Apple computers have long been aimed at creatives, especially when it comes to editing photos and videos. Unfortunately, industry-leading packages like Adobe Premiere, After Effects, and Apple's own Final Cut Pro don't come cheap.
Fortunately, there are a selection of powerful free video editing apps for Mac that you can put yourself in the shoes of. Some are for beginners, while others will please experienced video editors thanks to the impressive features.
These are our favorite free video editors for Mac.
Summary: A free consumer video editor. It's well optimized for Apple hardware and is suitable for most personal projects.
iMovie is free for anyone with a Mac. In addition, the iOS version is free for all iPhone and iPad owners. The software is aimed at consumers who want to quickly create videos using footage stored in their photo library. To make this easier, iMovie uses a simplified timeline editor that doesn't allow for multi-track editing.
Despite the linear editing and basic user interface, iMovie is highly optimized software that can handle 4K video and green screen compositing. It also supports picture-in-picture video and visual effects in slow motion or fast forward. With iMovie, you can generate titles, drag and drop transitions, and add motion graphics such as 3D globes or travel maps.
The app has built-in music and sound effects that are ready to use right out of the box. The footage you provide can be used to create Hollywood-style trailers. In addition, you can use the app to export directly to YouTube and Vimeo with a resolution of up to 4K.
Download: iMovie (free)
2. DaVinci Resolve
Summary: A powerful, professional-grade video editor that unfortunately lacks the color grading tools the developers are known for.
The studio version of DaVinci Resolve costs nearly $ 1,000, but the basic version is completely free. Better still, it includes the same high quality image processing features as the more expensive version. You get a powerful video editor, some of the best color correction features, and even support for external hardware panels for faster editing.
There are of course restrictions. Most importantly, Resolve can only output in SD, HD, or Ultra HD, although this will likely be more than sufficient for most users. The app also limits some of the advanced assessment and tracking tools. However, these limitations are mainly in place to convince professional users to upgrade.
While the app has a pretty steep learning curve, DaVinci Resolve is one of the most powerful video editing suites in the world, and you get a ton for free. Check out our comparison of DaVinci Resolve and HitFilm Express to learn more about how it stacks up.
Download: DaVinci Resolve (free)
Summary: A free, open source video editor with an impressive list of features. However, the user interface is outdated and may put some users off.
OpenShot is an open source cross-platform tool that has been around since 2008. It is designed with the goal of providing a stable, free and accessible video editor. The project receives several important updates per year, as expected from an open source project with a small team.
OpenShot's list of features has grown over the years, with excellent support for a wide variety of formats, animation keyframes, and unlimited video or audio tracks. It also has support for transitions and compositing, titles, and a ton of extra features that you would expect from a modern video editor.
Previous criticisms have challenged OpenShot's reliability, but it's still worth a free try.
Download: OpenShot (free)
4. Weft cut
Summary: A powerful open source editor with an interface superior to OpenShot.
Here is another free open source cross platform video editor. Shotcut's feature list is just as impressive as OpenShot's, but Shotcut offers a better looking interface. It's more like a pro-tier application than a free one.
The app supports a wide variety of video files and formats, including 4K, ProRes, and DNxHD. Shotcut also has great support for working with audio, an impressive list of video effects (including compositing and transitions), and a flexible user interface.
Notable is the support for advanced features like 5.1 surround sound, three-way color correction, and a variety of video and audio filters. The Shotcut website even has a number of official video tutorials that you can watch to familiarize yourself with the editor.
Download: Shotcut (Free)
Summary: Not a purpose-built video editor, but a powerful free tool nonetheless.
Blender is a free 3D modeling and compositing app that is used in some high profile productions. However, many don't realize that Blender is a powerful nonlinear video editor too, provided you take the time to learn how to use it.
You can use Blender to cut and join videos, mix and sync audio, or apply adjustment layers, transitions and filters. You probably won't be editing an entire movie together in Blender, but for basic editing tasks this can be enough.
Blender isn't the easiest system to learn, but under the hood there is a powerful non-linear video editor. For more information, see Daniel Pocock's Quick Guide to Editing Videos in Blender.
Download: Mixer (free)
Summary: A powerful editor with many features, but some severely limited output options, makes the free version look more like a trial version.
