The 11 Best Open-Source Video Editing Software of 2023

Shotcut is the best overall open-source video editing software

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Getty Images / Krisanapong Detraphiphat

Best Open-Source Video Editing Software of 2023

Best Overall: Shotcut

"A robust non-linear video editor with enough tools to satisfy most levels of video editing skill."

Runner-Up, Best Overall: OpenShot

"Makes video editing easy for beginners and experts alike."

Best for Mac: Blender Video Sequence Editor at Microsoft

"You can use it for 3D modeling, sculpting, painting, animation, and much more."

Best for Linux: Kdenlive

"An excellent and popular Linux video editing solution and a top open-source editor in general."

Runner-Up, Best for Linux: Flowblade at Github

"Succeeds in creating a snappier loading and operating experience than a lot of other editing software."

Best for Windows: Avidemux at Sourceforge

"Designed for making fairly simple changes and spitting out a modified file."

Best for Basic Editing: VidCutter at Github

"Excels at doing just what its name suggests: cutting video."

Best for Real-Time Editing: LiVES at Lives-Video

"Incorporates a number of real-time editing features that let a VJ mix and control video clips to go along with audio."

Best for VFX: Natron at Github

"Provides a powerful open-source way to take on another important aspect of video production."

Best Professional Tools: Lightworks

"Allows beginner and advanced editors to utilize the same professional-grade video editing tools used for award-winning movies."

The best open-source video editing software allows the user to efficiently and more specifically edit their videos. The difference between open source and other software is that open source allows for coding changes that can personalize your experience. Before deciding on the software that is right for you, make sure you learn the secrets of editing.

If you are not used to this type of format, we suggest starting off with a program like OpenShot. OpenShot is a program that is great for both beginners and experts, so it will be able to still be used as you grow as an editor. However, if you are a seasoned professional, try Natron at Github. This powerful software is the best for VFX.

The best open-source video editing software allows you to create a tailor-made video editing experience, is free, removes any licensing issues, and allows you to speak with the development team.

Best Overall: Shotcut

Shotcut

 Shotcut

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: 4K-resolution content for video and images, adding tracks, splitting and trimming clips, shortcut keys, video/audio transitions, and stackable filters
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Why We Chose It

This free software is available on multiple operating systems and suitable for video editors at various skill levels, including easy-to-use features and a YouTube channel filled with tutorials.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Works on several operating systems

  • Suitable for beginner to advanced video editors

Cons
  • Fewer audio and transition options than some other services

  • Can be difficult to learn; time viewing tutorials is necessary for many users

Overview

It might not look overly impressive at a first glance, but Shotcut is actually a robust non-linear video editor with enough tools to satisfy most levels of video editing skill. The free cross-platform program—available on Windows, Mac, and Linux—opens up to a clean, minimal interface, ideal for new or casual editors who want to keep things simple. But once you start adding more modules depending on the functions you want to use, Shotcut starts to show its depth. Each panel can be un-docked, moved around, and re-docked or left floating, giving you nice control over how to arrange your workspace across one or more monitors.

Shotcut can work with a wide range of video and image formats, including 4K-resolution content. You won’t see an “Import” button, though; the software boasts “native timeline editing” with no import required. But you can still open and preview files in Shotcut just like in other editors, create a “playlist” of the media you’re using for the project, and drag clips into your timeline. The timeline has a full range of editing capabilities including adding tracks, splitting and trimming clips, and shortcut keys for these functions. There is also a strong selection of video/audio transitions and stackable filters, from stabilization to chroma key (green-screen effects).

