The Best Alternatives to Windows Movie Maker

Create impressive videos with these programs for Windows PCs

Microsoft ended one of its free software bundles, Windows Essentials. It included various programs, including a blog writing program, the defunct MSN Messenger, Windows Live Mail, and Movie Maker. Movie Maker made it easy to do basic edits for a video. With Movie Maker, you could add an introductory screen, credits, a soundtrack, cut portions of the video, add visual filters, and then share those videos on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr.

If you still have Movie Maker, you can continue to use it, but if the program doesn't work correctly or you get a new PC and can't transfer the program, you won't have access to it.

Here's a look at programs that are the best bet for anyone looking to replace Movie Maker's capabilities, including the most important feature: These apps are free.

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Microsoft Photos

Windows Photos interface.
What We Like
  • User-friendly interface.

  • Create albums automatically.

  • Simple to browse and search for photos.

What We Don't Like
  • No support for selective focus or panorama stitching.

Tucked away in Windows 10 is the Microsoft Photos app video editor that replaces Movie Maker. The effects and transitions are improved over Movie Maker. However, you don't have as much control because multi-track timelines aren't available.

Use it by selecting photos and video and putting them into a sequence. Then, trim video clips and apply filters, motion effects, and titles. You can even add 3D effects to your video. Finally, add a soundtrack, and you have a finished project.

Beginners and former Movie Maker fans will appreciate how easy it is to use Microsoft Photos for their video editing projects. After you save your video, you can share it on Mail or OneNote or upload the video to your favorite social media.

Microsoft Photos is compatible with Windows 10 and 8.

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VideoPad Video Editor

The VideoPad interface.
What We Like
  • Compatible with additional tools for advanced audio mixing and photo editing.

  • Allows unlimited editing tracks.

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks built-in themes and templates.

  • No automatic video or slideshow creators.

VideoPad Video Editor from NCH doesn't look like Movie Maker, but it is a robust program you can use to edit your home video and include a music track to go along with it.

At the top of the VideoPad interface, you'll find basic editing commands such as adding text, undoing and redoing changes, and adding blank clips. There's even a screen recording feature if you want to create screencasts.

VideoPad also offers audio and video effects such as rotating, shake, motion blur, pan and zoom, and more. In addition, there are audio effects such as distortions, amplify, fade-in, and so on. It also has transitions to fade in and out using all kinds of patterns.

Like any other program, you'll have to learn the quirks of VideoPad to understand how it works and how to mix elements. 

Nevertheless, with a little patience and willingness to consult the online user's guide, you can get it up and running in a few minutes. If you don't know how to use a feature, NCH has helpful video tutorials.

VideoPad offers sharing options for sending your video up to YouTube, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive when your project is finished.

VideoPad has tiered paid options and doesn't advertise its free option, but you can download VideoPad and use it for free, as long as you're using it for non-commercial use.

Video Pad Video Editor is compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and Mac OS X 10.5 or higher.

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VSDC Video Editor

The VSDC Video Editor interface.
What We Like
  • Supports 4K output and editing.

  • Very lightweight installation.

  • Single click output formats for most social media sites.

What We Don't Like
  • Can't preview videos in the timeline editor.

  • No support for multi-cam, motion tracking, or 3D.

The free edition of VSDC Video Editor starts with many options such as a blank project, creating a slideshow, importing content, capturing video, or capturing a screen. There's also a big screen asking you to upgrade to the paid version every time you open the program. Close it or select Continue to ignore.

For anyone editing video, the easiest way to get going is to select Import content and choose the video you want to edit from your hard drive. Once you're up and running, you'll see that VSDC is more complex than Movie Maker, but if you hover over a button, it will tell you its name.

The features you'll use include filters, video effects, audio effects, add music, trim videos, and add text or subtitles. One thing that's nice about VSDC is that it's easy to shift the point at which your music track starts. So if you want it to start a few seconds after the video is running, click and drag the bar representing the audio file.

Once you have your project set up the way you like it, you can export it using a specific video format and modify the resolution for specific screen sizes such as the PC, iPhone, web, DVD, and others.

VSDC Video Editor is compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista.

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The Shotcut video editor interface.

What We Like
  • Surprising amount of features for a free program.

  • Supports many output formats.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited selection of transitions.

  • Interface can be daunting to inexperienced users.

If you're looking for something more complex than Movie Maker but still easy to use and understand, look at Shotcut. This free, open-source program has a basic interface across the top of the window with various features, including a timeline view and filters such as fade in and out for audio and video. Like other video editing programs, you can set beginning and endpoints on the time counter in the main working window.

This program isn't as easy to use or understand as Movie Maker. Nevertheless, with a little time, you can figure things out. For example, if you want to add a filter, select Filters, and then in the sidebar that shows up, select the plus button. This provides a large menu of filters divided into three categories: favorites, video, and audio. Shotcut can add these automated filters on the fly with your changes reflected right away.

Shotcut lacks any easy upload features to popular web services, but it lets you export your video into many formats, from regular MP4 files to still images in JPEG or PNG formats.

Shotcut is compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7.

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