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The 5 Best Video Editing Programs for YouTube

Beautiful Female Video Editor Works with Footage on Her Personal Computer, She Works in Creative Office Studio.

The 5 Best Video Editing Programs for YouTube

Key Points

  • Our choice for the #1 Best Overall Video Editing Program for YouTube is Adobe Premiere Pro.
  • Video editing software is essential to bring your Youtube channel to the next level.
  • Selecting the program that best accommodates your needs requires some research.
  • When shopping for the best video editing program for YouTube, consider cost, tools and features, the learning curve, and the video formats the software supports.

The best video editing software for YouTube will offer a collection of powerful tools that will enhance your creativity. Whether your channel is all about foodie reviews, unboxing videos, short films, sketch comedy routines, or travel vlogs, decent editing transforms amateur footage into quality content that drives subscriptions, views, and likes. Whether it was cost or complicated workflows, professional-grade editing software used to be out of reach for your average person. That has all changed, however. Today any aspiring video creator will find software that accommodates their needs and their budget. Let’s take a look at some of the best video editing programs for YouTube:

  1. Adobe Premiere Pro | Video Editing and Production Software | 12-Month Subscription with Auto-Renewal, PC/Mac
  2. Adobe Premiere Pro | Video Editing and Production Software | 12-Month Subscription with Auto-Renewal, PC/Mac
    $239.88
    • Compatible with PC and Mac
    • 12-month subscription with auto renewal
    • Video editing software app lets you edit for film, TV, and online content
    • You can edit footage in any modern format, including 8K and virtual reality
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    09/26/2023 08:37 pm GMT
  3. Final Cut Pro Efficient Editing: A step-by-step guide to smart video editing with FCP 10.6
  4. Final Cut Pro Efficient Editing: A step-by-step guide to smart video editing with FCP 10.6
    $80.99
    • Learn how to use Final Cut Pro X from an Apple Certified Trainer
    • Explore importing, editing, finishing, and exporting the final cut
    • Enhance your projects with color correction, effects, transitions, audio, titles, and more
    • Discover how to edit in the magnetic timeline so you can make changes both big and small
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    09/26/2023 08:42 pm GMT
  5. Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio
  6. Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio
    $295.00
    • Professional video editing program
    • Perfect for colorists
    • Compatible with Mac or Windows
    • NLE editing tools
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    09/26/2023 11:29 am GMT
  7. VideoPad Video Editor - Create Professional Videos with Transitions and Effects [Download]
  8. VideoPad Video Editor - Create Professional Videos with Transitions and Effects [Download]
    $99.00
    • Drag and drop capability for easy editing
    • Capture video from DV camcorder, VHS, or webcam
    • You can import most video file formats
    • Create videos for YouTube or DVD
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    09/26/2023 08:47 pm GMT

History-Computer’s Top Picks for Best Video Editing Programs for YouTube

#1 Best Overall Video Editing Program for YouTube: Adobe Premiere Pro

Best Overall
Adobe Premiere Pro | Video Editing and Production Software | 12-Month Subscription with Auto-Renewal, PC/Mac
$239.88
  • Compatible with PC and Mac
  • 12-month subscription with auto renewal
  • Video editing software app lets you edit for film, TV, and online content
  • You can edit footage in any modern format, including 8K and virtual reality
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/26/2023 08:37 pm GMT

Adobe Premiere Pro is the gold standard of NLE programs for amateurs and professionals alike. Adobe Premiere is a powerful and versatile piece of software. It’s accessible enough to create YouTube videos and stacked with features and tools enough to make Hollywood movies. So much so that it’s also commonly used by designers, VFX artists, and even animators. If you want to start with a program that your skills will never outgrow, stop looking. This is it.

Like a lot of Adobe programs, the interface can be intimidating at first because it is so stacked with tools. However, once you wrap your head around it, it’s actually pretty intuitive and will enhance your productivity. Premiere divides everything into separate workspaces, such as editing, effects, and audio that help manage a specific task. This may seem like a disadvantage. However, having to bounce around the screen actually reduces distractions and helps you focus on the task at hand.  

Premiere supports just about any format you can throw at it including 4K, 8K, and VR. It’s also good at combining videos with different resolutions in an easy way. You can work on multiple clips at once, and there’s no limit to the number of video tracks you can have open simultaneously. All clips can conveniently be imported from just about any source. 

