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Danny has been a technology journalist since 2008. He served as senior writer, as well as multimedia and home improvement editor at Top Ten Reviews until 2019. Since then, he has been a freelance contributor to Lifewire and ghostwriter for Fit Small Business. His work has also appeared on Laptop Mag, Tom’s Guide, and business.com. Read more…
iMovie is a great video editing program for simple projects. However, if you create content regularly, you’ll run up against its limitations sooner rather than later. Check out this list of free alternatives if you’re ready to take your videos to the next level.
Graduating from iMovie is a pivotal moment for most video editors. So, picking the right program for you is critical. Since all the programs featured in this article are free, you can download them all to see which one has the tools that fit your needs and workflow.
For years, FXHome offered a free program for video editors, HitFilm Express. Unfortunately, they stopped issuing licenses for the software in 2022. So, while you can still download it, you won’t be able to activate the software. The good news is that they’ve made their full-featured software, HitFilm, free to download, and its core features are available to everyone.
HitFilm’s free tools include essential tools like multi-track editing, trimming, cutting, slicing, cropping, and flipping. Advanced tools like the ability to correct poor audio, customize 2D text, color correction and grading, compositing, and even 3D modeling are also included. Additionally, you get 127 visual effects, ten songs, 25 sound effects, and five video templates for free.
The program’s export module contains 18 presets. These export profiles customize your video for playback on YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook, and Apple devices. There are also options to export just the audio of the project and image sequences of your video.
HitFilm can be an intimidating program for novice video editors. Fortunately, the program features an in-app training module that walks you through every tool in detail. The Learn module is enabled by default the first time you launch the app. So, it’s worth your time to watch every video before you begin the editing process.
Once you’ve got the hang of the program’s core, you may want to wade into making even more complex projects. The paid versions of HitFilm run from $7.50 to $12.50 per month. Unfortunately, there are no perpetual licenses available. So, if you want to use the upgraded versions, you’ll have to subscribe.
Get the most out of your video editing program for Mac
DaVinci Resolve has been the go-to video editing application for many editors since 2004. And with good reason, the program has every essential editing tool most users need. You can add up to 185 editing tracks, 66 title designs, 15 transition styles, and hundreds of effects for free. And you can upgrade to DaVinci Resolve Studio for about $300. That’s pricey, but users who prefer a one-time expense to a monthly subscription will appreciate the option.
The basics of the program should be easy enough for novices to learn after a couple of times through the editing process. However, if you have trouble getting the hang of all the ins and outs, the developer offers 20 in-depth videos and five training books you get started for free.
Unfortunately, DaVinci Resolve lacks any themes and template. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but they would be convenient for quick projects.
Getting bogged down in the export module is easy to do in most video editing software. DaVinci Resolve has a handy Quick Export button that gets you through the process in three clicks. You can tailor your export to upload to YouTube, Vimeo, and Twitter from the Quick Export window. Unfortunately, Facebook and Instagram don’t have any export profiles. The program allows you to save your finished videos to your hard drive or even upload them to the internet directly from the app.
Not only is Davinci Resolve available in the Mac App Store, but you can also get it for Windows and it’s one of the few free video editors that work with Linux.
Pick up one of the best Mac video editors out there for free
For users that need video editing software for personal use, NCH software offers this fully-featured video editing software for free. And while there’s no way for the company to know if you’re using it for commercial purposes, it asks you to certify that you won’t each time you launch the program.
Unfortunately, VideoPad only has two video tracks and a single audio track on the timeline. While that works for simple videos, more complicated tasks may become unmanageable due to that limitation. However, the program has dual editing modes: Timeline and Storyboard. Timeline mode lays out each element based on how long it is while Storyboard mode displays them equally regardless of length. Using the storyboard may be easier for users just coming from iMove or who have no experience with timeline editing.
Of all the free iMove alternatives, VideoPad features the most effects. With over 100 video, image, audio, and text enhancements to choose from, you’ll be able to give your video the look and feel you want.
VideoPad features a full suite of export options that you can use for multiple home uses. You get 16 file formats to choose from, plus export profiles for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android devices, PlayStation, Xbox, and more. You also can tailor your video for YouTube and Flickr and upload it from the export menu. There is an Instagram profile, but you can’t upload it to that service from the app. Additionally, this VideoPad enables you to burn a DVD of your project (or save a disc image to your hard drive), something the other programs in this article cannot do.
VideoPad has the most extensive library of video tutorials of any iMovie alternative. Their hundreds of training videos cover the entire editing process, from importing media to exporting your finished project.
Check out this free video editing program for Mac
For Windows users who want the simplicity of iMovie but don’t live in the Apple ecosystem, VN is worth checking out. Its interface and workflow feel like the program is iMovie’s fraternal twin. So, if you’re already familiar with iMovie, you’ll be able to use VN the first time you launch the app. Mac users may or may not find the program useful since it’s so similar and doesn’t have as many features.
VN is also available as a mobile app for iOS and Android. And this app is actually a bit more versatile than the mobile version of iMovie. The workflow is more intuitive, making it easier to configure each element’s position on the timeline. Plus, it lets you configure your editing space for videos you’ll post on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
One annoying thing about this program is that on the Mac version, you can only import videos you have stored in Apple’s Photo app. That may suffice for those who capture videos with their iPhone, but importing videos into Photos gets tedious for users who film with an actual camera.
The training material provided for the Mac version of VN is scanty. Its YouTube channel only features seven videos for the desktop app, all less than two minutes long. But, the program is so intuitive that you’ll probably never need to consult the tutorials.
VN’s desktop export options leave a lot to be desired. You’re limited to exporting MP4 files with minimal customization options. However, the mobile app allows you to link your YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts and post your videos directly from your device.
Download this iMovie alternative for Windows
Adobe Express is mainly an online design program focused on image editing for social media posts. But it also features a video editor that can help even the most novice editors make a quality video.
The experience of using this iMovie alternative is quite different than the rest. Instead of a timeline layout, you get a storyboard, and the workflow is different enough that you’ll have to spend a while getting to know how it works. But once you have, you’ll be able to whip up a video for dozens of occasions in just a few minutes.
The Adobe Express video editor is a template-based service. When you start a new project, you can pick a template for promoting an idea, teaching a lesson, sharing a personal story, and more. The guided workflow shows you how to structure your project for maximum effectiveness. So, if you’re brand new to video editing, Adobe Express is a great place to start.
There are a couple of drawbacks to this online video editor. The nature of the service keeps you constrained to a paint-by-numbers exercise. Each clip in the storyboard is limited to 30 seconds, and the program contains minimal customization and enhancement tools compared to other iMovie alternatives.
Sharing your finished projects online is very easy with Adobe Express. With a couple of clicks, you can post them to Facebook and Twitter, export them for Adobe Classroom and Teams, or create a link to your project’s Adobe webpage to share with whomever you like. You can also download an MP4 copy of your finished project to your computer.
When you reach the limits of what the Adobe Express video editor can do, the next natural step would be to move up to Adobe Premiere Elements. That program has more granular editing features, cool templates, guided editing, export options, and more. And the step up from that would be Adobe’s professional-level editing program: Adobe Premiere Pro.
Use this editor to make videos in a flash
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