The 8 Best Free Video Editors for Mac
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Apple computers have long been aimed at the creative professional, particularly when it comes to photo and video editing. Unfortunately, industry-leading packages like Adobe Premiere, After Effects, and Apple’s own Final Cut Pro aren’t cheap.

Fortunately, there’s a selection of capable free video editing apps for Mac to sink your teeth into. Some are made for beginners, while others will satisfy seasoned video editors with their impressive feature sets.

These are our favorite free video editors for Mac.

1. iMovie

iMovie for Mac

Summary: A free, consumer-grade video editor. It’s well-optimized for Apple hardware and suitable for most personal projects.

iMovie is free for anyone who owns a Mac. Plus, the iOS version is free to all iPhone and iPad owners. The software is aimed at consumers who want to quickly create videos with footage stored in their Photos library. To facilitate this, iMovie uses a simplified timeline editor that doesn’t allow for multitrack editing.

Despite the linear editing and basic UI, iMovie is a highly optimized piece of software that can handle 4K video and green screen compositing. It also supports picture-in-picture video and slow-motion/fast-forward visual effects. iMovie can generate titles, drag-and-drop transitions, and motion graphics like 3D globes and travel maps.

The app comes with built-in music and sound effects that are ready to go. It can generate Hollywood-style trailers using footage that you supply. Additionally, the app allows you to export directly to YouTube and Vimeo at up to 4K resolution.

Download: iMovie (Free)

2. DaVinci Resolve

Summary: A powerful, professional-grade video editor that lacks the color grading tools the developers are famous 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 abilities as the pricier version. You get a powerful video editor, some of the best color correction capabilities around, and even support for external hardware panels to enable faster editing.

There are limitations, of course. The main one is that Resolve can only output in SD, HD and Ultra HD, which is likely more than enough for most users. Also, the app places limits on some of the advanced grading and tracking tools. However, these restrictions are mainly in place to convince professional users to upgrade.

The app might have quite a learning curve, but DaVinci Resolve is one of the most powerful video editing suites on the planet and you get a lot for free.

Download: Da Vinci Resolve (Free)

3. OpenShot

Summary: A free and open source video editor with an impressive list of features. However, the interface is outdated and may put some users off.

OpenShot is a cross-platform open source tool that’s been around since 2008. It’s built with the aim of providing a stable, free, and accessible video editor. The project receives several major updates per year, in line with the expectations for an open source project with a small team.

OpenShot’s feature list has grown over the years to include great support for a variety of formats, keyframes for animation, and unlimited video/audio tracks. It also packs in transition and compositing support, titles, and a heap of extra features you’d expect from a modern video editor.

Past criticisms have panned OpenShot’s reliability, but it’s still worth a shot for free.

Download: OpenShot (Free)

4. Shotcut

Summary: A capable open source editor with an interface that’s superior to OpenShot.

Here’s another free, open source, cross-platform video editor. Shotcut’s feature list is just as impressive as OpenShot, but Shotcut features a great-looking interface. It more closely resembles a pro-tier application than a free one.

The app supports a wide range of video files and formats, including 4K, ProRes, and DNxHD. Shotcut also includes great support for working with audio, an impressive list of video effects (including compositing and transitions), and a flexible UI.

Of note are support for advanced features like 5.1 surround sound, three-way color correction, and a huge number of video and audio filters. There’s even a full set of official Shotcut video tutorials you can watch to get you up to speed with the editor.

Download: Shotcut (Free)

5. Blender

blender_video

Summary: Not a purpose-built video editor, but it’s a powerful tool for free.

Blender is a free 3D modeling and compositing app used in some high-profile productions. Yet many don’t realize Blender is also a capable non-linear video editor, provided you’re willing to take the time to learn.

You can use Blender to cut and splice video, mix and sync audio, or apply adjustment layers, transitions, and filters. You probably won’t edit a whole film together in Blender, but for basic editing tasks it might suffice.

