Move, Watch & Share Your Videos.

Roundup of Free Video Editing Software for Windows

by Tom Volotta on July 17, 2012

free video editing software for WindowsThe explosion of people shooting their own videos, downloading, building media libraries, and the surge in all types of sharing has made editing those videos an important tool for even the occasional user. That doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot of money to get started.

There are many good consumer to “prosumer” grade editing programs ranging from about $50.00 to a couple hundred dollars available. But maybe you don’t need many of the capabilities or sophistication those desktop applications offer and are looking for something that’s free. That’s not a problem.

There are plenty of free video editing software programs that you can download and run directly on your Windows computer. While looking for applications you might see another category of free and paid video editing services that are available in the ‘cloud.’ All the ‘cloud’ means is that you upload your video and edit it using a program in your web browser, and once the edit is complete you download the finished video to save on your computer. This post will deal with video editors that you download to a Windows computer, not  services available in the ‘cloud.’

FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A FREE VIDEO EDITOR

Initially, you might only require simple trimming of the head and tail of a video, or selecting only a certain portion of a long video that you want to cut out and share with friends and family. In that case, the free RealPlayer (you can download it by clicking the orange button in the top right corner of the page) can handle those tasks with ease. If you want to do more with video like assemble various clips, add a dissolve or wipe at a cut point in the video, and include a title graphic or insert subtitles you’ll have to step up to other video editing software.

Some fundamental features in a good video editor:

• Easy to use interface that is intuitive and has quick access to tools
• Imports video, audio, graphics, as well as video directly from a camcorder (or other recording device) into the system
• Handles multiple media file formats
• Add and move video and audio easily within the movie
• Can add effects like dissolves, wipes, special patterns, and fade to black
• Allows color correction, filters, and video enhancement
• Compatible with your Windows computer – CPU, RAM, HDD space, etc.

You can use the free version of RealPlayer to cut off excess content from the front or end of your video and then share it on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube with just one click.

PICKING FREE VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE THAT WILL GET THE JOB DONE

There are many editing applications available online that you can download for free, but they don’t all offer the features needed or an easy to use video editor. When looking for these applications online seven are consistently mentioned, but only two seem to deliver on the fundamental features, especially ease of use and an intuitive interface.

In fairness, all this software is freeware; often open source or from individuals or small groups that don’t have the ongoing support available at large companies. This is also probably not an exhaustive survey of every free video editor available for Windows. Since all of these products are free, you’re not making a financial investment if you want to try them. As with any application opt for what fits your needs and gets the job done with as little hassle as possible.

Below are a list of free Windows video editors you’ll likely come across online. Each of these video editors are limited in what they offer and are not as intuitive to use as the two mentioned in the next section.

AVITricks – This application only deals with AVI files.
Avidemux – Does a good job at making and joining clips, but it’s not ideal for doing more than that.
Free Video Dub – It can make clips and easily delete unwanted video.
Mewa Film – Only seemed to recognize graphics so you could put a few pictures together and make a video.
ZS4 – Updated Zwei-Stein. A complicated editing and compositing tool that requires a large time investment to master.

TWO FREE WINDOWS 7 VIDEO EDITING APPS WORTH DOWNLOADING

As noted above, there are two free video editors that are intuitive and feature-rich: Microsoft Windows Live Movie Maker and Microsoft Windows Movie Maker 2.6.

Both these Windows 7 video editing apps feature interfaces that are a lot simpler to understand than any of the five applications mentioned above. They deliver an intuitive video editing process. These programs let you place clips in a bin for easy organization, provide the ability to navigate within a video and place other clips, and has a direct way to add effects. This all means you’ll be able to accomplish your tasks in a straightforward, logical manner.

These are the kind of tools the typical user needs to start editing and adding features to video right away. Once working with these programs, it’s also easy to discover how to create more complex and interesting videos. The learning curve here is not steep. From simple cutting and joining of clips, inserting special effect wipes between them, adding subtitles and music, everything is clear or easily discovered.