Adobe Premiere Pro can be a little overwhelming for beginners. It is one of the two film industry-level programs on this list. (The other is Final Cut Pro X, discussed below.) The cost can also be prohibitive for some. Premiere Pro works seamlessly with other Creative Cloud programs like After Effects, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Premiere Pro is also cross-platform, and that versatility earned it the top spot on this list. 

ProsCons
It works seamlessly with the rest of the Adobe Suite.It’s only available with a monthly subscription.
The interface is divided into sections, making it very intuitive.Beginners can find the massive amounts of tools overwhelming.
It can handle any video resolution, including 8K and VR.

Best for Mac: Final Cut Pro X

Best for Mac
Final Cut Pro Efficient Editing: A step-by-step guide to smart video editing with FCP 10.6
$80.99
  • Learn how to use Final Cut Pro X from an Apple Certified Trainer
  • Explore importing, editing, finishing, and exporting the final cut
  • Enhance your projects with color correction, effects, transitions, audio, titles, and more
  • Discover how to edit in the magnetic timeline so you can make changes both big and small
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/26/2023 08:42 pm GMT

Final Cut Pro X is at the same level as Adobe Premiere Pro in terms of being a professional-quality video editing program. Both are loaded with tools and features. It may be hard to distinguish these two industry leaders from each other, however, there are some significant differences. 

One of the biggest distinctions is Final Cut’s pricing model. Premiere Pro is often criticized for being subscription-based. Final Cut doesn’t fall into this trap, but it does uphold the Apple tradition of coming with a hefty price tag. One could argue that purchasing a license outright is cheaper than monthly subscription payments. They’d be right if you consider the long run. However, some editors may be justifiably reluctant to commit to a program they may have never even used. Especially when they have to spend a large sum. Final Cut Pro does offer a free 90-day trial if you want to try it out before making any costly decisions.

Just as Premiere Pro integrates with other Creative Cloud programs, Final Cut Pro finds itself at home within the larger Apple ecosystem. It’s built to pair with programs like Metal to create a simplified workflow for Mac Pro. If you use a lot of the Adobe Suite, you’re better off with Premiere. If, however, you are an Apple die-hard, Final Cut might just be for you. 

ProsCons
It is a professional program on the same level as Premiere Pro.It is not compatible with Windows.
It works well with other programs in the Apple ecosystem.The pricepoint is a little high.
Apple offers a free 90-day trial so you can try it out before purchasing it.

Best for Color Grading: DaVinci Resolve 17

Powerful Color Grading Tool
Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio
$295.00
  • Professional video editing program
  • Perfect for colorists
  • Compatible with Mac or Windows
  • NLE editing tools
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/26/2023 11:29 am GMT

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio made a splash when it first came on the scene as a powerful professional-quality color grading tool. As more people began to use it, they discovered the program also had non-linear editor (NLE) functionality. As a result, many editors began to cut their entire project on this powerful cross-platform app. The latest version of DaVinci incorporates the previously stand-alone app Fusion. This incorporates four pro-level video post-production modules for editing, color correction, video effects/motion graphics, and even audio production. 

DaVinci is a powerful editing tool, but it can be a bit tricky to navigate. Its 256-page manual demonstrates that it’s just as complicated as Premiere, but the interface is a bit less intuitive. A free version is available, however, and those users now have the ability to collaborate on projects simultaneously. This feature was previously hidden behind a paywall. The free version and the color grading tool have made a lot of people DaVinci converts. It’s definitely great as an NLE, but its grading tool is unmatched. If you are predominantly an editor, you may want to consider Premiere or Final Cut. If you are primarily a colorist, this is a must-have editing program. 

ProsCons
It is compatible with both Mac and Windows.It is a little complex and difficult to navigate.
There is a free version available.
It has a superior color grading system.

Best for Beginners: VideoPad

Best for Beginners
VideoPad Video Editor - Create Professional Videos with Transitions and Effects [Download]
$99.00
  • Drag and drop capability for easy editing
  • Capture video from DV camcorder, VHS, or webcam
  • You can import most video file formats
  • Create videos for YouTube or DVD
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/26/2023 08:47 pm GMT

VideoPad is a cross-platform video editing program that is great for beginners. It works on both Windows and macOS, which is always a selling point in our book, but it does come with a caveat. Simply put, VideoPad functions on Mac but offers a wider array of features on the PC version. If you are a beginner and you’re using a Mac, perhaps consider iMovie instead. 

