The Best Video Editing Software for Macs in 2023

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In video editing, as in other creative media arts, there’s a noted preference for Apple’s Mac computers as opposed to Windows, Chrome OS, or Linux PCs. No doubt it’s because of Apple’s long-standing emphasis on design and creativity. Apple itself has long been at the forefront of producing excellent video editing software, with Final Cut Pro for professionals and iMovie for consumers, but there are plenty of capable third-party Mac video editors, too.

We’ve put all the top options through their paces to create together this list of the best video editing software on the Mac. Read on for our top recommendations, followed by advice on how to choose the software that best fits your needs.

Apple Final Cut Pro

Best for Professionals and Prosumers

Why We Picked It

Final Cut is one of the pioneers among nonlinear computer video editing programs. Before a revamp several years ago, it was a daunting beast of a program, only suitable for dedicated professional editors. Since then, it’s become far more intuitive, yet still remains among the most powerful and feature-full video editing applications available. It leads in support for new standards like 8K RED RAW, ProRes 422, VR and wide-gamut color spaces. It also offers slick tools for multicam editing, color grading, and intelligent motion tracking. Its unconventional but brilliant “trackless timeline” is unique, and workflow features for media management and collaboration are aces up its sleeve.

Who It’s For

Though it’s a thoroughly professional-level application, Final Cut is nevertheless also suitable for amateurs who want to do impressive feats with their video projects. It won’t break the bank and doesn’t require an ongoing subscription fee like competitor Adobe Premiere Pro does.


  • Magnetic, trackless timeline
  • Superior organization tools, including libraries, ratings, tagging, and auto analysis for faces and scenes
  • Support for 360-degree footage and wide color spaces
  • Multicam support
  • Fast performance


  • Nontraditional timeline editing may turn off longtime video producers
  • Import and export experiences trail those in Premiere Pro

Read Our Apple Final Cut Pro Review

Adobe Premiere Pro

Best for Cross-Platform Professionals

Why We Picked It

Premiere Pro is a powerhouse among pro video editing applications, and Adobe keeps adding more pro-level features, such as with its acquisition of the leading online video collaboration platform, You get top-notch color grading, multicam, effects, VR editing, motion graphic templates, and speech-to-text tools. Another big reason to go with Premiere Pro is its tight integration with other Adobe products like After Effects and Rush. If that’s not enough, it supports a wide range of third-party plug-ins.

Who It’s For

Yes, Premiere Pro is definitely for pros. It’s also for enthusiastic amateurs, YouTubers, and those who want to get a foot in the door of professional video editing. It’s certainly a deep, demanding applications in terms of learning curve, but Adobe has recently been adding features that make Premiere Pro more accessible to nonprofessionals. Those unwilling to pay a recurring subscription fee will want to look elsewhere, however.


  • Clear, flexible interface
  • Many organizational tools
  • Responsive speed
  • Rich ecosystem of video production apps
  • Excellent stabilization tool
  • Unlimited multicam angles


  • Intimidating interface for nonprofessionals
  • Some techniques require additional applications, such as After Effects or Media Encoder
  • No sound effect samples included

Apple iMovie

Best for Entry-Level Users

Why We Picked It

Apple iMove not only comes free with every Mac, but it also offers some nifty video editing capabilities in a clear, usable interface. Despite its simplicity (it shares Apple’s unique trackless timeline interface with Final Cut Pro), you still get advanced tools for chroma-keying, color-matching, and working with audio. The Storyboard and Trailers features are unmatched for giving amateurs guidance on how to create compelling productions.

Who It’s For

Apple iMovie is clearly not intended for professional video editors. Home users and hobbyists who want to make appealing mini-movies of their vacations are the perfect audience for this app. It’s also a great choice for iPhone users, since it ties in with the video capabilities of that device.


  • Beautifully simple interface
  • Color matching for consistent movie looks
  • Classy themes
  • Great chroma-keying tool
  • Lots of audio tools
  • Excellent movie templates


  • In the name of simplicity, some useful controls are missing
  • Does not support tagging
  • Lacks multicam or motion tracking capabilities
  • Limited to two video tracks
  • No 360-degree video editing

DaVinci Resolve

Best Free Version

Why We Picked It

DaVinci Resolve is at the forefront of professional digital video post production. It’s more of a suite, rather than a single application, as it combines video editing with motion graphics, color coding, and audio production. This software has been used on recent movies and TV shows, including Dune, Jurassic World Dominion, and Top Gun: Maverick. Clearly, any effect or edit that can be done in the medium, you can do with Resolve.

Who It’s For

DaVinci Resolve is a standard in professional video editing, but for the consumer audience it offers something extremely compelling: a very capable free version. That said, it’s doesn’t sport the lowest learning curve, so be prepared to study and figure out of its interface and processes, which differ from those of average consumer video editors. The best part for our consumer readers is that the free version lets them do quite a lot. The paid version adds Neural Engine, many more special effects, temporal and spatial noise reduction, stereoscopic 3D, optical blur, mist effects, and more.


  • Lots of editing tools for precise control
  • Clear, well-designed interface
  • Includes motion graphics and audio editing, which are separate apps in other pro editors


  • Requires a lot of system resources
  • Complex software takes considerable time to learn

Adobe Premiere Elements

Best for Hobbyists

Why We Picked It

Premiere Elements lets hobbyists more easily produce effects that would take significant learning time and effort in a professional-level application. It does offer the standard timeline and keyframe editing tools, but Guided Edits and other ease-of-use features make it so amateurs can avoid the intricacies of those tools and still produce something that looks good. Another benefit is the upgrade path to Adobe Premiere Pro, though the interfaces are quite different.

Who It’s For

Adobe used to use the term “memory keepers” to describe the audience for the Elements versions of both Premiere and Photoshop. That’s the person in the family who creates visual keepsakes from the family vacation, birthday, and other occasions. If you want to produce lovely, charming home movies with compelling effects, Premiere Elements is for you. Another advantage over some other products, including most of those from Adobe, is that Elements doesn’t require subscription payments; buy it once and it’s yours forever.


  • Clear, simple interface
  • Guided Edits ease basic and advanced projects
  • Ample video effects
  • Solid text tools
  • Cross-platform support


  • Slow output rendering speed
  • No 360-degree VR or 3D editing
  • No multicam support
  • No screen recording capability
  • No DVD or Blu-ray burning

Read Our Adobe Premiere Elements Review

Adobe Premiere Rush

Best for Quick Social Videos

Why We Picked It

Adobe Rush started out as Adobe’s mobile app for quick video shooting, editing, and posting to social channels. It’s still that, but now it’s also available as desktop apps for Mac and Windows. Rush isn’t overburdened with features, but you get enough titles, effects, color correction, and audio tools to create something visually appealing. Another advantage is that your projects can be stored in the cloud and you can then edit them in Premiere Pro.

Who It’s For

Rush is a great tool for vloggers and anyone who wants to shoot and edit video while out and about. It does require a subscription. The least expensive option that includes Rush is the $9.99-per-month Adobe Express subscription.


  • Clean, clear, simple interface
  • Good title options
  • Lets you change video speed
  • Quick performance
  • Seamless Premiere Pro project compatibility


  • Few transitions
  • Can’t choose export file type and codec
  • No green screen or freeze frame features
  • Limited audio tools

Wondershare Filmora

Best for Easy Effects

Why We Picked It

Wondershare Filmora is one of the easier-to-use and low-cost video editing options around. The company is continually adding impactful effects like motion blur, filters, animations, and transitions. The interface is slick, clear, and pleasing, and performance is speedy. You get a good selection of stock content and templates with the app.