Microsoft Windows Live Movie Maker and Microsoft Windows Movie Maker 2.6 are two different products. Live is the current incarnation of Microsoft’s video editing effort and requires a computer to be running Windows 7. Movie Maker 2.6 was originally made for Vista, and although there will be no updates or future releases, it is available for download. Both ran fine on Windows 7 and are indeed free.

Windows Live Movie Maker

free video editing software

Windows Movie Maker 2.6

free video editor

The biggest difference between the two Windows 7 video editing apps can be found in the interface. Notably, Movie Maker 2.6 uses the classic timeline that lets you drag and drop into a storyboard. The newer Live version attempts to integrate the clip bin and timeline into a single workspace. Its interface is also more graphical. Sometimes the changes going from one function to another in Live seem visually abrupt. It would be nice to have the option of some dedicated tabs.

Both support a good range of video file formats. Neither will accept FLV, though. Apparently this is a Windows 7 issue. Adding special third-party codec packs may help, but compatibility with DirectShow may be a problem.

Each application has its own way of doing many of the typical video editing functions. It’s purely a personal preference as to which you’d like best. Microsoft really does provide two excellent free video editing software products worth considering.

Those are a few video editor options that work with Windows. Some are more complicated to use and others offer a plethora of features – some that you might not need. If you’re looking for something easy to use to do simple things like cutting the front off of a video you captured or trimming the end off of a video, RealPlayer will get the job done with ease. If you don’t have RealPlayer installed yet, just click on the orange button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

What’s your favorite free video editing application for use with Windows? Let us know in the comments.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 touqeer muhi ud din October 30, 2012 at 2:30 am

How this is good to see i like this on my desktop.

2 Tom Volotta October 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

Glad this was helpful for you.

…TV

3 allan james December 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I AM NEW TO ALL THIS BUT WITH THE HELP OF “LIVE MOVIE MAKER” AND 1 GO PRO CAM. I MANAGED TO MAKE A DOCUMENTERY STYLE HOME MOVIE ABOUT COMMERCIAL FISHING.
THE ONLY PROBLEM I HAVE WITH IT IS THAT THE CLIPS SEEM TO DEGRADE AS THEY ARE PUT ON A CD. THE PROGRAM CAN BE MASTERED IN NO TIME BY ANYONE!
I TRULY WISH THEY WOULD MAKE A MORE PROF. MOVIEMAKER THAT IS AS EASY TO USE. I FOR ONE WOULD BE WILLING TO BUY IT! 5STARS FOR THIS PROGRAM

4 Tom Volotta December 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Allan,

You’ll have to contact Microsoft about your concerns about Movie Maker. As for putting your video onto CD, you may need to convert whatever format you’re editing on MM to one that’s optimized for CD media. Download RealPlayer 16 to see if you can use its Converter to give you a better outcome.

…TV

5 work from home December 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm

This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something
which helped me. Cheers!

6 Tom Volotta December 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm

work from home,

Hey, thanks for letting us know you thought the site was “Relevant” and useful. That’s what we’re trying to do.

…TV

7 JT January 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Useful information – Thank you.

8 Tom Volotta January 7, 2013 at 5:57 pm

JT,

Great. That’s what we’re aiming for.

…TV

9 Monica January 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I am a foreign language teacher who, for teaching purposes, would like to find a way to add the subtitles to music videos I have purchased so that my students can practice reading the language as they listen to it. Teachers are allowed a few more liberties with copyright material if it is being used for non profit educational purposes . I do not want to upload the subtitled video to Internet , I merely want to be able to display it with a projector from my laptop in the classroom. Any suggestions for what kind of software will allow me to subtitles music I have purchased?

10 Tom Volotta January 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Monica,

Understand that “Subtitles” is often incorrectly used interchangeably with “Closed Captioning.” Each requires different technologies to implement, and corresponding constraints.

Subtitling is a simple process of inserting text on top of the video being translated. The text is permanently “burned” into the video, and can NOT be removed. This greatly restricts the use of that given video, as that language can not be changed. A completely different video must be created for each language. A cumbersome, costly and logistical endeavor.

