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Make or break: Free video editors for Mac

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The more accurately a user is aware of his own skills and targets, the easier it gets to choose the appropriate video software. Nowadays, even some free programs are of decent quality. Yet, we’d like to narrow the discourse down to: a) video editing software for Mac, b) that is free to use. 

We’ve tried to find video editors for macOS that do not put watermarks and have other limitations. Thus, we’ve set aside 8 semi-pro and pro-level apps for review, and several more to mention. We have to stress once again, that users with no prior experience in editing, won’t be able to become pros in a day or two. Learn, explore and try things out and eventually you’ll realize what’s the best.

Each app requires a certain skill level to master it. We do not claim that the programs we have chosen are the best. Thay strike a balance of usability, functionality and price. Furthermore, we won’t be describing each minute detail, as it would take forever – manuals literally contain hundreds of pages. 

Video editing software for Mac: A shortlist 

1 of 8

iMovie

Developer: Apple Inc. / macOS: 10.13 or later
Size: 2.82 GB / Version: 10.1.14

iMovie is a proprietary program that comes with Apple devices. It is designed to create and edit videos, clips, family videos, trailers. Among video editing software for Mac, iMovie is definitely the most popular option, however it is still considered an amateur, entry-level, application. Some view it as a younger sibling of Final Cut Pro.

imovie video software free

Since iMovie is macOS-exclusive, it’s response is incredibly fast, no delays even when working multiple files. Transitions, text stylization, alignment, cropping, color correction, speed, sound fade in/out, and much more tools under the hood. iPhone, iPad or Mac – it runs on all three.

Pros: free video editor optimization perfect for beginners

Cons: supports a few file formats only

Developer: FXhome Limited / macOS: 10.10 or later
Size: 999.1 MB / Version: 14.3.0983

A free video making software with a large amount of VFX tools. It is a pro-level tool for processing and editing video files. This, incidentally, may also confuse casual or first-time users, as there is a plethora of tools. So, be ready to devote time to explore, and you’ll obtain a new skill in the end.

hitfilm express for mac

2D and 3D options, over 400 effects and presets are available. Once you familiarize with everything and learn the workflow, it quickly becomes comfortable. Although Hitfilm Express is free, it offers add-ons at a price – to extend possibilities even more. For casual use it has more than enough.

Pros: professional video editor 2D/3D compiling free tutorials from developers

Cons: complex for beginners account sign up

3 of 8

Shotcut

Developer: Meltytech, LLC / macOS: 10.10 or later
Size: 249.4 MB / Version: 20.04.12

Shotcut is a free, open-source, cross-platform video editor. Perhaps the interface is not as intuitive and straightforward as in iMovie, but believe me, you will be impressed by a range of functions for video processing. Plus the publisher is introducing updates on a monthly basis. In Shotcut one can work with lots of video, photo, audio files. The interface consists of several workspaces that can be moved around or pinned.

video editors for Mac

Pros: extensive features mid-tier software cross-platform and free

Cons: takes time to explore

Developer: EditShare EMEA / macOS: 10.9 or later
Size: 387.4 MB / Version: 2020.1

Lightworks is one of the earliest non-linear video editing and digital video mastering apps. It has two versions: Freemium and Pro, with differences in export capabilities. Free version allows exporting projects in Vimeo and YouTube presets. Lightworks is a workhorse in the film industry: “Bruce Almighty”, “Aviator”, “Pulp Fiction” and dozens more.

lightworks for macos

This is a powerful professional video editing software for Mac, Windows and Linux. A thought-out timeline lets you quickly navigate within a large project, or a project of any size and difficulty, to that matter. A remarkable feature is rendering files in background mode, thus users can continue editing. Overall, Lightworks has more than meets the eye. 

Pros: freemium timeline design background rendering

Cons: export format limitations

Developer: Blackmagicdesign / macOS: 10.10 or later
Size: 3.1 GB / Version: 16.2.2

Davinci Resolve is a complete software package for professional video post-production. It comprises all the necessary tools: from visual effects, color grading, to audio engineering and 8K resolution. First time launch initiates the interactive tutorial guiding through the basics, features, elements and tabs.

video editor apps macOS

Davinci Resolve offers 4 hotkey layout styles, primary and secondary color grading tools, image tracking and stabilization. Regular updates often add new features, for instance, a recently added Cut tab gives quick access to short-cycle (commercials, news, YouTube)  video tools.

Pros: free post-production software custom keyboard layout 8K resolution support

Cons: not for beginners high hardware requirements

Developer: Avid Technology Inc. / macOS: 10.13 or later
Size: 6.24 GB / Version: 20.5.0

Avid Media Composer is also responsible for lots of movies and TV shows. The Star Wars series, “Guardians of the Galaxy” should be telling enough. The program has a free version, one has to register on the official website to get it. So it grants everyone access to try out a professional video editor.

free video making programs

Timeline consists of 4 video tracks and 8 audio tracks. It also has multiple color effects, presets, title templates, captions, transitions, as well as social sharing options. 

Pros: pro-level video editor tutorials by developer free

Cons: requires powerful hardware

Developer: Olive / macOS: 10.12 or later
Size: 163.6 MB / Version: 0.1.0 Alpha

Olive is a free, open-source app with it’s own rendering engine. It could be a potent alternative to high-end professional video editors. This product is currently in testing stages, yet we can already see and try it out. Note that by the time of release both functionality and design may change. This project relies solely on donations and anyone can still participate  or contribute financially.

mac video editor free

Pros: free open-source project rendering engine

Cons: not fully released yet

8 of 8

Filmora9

Developer: Wondershare / macOS: 10.11 or later
Size: 683.3 MB / Version: 9.5.0.33

It may be oddish to have included Filmora to our list, but it is both simple and powerful. In half an hour one can master all the basic functions and tools. Furthermore, the program is stable and user-friendly, invoking comparison to iMovie. A set of transitions, filters, title templates, color grading, 4K support, etc. just add to acclaim.

filmora for mac

In regards to optimization, we’ve tested Filmora on several MacBooks of different generations, and in each case, the program has manifested great performance. Of course, it isn’t a professional video editor, yet if you plan on making casual short-story clips, Filmora is a decent candidate. 

Pros: perfect for beginners fully functional trial low system requirements

Cons: export video watermark in trial

Honorable mentions

Product Brief description Pricing
Adobe Premiere Pro One of the best video editors ever with numerous media processing tools. $20.99 / monthly
Vegas Pro A professional multitrack media editing software by Sony and Magix. $299.99 / lifetime
Camtasia A screen recording app in the first place, yet it has tools for multimedia editing. $249 / lifetime
Final Cut Pro A pro editor by Apple. Since hardware and software are produced by the same company, video processing is well optimized. $299.99 / lifetime
Pinnacle Studio Editor A massive set of tools, 4K and HD, straightforward interface. $92.99 / lifetime
WeVideo Online video editor with lots of features, suitable for low spec devices. $29.99 / monthly

Read next: 10 best video editors (Deep review).

Summary

Video industry is changing very quickly, yet these programs for macOS have proven their worth over the years. Surely, there are more professional programs for video processing and editing. Our selection is more like a suggestion for beginners. These video editing software for Mac can help to get acquainted with current trends in video content. 

What’s your favorite video editor and why?

ABOUT AUTHOR

Dmitry Yedin

Dmitry Yedin is an analyst and author, a part of the “multimedia” crew of ThinkMobiles. Don’t even start with him on games, graphics, video content or messengers.

Dmitry Yedin is a self-motivated and goal-oriented guy, a technology geek throughout his life, interested in computers, music, photography, and tech trends. Through diligence, analysis and care for detail he assists people in picking the best available options.

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