Edit Videos For Free On Windows With These Handy Tools

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edit videos for freeSometimes it seems like the big audiovisual spectacles are unattainable if not accompanied by a big financial budget. After all, the top notch editing suites all have a pretty hefty price tag. It might seem that way, but that’s far from the absolute truth. For almost every big software name, there’s a great free (or even open-source) application alternative. Photoshop has Gimp. 3D Studio Max has Blender.

“First place” is debatable, but it’s undeniable that a lot of these applications are operating in the same league, and provide the same functionality—the same artistic potential—to creative individuals around the globe.

The same is true for video editing software. Yes, we’ve all heard about Adobe Premier Elements, Pinnacle Studio, Avid Media Composer, and Sony Vegas; amazing software, every last one. But enthusiasts need not take a second mortgage on their home to do what they love. Below are a few tools, ranging from simple to advanced, offering a large part of video editing functionality without charge.


Allow me to start by saying that Lightworks is the big fish in this roundup pool. Previously covered in a MakeUseOf directory article, this advanced editing suite is largely oriented towards the user base of the aforementioned pieces of software; that is, a full-fledged post-production suite.

edit videos for free

Without charge, Lightworks attempts to bring the same functionality that you would expect of a video editing suite costing thousands of dollars, including support for a number of third-party plug-ins. A professional version is available too, offering more import/export possibilities, additional tools and extended licensing for an annual of USD 60. Take a look at a comparison of the two versions here.

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Movie Maker

Lightworks is great, but you might not be looking for an advanced video editing solution. If your goals are more minimal, a simpler solution might be better. That’s where Movie Maker comes in. Users of previous Windows versions are likely to be familiar with the software, but although it’s not present on Windows 7 and higher by default, you can still download it as a part of Windows Essentials.

The feature set is very straightforward, with one-click filters, transition effects, animations, and text overlays. It’s everything you need to make a simple montage of several videos, and add a personal note.

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As of Windows 7, Movie Maker (part of Windows Essentials) follows the same UI overhaul as does Paint and Microsoft Office, with a tab-specific large ribbon at the top of the screen. Not everyone is excited by this new interface. If that sounds familiar, I’ll let you know that it’s possible to install the old (Windows XP) version of Windows Movie maker. Simply download the old Movie Maker 2.6 installer from the Microsoft website.


A lot of people in the video editing scene will be familiar with VirtualDub. Unlike the previous two pieces of software, VirtualDub might not be the ideal choice for video montage and composition. It nevertheless excels at (AVI) video processing.

edit videos for free

Previously, we published articles on MakeUseOf, telling you how to use VirtualDub to hard-burn subtitles, merge multiple video files, and compress your videos. Jessica wrote an article detailing 7 Video Editing Tasks VirtualDub Handles With Ease.

What tools do you use to (post-)process video, and why? Let us know in the comments section below the article!

Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net / digitalart

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24 Comments - Write a Comment



Windows Movie Maker is simple and by far the best for beginners…


Edward Bellair

Nice. Thank you


Ibrahim Ali

Simon – you missed the VSDC Video Editor @ http://www.videosoftdev.com/ – it’s similar to Windows Movie Maker but inputs/outputs more formats and has green screen (chroma key) editing ability. Here’s a review from TechGiants @ http://techiedownloads.blogspot.ca/2012/07/vsdc-free-video-editor.html


Tom Bogan

Love the article. I will give lightworks a try ASAP.



Good app, as replaceer of Windows Movie Maker..


Richard Borkovec

For the super basic stuff, Movie Maker really is all you need. I tried Lightworks before, but was completely overwhelmed. Just diving in really isn’t the way to go with it, but it’s insanely powerful.


Victor Hurtado

I always use moviemaker. It has been doing a great job with all conversion, but I think I am going to try the others one too.
Thank you Simon.


druv vb

Nice article. Movie Maker is a real winner for beginners. Simple and straight forward.
I personally use Avid Studio for all my editing.



Lightworks is pretty awesome, but it has a really steep learning curve. If you’re coming from something like Movie Maker (pretty much like I was), then you probably wont be able to just install it and use it right away. I had to watch a bunch of videos about it to start getting a feel for how things work.

If you just need to cut out parts of videos, WLMM and VirtualDub will probably work fine for that.


josemon maliakal

light works is a cool,has a magic on it



Thanks for the options.



Thanks! Was using Vegas before. Will give Lightworks a go.


Kory Arthur

What is the best one if your using Linux? I personally use Avidemux but I’m sure there are better.


Actually, the developers behind Lightworks are working on Mac and Linux versions, so you could wait for that.

I’ve used Cinelerra before, and it seems the most feature-filled (even though it’s buggy). There’s also OpenShot and Kdenlive.

Tom Pullen

Any word on when it might be available for Mac?


According to their forum, they are working on it but there isn’t a predicted release date or anything yet.


Raymond Beets

Been using Movie Maker for quite a few years now and it’s been doing the job in such an excellent manner, that I actually never bothered to look for any other tools that are also free. After reading through this article though, I’m going to give Lightworks and VirtualDub a try and see what works for me. Thank you very much for this article.



Is there a simple one that can import and export AVCHD? I only need to do basic edits of my videos like combining or cutting my full HD videos but most seem to not handle it. I was thinking of just using an older version of Sony Vegas Pro but if there are better solutions, would be nice to know.


Sachin Kanchan

was quite impressed with Lightmaker


Priya Agarwal

Best alternative to Windows Movie Maker..


venkatachalam ravindran

for adjusting brightness and contrast and trimming, I am using iWisoft Free video converter.

ffmpeg is also good to adjust the sound track of a video without disturbing video part


Keith Swartz

Wow! There is more online for video than I thought! Thanks for the article ‘IamAshMcLean’! Thanks for printing it Makeuseof.com!


Kyle Pearce

I used to be a huge user of Windows Movie Maker to help me make videos for my mortgage website, simply because it came preinstalled on Windows. Now that I’ve got myself a MacBook, I’ve jumped into iMovie and it is a much better program overall.

I think using iMovie was harder for me to learn since I was used to another program, but if you are a beginner, I think iMovie would be easy enough to dive into.


Lori Rake

Is light works pretty user friendly? It looks kind of complicated.

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