The advanced features have some learning curve to them, but the Shotcut YouTube channel offers a collection of video tutorials to help. There’s also an online course available for purchase that has been reviewed and officially approved by Shotcut’s lead developer.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: OpenShot

OpenShot

 OpenShot

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Adding unlimited tracks, transitions with real-time previews, keyframe-based animation, 3D animated titles, dedicated video and audio tracks
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Why We Chose It

OpenShot is an easy, free video editing software that's a great choice for beginners and advanced editors alike. It's available on multiple operating systems and features 3D animated tiles, which not all free programs offer.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Offers 3D animated tiles

  • Suitable for beginner to advanced video editors

Cons
  • Can be slow or have common operating issues

  • Fewer editing options than some other programs

Overview

OpenShot’s simple, user-friendly interface shows some extra polish you don’t always see in a free, open-source video editor. Combined with the built-in tutorial when you first launch the software and the full user guide available on the website, OpenShot makes video editing easy for beginners and experts alike. You can drag and drop media into the program to import it, and drag and drop to work with the clips on the timeline. You can add an unlimited number of tracks, and rather than each track being a dedicated “video track” or “audio track” like most editors, you can put any type of media into any track. As long as you can keep things straight, the added flexibility can be helpful.

The selection of included tools and effects aren’t groundbreaking, but you’ll find plenty to work with, including transitions with real-time previews and keyframe-based animation. One feature you don’t see in many other free products is 3D animated titles, which OpenShot can handle if you’ve also installed the open-source 3D-graphics software Blender (which itself happens to have video-editing capabilities, too).

OpenShot is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux as a free download, though donations and Patreon subscriptions are accepted through the website to support development.

Best for Mac: Blender Video Sequence Editor

Blender

 Blender

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: 3D creation tools including modeling, sculpting, painting, animation, game development, and more
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Why We Chose It

Blender is a great video editing software for Mac users, but it's also available for Windows and Linux. This software offers more than just video editing with features for all things 3D.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Includes options for for various types of 3D animation

  • Professional-grade tools

Cons
  • Harder to use for just video editing with so many features to choose from

  • Blender Institute offers more advanced training, but is not free

Overview

Blender is unique in that video editing is only a fraction of what it can do. The free, open-source software, available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, is actually an entire suite of professional-grade 3D creation tools. You can use it for 3D modeling, sculpting, painting, animation, and much more. It includes powerful tools for visual compositing and even 3D game development.

Integrated within all of that is the Blender Video Sequence Editor (VSE), which can be a bit hard to get to and figure out at first, given that the interface is designed to handle much more than just video editing. Fortunately, there are many support resources available, from free tutorials to paid training from the Blender Institute and a Blender Cloud subscription. Once you know your way around, you’ll find the VSE to be a full-featured non-linear editor, with a multi-track timeline, cutting and trimming tools, keyboard shortcuts, and plenty of advanced options. Then, of course, you can always add in 3D graphics and animation if that’s something you’re into—or if the software inspires you to give it a shot.

Best for Linux: Kdenlive

Kdenlive

 Kdenlive

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Unlimited video and audio tracks, visible audio waveforms, preview rendering, “JKL” playback shortcuts, a variety of export file types and presets, transitions, effects, and filters
  • Operating System: Linux (older or beta versions available for Mac and Windows)

Why We Chose It

Designed for Linux, Kdenlive is known for its user-friendly interface and customizable preferences. Older versions of this software is also available for Mac and Windows, but the latest versions are not offered.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Simple interface comparable to iMovie

  • Unlimited video and audio tracks

Cons
  • New versions are not offered for Mac and Windows users

  • Can be slow on some computers

Overview

Even though an older version can be downloaded for Mac and a beta version is available for Windows, Kdenlive, like much open-source software, was made to run on Linux operating systems. Built on the MLT media framework, it’s an excellent and popular Linux video editing solution and a top open-source editor in general. The interface is straightforward and easy-to-use, looking most familiar to people who have used iMovie. You can also customize it according to your needs and preferences.

Kdenlive’s timeline is fully functional, supporting unlimited video/audio tracks, visible audio waveforms, preview rendering, and “JKL” playback shortcuts. It comes with a strong set of transitions, effects, and filters, and it’s simple to drag them onto clips, modify their settings, and see a live preview. When you’re ready to export your finished video, you can choose from a large number of mainstream file types and presets.