To burn in the language, a character generator, loaded with the necessary text, needs to be edited into the video during the timecode duration the text is supposed to be on the screen.

———-

A more efficient and flexible, but more expensive method is to use “Closed Captioning.” This may be what you are really thinking of.

Here, a large number of different languages can be encoded in data streams, which can then be selected and displayed at will through a remote control. Many types of broadcast television programs are REQUIRED to include closed captioning. CC is also very common with DVD and Blu-ray movies, especially those with international distribution, so a wide rang of audiences can enjoy the movies. Simple controls can select whichever language to be displayed. The great advantage here is that the SAME video can be used to display many different languages, shifting among them instantly.

Several Closed Captioning services specialize in these translation and insertion processes. WGBH Boston is particularly well know, but their services come at a price. NOTE: WGBH. Is also a good resource to begin searching for funding support for your educational project. Be sure to contact them for possible assistance. they receive Federal grants just for such purposes.

———-

A particular difficulty for both burned in and closed captioning techniques is correctly timing the graphically displayed language in sync with the character’s spoken dialog on screen, as different languages require different amounts of time to express the content. Japanese is notoriously difficult in translating from English because something spoken in English can be expresses ver briefly, while in Japanese, it may well take much longer that the time it takes the character to say it in English. Other languages have similar difficulties.

Professional services are accustomed to this, and have techniques to smooth out the transitions, that would be much more difficult for novices.

Closed Captioning also has the distinct advantage of being able to be turned OFF. Especially useful in evaluating student progress in language development. For the sake of this question, I’m going to assume Closed Captioning is the method best for you’re application.

Here are some guidelines on Closed Captioning from the FCC. NOTE: there are many, many other FCC Closed Captioning topic listings online.

I’m also including a link to Wikipedia that should give you some additional insight to Closed Captioning, the process and resources.

As for recommending what software to use, I’m going to refrain from doing that. The range of software and hardware required can be from FREE to several thousand dollars. I suggest you simply refer to the above resources, and Google “Closed Captioning” to explore the various possibilities. I have no idea what your budget is, but beware of claims free or very inexpensive packages may say they do. A critical issue is your (or whoever is going to be doing the work) level of expertise with this type of video processing.

————

Finally, as a teacher, you do have some leeway is using copyrighted content for educational use in your classroom. However, it could come as an unpleasant surprise to assume Carte Blanche liberty in using whatever content you choose for “educational” purposes. “Fair Use” is a conversional area at best, with entrenched positions on different sides. Without getting too deeply into it, start with some info from the U.S. Copyright Office. Not all content owners will be as inclined as others to give you free passage.

You didn’t say, but you might also be interested in having BOTH text AND spoken languages intermixed in your lessons. This is very common on DVD and Blu-ray movies. It is not unusual to have what was originally an English spoken language movie, translated to being spoken in French, while the text is being displayed with Closed Captions in Spanish. Because of the multiple subtitle (closed caption) and audio tracks on DVD and Blu-ray formats, it is quite possible to have an extensive selection of spoken and text combinations available on the same piece of media. Making DVDs is really simple now, so you may find that is the most effective means to accomplish you goals. Pretty cool stuff! Hope I didn’t get too deep in the technology weeds, and that this was helpful for you.

Good Luck. Let me know if you need any other info, and tell us how things work out.

…TV

11 Mary Ann January 23, 2013 at 9:08 am

Excellent article. One question: Can I import my own MP3s into these programs? I’d like to attempt to my make my own little music video, using my own music, and I saw with EZVID (another free program), that you can’t import MP3s for copyright reasons.

I’m actually in the process of buying a new computer and I want to be sure I have enough processing power to make these videos. I know that I’m never going to want to do anything super fancy…I just want the ability to make a fun original music video just using my home video camera. Would I be able to do that with these two programs?

I suppose the MP3 import issue is the biggest question. Thank you!

12 Tom Volotta January 23, 2013 at 11:17 am

Mary Ann,

Unfortunately, RealPlayer isn’t going to work for you. It’s bot an editing program. The best you cad is trim the head and tail of clips, or extract the audio tracks. EZVID is primarilary a screen capture program geared to YouTube. It has a 1280×720 limit on resolution, so that may be a consideration for if full 1920×1080 HD is what you’re looking to do.

