Video editing can be an expensive game. Not only do you need to get your hands on the best laptop or desktop out there, but the software plays an equally important role. Costs can quickly add up, especially for those just starting out. Fortunately, there are some fantastic video editors that you can use for free on Windows, like the incredible DaVinci Resolve, among other free solutions.
Best overall: DaVinci Resolve 17
Did you know that DaVinci Resolve 17 is actually free? As hard as it may be to believe, this is a free, full version of Blackmagic Design’s professional video editing software. There is still the full paid version of Studio, but for anyone looking for a free video editor, it’s hard to find anything else like this. For most, the free version has everything you’ll ever need.
For one, it’s platform-agnostic, so you can use it on both Mac and Linux, as well as Windows, although it can be finicky about hardware support. This mostly extends to the GPU, which is important since Resolve 17 takes full advantage of GPU acceleration.
Along with all the editing tools you can shake a stick with, Resolve 17 also offers comprehensive color correction and built-in audio tools. Color correction is one of its strengths and is particularly welcomed by free users.
Learning DaVinci Resolve 17 fully will take time and dedication, but it’s also fairly easy to pick up and start with basic edits. Just make sure you have a pretty good hardware resource pool handy, as Resolve can certainly gobble it up. But if you want to get serious about video editing with no financial commitment, this is the software you should get.
Open Source Achievement: Kdenlive
Kdenlive is living proof that open source software can compete with the best. Developed by the team behind the KDE community, which is more associated with Linux, Kdenlive is also available on Mac and Windows, completely free and feature-packed. And since this is FOSS, free really means free (although you should definitely make a donation if you’re going to support development with it).
Kdenlive runs well on a wider range of hardware than Davinci Resolve, while still offering a feature set geared toward more advanced video editors. Of course, the better your hardware, the better your experience, but beginners on a budget certainly won’t be prevented from taking full advantage of the software.
It has its shortcomings, demanding resources coupled with a sharper learning curve than some comparable apps. But the layout is easy to work with, and it doesn’t take too much effort to figure out the main features and make the first changes. And if you want to get a bit more advanced, there’s built-in scripting support to really customize Kdenlive to your needs.
Best for basic editing: Microsoft Video Editor
“Wait a minute, Microsoft doesn’t make a video editor!” In fact, it does, and it’s built right into Windows 10 and 11. It won’t edit the next blockbuster, but if you just need some quick, basic edits, it’s perfect.
The main advantage is that it costs you nothing and is quite light. A few features are included to allow you to crop and adjust footage, add special effects and some text, and save everything so you can share with the world. It’s about getting the job done quickly.
The downside to this is that the functionality is… well, basic. They have effects, text, and other cool additions to videos, but that’s about it. If you want your videos to stand out, you need a dedicated video editing suite. But for social videos and complete beginners who need the basics, give it a try.
Best for Beginners: Adobe Rush
Adobe is best known for its almighty Premiere Pro video editor, but Adobe Rush is a little more toned down and a perfect place for beginners to cut their teeth. While it requires an Adobe account, which may be off-putting to some, the software itself is excellent.
While advanced editors find better homes elsewhere, you might be surprised at how much you can get done. For example, it can add titles and transitions and is particularly attractive to those who post a lot of social video content. Adobe Rush also works like most modern cloud-enabled apps, as it automatically saves your work as you go. we love that
The interface is intuitive and follows the same basic template as most popular video editors. It’s a shame syncing with the mobile version is locked behind a paywall, but if you find you love the free version enough, it might be money well spent.
The next step: OpenShot
OpenShot is another advanced video editor that is completely free to download and use. You can download a copy on Windows, Mac, and Linux so you can use the same software on different devices. It’s also a pleasure to use thanks to the interface and the ability to switch between simple and advanced modes.
It’s a bit slower compared to commercial software, as you might argue is to be expected. However, if you don’t go all out with tons of files being rendered daily, OpenShot should be good enough and is a perfect step up from true beginner software to more advanced edits.
The fact that you can get a full-featured, professional-grade video editor like DaVinci Resolve totally free is mind-blowing. Resolve is used by true professionals doing video work on big budgets, and you can get most of the same experiences on your Windows PC without spending a penny.
If you might want to advance your video editing in the future, learning Resolve could also be a useful career tool, and Blackmagic makes plenty of learning resources available through their website, also for free.
The fact that it’s not the only high-quality video editor available for free on Windows is just the icing on the cake. We’re actually pretty spoiled with good free video editors on Windows, and that’s no bad thing.