The Mac is hugely popular among creative professionals, so it’s no great surprise that there are lots of video editing tools available for it. Whether you just want to add titles, transitions and a soundtrack, or you want to add Hollywood-style effects and access to professional color correction there’s a Mac application that will do the job.
Jan 08, 2020 Video editing software for Mac comes at various price points, with some even being open-source. Our favorite, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, is the most complete solution available. For this, however, you're going to pay monthly. With this, you'll also receive Premiere Rush, which lets you capture footage on all your devices. Aug 18, 2020 Blender is a free video editing software for Mac and free 3D rendering program, which features the best list of animation essentials such as modeling, rigging, interface, animation, shading, UV unwrapping, real time 3D game creation, and so on. This also has a pack of high-end interface that is loaded with intrinsic and useful tools.
The really great news is that many of these programs are free. You might expect that free video editing software would have fewer features or produce less professional results than expensive software, but many of the free tools featured here are more than good enough to produce professional-looking movies. The only downside is that they tend to have a steep learning curve and they don’t walk you through the process of editing. However, there are plenty of video on YouTube to help you get started. Here are the best free and paid-for video editing applications for the Mac.
Best free video editing software for Mac
Apple’s consumer focused video editing tool used to only be free if you bought a new Mac. But now everyone can download it free from the Mac App Store. It’s a brilliantly easy to use application. One of its best features are the movie trailer themes that allow you to create amazing cinema-style trailers in a few minutes.
If you want to create your own movies, there are tons of effects, transitions, sound effects and title styles to help you. And it’s easy to import your own audio tracks and photos and add them to your production. If you’re looking for a free video editor for Mac, iMovie could be the only tool you’ll ever need.
2. DaVinci Resolve
If iMovie isn’t for you, give DaVinci Resolve a try. It’s the free version of DaVinci Resolve Studio, but being free doesn’t mean there aren’t many features. It’s loaded with professional tools like some of the best color correction and image stabilization there is. In the free version, you can work at frame rates up to 60fps and export your movie in SD, HD and Ultra HD.
It has a full digital audio workstation for sound editing, meaning you won’t have to leave the app to get the audio just the way you want it. It’s available on the Mac App Store, but if you want the full features of the free version, download it from the Blackmagic website.
While DaVinci Resolve gives away lots of its high end features in the free version, the same can’t be said of Lightworks. There’s still plenty here though, including: effects, multicam editing, titling, and a timeline with multiple layers.
There’s also access to royalty-free video and audio content for you to include in your projects. However, output in the free version is restricted to 1080p on Vimeo and 720p on YouTube. And there are no detailed export options for H.264 or MP4. Also, if you want to use the free version for more than seven days, you’ll have to register.
OpenShot is an open source video editor with a user interface that’s much simpler than most. That doesn’t mean it’s short of features, though. It has templates for creating titles, effects, the ability to remove the background from your video, and slow motion and time effects. You can also create 3D animated titles and effects, there’s support for unlimited tracks, and for more than 70 languages. The interface isn’t the slickest you’ll ever use, and there have been question marks over its reliability in the past, but it’s definitely worth trying if you want a free video editor for the Mac.
5. Video Editor MovieMator
Video Editor MovieMator allows you to trim, split, move, and merge clips from a variety of different sources. It handles every consumer file format you’re likely to need and can import directly from your iPhone or GoPro. There are lots of built-in effects and transitions, and, of course, you can add titles too.
The interface is simple enough for most people to get to grips with quickly and the real-time preview makes it easy to see exactly how your video is coming along. There is a significant limitation on the free version of the app — exports are listed to videos that are up to five minutes long. Also, there is only one transition and a handful of effects in the free version.
Best paid-for video editors for Mac
1. Final Cut Pro X
Final Cut Pro has come a long way since it was overhauled a few years ago and lost several features that caused lots of criticism to be directed at Apple. The fact that it’s designed by Apple means that it takes full advantage of hardware on the Mac, particularly the Mac Pro and iMac Pro. It pushes their multi-core CPU and GPUs to the maximum.
Features like the Magnetic Timeline 2 and Enhanced Timeline Index may be beyond the needs of most of us, but if you edit videos for a living, you’ll appreciate them. Support for up to 64 camera angles with automatic audio syncing is another feature that makes video professionals lives much easier. And of course, it supports the formats you would expect of a serious video editor including ProRes, RED, and XAVC, as well as H.264 from digital SLR cameras. When it comes to Mac video editing, Final Cut Pro X has all the bases covered.
2. Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Like all of Adobe’s professional products, Premiere Pro is only available as a subscription package and subscribing for a year will cost you almost as much as buying Final Cut Pro X outright. However, if you prefer your video organisation tools and especially the timeline to look and work like a traditional non-linear video editor, you may prefer Premiere Pro over Final Cut’s Magnetic Timeline.
In other respects, Premiere Pro is very similar to its Apple rival, offering a full range of audio editing and color correction tools, as well as effects, support for multiple formats (including Apple’s ProRes) and all the output options you’re likely to need.
One area where Mac users will notice a difference is in rendering performance, particularly on a high-end Mac like a Mac Pro or iMac Pro. Adobe’s application is designed for Mac and PC and so optimized or for the Mac’s multi-core CPU and GPU the way that Final Cut Pro is.
3. Adobe Premiere Elements 2018
The simplest way to describe Premiere Elements is that it is to Premiere Pro what iMovie is to Final Cut Pro. But Elements and iMovie are two very different apps. For a start, while iMovie is free, Elements costs $100. The other main difference is that Elements is set up to automate much of the process of creating your movie masterpieces. So, for example, Quick mode takes the clips and other media you’ve imported and throws them together on the timeline, you can then re-order them, trim them and add transitions and other effects. Even here, however, the emphasis is on letting Elements do the hard work for you. So, press the Fix button and it will apply image stabilization and other ‘fixes.’ If you want to be more involved, a guided mode prompts you with onscreen tips. Of course, if you’d rather work completely manually, you can. Elements doesn’t make it as easy to import media as iMovie does, and you’ll have to download much of its additional content, like music scores, individually.
FIlmora allows you to import clips from your Mac’s hard drive, a camera, and even from social media accounts. It has a somewhat quirky interface, that may take some getting used to if you’ve used other video editors. But it has plenty to commend it including lots of effects, titling options, and audio controls. It’s neatest feature could be the lighting preset options that allows you to emulate the look of Game of Thrones, Star Wars, or House of Cards at the click of a button.
How to make space for video on your Mac
Working with video editing software means you need lots of free space on your Mac’s main drive — video clips use several gigabytes of space for every hour of content, and that’s before you export the final version. You should also make sure your Mac is running at its optimal speed, you’ll need every ounce of power to render video.
One quick and easy way to both improve your Mac’s performance and clear space on its hard drive is to use CleanMyMac X. CleanMyMac identifies “junk” files that sit on your Mac’s drive, taking up space and slowing it down. It makes removing the files very easy and could claw back tens of gigabytes of space. You can download it free here.
The best video editing software for Mac is, ultimately, the one that does what you need to do in a way that you enjoy working. There’s lots of Mac video editing software, and much of it is free. Take time, try out as many applications as you can and choose the best one for you.
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It’s no secret that Macs are known to be the best computers for video editing. From their inception, Macs have been positioned as the machine of choice for creatives — but what about today? With so many options available, it can be hard to tell which system and software is best for your needs.
Professionals using tools like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro for Mac might require a different system to someone making casual YouTube videos. Either way, a quick exploration of what specifications and software fit you just right can go a long way.
Why Mac Video Editing Is So Popular
Originally, Apple was recognized for building better tools for creative work than Microsoft due to a collaboration with Adobe (known for its design software suite), followed by a clever strategy of distributing Macs into design schools and making creative workflows very user-friendly overall.
Apple also leveraged its exclusive partnerships with market-leading software, such as Final Cut Pro for Mac, so that it wasn’t available on PC. Being first to this market spelled the beginning of a long-lasting loyalty among creatives and design-savvy users who were educated on Macs exclusively.
Additionally, the physical design of Macs was a breath of fresh air compared to the more cold and clinical PCs at the time, further lending to Apple’s brand position amongst creatives.
Eventually, PCs reached a similar level of hardware and software support that could suit any creative work, but by then Apple was already firmly positioned as one of the best computers for video editing, graphic design, sound engineering, and more.
Specs that matter when video editing on Mac
Video editing on Mac is a hardware-intensive exercise that relies heavily on processing power. From rendering 4K videos to making thousands of edits across feature-length material, having a quick machine can make all the difference. Unfortunately, making sense of Apple video editing specifications can be difficult at best.
For example, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) is at the heart of any machine, and once upon a time it was the most important component when video editing for Mac. However, in recent years the support of Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) rendering has offloaded a lot of the CPU’s work. That said, CPU power is still important when it comes to the general speed of basic operations, so here’s a quick rundown on what to look for:
The CPU should at least be a medium to high-end quad-core unit (not a dual core), ideally manufactured in the last five years. For 4K and 8K video editing on Mac, you may want to look at eight, twelve, or more CPU cores.