Lightworks is one of the most powerful apps on this list. I'd happily recommend it over any other package if it wasn't so restrictive for free users. The free version includes video effects, multi-cam editing and titles, as well as the usual layered timeline approach you'd expect from a full-featured editor.
Unfortunately, rendering (exporting your project) is limited to 1080p output on Vimeo and 720p output on YouTube. You can also render to Lightworks archives but lose the export options for H.264, MP4 and even DVD.
Although the toolkit is very extensive, Lightworks isn't a very compelling free editor unless you want to try it out for free and update it at a later date.
Download: Lightworks (Free Premium Version Available)
Summary: A capable giveaway that lacks polish and functionality.
Avidemux made our list of the best Linux video editors out there. While it is basic in nature, it works well for simple editing tasks. The app supports a variety of input and output formats. The project is also updated several times a year, and development is ongoing.
Fortunately, the team maintains parity between all three major versions, so you won't miss out on any features if you go for the Mac bundle.
Avidemux is best reserved for simple tasks like cropping a video, applying video or audio filters, and transcoding. When you're ready to dig a little deeper, find a high-performance script editor that you can use to automate many of these common tasks.
Be sure to read the Avidemux wiki for study materials, and the Avidemux forum can help you out in case you get stuck.
Download: Avidemux (free)
8. HitFilm Express
Summary: A free Mac video editor with over 410 effects and presets, 2D and 3D compositing, and many more features.
HitFilm Express is free video editing software available for Mac and Windows computers. There are two versions. We focus on the free version, HitFilm Express, which allows you to manage all of the basic editing needs.
The tool is suitable for beginners and advanced users. The software's home interface is where you can get all the major industry news, plus a range of tips and tricks for using the tool. You can drag videos, pictures, and music files into the software control panel to get started right away. The built-in clipper is sure to come in handy too.
What's even better is that it also offers VFX editing. But what if the free version doesn't have a specific functionality? Yes, they covered that too. You can buy the additional features right at the work area at home. If it piques your interest, you can find out more about it on the HitFilm website.
Download: HitFilm Express (Free Premium Version Available)
Summary: A free online video editor that can hold its own against any offline tool.
InVideo is the Canva of video editing. For the uninitiated, Canva is a free online graphic design tool. This essentially means that you can edit your videos right from your browser and avoid all of the hassle and clutter associated with offline tools.
With over 35,000 video templates and over 3 million images in the standard media library, this is an editor's beast.
Did we also tell you that the videos are watermark free?
There is a lot you can do with InVideo: Facebook templates, YouTube intros, meme generation, slideshows, and more. With the free edition, you also receive benefits such as 1 GB of free cloud storage, automated text-to-speech function and much more.
If the cloud is your thing, you can't do much better than InVideo. All you have to do to get started is create an account on the official website.
To register: InVideo (Free Premium Version Available)
10. Final Cut Pro
Summary: An easy-to-learn tool for both novice and professional video editors.
Final Cut Pro is seen as a natural progression for an iMovie user, or at least for those in the Apple ecosystem. While this is a paid tool, Apple offers a whopping 90-day free trial. That's about three months, give or take.
For those of you who are just getting into the world of video editing, or just have a bunch of projects to take care of, the Final Cut Pro free trial might be your best option.
There's a simple drag and drop area, a range of editing effects, and a powerful media organization tool with smart collections and automatic analysis. It also supports 360-degree content and has features for the best VR headsets.
All in all, Final Cut Pro is another piece of beauty from Apple that celebrates artists and their creativity.
Download: Final Cut Pro ($ 299, free trial available)
These are the best free Mac video editors
Which is the best video editor for you? If all you have to do is get your feet wet, iMovie is probably the best fit for you. It's free, easy to use, and carefully optimized for Apple hardware.
There are many features in iMovie that will please novice and medium-sized users. However, it lacks the brute strength to compete with Final Cut (see Final Cut Pro X shortcuts) or Premiere Pro.
However, if you want a simple video conversion app instead of a full-fledged video editor, check out our guide to the best macOS video converters.
The 7 best video converter apps for macOS
Do you need a Mac video converter app? Here are the best options to easily convert any type of video on macOS.
About the author
(17 articles published)
Shaant is a staff writer at MUO. A graduate in computer applications, his passion for writing explains complex things in plain English. When he's not researching or writing, he's enjoying a good book, running, or hanging out with friends.
From Shaant Minhas
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