What to look for in iMove Alternatives
Graduating iMovie is a pivotal moment for most video editors. So choosing the right program for you is crucial. Since all the programs featured in this article are free, you can download them all to see which one has the tools that suit your needs and workflow.
- Multitrack editing: One of the drawbacks of iMovie is the limited number of audio and video tracks. A solid iMovie alternative gives you multiple editing lanes that allow you to tackle more complex projects.
- Basic editing tools: All video editing programs give you the ability to trim clips, add transitions and effects, insert text and credits, and more. The best programs also offer a library of stock music, images, and video content.
- Advanced editing tools: Some iMovie alternatives offer advanced tools such as audio mixer, video stabilizer, screen recorder and compositing tools. Although you may have to pay for some upgraded abilities.
- Export options: Once you’re done editing, it’s time to get it in front of your audience. Solid iMovie alternatives offer many file formats for export, as well as optimize them for sharing on social media, adjust them for playback on certain types of devices, or even export project files for use in another video editing program.
- Training Resources: Video editing can be a difficult task to learn. A good iMovie alternative offers easy-to-understand editing guides, how-to articles, themes, and templates to help you through the process and make you a better editor.
- Upgradable: If you’re ready to move on from iMovie, chances are you’ll get good enough to need even better software. Look for a program that offers even more tools and features when you’re ready to use them.
- Windows compatibility: Some non-Mac users yearn for an easy-to-use program like iMovie. If you fall into this category, most products are also available for Windows.
Best Overall: HitFilm
- ✓ Basic features are free to use
- ✓ Export profiles for social networks and Apple devices
- ✓ Lean mode perfect for new users
- ✗ Newbie editors can feel intimidated
- ✗ The paid version is only available with a monthly subscription
For years, FXHome has offered a free video editing program called HitFilm Express. Unfortunately, they stopped licensing the software in 2022. So while you can still download it, you won’t be able to activate the software. The good news is that they have made their full-featured software, HitFilm, free to download and its basic features are available to everyone.
HitFilm’s free tools include basic tools like multi-editing, cropping, cropping, slicing, cropping, and flipping. Also included are advanced tools such as the ability to correct bad audio, adjust 2D text, color and gradation correction, compositing, and even 3D modeling. Additionally, you get 127 visual effects, ten songs, 25 sound effects and five video templates for free.
The program’s export module contains 18 presets. These export profiles customize your video for playback on YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook and Apple devices. There are also options to export just the project audio and image sequences of your video.
HitFilm can be an intimidating program for novice video editors. Fortunately, the program includes an in-app training module that walks you through each tool in detail. The Learn module is enabled by default when you first launch the application. So it’s worth your time to watch each video before you start the editing process.
Once you’ve mastered the core of the program, you may want to move on to more complex projects. Paid versions of HitFilm cost from $7.50 to $12.50 per month. Unfortunately, there are no perpetual licenses. So if you want to use the upgraded versions, you will need to subscribe.
Another great option: DaVinci Resolve
- ✓ Up to 185 tracks to edit
- ✓ Plenty of training material
- ✓ Available for Linux
- ✗ Themes and templates are missing
- ✗ No export options for Facebook and Instagram
DaVinci Resolve has been the go-to video editing app for many editors since 2004. And for good reason, the program has all the essential editing tools most users need. You can add up to 185 editable tracks, 66 title designs, 15 transition styles and hundreds of effects for free. And you can upgrade to DaVinci Resolve Studio for around $300. It’s expensive, but users who prefer a one-time cost to a monthly subscription will appreciate the option.
The basics of the program should be easy enough for beginners to learn after a few times through the editing process. However, if you’re having trouble grasping all the details, the developer offers 20 in-depth videos and five training books to get you started for free.
Unfortunately, DaVinci Resolve does not have any themes or templates. It’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but they would be handy for quick projects.
Getting stuck in the export module is easy to do in most video editing software. DaVinci Resolve has a handy quick export button that guides you through the process in three clicks. You can customize your export for uploading to YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter from the Quick Export window. Unfortunately, Facebook and Instagram do not have export profiles. The program allows you to save your finished videos to your hard drive or even upload them to the Internet directly from the application.
Not only is Davinci Resolve available on the Mac App Store, but you can also get it for Windows, and it’s one of the few free video editors that works with Linux.
