Before You Buy Video Editing Software

A laptop on a table.
Getty Images

Editing software comes in all flavors, from free, online editing software you can use anywhere, to editing software that costs thousands and requires a powerful computer. Which editing software is right for you? Learn about the different types of editing software available.


The Best Video Editing Software

Try It for Free

Before you buy any video editing software, give the free stuff a try; you may find that it works for your project. iMovie (Macs) or Movie Maker (PCs) comes installed on new computers. If you don't already have one of these video editing programs, you can easily get it for cheap or free. The features, graphics and special effects are often perfect for hobby video enthusiasts as well as beginning video editors looking to experiment.

Some professionals enjoy free options from companies such as HitFilm. Their HitFilm Express editing software has many features and effects normally reserved for more expensive packages but in a free offering. If you run out of options and have to upgrade, the cost of entry for HitFilm's pro software is under five hundred bucks.

If you’d like to do more advanced editing, you can purchase a new program or customize the one you already have.

Download a Deal

The web is filled with downloads that let you turbocharge iMovie and Movie Maker by adding near-professional audio, visual and graphic effects. Use these add-ons to customize your video editing system based on the features you need.

  • Movie Maker upgrades from Microsoft
  • iMovie upgrades from Apple

Try Before You Buy

Video editing software that is more sophisticated than iMovie and Movie Maker generally represents a significant investment. Programs such as Avid, Final Cut Pro and Adobe can cost more than a thousand dollars. Like any purchase this large, you’ll want to give it a test run before committing.

Local cable access stations are an excellent resource. Many offer free training and equipment use to community members, allowing you to get your hands on high-end editing systems. Schools, libraries and video professionals may also have editing equipment available for you to use or rent.

Find Support

Technical support is crucial to video editing success! Even the most experienced editor encounters problems that aren’t covered in the manual. When disaster strikes you’ll need a place to turn. Before making a purchase, find out what kind of telephone and online support the software manufacturer offers.

User forums and blogs are also useful resources when you experience difficulty—it’s likely that someone has asked about the same problem before. Look online for active, informative support groups before you buy, and you’ll know where to go when you have a problem later on.

Anything Extra?

Take a look at the daddy of all editing packages, Adobe's Creative Cloud offering. For a subscription fee, you'll gain access to Adobe's entire suite of software, including After Effects - a motion graphic design tool - as well as Premiere Pro, Soundbooth, SpeedGrade as well as other tools you may not even realize you needed, such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom.

While free options are well and good, the beauty of a subscription model is not having to make a huge expenditure every time the software receives an update. With Creative Cloud you will always have the latest version of every tool in the suite, meaning you'll never miss out.

Many editing programs come bundled with other software for compressing video, creating DVDs or other tasks. These add-ons increase the value of the software. They can also ensure ease and compatibility when it comes to performing post-editing tasks.

And Finally

There are plenty of options for video editing platforms, but your judgment is always the best guide. Will your work earn you money month after month? Maybe consider a subscription. Do you keep your editing as a hobby and don't want to invest much? Use a free or inexpensive platform.

Only you'll know the right move, but, when you've got questions, we're always here to help.