Blender isn’t the easiest system to learn, but underneath the hood is a powerful non-linear video editor. Check out Daniel Pocock’s quick guide to editing video in Blender and the official Blender video sequencer manual to learn more.

Download: Blender (Free)

6. Lightworks

Summary: A powerful editor with plenty of features, but some seriously restrictive output options make the free version feel more like a trial.

Lightworks is one of the most powerful apps on this list. I’d happily recommend it above all other packages if it wasn’t so restrictive for the free user. The free version includes video effects, multicam editing, and titling, as well as the usual multi-layered timeline approach you’d expect from a comprehensive editor.

Unfortunately, rendering (exporting your project) is limited to 1080p output on Vimeo, and 720p output to YouTube. You can also render to Lightworks Archives, but you lose H.264, MP4, or even DVD export options.

So while the toolkit is vast, Lightworks isn’t a very appealing free editor unless you’d like to thoroughly try it out for free and upgrade at a later time.

Download: Lightworks (Free, premium version available)

7. Avidemux

Avidemux for macOS

Summary: A capable freebie, but lacking in polish and features.

Avidemux made our list of the best Linux video editors 7 Free Open Source Video Editors for Linux 7 Free Open Source Video Editors for Linux Video editing on Linux is constantly improving. A good selection of open source video editing software is now available to Linux users, and we've got seven of the best for you to check out. Read More . Though it’s basic in nature, it works well for simple editing tasks. The app supports a wide variety of input and output formats. The project undergoes several updates a year, with development continuing at a steady pace.

Thankfully, the team maintains parity among all three major versions, so you won’t miss out on any features if you opt for the Mac package.

Avidemux is best reserved for simple tasks like cutting a video down to size, applying video or audio filters, and transcoding. If you’re willing to dig a little deeper, you’ll find a highly capable script editor to automate many of these common tasks.

Be sure to check out the Avidemux wiki for learning materials, and the Avidemux forum can help in case you get stuck.

Download: Avidemux (Free)

Mac Video Editing on a Budget

So which is the best video editor for you? iMovie is probably the best all-rounder. It’s free, easy to use, and carefully optimized for Apple hardware. There are plenty of features in it to satisfy beginners and mid-tier users. However, it lacks the raw power to compete with Final Cut or Premiere Pro.

Da Vinci Resolve, on the other hand, is surprisingly-feature rich. It offers multi-track editing and a huge number of professional-tier features to play with. Blender is open source and powerful, but is bogged down by complexity. Shotcut and Openshot are pretty evenly matched, so why not test drive them both?

If you need to edit images as well as video, check out our list of free Mac photo editors The Best Free & Paid Image Editors for Mac OS X The Best Free & Paid Image Editors for Mac OS X We thought it was about time we compiled a list of our favourite raster image editors for Mac OS X. Read More too.

Image credit: Gustavo Devito/Flickr

Explore more about: iMovie, Mac Apps, Video Editing, Video Editor.

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  1. Yarco
    March 12, 2018 at 10:32 am

    For me, Video Editor MovieMator is the best! It helped me from easy to medium level. Now I use the Pro version to make more fantastic videos (has become my hobby).
    The interface of Video Editor MovieMator is the most intuitive and clear one among the 6 apps you talked about and it's perfect for beginners.
    iMovie doesn't accept some video formats, FinalCut and Premiere are not that easy to pick up. Compared with them, I would choose MovieMator which is easy, functional and can create films of high quality.

  2. H. Michael Sweeney
    May 29, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    As privacy/security expert I have to warn against Filmora. a) the free download includes UNSTATED limitations and nowhere will the firm tell you what they are, nor have they responded to inquiries. b) the fine print states they monitor use of the software. They do not use the term meta data, but imply it so that they can better understand usage and make the product better. HOWEVER, they partner with the Red Chinese (Army - which owns 51% of all Chinese corporations), presumably coders, which means this software could have a back door used by Chinese Intelligence. Again, the firm declined to address this question. They understood I am a published author in my area of expertise, and still remained silent. I do not take that as a good sign that they actually care about the customer, but it does imply they don't want people to know the answers. They are either a badly run company, or something worse is afoot.