Go ahead a try try EZVID since it’s free. I’m not a huge fan of the Microsof video editing products. depending on how much you use it, and the features needed, you might find the investment of

13 vyorel25 February 27, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Magix Movie Edit Pro is very good

14 Tom Volotta February 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm

vyore125,

Magix may be good, but it’s not free.

I wrote an article comparing several video editing software products priced at $100 or less, but it hasn’t been published. Magix entry level product costs $129.98, so would not have been included regardless

…TV

15 Mike March 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I like the Microsoft editors, and GoPro has a pretty usable one too. However, I am currently looking for the ability to show Picture in picture and to overlay the sound track of one recording with the soundtrack of another (I know it is possible with the Microsoft editor, but the live editor makes it painful. Any suggestions?

16 Tom Volotta March 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Mike,

You’re moving to a higher level of editing, and if Microsoft or GoPro don’t do the job for you, I’d skip searching for what you need in the free bin. Yeah, easy for me to say! But, for less than $100, you can buy into the particular features you’re looking for now, plus provide the opportunity to expand your creativity as you get more familiar with the tools, and your needs grow. You’ll also get better support and upgrade paths.

Look into Sony Vegas Movie Studio, CyberLink PowerDirector, Adobe Premier Elements and Corel VideoStudio. Except for Adobe, the others have a family of products in tiers of increasing sophistication and cost. Prices range from $45 to $100.

Corel is a bit of a mystery to me. They acquired Ulead and Pinnacel (both had similar video editing products to Corel) last year. AVID had owned Pinnacle, and AVID’s consumer products, AVID Studio and AVID Studio for iPad were thrown in as part of the deal with Corel. FWIW: AVID is the Gold Standard for professional editing. They decided to concentrate exclusively on that market. Their entry level pro video editor costs $2,499. How all the different products acquired by Corel are being integrated into one family line, or just set aside to eliminate competition isn’t known to me. BTW: AVID Studio for iPad does the PIP and multiple sound tracks you are looking for. I have it on my iPad. Cost: $5.00 (yes, five dollars), but no longer available.

Like I said, easy for me to just say go buy something. But, you’d be surprised what fifty bucks or so will get you. I believe ALL of these products are available for Free Trial downloads, so you can get some hands-on to help make a decision.

…TV

17 Peter May 4, 2013 at 5:20 am

Ultimately, I want to make a DVD with home pictures (like a slide show with music I’ll add in the background) that transition into .3gp and .mpg home videos.

I have no idea where to begin. Will either of these programs help me create the 60 minute “show?” And then will it be able to turn it to a format I can burn to a DVD to play in a a DVD player?

Thanks,
- PETE

18 Frank Edgar May 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Thanks for posting this! I am always on the lookout for some awesome free video editing stuff and this all looks really good!

19 Joseph May 27, 2013 at 7:07 am

Are there any new video editing softwares? I really need a better one than those suggested here. I like one of the paid ones but it is too expensive for me.. It does not worth the investment to edit a few videos per year..

20 RealPlayer May 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm

What computer system are you using to edit videos?

21 Emily September 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I’m looking for a software that allows me to download a movie from a CD for example, download The Passion Of Christ CD onto the computer. Then trim it so it can only show certain scenes for instant, besides the whole movie being seen now the only part that would be seen is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

22 Video Editor September 25, 2013 at 9:18 am

Besides of these two free video editing software mentioned above, I suggest Smartpixel Producer, which is an easy to use video editor for windows.

23 kadiresan September 12, 2014 at 6:13 am

pls send the r\trial softwere

24 Brinton Felixraja September 12, 2014 at 8:26 am

You can download the free RealPlayer Basic software from the following web site:

http://www.real.com/

After installing RealPlayer follow the steps given in this link to enable the RealPlayer Plugin: http://customer.real.com/entries/23689856

Please let us know, if you have additional questions.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: