Macs are excellent computers for video editing and we’ve taken an in-depth look at the very best video editing software on Mac both for professionals and beginners.
Macs are extremely stable when it comes to the high demands of movie editing and even Hollywood films such as The Wolf of Wall Street and The Social Network were partly edited on a Mac.
We’ve edited video on both Macs and PCs and in our opinion, Macs win every time for reliability, stability and general all round ease-of-use when editing videos.
Windows PCs are still slightly ahead when it comes to choice in movie editing software – industry standard video editing packages such as Pinnacle Studio and Sony Vegas are still not available on Mac for example.
After hours of research, we found that by far the best video editing software for Mac is Adobe Premiere Pro which continues to set the standards for professional video editing.
Which Mac Is Best For Video Editing?
The best Macs on the market for video editing in 2021 are undoubtedly the new M1 chip Macs.
Apple’s M1 processor is incredibly fast and powerful meaning you don’t need any external devices such as an eGPU to handle the demands of video editing.
The problem is that not all video editing packages support M1 Macs, especially the free ones.
If you don’t have an M1 Mac however, you can still turn almost any Intel Mac into a powerful editing suite if you get an eGPU for your Mac.
An eGPU accelerates the graphics capabilities of your Mac and allows you to do rendering and video processing that rivals any professional video editing suite.
In terms of displays, the 27 inch iMacs offer incredible 5K resolution images which are ideal for video editors.
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Video Editing Software For Mac Tips
There are a few things to be aware of and consider before you decide which video editing software to go for on your Mac.
- Be Realistic About Your Needs
A professional is going to have completely different needs to someone who just wants to make the occasional home video.
It’s easy to get carried away and think you’re going to be the next Steven Spielberg when starting out but be realistic about how much time you can invest in video editing, what you need it for and how many features you actually require to avoid overpaying for software.
- Check The Format Of Your Footage
Video editing software on Mac can be very fussy about the format it will and won’t import.
Make sure you know exactly what formats your camcorder or video camera uses and whether the software you intend to buy supports it.
Otherwise you’ll find yourself messing around having to convert video before you import it.
For this reason, we’ve already looked at the Best Camcorders For Mac which make it easy to import video into almost all video editing software.
Note that if you want to import VHS videos to edit on your Mac, you’ll need a VHS Capture Kit which can connect an old VHS camcorder or a video player (including those golden memories on Betamax) to your Mac.
- Do You Want To Share Video Instantly Online?
In the old days, sharing video meant burning it onto a DVD or creating a highly compressed video file and uploading it to a website for others to download.
With the advent of sites such as YouTube however, many video editors allow you to export your movies and videos instantly to the web.
Many free or open source ones still do not however or at least limit the resolution you can export videos to YouTube so make sure the software you buy supports exporting to video sites if you need it.
- Make Sure You Have Plenty Of Disk Space
Video editing is notoriously hungry for hard drive space. Video files rapidly eat hundreds of gigabytes of hard drive space. We strongly recommend checking how much storage space you have on your Mac before installing a video editor.
We also recommend using an external hard drive to store video footage externally as your Mac hard drive will soon get full. All of the video editing tools reviewed here support external hard drives for video editing.
- Beware Of Dodgy Vendors Selling Video Editing Software
The increase in the number of Mac users looking for video editing software has also seen a few disreputable developers claiming to offer “free” video editing software for Mac or selling video editing software that doesn’t do what it claims.
These are mainly aimed at beginners rather than professionals but invariably aren’t what they claim to be. In many cases, they allow you to download and use the software for free but require payment when you want to save or edit clips.
With this in mind, here is the best video editing software for Mac of 2021.
Adobe Premiere Pro is an industry leading, timeline-based video editor that is by far the best professional video editing software for Mac and Windows computers.
Adobe Premiere remains one of the leading suites for video editing on PC and is used by countless professional production houses.
Adobe Premiere Pro can handle absolutely anything from 8K video to editing HDR and 360 degree virtual reality films.
Not only is Adobe Premiere Pro the best video editing software for Mac but because it has now been updated to support the M1 chip, it’s also now the best video editing software for M1 Macs too.
If you’re editing video to publish online on YouTube, we also think Adobe Premiere Pro is the best editor for YouTube thanks the the incredibly useful Reframe tool which automatically formats the correct aspect ratio for publishing online.
When it comes to collaboration, as you’d expect from an Adobe tool, the Productions tool allows multiple users to work on the same project without accidentally editing the same clip twice.
In terms of pricing, Adobe offer some of the most generous discounts on the market, especially in you’re in education.
If you’re a student or an educator you can get a huge discount of 60% off the entire Creative Cloud suite which includes Adobe Premiere and the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite of over 20 applications.