Runner-Up, Best for Linux: Flowblade

Flowblade

 Flowblade

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Transitions, image filters, custom titles, keyframe-based audio editing, mixing images and audio, moving and trimming clips, and more multitrack non-linear video tools
  • Operating System: Linux

Why We Chose It

Available only for Linux, this video editing software offers fast, efficient performance for its users with a variety of tools and limited crashes.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Fast loading and operating

  • Suitable for beginner to advanced video editors

Cons
  • No versions for Mac or Windows

  • Fewer advanced video editing options than some competitors

Overview

Flowblade doesn’t offer versions for Mac or Windows at the time of writing—it focuses on providing a fast, stable video editing experience for Linux. By avoiding too many extra features that could slow it down and complicate the process for home users, it succeeds in creating a snappier loading and operating experience than a lot of other editing software. This also helps gives it added stability, cutting back on crashes that tend to hit other open-source products more frequently.

Flowblade’s modern-looking interface should feel familiar and intuitive to many, with timeline tool buttons that fit on a single row. Within this slightly pared-down toolbar are more than enough move and trim tools for the job, though its “insert editing” model that automatically pushes all clips together to the left may take some getting used to if you’re coming from other programs. It also benefits from the many effects available to Linux video editors, from transitions and image filters to custom titles and keyframe-based audio editing.

Best for Windows: Avidemux

Avidemux

 Avidemux

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Applying filters, image enhancing, reducing noise, video trimming, adding clips, exporting common file types, advanced filtering and processing options
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Why We Chose It

Avidemux is a great choice for Windows users and beginner to advanced video editors. This free program includes a variety of features and tools, but some users do note that it's outdated.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Offers a large range of file types and exporting options

  • Good for beginners, but still includes advanced options

Cons
  • Not supported on some newer operating systems

  • May seem outdated

Overview

Avidemux, available as a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux, doesn’t try to be a full timeline-based video editor. Instead, it’s designed for making fairly simple changes and spitting out a modified file. You can import your source video and mark portions to cut out by selecting start and end frames. You can apply filters, with some aesthetic options like color effects and borders, as well as others that enhance the clip by sharpening the image or reducing noise. You can also add additional clips to the end of your current one, but that sort of work may be best for a full non-linear editor.

You might find Avidemux most useful when you don’t need to make any edits to the video at all; as part of its exporting step, Avidemux can encode video and audio to an impressive range of file types, with a robust amount of detailed options for the output. If you have a lot of clips to encode, you can queue them up to process one by one. 

Best for Basic Editing: VidCutter

VidCutter

 VidCutter

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Reordering clips, cutting frames, saving projects for later, trimming (including marking start and end points), merging, and splitting videos
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Why We Chose It

VidCutter is a user-friendly program that works great for small, simple editing functions like trimming and cutting videos.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Great for beginners to make simple video edits

  • Allows users to save projects for later

Cons
  • Only offers simple video editing features

  • Can be slow or have common operating issues

Overview

If you’re only looking to do quick, simple editing, free, open-source software is a smart place to turn. VidCutter excels at doing just what its name suggests: cutting video. The cross-platform program can import and export most common formats, such as AVI, MOV, MP4, MPEG, and others. Its interface (which has light and dark theme options) includes only a few elements: A preview area displays your imported media, and a single-track timeline at the bottom can show thumbnails if you toggle on the option. Mark start and end points on the timeline, and your selection will be added to the clip index on the side. You can add multiple clips this way and drag and drop to re-order them on the index. Saving the video will export your clips to a file in that order, and the new file will match the video format of the source. 

Best for Real-Time Editing: LiVES

LiVES

Courtesy of LiVES

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Mixing and controlling video and audio, video effects, moving and arranging clips on multi-track timeline, and custom key map to call up effects or transition between clips
  • Operating System: Linux (Windows coming soon)

Why We Chose It

LiVES is the best choice for real-time editing, praised by video jockeys (VJs) for its effects and tools that can be used during live performances.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Real-time editing for live performances and events

  • Control and change video clips quickly

Cons
  • May be difficult for beginners

Overview

LiVES (available as a free download for Linux, with a version for Windows in the works) is a non-linear video editor with bonus applications geared toward a specific type of user: the video jockey, or VJ. Alongside its standard editing functions, LiVES incorporates a number of real-time editing features that let a VJ mix and control video clips to go along with audio—all on the fly at a live performance. One part of the interface is the clip editor, where you can apply effects like fades, swirls, and colors to the media you’ve imported. You can then place and arrange the clips on the other part of the interface, the multi-track timeline, to render immediately or save for later.