Best for personal use: VideoPad
- ✓ Free for personal use
- ✓ Burns your videos to DVD
- ✓ Hundreds of video tutorials
- ✗ Only three editing bars
- ✗ No option to post to Instagram
For users who need video editing software for personal use, NCH software offers this full-featured video editing software for free. And while the company has no way of knowing whether you’re using it for commercial purposes, it asks you to confirm that you won’t every time you run the program.
Unfortunately, VideoPad only has two video tracks and one audio track on the timeline. While this works for simple videos, more complex tasks can become unmanageable due to this limitation. However, the program has two editing modes: Timeline and Storyboard. Timeline mode places each element based on how long it is, while Storyboard mode displays them equally regardless of length. Using storyboards can be easier for users new to iMove or inexperienced with editing the timeline.
Of all the free iMove alternatives, VideoPad has the most effects. With more than 100 video, image, audio and text enhancements to choose from, you’ll be able to give your video the look and feel you want.
VideoPad has a full suite of export options that you can use for multiple home uses. You can choose from 16 file formats, plus export profiles for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android devices, PlayStation, Xbox and more. You can also customize your video for YouTube and Flickr and upload it from the export menu. There is an Instagram profile, but you can’t upload it to that service from the app. In addition, this VideoPad allows you to burn a DVD of your project (or save a disc image to your hard drive), which the other programs in this article cannot do.
VideoPad has the most extensive library of video tutorials of any iMovie alternative. Their hundreds of training videos cover the entire editing process, from importing media to exporting your finished project.
iMovie for Windows: VN
- ✓ Shallow learning curve for iMovie users
- ✓ Windows version available
- ✓ Mobile app for iOS and Android
- ✗ The desktop version has fewer tools than iMovie
- ✗ Limited export possibilities
For Windows users who want the simplicity of iMovie but don’t live in the Apple ecosystem, VN is worth checking out. Its interface and workflow look like iMovie’s fraternal twin. So if you’re already familiar with iMovie, you’ll be able to use VN when you first launch the app. Mac users may or may not find the program useful because it’s so similar and doesn’t have as many features.
VN is also available as a mobile app for iOS and Android. And this app is actually a bit more versatile than the mobile version of iMovie. The workflow is more intuitive, making it easier to configure the position of each element on the timeline. In addition, it allows you to configure your editing space for videos that you will post on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.
One annoying thing about this program is that in the Mac version you can only import videos that you have stored in Apple’s Photo app. That might be enough for those who shoot videos with their iPhone, but importing videos into Photos becomes tedious for users who shoot with an actual camera.
Training material for the Mac version of VN is scarce. His YouTube channel contains only seven videos for the desktop app, all under two minutes. But, the program is so intuitive that you will probably never need to consult the tutorials.
VN’s desktop export options leave a lot to be desired. You are limited to exporting MP4 files with minimal customization options. However, the mobile app allows you to connect your YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts and publish your videos directly from your device.
Best Template-Based Editor: Adobe Express
- ✓ The project only takes a few minutes to complete
- ✓ Trains novice editors to create quality videos
- ✓ Easily posts on social networks
- ✗ Contains only the most basic editing tools
- ✗ Storyboard mode only
Adobe Express is primarily an online design program focused on image editing for social media posts. But it also has a video editor that can help even beginners make quality videos.
The experience of using this iMovie alternative is quite different from others. Instead of a timeline layout, you get a storyboard, and the workflow is different enough that you’ll have to spend some time getting to know how it works. But once you do, you’ll be able to make a video for dozens of occasions in just a few minutes.
Adobe Express video editor is a template-based service. When you start a new project, you can choose a template to promote an idea, teach a lesson, share a personal story, and more. A guided workflow shows you how to structure your project for maximum efficiency. So, if you’re new to video editing, Adobe Express is a great place to start.
There are several disadvantages of this online video editor. The nature of the service limits you to a paint-by-numbers exercise. Each storyboard clip is limited to 30 seconds, and the program contains minimal customization and enhancement tools compared to other iMovie alternatives.
Sharing your finished projects online is a breeze with Adobe Express. With a few clicks, you can post them to Facebook and Twitter, export them to Adobe Classroom and Teams, or create a link to your project’s Adobe website to share with whoever you want. You can also download an MP4 copy of your finished project to your computer.
When you reach the limits of what Adobe Express video editor can do, the next natural step would be to move to Adobe Premiere Elements. This program has advanced editing features, cool templates, guided editing, export options and more. And a step beyond that would be Adobe’s professional-level editing program: Adobe Premiere Pro.