Adobe also give you 100GB of free storage space online with Creative Cloud which allows you to store video in the Cloud and prevent your Mac’s hard drive getting so full.
Adobe Premiere is overall the most accomplished and professional video editing software for Mac available.
You can also get a Free Trial of Adobe Premiere to try it first.
You can check out our full Adobe Premiere Pro review for more.
- Produces incredibly professional results
- Integrated with the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite
- Generous educational discounts
- Supports 8K video and VR
- Makes it easy for multiple video editors to work on the same project
- Works on M1 Macs
- Steep learning curve for beginners
- Free trial limited to 7 days
Outside of Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro (FCP) is the best video editing software for something accessible for beginners but also with enough power for satisfy professional video editors.
If you’re familiar with Apple Photos, you’ll already feel immediately at home with how FCP does business.
In fact one of the best things about Final Cut Pro is that it seamlessly imports images from Photos and audio from iTunes for truly personalized home movies.
Although Final Cut Pro was originally aimed at professional video editors, Apple has simplified it in recent years to make it much more accessible to beginners.
Some long time professional users aren’t happy with the simplifications Apple has made to FCP but there’s no doubt it has created a powerful video editor that doesn’t intimidate.
If you’re a beginner to video editing but intend to take it seriously, it’s definitely worth investing the time to learn FCP which has a much gentler learning curve than most high-end video editing software.
When it comes to video editing on Mac, FCP delivers some amazing results in 8K without bewildering you with features and tools.
For instance, FCP no longer overwhelms you with multiple format settings making it much easier to import and export video in the format you need – one of the major bugbears that users find with any movie editing software on Mac.
Another way that FCP makes life easier in the latest edition is the way it organizes your work.
FCP takes a non-linear approach to video editing and like Apple Photos, organizes your clips and movies into Events which is far better than folders and bins once you get used to it.
If you’re coming from a linear video editing platform such as AVID or Adobe Premiere, you’ll soon find that Final Cut’s way of doing things makes your video editing workflow more organized, logical and structured.
Other features of FCP include multicam editing, XML importing, 360-degree VR content and 3D titling. There’s also a clever flow transition tool to help smooth out jumpy video edits.
The main thing that FCP can’t handle well is color and sound correction although this has improved in recent versions. FCP does have a very basic color grading system but for professionals you’re better off with Adobe Premiere.
FCP is also often used alongside Apple’s special effects software Motion which is idea for creating 2D/3D titles, transitions and realistic effects.
If you want to publish your FCP film to the iTunes store, there’s also Apple’s Compressor which is a powerful video converter for importing and exporting video from FCP.
Apple Compressor is another very useful complement to Final Cut Pro for professional editors as it makes encoding and compressing large video files for export to different formats easy.
Compressor allows you to save in a wide variety of codecs, sizes, frame rates and other parameters. One of the most useful features is that it can Compressor can easily convert from PAL to NTSC and vice versa and the same with SD to HD.
Compressor can also export your Final Cut Pro footage to formats such as MPEG-2, H.264 and ProRes.
If you want to export footage online, Compressor includes useful presets for exporting to YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook although you can export directly from FCP too.
Final Cut Pro has a high up front cost compared to Adobe Premiere and major upgrades require purchasing it again so bear in mind that it can work out more expensive than an Adobe subscription in the long run.
Pricing: $299.99 with 90 day Free Trial
- Designed and made by Apple
- Accessible for beginners but with room to grow
- Integrated with Photos and iTunes
- Integrations with powerful special effects Apple Motion software
- Integrated with Apple Compressor software for exporting
- Works on M1 Macs
- High up-front cost
- Requires third party Compressor app for added export support
- Major updates require purchasing it again
iMovie is made by Apple and easily the most well known free video editing software for Mac. iMovie is the best video editing software for beginners on Mac due to its ease of use, lack of complex features and macOS integration.
iMovie is like a light version of Final Cut Pro and makes it extremely easy to cut and edit home movies. Like FCP, if you’ve ever used Apple Photos, then iMovie will feel very familiar to you.
iMovie isn’t suitable for professional use as it only supports up to 4K and 60fps but it’s ideal for amateurs that want to make home movies.
iMovie doesn’t feature the precision or advanced features of Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere but it’s an excellent starting point for anyone new to video editing.
iMovie allows you to create striking titles, effects, transitions, trailers and even adds geo-data to your movies. It also supports audio isolation, white balancing and color matching.