Of course, being able to manipulate and control your clips quickly is crucial for live VJing, so LiVES lets you create a custom key map to call up effects or to transition between clips at the press of a button. You can also “scratch” backwards and forwards with the video, much like a DJ would do on a record. Even if you’re not planning to book a VJ gig anytime soon, the power to bring video and audio together in real time can open up possibilities for gatherings or live presentations.

Best for VFX: Natron

Natron

 Natron

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Features: Post-production effects, multiple layers, moving and resizing 2D/3D elements, chroma keying to replace backgrounds, motion tracking, and VFX plugin options
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Why We Chose It

Natron is a free visual effects video editing software made for post-production edits to take clips from standard to stunning.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Free software

  • Great for post-production effects

  • Easy to move edited clips into another editing software to combine with longer video

Cons
  • Not made for cutting, trimming, or other standard video editing tools

  • Can be slow to load

Overview

While Natron isn’t a non-linear video editor meant for cutting and assembling video clips like the other products on this list, it does provide a powerful open-source way to take on another important aspect of video production. It’s a cross-platform visual effects (VFX) and motion graphics compositing program, used to put together different elements in post-production to create the “movie magic” within a particular shot or scene.

Effects in Natron are built using a series of “nodes.” You specify and tweak details of the effects on a node and apply them to a video clip, connecting and stacking multiple layers and branches of nodes as needed. This allows for functions like moving and resizing 2D/3D elements, chroma keying to replace backgrounds, and motion tracking to follow points on a video. Natron also supports a wide range of open-source and commercial VFX plugins to add more tools based on your needs. Once your shot is finished, you can switch over to another video editing or sequencing software (like any of the open-source ones in this article) to place it into a longer full video with audio and other scenes.

Best Professional Tools: Lightworks

Lightworks

Lightworks

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free to $23.99 per month
  • Features: Trimming and cutting, social media exporting, background processing, instant autosave, shared projects with other users, customizable pre-built video effects, all frame rates, and exporting in almost all file formats
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Why We Chose It

Lightworks is an established video editing software used by beginners and professionals alike—even the Hollywood pros making some of your favorite movies. This software offers free and paid monthly versions to appeal to everyone with high-quality editing tools.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • User-friendly interface

  • Professional-grade editing tools

  • Shared projects via cloud for working on teams

Cons
  • Advanced versions of the software are not free

  • Crashes often on some computers (but is backed up by autosave)

  • Importing video can be slower than some other programs

Overview

Lightworks is a well-known and longstanding video editing software, available for about 30 years and used on many award-winning films in Hollywood. There are three versions available: Lightworks Free ($0 per month), Lightworks Create ($9.99 per month), and Lightworks Pro ($23.99 per month). The software is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Beginner and advanced video editors can both benefit from this program, which includes a wide range of features and effects. Lightworks is designed for easy exporting to social media and via almost all file formats. The software includes instant autosave, keyboard shortcuts, background processing to continue working while you save or export another file, and hundreds of customizable pre-built effects like tilting and motion graphics.

Lightworks can import files of any frame rate and keep their original resolution and shape. As a bonus, users are able to create shared projects via the cloud to work with a team or share projects.

Final Verdict

Shotcut is our best overall choice for open-source video editing software thanks to its wide variety of editing tools, advanced features, and effects that are suitable for both beginner and advanced video editors. Shotcut is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, making this software easily accessible for everyone.

While understanding the software may require a small learning curve, Shotcut offers free video tutorials on its YouTube page, and a paid online course is also available (which was approved by Shotcut's lead developer). It's the best choice for a versatile program with plenty of effects and tools, offered for free, and designed for multiple operating systems.