The free version of VideoPad is intended for non-commercial use, which is ironic given the number of pop-up ads you’ll see once you download it. On the pro side, they offer a “Home Edition” and “Master’s Edition.” Not only do the annoying notifications go away with an upgrade, but you also get access to more features, like a variety of plugins and the ability to add unlimited audio tracks.

VideoPad lacks a lot of the tools and features of other professional-grade apps. However, it is, without a doubt, a great choice for those whose needs don’t go beyond simple video editing.

ProsCons
There are multiple versions of it available depending on your needs.There are a lot of pop-ups on the free version.
It works on both Mac and Windows.It lacks a lot of the tools that the pro-level editors have.
The Mac version doesn’t include all the features the Windows version has.

Best Free Program: HitFilm Express

There are a handful of free NLEs out there, and Hitfilm Express is one of the best. Even a few of the programs we mentioned here have free versions. However, Hitfilm Express is a bit unique among free editing programs, in that it allows you to add additional features at reasonable prices. It’s not exactly a system that allows you to pick features à la carte, but it’s probably the closest you’ll find to that. HitFilm is also compatible with both Mac and Windows.

One of the best tools provided by Hitfilm Express is auto-stabilization, which can smooth out your shaky footage if you forgot the tripod or gimbal. It also provides some cool features like effects that simulate crop, pan, and zoom. WAV audio exports are supported, which is a pleasant surprise. There’s also a handy color adjustment effect and a GoPro FX reference effect for you action-cam users out there. Hitfilm Express may not seem intuitive to some beginners, but the low cost of entry and affordable upgrade features make it worth hitting up a few tutorials to learn the interface.

ProsCons
It is free.Some of the tools are behind a paywall.
The auto-stabilization tool can fix shaky footage.The interface isn’t intuitive for beginners.
It supports WAV audio files.

How to Pick the Best Video Editing Program for YouTube: Step by Step

Creative company professional movie footage editor sitting at multi monitor workstation while editing film frames. Expert videographer improving video quality using specialized software.
The right editing program can take your videos to the next level.

©DC Studio/Shutterstock.com

When choosing a video editing program for YouTube, there are four main considerations for most buyers. 

  • Cost
  • Tools and Features
  • Learning Curve
  • Video Format Support

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Cost

Those who require a powerful editor with a wide variety of built-in features should definitely consider investing in professional video editing software. While the price tag for these can be a little high, it’s good to bear in mind that these tools are intended for professionals, and as such, give you all the same abilities so long as you take the time to learn the software. If you’re serious about making videos, these programs can definitely be worth the cost.

If you are a casual videomaker with basic editing needs, there’s no reason to pay a lot of money for video editing software. There are a decent number of free apps available for either Windows or Mac that can handle the most basic video post-production tasks. That being said, be aware that free programs can have some irritating quirks, like pop-ups or watermarks. As the old adage goes: you get what you pay for.

Tools and Features

It goes without saying, but the video editing program you pick will give you access to different tools and features. So you will need to find one that best suits your specific needs. You should be aware of the kinds of formats and resolutions each program you’re considering supports. Ideally, it should be able to use the raw footage directly from your camera without converting it into a different file format. Also, make sure the exporting process is conducive to your workflow so that you can easily share your finished footage on YouTube and other social media platforms if your channel is doing a little cross-promotion (if you’re not, you really should). 

If you’re going to be layering multiple videos and graphics, be aware of the number of tracks the software allows you to use. Some apps have a track limit and that can limit your creativity. Also, see if it allows you to use video footage and audio from multiple files, as this feature isn’t always included. When it’s absent, your creative options are severely limited. Look for any basic features you might need, such as trimming clips or access to multiple editing modes. The ability to add titles, smooth transitions between scenes, and some kind of color grading will all be tools you’ll probably want at some point.  

While you might not need a wide array of visual effects for your YouTube videos, there are still key features you’ll only get with a top-tier editor. That makes a pro-level program worthy of consideration. If you will be making use of green screen or picture-in-picture features as most YouTubers do these days, you may need to consider investing in one of the pro-level programs.

Learning Curve

video time line
Some video editing programs can be complicated to learn and master.

©BoxBoy/Shutterstock.com

One important consideration when choosing video editing software is whether or not it’s easy to learn and become comfortable with. Purchasing software, and then finding you need to spend months learning how to use it before you can even edit your first video is not ideal.

If you know that you struggle with software, you may want to look for a program that provides editing templates and express modes. These tools can help you as you get oriented. Express modes allow you to import a video, select a preset style, and then it will compose your video for you automatically.

If you are a little more proficient, you should look for editing software that has a good number of tutorials available. That’s the advantage of one of the big programs. You’ll find a ton of tutorials for every imaginable feature for Premiere, Final Cut X, and DaVinci Resolve. Many YouTube tutorials will walk you through processes step by step, allowing you to learn how to use different features as you edit.

Video Format Support

One of the most critical factors in selecting video editing software is the program’s ability to edit video files uploaded from your camera. Video resolution and formats are constantly evolving, and some systems prefer different file types over others. Before you put down good money for a piece of software, make sure it’s compatible with your camera’s preferred file type.  

That also goes for exporting video. Most prosumer-level editing software is capable of exporting just about any format imaginable. So if you do get one of the more popular video editing programs, you can rest assured that uploading your videos to YouTube will give you little to no trouble. 

What to Know Before Buying a Video Editing Program for YouTube

If you’re a professional, or even have aspirations to become one, you should consider one of the industry-standard programs. Namely Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, or DaVinci Resolve. These programs will give you all the tools you need or give you something you can grow into. These give you the ultimate control over your videos and will give you the ability to make professional-quality videos for YouTube. 

For those novices and casual users out there, professional software will probably frustrate and overwhelm you. Plus there’s the disadvantage of possibly paying for a bunch of features that are too advanced for you to ever make use of. Try one of the free programs and get some practice before spending your hard-earned money. Once you’ve gotten some experience with the art of editing, you can always upgrade to one of the professional-caliber programs. 

Using a Video Editing Program: What It’s Like

Learning to edit video is intimidating to a lot of people, but it really shouldn’t be. Most modern video editing programs have user-friendly interfaces that are similar to other image apps. Once you get the basics down, even the most complicated programs become a breeze. There are plenty of tutorials available for free where people will walk you through some of the more complex procedures, filling in the gaps in your knowledge. If you have some patience and perseverance, you can add some truly impressive professional techniques to your YouTube videos.

Summary Table

RankVideo Editing ProgramBest ForProsCons
#1Adobe Premiere ProBest OverallWorks seamlessly with Adobe Suite, intuitive interface, handles any video resolutionOnly available with a monthly subscription, can be overwhelming for beginners
#2Final Cut Pro XBest for MacProfessional program, free 90-day trialNot compatible with Windows, high price point
#3DaVinci Resolve 17Best for Color GradingCompatible with Mac and Windows, free version available, superior color grading systemComplex and difficult to navigate
#4VideoPadBest for BeginnersMultiple versions available, works on Mac and WindowsPop-ups on free version, lacks pro-level tools, Mac version lacks some features
#5HitFilm ExpressBest Free ProgramFree, auto-stabilization tool, supports WAV audio filesSome tools are behind a paywall, interface isn’t intuitive for beginners

The 5 Best Video Editing Programs for YouTube FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What video editing software can YouTubers use to avoid a watermark?

Watermarks on your video are a common downside to some free programs. As long as you are paying for your software, you shouldn’t have to worry about a watermark at all. 

What is the best free editing software?

It sort of depends on what you mean by best, but the easy and obvious answer is the free version of Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve. It’s a professional-level editing platform, and although it doesn’t have all the features of the paid version, it is still a great piece of software. As a bonus, you can learn the basics of the program with the free version and then upgrade.

If I get Premiere Pro, will I have to get After Effects to do VFX?

Not at all. After Effects is an advanced-level visual effects program. If you are not a professional digital media artist, odds are, everything you want to do will be included in Premiere. Chroma key, motion graphics, split screen, and mask functions are all stock in Adobe Premiere.

Why isn’t Final Cut Pro used on more Hollywood films?

Avid was picked up by a lot of people used to using their system before the digital switch. Premiere Pro became big, partly because of its seamless integration with other Adobe products (Photoshop and After Effects were being used widely in the industry already). Final Cut had its Hollywood heyday in the early 2010s but has fallen off a bit since then. This is for a collection of reasons, but the biggest is probably because it isn’t compatible with Windows, making it difficult to have a collaborative workflow.

Are there any video editing programs that can handle 8K?

If you are doing an 8K workflow and have a computer that can handle those files, it’s probably best if you stick to a professional-grade editor. Premiere Pro, Final Cut, DaVinci Resolve, and Avid will all be able to handle an 8K workflow.

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