Your GPU is arguably the most important component. The first thing to look for is a dedicated GPU unit, not integrated with your CPU. Secondly, you’ll want to ensure you have a minimum of 2 GB of VRAM (Video Random Access Memory) which can render multiple effects at once without having to process them in sequence. Advanced users will want 8 GB of VRAM with a high-end GPU made in the past three years.
System RAM (Random Access Memory) is an important measure of how many assets and processes can be stored in extremely fast memory (think tip of the tongue). When video editing for Mac, you’ll want a minimum of 8 GB and work your way up to 16 GB or 32 GB from there.
Similarly, you’ll benefit greatly from having an SSD hard drive rather than an older HDD. The SSD format can load saved projects and large video files much faster, and is well worth the small investment on top.
Finally, you’ll want to ensure you have a suitable display to accurately edit your videos. Look for an IPS (in-plane switching) panel rather than TN (twisted nematic), with a decent size of 27” for desktops or 15” for laptops. Aim for a screen resolution of 1920x1080 (but ideally 4096x2160), with a brightness level of 1000 cd/m2.
What is the best Mac for video editing?
By now you have a basic understanding of which specifications matter, but what’s the best computer for video editing? Unlike PCs, Macs come in fewer variations, so selecting the right one for you comes down to your expected usage.
When it comes to advanced, larger projects, you’ll want to opt for one of the best computers for video editing — iMac Pro. It combines up to 18 CPU cores with a dedicated GPU boasting 16 GB of VRAM, plus a 5K display showing unparalleled color and brightness accuracy. Expect to pay top-dollar for this option, best suited for creative professionals.
Best Video Editing For Macbook
Leaning towards value-for-money? Try Mac Mini — a small machine that sits nicely between the processing power of a laptop and desktop. The Mac Mini can handle basic and intermediate video editing with its latest-generation Intel CPU, combining four or six cores and an integrated GPU.
For many modern video editors, portability matters. The MacBook Pro is one of the most powerful laptops available for Apple video editing, with the top model offering a dedicated GPU that rivals the powerful desktops of yesteryear. SSD hard drives keep things moving quickly, while the four to eight core CPU units silently get to work in the background.
No matter which option you select, any 2019 or newer Mac is more than capable of video editing. However, the best computer for video editing can set you back financially, and there’s still costly software to consider. Similar to not absolutely needing the best Mac for video editing, you might not need the best when it comes to Mac video editing software as well.
Top alternatives to Mac video editing software
Think twice before investing in the most expensive video editing software for Mac. Despite the perception that Adobe suite is a must-have, there are some amazing alternatives out there that work well without breaking the bank.
CameraBag Pro is a lightweight video editing tool for Mac, once claiming the second spot for the Apple Mac App of the Year. It nicely fills the gap between a simple photo editor and complex video editor, resulting in slick software that perfectly meets the needs of most at-home users.
Best Video Editor For Macbook Pro
The app’s clean user interface makes it a breeze to use, and the one-click filters can have your work looking pixel-perfect without getting lost in the details. For those of you looking for more advanced editing tools and settings, CameraBag Pro has you covered with dedicated color, tone, and gamma curves.
Capto is another cost-effective tool for your Apple video editing suite, allowing for a quick and easy way to capture screen recordings on your Mac. Capto is perfect for those who are creating tutorial videos or anything requiring on-screen annotations.
The app’s built-in editing interface can finish the job without having to move to another tool, saving you time and money on complementary software. Basic and intermediate users will appreciate the simplicity of Capto’s tools, strategically implemented to prevent bombarding you with complex workflows.
For perfecting specific projects, try GlueMotion — a drag-and-drop tool which turns your images into time-lapse videos in just a few clicks. It works well with almost any photo format and even has a batch editor for images to make sure things are looking good before committing to a time-lapse.
GlueMotion’s built-in deflickering engine ensures a smooth transition across the whole video, while taking advantage of macOS developer tools to promote quick rendering across a variety of professional formats. Loyal Apple users will enjoy the macOS inspired design which feels right at home.
The best part about CameraBag Pro, Capto, and GlueMotion is that they are all available for a free seven-day trial on Setapp — a Mac subscription service that grants you access to over 160 indispensable apps. You can reap the rewards almost instantly by heading over to Setapp’s website and signing up. No matter which Mac setup you have or what skill level you are, Setapp is a must-have addition to any video editing software for Mac.
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