Compare the Best Open-Source Video Editing Software

Company Cost Features Operating System
Shotcut
Best Overall
Free 4K-resolution content for video and images, adding tracks, splitting and trimming clips, shortcut keys, video/audio transitions, and stackable filters Windows, Mac, and Linux
OpenShot
Runner-Up, Best Overall
Free Adding unlimited tracks, transitions with real-time previews, keyframe-based animation, 3D animated titles, dedicated video and audio tracks Windows, Mac, and Linux
Blender
Best for Mac
Free 3D creation tools including modeling, sculpting, painting, animation, game development, and more Windows, Mac, and Linux
Kdenlive
Best for Linux
Free Unlimited video and audio tracks, visible audio waveforms, preview rendering, “JKL” playback shortcuts, a variety of export file types and presets, transitions, effects, and filters Linux (older or beta versions available for Mac and Windows)
Flowblade
Runner-Up, Best for Linux
Free Transitions, image filters, custom titles, keyframe-based audio editing, mixing images and audio, moving and trimming clips, and more multitrack non-linear video tools Linux
Avidemux
Best for Windows
Free Applying filters, image enhancing, reducing noise, video trimming, adding clips, exporting common file types, advanced filtering and processing options Windows, Mac, and Linux
VidCutter
Best for Basic Editing
Free Reordering clips, cutting frames, saving projects for later, trimming (including marking start and end points), merging, and splitting videos Windows, Mac, and Linux
LiVES
Best for Real-Time Editing
Free Mixing and controlling video and audio, video effects, moving and arranging clips on multi-track timeline, and custom key map to call up effects or transition between clips Linux (Windows coming soon)
Natron
Best for VFX
Free Post-production effects, multiple layers, moving and resizing 2D/3D elements, chroma keying to replace backgrounds, motion tracking, and VFX plugin options Windows, Mac, and Linux
Lightworks
Best Professional Tools
Free to $23.99 per month Trimming and cutting, social media exporting, background processing, instant autosave, shared projects with other users, customizable pre-built video effects, all frame rates, and exporting in almost all file formats Windows, Mac, and Linux

Guide to Choosing Open-Source Video Editing Software

Different versions of video editing software are often set up with similar interfaces, editing tools, and effects. Look for the following features when comparing options:

  • Large amount of editing tools (including basics like trimming, cutting, transitions, enhancing images, and adding filters)
  • Stock music available
  • Preview of effects
  • Autosave
  • Publishing to social media
  • Standard video timeline interface with drag-and-drop imports
  • Export options for any file type
  • Video and audio layers
  • Unlimited tracks per project

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do YouTubers Use to Edit for Free?

Many different video editing programs are available for free, including popular options like Shotcut, OpenShot, Kdenlive, Flowblade, Avidemux, VidCutter, and Lightworks. These options all include basic editing tools and more.

Which Video Editor Is Open-Source?

Open-source video editors include Shotcut, OpenShot, Blender, Kdenlive, Flowblade, Avidemux, VidCutter, LiVES, Natron, and Lightworks.

Is OpenShot Really Free?

OpenShot is a free video editing software that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. The program includes simple tools and effects along with advanced options for professional editors.

What Is Better Than OpenShot?

OpenShot is very popular among video editors of different skill levels, especially beginners. A similar program, Shotcut, is also suitable for beginners but includes more advanced features that may appeal to skilled editors. Shotcut includes video tutorials on YouTube for any skill level to learn.

Methodology

To round up the best open-source video editing software, we compared programs based on their features, editing effects, cost, availability on various operating systems, and user-friendly design. All of the software listed can be downloaded for free, but advanced tools can require purchase in some cases.

Several programs are only available on Linux and Windows, but while Mac users have fewer to choose from, the options available for all three systems are high-quality. Most software in this list include basic editing tools like video trimming, cutting, and adding audio, but many also offer professional-grade tools for different types of projects.

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