Creating trailers is particularly easy with iMovie as there are around 30 different templates that do the hard work. In fact, iMovie has templates for all kinds of film types making it easy to create slick looking videos from scratch.
iMovie is also surprisingly powerful in the formats it can handle allowing you to edit 4K and HD movies plus import iPhone, GoPro and HD camcorder footage.
The only issue you may find with iMovie is that when Apple updates it, getting to grips with new versions and changes in the interface can sometimes be frustrating and confusing.
iMovie is also sometimes prone to stability issues whenever Apple releases a new version of macOS although these are usually ironed out when updates are issued.
Pricing: Free from Mac App Store.
- Free to use
- Made by Apple
- Lots of ready-made templates
- Imports images from Photos
- Also works on iPad and iPhone
- Very basic editing tools
- No precision editing
- Only supports 2 video and 2 audio tracks
DaVinci Resolve started life as a color correction tool but has now evolved into a highly professional non linear video editing and color correction software.
DaVinci Resolve is so powerful that the full studio version is commonly used in Hollywood for movie editing, color grading, multi-cam needs, stereoscopic 3D sound, advanced trimming and high precision audio editing.
That’s because DaVinci Resolve can handle incredible 120fps and 32K resolution video although in the free version only supports up to 4K and 60fps.
The finishing features in DaVinci Resolve are in fact so powerful that it’s often used by Hollywood to polish movies that have been edited in other packages such as Adobe Premiere and FCP.
The main problem you’ll find with DaVinci resolve is learning how to get to grips with it but there are fortunately many DaVinci Resolve YouTube tutorial videos to help.
The basic version of DaVinci Resolve is free but DaVinci Resolve Studio costs $299. However, for this you get free lifetime updates which makes DaVinci Resolve Studio a bargain for a video editing software on this level.
The free version of DaVinci Resolve for Mac also allows you to do a surprising amount however although there are limitations including file size, export and import options.
The free version of DaVinci Resolve only allows you to work at frame rates up to 60fps in 4K and only exports movies in SD, HD and Ultra HD.
There’s also no support for noise reduction which is only available in the DaVinci Resolve Studio version.
Price: DaVinci Resolve Free / DaVinci Resolve Studio $299 with free lifetime updates
- Standard version is free to use
- DaVinci Resolve Studio costs $299 but with free lifetime updates
- Powerful industry standard finishing tools
- Excellent color grading and correction features
- Noise reduction only available in paid Studio version
- Complicated to learn
- Not as many tutorials or support as other packages
Lightworks is a very powerful video editing software for Mac that was first released on PC but is now available for macOS.
Lightworks is a highly accomplished editor that’s been used to edit Hollywood films such as The Wolf of Wall Street so it’s clearly aimed at the top end of the market.
Although there is a free version of Lightworks, it’s not as generous as DaVinci Resolve but still gives a lot away for free including multicam support and timelines with multiple layers.
The output formats are also limited in the free edition of Lightworks to 1080p on Vimeo, 720p on YouTube and there are no customization export options for the H.264 or MP4 formats.
Lightworks will definitely appeal more to all editors that prefer a traditional bin structure and track based timeline compared to the Events approach of other packages.
Lightworks is also remarkably easy to pick up and learn compared to other industry standard video editors.
One of the biggest attractions of Lightworks is the number of formats it supports compared to most video editors.
Lightworks supports almost every major video format including ProRes, Avid DNxHD, AVC-Intra, DVCPRO HD, RED R3D, DPX, AVCHD (with AC3 audio), H.264 and XDCAM EX / HD 422 although only the Pro version supports some of these formats and 4K.
The great thing about Lightworks is that you can work with all formats at the same time on the same editing timeline in real-time. This means you’re not restricted to editing or importing in just a few formats like with most video editors which makes Lightworks extremely flexible.
Like most professional video editing suites nowadays, Lightworks is integrated with YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook and can export in MPEG4/H.264 for other video sites.
If you like to rely on keyboard shortcuts instead of mouse or touchpads, then Lightworks also offers its own keyboard and editing console to create a truly professional home editing suite.
Lightworks is generally also stable and responsive but as it’s only been around for short time on Mac, it still doesn’t have much of a Mac user base.
The basic version of Lightworks for Mac is free although it lacks many essential features such as stereoscopic editing, support for third party hardware, project sharing and export options.
For these features you need to upgrade to a Lightworks subscription which is available in 3 different pricing plans.
Pricing: Standard version Free / Pro Plans Starts at $24.99 per month
- Basic version is free on both Mac and Windows PCs
- Supports a wide range of video formats
- Multiple format video editing in one project
- Traditional track based timeline
- Good multi-cam support
- Third party video editing console available
- Free version lacks essential features especially export formats
- No support for third party hardware in free version
- Complex for beginners