Who It’s For

Filmora is squarely for hobbyists and YouTubers. Its frequent additions of effects make it suitable for you if you’re in that group. It’s available either as a subscription or a perpetual license, both of which get you stock media, templates, and effects.


  • Pleasing interface
  • Inexpensive
  • Lots of effects and overlays
  • Good title and text tools
  • Fast rendering in test


  • Fewer fine-tuned effect-tweaking tools than competitors
  • Not a touch-friendly interface
  • Occasional crashes
  • No DVD menu or chapter authoring

Buying Guide: The Best Video Editing Software for Macs in 2023

Should You Edit Video on a Mac?

The preference for Macs for video editing seems largely based on the fact that nonlinear video editing on personal computers started with Macs—all the way back on the Apple Macintosh II, to be precise. That preference persists despite Windows systems having long afforded more choices in editing software and more upgradeability in hardware, including for CPUs, GPUs, storage, peripherals, and touch screens.

That said, Apple still has its own indisputable inducements, most notably terrific screen options with accurate, wide-gamut colors, not to mention exclusive access to the previously mentioned Final Cut Pro software. Some Mac laptops include a partial touch screen known as the Touch Bar, which may be useful for some video editing procedures, and you can use an iPad as a touch-screen peripheral via the Sidecar feature.

Some iMacs in recent years let you upgrade their RAM, but with Apple’s move to the Apple Silicon architecture, that won’t be possible anymore. Nor will you be able to upgrade the hard drive (meaning the SSD), though that’s long been the case for MacBooks. As a result, you should be willing to pay extra for more memory and storage when buying a Mac for video editing. That said, the new Mac Studio is a video-editing powerhouse that’s hard to match, though it will set you back a cool two grand—that is, if you want the top-end M1 Ultra CPU.

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What Kind of Mac Video Editing Software Is Available?

There are three tiers of video editing software for macOS: entry-level, enthusiast, and professional.

The best known entry-level video editing application for macOS is Apple’s own iMovie. It comes with Macs for free and it’s impressively capable. iMovie ties in very well with the iOS version of the app too, letting you pick up on the Mac where you left off with the iPhone. Other entry-level options are Lightworks and Movavi.

iMovie on macOS

(Credit: PCMag)

For video enthusiasts, the old standby is Adobe Premiere Elements, which offers a clear, simple interface and great tutorial content for getting that special effect you’re looking for. A recent arrival in this space is our longtime PC Editors’ Choice-winning video editing application, CyberLink PowerDirector. The program tends to offer the best support for new formats and technology, and it was the fastest at rendering our test project of any software included here.

The professional level is where choices on the Mac shine, particularly because it’s the only platform on which you can run Apple’s excellent Final Cut Pro. Adobe Premiere Pro has taken over much of Final Cut’s market share usage by professionals after Apple completely revamped the traditional Final Cut interface. The new version is a boon to enthusiasts and those moving up from iMovie, however, as its trackless timeline and simplified interface ease the transition. Don’t think that means Final Cut Pro isn’t professional level, however. It can match and even sometimes beat Premiere Pro on deep editing tools, format support, and performance.

For more on these two higher-end apps, you can read Adobe Premiere Pro vs. Apple Final Cut Pro: What’s the Difference?

Other pro-level editing software available for macOS includes the far more expensive and complex Avid Media Composer ($1,299) and DaVinci Resolve ($295, with a limited free version available).

All the apps in this category except Final Cut and iMovie are available on Windows, too, whose users have a couple more choices as well, including Magix Pro X ($399) and Sony Vegas Pro ($399). We focus on the more consumer software that appeals to a general audience rather than these niche products; that said, we include Final Cut and Premiere Pro among our reviews, because they’re of interest to enthusiasts as well as to professionals.

Since many Mac users also have iPhones, they should know that they have options for editing video on their mobiles—even more options than for the desktop, since many of our top Windows video editing applications also offer iOS versions, as CyberLink does with PowerDirector’s mobile app. You’ll also find capable mobile-only apps like CapCut and InShot. For more details, read our Best Mobile Video Editing Apps roundup.

What Is the Best Free Video Editing Software for Macs?

Beginners and dabblers in Mac video editing who just want to join clips and add transitions and text and basic effects on Macs will need look no further than the included iMovie app. For those who want to go deeper into the intricacies of the craft, I recommend the free version of DaVinci Resolve, which encompasses the full range of professional video editing. A couple of other free options include the open-source ShotCut and Kdenlive, both of which are powerful but lack some usability creature comforts and hand-holding.

What to Look for in Mac Video Editing Software

The basics of video editing—joining, trimming, and splitting video clips and then outputting the result as a single file—are possible in all the software here. But there’s so much more that you can do with your video. Adding transitions between clips, text titles and captions, and fun effects all come in limitless variations. Picture-in-picture, motion tracking, and chroma keying are further possibilities in the medium.

The entry- and enthusiast-level programs include templates that help you arrange your content for a compelling, coherent presentation. iMovie’s Storyboard and Premiere Elements’ Smart Trim tools and templates are standouts among these capabilities.

And then there’s audio. Most video editing apps for Mac let you add background music, voice-over narration, and effects and adjustments to your clips’ audio. Want to make it sound like your video was recorded in a concert hall or stadium? The software can do that.

Recommended by Our Editors

DaVinci Resolve running on a Mac

(Credit: PCMag)

The final stage of editing is not to be ignored: output. Does the program make it easy to format your project for your intended output? For most hobbyist video editors these days that means online social video—Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, but you may want to share an HD or 4K file privately or to the more professional Vimeo, as well as embed it on your website, in a presentation, or in a Zoom session. You may even want to create a DVD or USB key with your video to share as a physical gift or promotion, popular for videos of special events.

The video editing software you choose must be able to output to your specifications, whether that’s a smartphone screen or a wall-size 4K TV. Maybe you even want to output for VR headsets. Whatever the output, you don’t want to be waiting around for long periods while the program processes your project, and that’s what our next section discusses.

How Does Video Software Perform on macOS?

Rendering a project with all your media, edits, and effects, is one of the more computationally intense processes today’s computers can perform. If you want to create complex videos that are more than a few minutes long, you need a powerful computer with high-end components. Better video software enlists your GPU to aid in rendering, and the results show.

To test rendering, I created a 4-minute project in each app consisting of a mix of 8K, 4K, and HD clips with a consistent set of various transitions and render it to 1080p60, using H.264 High Profile and targeting 20Mbps bit rate if the software offers that setting. Audio is output at 48KHz AAC at 192Kbps. I tested on a 2021 MacBook Air with an M1 processor and 8GB RAM running macOS Monterey—on the low end of power for video editing, which shows performance differences more.

CyberLink PowerDirector, which is newly available for macOS, took the lead with a time of 1:17 (min:sec) on our rendering test. As you can see from the chart, most of the products hovered between 1:30 and 2:30, though Premiere Elements held up the rear with 5:29. Your mileage will vary, of course, depending on your hardware, the format of your source media, and the output settings.

What Is the Best Photo Editing App for Macs?

Though more video editing applications are available for PCs, Apple’s computers have more than enough options, with the top software in the field available on the platform. Whether you only use the free iMovie at the entry-level or Apple’s reasonably priced but mega-powerful Final Cut Pro, you’re likely to find software that suits your needs on the Mac. And more software is gaining support for macOS too, with CyberLink’s PowerDirector the most prominent recent addition.

If you’re wondering which operating system is best for you, check out: macOS vs. Windows: Which OS Really Is the Best? In that story we compare the two operating systems point-by-point to help you choose. If you have or intend to switch from one to the other, read Windows 10 Tips for Mac Users or macOS Tips for Windows Users, depending on which direction you’re heading.

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