  3. Kelly
    January 10, 2017 at 7:41 am

    For Mac or Windows users, there is a free online service called Video Grabber. It always helps me edit video by adding basic effects. Its interface looks very elegant. If this is what you need, maybe it worth a shot to look at.

  4. Michael
    January 5, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Nice list but most of them don't run as expected. Shotcut closes frequently, KDEnlive doesn't even open a window and gives an error message after start.

    Da Vinci is nice! Didn't know about the free option.

    Blender is stable, lightning fast and can be used for nearly everything in media business (Modelling, Rendering, making Games, making Movies and so on).

    One recommendation: http://natron.fr/
    Natron is a video compositor software like blender or da vinci. It's not just for video editing. Very promising open-source project!

  5. Rygle
    December 19, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Mac users should try Hitfilm Express. Great features, cross-platform (Mac & Win), and free.

  6. Rygle
    December 19, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Mac users should also try HitFilm Express. Great, cross platform (Mac & Win), free.

  7. James
    March 31, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    You can download the free

    IMOVE

    from:

    https://support.apple.com/kb/dl1574?locale=en_US

    then updated it to the latest version automatically it will update and you will have
    the latest version of iMove free without having to pay the $14.99 usd

    • Alejandro Garcia Puente
      May 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      You just earned yourself a place in heaven

    • joann
      June 13, 2016 at 7:06 am

      aww thanks

    • Dave
      September 5, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      Doesn't work any more. The linked file is an updater which, when you launch it, says
      "ALERT: iMovie 9.0 or later is required to install this update."

      dc

  8. josie
    March 17, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    this article was written in 2012 ! So don't be a smart ass Dima when posting your remarks at the end of 2015

  9. Niek
    March 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I own a mac but iMovie costs money to download, how can I get this for free?

    • James
      March 31, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      Sure its free...

      you can download it at:

      https://support.apple.com/kb/dl1574?locale=en_US

      And the updated it to the latest version...
      Works like a charm...

      Cheers ........ :)

      • Philip
        June 16, 2016 at 12:25 pm

        I'm having problems. After I download it and run it, it says "Imovie 9.0 or later is required."

        • Laura
          June 17, 2016 at 9:09 am

          Me too! Have you figured out a way to get it to run or update?

      • Josephine
        July 3, 2016 at 5:52 pm

        I'm having this problem too! Have you figured out a way for it to work or update?

  10. GabbaJabba
    March 2, 2016 at 10:35 am

    None of these apps are actually on the app store except for iMovie
    ???

    • Tim Brookes
      March 3, 2016 at 12:27 am

      Nope, you'll have to download them via the provided links. These are for Mac, not iOS or anything :)

  11. Lody Sonneveld
    February 24, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I HAD iMovie on my iMac, but after a hd crash, I reinstalled the latest version of the OS (OS X El Capitan) and if I want to reinstall iMovie I have to pay 15 euro :(

    • Tim Brookes
      February 26, 2016 at 12:49 am

      That doesn't sound right? When did you buy your Mac? And what version of OS X were you running before you reinstalled your HDD? Are you using the same Apple ID?

      • Lody Sonneveld
        February 26, 2016 at 12:58 pm

        Around 2012 I bought my iMac and it was delivered with the latest OS version at that time (Snow Leopard). Someone else replaced the hard disc for me and reinstalled the OS from the original system disc, but I don't know if he used the same ID.
        But even then (before I installed El Capitane), IMovie and Garageband were not anymore on my Mac.
        I have had many more serious problems with my 24' iMac and for me it is my worst computer choice since 1983, when I bought my first computer

  12. Mac expert
    January 8, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    From where did you downloaded iMovie and what version of OS X you have (name or numeric version or both[better])?

  13. Dima
    December 7, 2015 at 7:51 am

    iMovie is not free anymore and doesn't come with iLife. Hasn't been in 2 years. Wtf you are talking about.

