for many years. I first started using it around 2012 when Windows Movie Maker suddenly wouldn’t open anymore. In my search for better video editing software I came across Magix Movie Edit Pro, and I’m glad I did.
Magix Movie Edit Pro is considered a “semi-professional” video editing program, which makes it a great option for many YouTube users: It’s neither too simple nor too complex. It offers tons of effects and editing options and even comes with professional stabilization plug-in Mercalli v2 (which costs $250 by itself). This will come in handy for anyone who does vlogs or shoots a lot of action footage. Many YouTubers will never need anything more complex than Magix Movie Edit Pro and its low price makes the purchase relatively risk-free. The slightly more expensive MAGIX Movie Edit Pro Plus will also support 360° editing, which is pretty cool, if you’re into that kind of stuff.
Now, here’s what you should know: Movie Edit Pro can be glitchy. While not everybody experiences problems (and there’s no software without glitches), Movie Edit Pro is definitely not known for being the most stable editing software available. In general, users seem to run more often into problems when it comes to complex and longer editing projects - so if you are “only” using it to edit simpler/shorter videos, you might not run into these issues. But who knows? I personally used Magix Movie Edit Pro for about three years with no big problems except minor glitches that would disappear after a re-start of the program or after copying my project into a new timeline. Did I get a little annoyed? Yes. Was it the end of the world? Not at all.
Another downside to using Magix Movie Edit Pro is that you have to connect it to the internet once a month in order to keep your license validated. Not a big inconvenience for most, but not ideal, either.
You can find try and buy Magix Movie Edit Pro here:
I have to admit I didn’t have Filmora on my radar at all before I started doing the research for this article - although it gets promoted heavily!
Now, when a product is recommended on a lot of sites, I often get skeptical. Usually, the products that are promoted the most are the ones that give the promoters (bloggers, YouTubers, etc.) the highest commission and aren’t necessarily of the best quality. So while keeping that in mind, I downloaded and installed Filmora and was kinda surprised.
Rather than what I expected, this program wasn’t shitty at all. This was actually a legit video editing suite. Right from the start I really loved the clean, modern design that stands out from the other video editing programs on the market. Although it took me a while to discover all the features of Filmora, once I had found them, the layout made sense and it was easy to navigate between functions. Besides cutting videos, you’re able to add music, texts, transitions, filters, overlays and other graphics. There’s even a splitscreen function, an action cam stabilization tool and a basic color grading tool. All these functions come with a ton of presets, many of them modern with a slight Instagram vibe - that means Filmora can help you make something look cool pretty fast. And something that’s especially helpful for YouTubers: You can upload your video from the program directly to YouTube.
When you’ve got to list all of the functions of a program, there’s usually a reason: There aren’t that many. Filmora is a very simple tool, which is not a bad thing per se, but it does mean your possibilities are limited. For example, most filters can’t be edited. That means, for example, that you can’t change the color of an overlay or that you’re unable to change the saturation of a color filter. So you’re kinda stuck with the effects that are included. When you’re just starting out or don’t need a lot of control over your effects, this might not be a problem. In fact, the de-cluttered workspace and lack of advanced options might help you create something good much quicker. However, if you want to do professional video editing, check out some of the other options on this list.
I also wanna add that the navigation (like zooming) in the timeline didn’t feel ideal to me. It takes more clicks and is clunkier than in other programs. I also didn’t find a way to zoom in vertically, which is pretty important for when I’m editing audio (but maybe it exists somewhere and I couldn’t find it).
Whether the simplicity of Filmora is a good or bad thing for you and how much you’re able to enjoy the program might be hard to judge from this short review. Luckily, you can download Filmora for free and test all of its functions, including its video export (you will have to buy a license to remove the big, fat watermark, though).
(Make sure to click on the Full Feature Mode after starting the program to have access to all the tools.)
Camtasia differs from the rest of the programs in this article in one way: It’s not a traditional video editing program. Instead, Camtasia originally started out as an advanced screen capture program and has added more and more video editing features over the years.
The fact that Camtasia has a focus on screen capture is one of the reasons why it might be interesting to many YouTubers. There are some types of videos (for example gaming videos, software reviews or tutorials) that require screen capturing software - and usually the free software you can find around the web is crap. Camtasia lets you record your screen, webcam, internal and external sound - and if you want to, you can record it all at once. After recording, you’ll be able to instantly edit your new footage with Camtasia’s video editing options. Camtasia’s interface is clean, simple and gets the job done quickly.
While TechSmith Camtasia has all the essential functions you need for basic video editing (cutting tools, transitions, visual effects, simple animations), it’s just not the most advanced video editing program. In fact, it is probably less advanced than Magix Movie Edit Pro, a program that you can get within the $50 - $130 range (depending on the version).
Also, it’s important to know that while Camtasia can record all kinds of normal desktop application, it’s not a tool to record video games.That doesn’t mean that Camtasia is a bad choice, it simply depends on what kind of videos you want to make. Camtasia is really more dedicated towards creating tutorials and presentations and has been the number one tool for that for years now. However, it is not the best tool for flashy vlog editing and is limited in terms of effects and animations.
The best way to see if Camtasia is the right tool for you is to try it out! Luckily, you can get a 30-day trial here:
Also, if the screen capturing part sounds interesting but you’d rather use different editing software, you can use Techsmith’s Snagit for that. It’s cheaper, too!
Adobe Premiere Pro
Premiere Pro is a real powerhouse and everything a YouTuber (and filmmaker) can wish for. There are detailed customization options for every effect and function - and there are many of those. In fact, too many to try to list here. But to give you an idea, people have edited Hollywood films with Premiere Pro. If it’s good enough for James Cameron, it should be good enough for most YouTube creators. 😉
Another advantage of using Premiere Pro is that it integrates nicely with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects - two programs that you might actually want to use as well when you’re creating videos. If you want to use motion graphics, this could be an important feature.
Compared to other programs in this list, Premiere is also pretty stable. Yes, of course, even Premiere has bugs sometimes - no way to get around that. The good news is that it gets updated regularly (which is only bad if the update is buggy) and that there are a ton of resources whenever you need help with something (forum, support, knowledgebase, YouTube videos, courses, etc.).
Adobe Premiere Pro is my go-to editing program nowadays. I’ve been using it for almost two years now and have no complaints...except...well… it was kinda hard to get used to. I’m not exactly dumb when it comes to using media software. I’ve worked with music software and other editing programs before, and Premiere still took a while to learn.
I didn’t have to start from scratch, but there were certain features and workflows that weren’t very intuitive for me. In fact, I’m still discovering functions I didn’t know about because they weren’t obvious to me before. However, the good thing is that, since Premiere is so popular, there are a ton of articles, YouTube tutorials and courses dedicated to helping you understand Premiere better. I’m actually working through a Premiere course on Lynda right now.
The last thing I want to mention here is the pricing: Adobe Premiere is by far the most expensive video editing program on this list. While other programs will charge you a one-time fee (+ an optional fee for any upcoming upgrade), Premiere comes with a monthly subscription fee - and who needs more subscriptions? While this also guarantees that the software will always be up to date, this is probably a factor that discourages many YouTubers from buying.
Since it’s hard to make a big buying decision like this on the spot, Adobe offers a 30-day trial for any of their products. So if you think Premiere Pro could be right for you, there’s no harm in giving it a try!
Final Cut Pro X (Mac only)
Final Cut Pro is known as THE editing suite for Mac. However, with the introduction of Final Cut Pro X, a lot of video creators changed their opinion on the video editing software.
Final Cut Pro is one of the most professional editing suites on this list . It is used by filmmakers, production companies, freelancers and YouTubers. Like Premiere, Final Cut has too many features to list here - you’d have to do some pretty exceptional video work in order to get to its limits.
What’s great about Final Cut Pro is its speed. Rendering is up to 5 - 10x faster than on Premiere. It is also, like many Mac products, one of the most stable editing suites out there. The biggest advantage of Final Cut Pro is its price, though: $300 is a great deal if you’re comparing it to Premiere Pro with its monthly subscription. In general, if you’re on a budget but want to have top-notch editing software for your YouTube videos, Final Cut Pro is a great choice!
If you read my review on Premiere Pro and how difficult it is to get used to… Boy, oh, boy, you’re in for something with FCP X. Apple has always enjoyed being inventive with its products, so in order to stand out from its competitors, Apple has re-invented the traditional editing timeline in Final Cut Pro X. And in this case, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The new “magnetic timeline” has given quite a few users headaches and it might take reading articles as long as this one to find a productive workflow. And there are other unusual features such as the timeline (sorry, “storyline”!) without tracks.
All of this is more of a problem for experienced editors than for people who’ve never edited before. So if you want to switch from another editing program to FCP X, be aware that it might take weeks or even months to get fully used to the new functions.
Another thing to keep in mind with Final Cut Pro is that it doesn’t integrate as nicely with programs like After Effects as Premiere Pro does. If you need to use After Effects a lot (or are planning on using it in the future), FCP will not be the most convenient choice.
In order to find out if you can get along with Final Cut Pro X, you can download a free 30-day trial here:
Review Results - Best Video Editing Software for YouTube
If I NEED to pick, I would want to award the title of “Best video editing software for YouTube” to Adobe Premiere Pro. It is simply the most professional program for editing YouTube videos right now. It has everything you need, including seamless After Effects integration. I also love how many Adobe Premiere courses and tutorials you find on the web; that helps me to always keep learning new things about this program and become a better editor.
However, Adobe Premiere Pro might not be the best choice for everyone. This is why I want to make some other recommendations:
- For new YouTubers: Wondershare Filmora, Magix Movie Edit Pro
- For semi-professional YouTubers: MAGIX Movie Edit Pro Premium, Final Cut Pro
- For professional YouTubers: Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro
- For businesses: Techsmith Camtasia, Adobe Premiere Pro
However, I think the best way to figure out the best software for you is to simply give them a try. 🙂
What editing software do you use?
I’d love to hear about your experiences with video editing software in the comments! What do you use right now? What can you recommend?
Thanks ANNA. This review is really nice. You are really great story teller. As a beginner, I like Filmora.
It’s Meng from Wondershare Filmora, I read your article: Best Video Editing Software for Youtube, that’s really awesome! I was wondering to know would you like to review Filmora again? We released new features and popular effects to help people to edit their Youtube video more easier and looks like a pro. Please let me know, thanks and have a nice day!
Your article gives me some ideas for using different programs in the future, but it didn’t answer my primary question. I am not a professional editor, but can edit things for my music project when I need to using iMovie. However, I am confused as to whether the exported files from iMovie are going to look as professional once they’re uploaded to youtube, all other things being equal. For example, after shooting various scenes for a music video, we decided to make our own edit in iMovie so that it could be exactly how we wanted it. We added different effects to different scenes so that it would look less video like, but are not necessarily married to those particular effects – it’s just that was all that was available in iMovie. Before we release the video officially, we were wondering whether we need to now take all the footage to a professional editor that uses something like Premiere along with our draft as a reference reference so that the final output will be as high quality as possible. Does it make a dramatic difference?
Thanks so much
Hi Alzara, it really depends on your project and what you’re imagining (and how your current project looks like). If you need a lot of effects as you described, a professional editor might be able to improve it a lot! In that case, someone with experience in Adobe After Effects is probably the best person to ask.