  14. RinnyRue
    December 6, 2015 at 12:32 am

    Honestly, I've still yet to figure out how to get iMovie to do anything, but I haven't tested it in the past few months. I find that, for a VERY basic editor, QuickTime actually fulfills my needs, which is literally just syncing audio and footage. Just something to keep in mind for beginners looking for baby steps.

  15. Anonymous
    October 22, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    I didn't even realize that I had iMovie on my Mac. Thanks

  16. Anonymous
    June 24, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    my iMovie keeps on crashing....

  17. Emdabomb
    May 14, 2015 at 1:22 am

    iMovie is TERRRIBLLE. Do not get Apple made programs for your computer. Apple is making all their money from iPhones, so they've pretty much stopped making things. Adobe is pretty much taking over, so get their stuff. I updated my laptop and iMovie doesn't even exist anymore...

    • Anonymous
      June 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      iMovie Agreed IT IS TERRIBLLE!!!

      • Anonymous
        August 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

        I bet you just don't know how to use it because its great!!

        • david
          December 31, 2015 at 10:06 pm

          it's hard to get to know this program as the stupid, frigging thing crashes every time you open it. iMovie = FAIL

    • James Bruce
      August 17, 2015 at 11:35 am

      You're comparing iMovie, a free video editor designed for your mom, to Adobe Premiere? How about you compare (Apple) Final Cut Pro X to Adobe Premiere instead?

  18. Hanjixghoul
    January 28, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    How come we have to pay for iMovie now? (just a random question) Just sometime ago I downloaded a free version?

    • Tim Brookes
      January 29, 2015 at 1:33 am

      I'm not sure quite what happened, but I know that users who buy a new Mac get a free copy of iWork and iMovie. How old is your Mac? I think those with iMovie 2011 or later are eligible to download new versions for free, but if your Mac predates this then that might be why you're now being asked to pay.

  19. Warren
    January 27, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I'm having problems uploading videos to iMovie . Any video I have on file is not an option, I was going to try loading the file to the iMovie selections but not sure that will resolve it….

  20. immotus
    January 25, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Lightworks is just out for Mac users yay my windows is too slow for the program finally my mac can be put to good use.

    • Tim Brookes
      January 29, 2015 at 1:35 am

      Great news, Lightworks looks very promising indeed.

  21. a Nickname
    January 23, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I tried most of this software and I have to say that
    - iMovie isn't free
    - Blender is 3D modeling software so use it for video editing is a little bit hard
    - Kdenlive requires all KDE packages installed, and I prefer something other
    - Jahshaka is something from another reality, it's hard to learn
    - VLMC looks good and simple but it's PRE-ALPHA now, so it's buggy
    - I haven't try Avidemux because I can't find any working dmg
    My choise is VideoPad, it's simple and can do anything I want.
    Shame on you cause I spent whole day to test all this things

    • Tim Brookes
      January 29, 2015 at 1:40 am

      I'm afraid the reality of the situation is that if you want to edit video on a Mac, you're going to have to open your wallet. iMovie is free if you have bought a Mac in the last few years, and while Blender is certainly difficult to use it's by far the most powerful and capable editor on the list.

      Unfortunately we at MakeUseOf can't do anything about the lack of quality free software for the Mac platform. It's not a platform where free and open source software thrives, but instead an area where top-tier creative suites dominate.

      If you have a pressing need for a highly capable non-linear video editor, you should consider Adobe Premier as part of their Creative Cloud suite. You can rent it for $20/month (I believe) or the entire suite for $50/month. This is quite expensive, but if you have a job to do then you can't go wrong. Failing that, Apple's own Final Cut X is another mid-tier app that you can buy for a one-off fee (around $99 from memory).

      VideoPad doesn't qualify to be included in this list, because it's not free.

  22. exo
    December 15, 2014 at 3:31 am

    at first I was shocked thet you put imovie on number 1 . Then I realized this article was written in 2012 . Imovie 13 wasn't born yet :)

  23. Connor
    October 11, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Great article! Saw the amount of work you put into this and thought I'd just say thanks man! Very helpful.

    • Anonymous
      December 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      iMovie isn't free

  24. danielooi
    August 1, 2012 at 1:34 am

    iMovie should serve most of mac user well

    • Anonymous
      March 15, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Imovie ha sa lot of bugs. Impossible to share your movie on your pc.

    • Xara
      March 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Daniel do you love me?

  25. Victor Cesto
    July 31, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    iMovie for me is the best.

  26. Steven Kim
    July 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    A pal was trying to get info related to this editors a couple weeks ago..will def forward him this link!!

  27. Wade Crawford
    July 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Can't wait for Lightworks. The Windows version is nice.

  28. Gian Singh
    July 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Didnt know you could edit video in blender

    • Coopernator341
      March 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      I edit my wrist in a blender

  29. joker159-France
    July 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    OOOps ! ...for mac , sorry :)

    • Rex56
      March 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      its okay

    • Nudeamanda
      March 30, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      Don't worry it's all good.

  30. joker159-France
    July 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    You forget Novacut , it's in dev ; kickstarter funded
    The cutting workflow is very good,
    works with ubuntu 12.04q

    in works : the multitrack sound and multicam,

    so it's a project to follow :D

    • Tim Brookes
      July 27, 2012 at 12:32 am

      That looks like a promising project but as far as I can tell it's a Linux venture? Though I imagine the open source nature will hopefully spawn Windows and Mac variants.

      Either way thanks for drawing my attention to it, it's one to remember in future!

  31. Elaheh Sadegh
    July 26, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I can't believe all these software are free! They look so professional , I'm starting to move from win to Mac so this kind of article are attractive and useful for me.

  32. guest
    July 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

    KDEmlive on Mac is a pain in the ***.

    • Tim Brookes
      July 27, 2012 at 12:16 am

      Unfortunately it's a bit of a pain in the ass on Linux too, but then again it's head and shoulders above most other editors on the platform.

  33. Luke Brannon
    July 26, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I don't have a mac but my uncle does and I remember us trying out loads of different video editors to compare them to the full priced equivalents (premiere pro, final cut pro, sony vegas) and I remember us trying out the first three. The limitations of iMovie may be a downfall for enthusiastic video buffs but for the novice it's great and also it's pre-installed, even better! Blender was also a pretty good one, as I recall you could import your 3D modelling into the video suite for some nifty animation. CineFX I think was probably our favourite, pretty easy to use and was like an advanced iMovie, loved every second of using it! hope this helps anyone :)

    • Tim Brookes
      July 27, 2012 at 12:15 am

      Sums it up great, thanks! I hope Jahshaka (CineFX) keeps up pace, I'd love to play around with the next version.

  34. Diego Arriagada
    July 26, 2012 at 4:06 am

    Mmm... maybe I should try Jahshaka looks really cool.

    • Tim Brookes
      July 27, 2012 at 12:11 am

      Yeah it does, I'm looking forward to version 3.0 if it ever sees the light of day!

      • Diego Arriagada
        July 27, 2012 at 12:20 am

        I hope so! It looks promising!

  35. Lee
    July 26, 2012 at 2:33 am

    I have Lightworks on my desktop and it really is nice, but my computer just isn't powerful enough to run it very well. I guess a lot of it has to do with only having 3gb of RAM, but the video card and processor aren't all that great either. Hopefully my new computer (which hasn't arrived yet) will be able to run it (and everything else) better.

    • Tim Brookes
      July 27, 2012 at 12:11 am

      I personally can't wait for the Mac release. I played around with it briefly on Windows but nowhere near long enough to know what I was doing. It has an entirely different workflow to the rest of the editors I've ever used, but I'd be happy to adapt for those features at that (free/cheap) price!

      • Lee
        July 27, 2012 at 2:05 am

        Definitely check out the official forums. There are lots of tips/tricks on how to use it.