How to edit a YouTube video: Choosing your software

In a nutshell

  • Many creators use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit their YouTube videos
  • For more complex edits, add transitions or green-screen effects
  • You don’t need the most feature-rich or expensive editing software to make a YouTube video

Want your YouTube videos recognized and appreciated? You’re going to have to do some editing. Editing is the most important part of post-production. If you can’t make select cuts, rough cuts or get your cut to hit the right frame, your content will be unrefined and may lose the attention of viewers.

If you’re new to making videos, there’s editing software out there for any budget — or no budget at all. These programs can help you discover the fundamental techniques for polishing videos. It’s often a matter of choosing solutions that make editing your video footage easy.

There are many editing software programs to consider, from pro-level to beginner. Let’s look at what’s out there. 

Where do YouTubers edit their YouTube videos?

If you have no editing or basic editing skills, you may want to pick a more user-friendly program aimed at beginners. These are also usually budget-friendly.

For starters, you want a video editing solution that makes it easy to upload to YouTube. Editing programs that sync well with your YouTube channel are best for creating and sharing your content. YouTube has over 2 billion active users who, together, watch a staggering 250 million hours of videos per day. In the United States alone, over 85 percent of audiences watch videos online daily.

In a world consuming that much video content, it’s in your best interest to invest in video editing software that keeps you churning out quality content. 

Here are some editing software options to consider:

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro is the leading pick for professional editors for everything from Hollywood blockbuster films to YouTube videos. In a word — it’s one of the best editing applications around.

But it can also be intimidating to beginners and overkill if you want to edit simpler home videos, family vacation reels or sit-down-and-talk-to-the-camera videos. Nevertheless, many YouTubers use it. In fact, it’s actually the software of choice for popular YouTube stars Pewdiepie and Peter McKinnon.

Bear in mind that if you decide to edit YouTube videos with Premier Pro, the software does not allow direct uploads to YouTube. You will need to save the edited file on your computer using a YouTube-supported format. The most applicable choice is using the H.264 codec, which will then save your file in the MPEG-4 format. This is the basic format for YouTube video uploads.

Apple Final Cut Pro

Apple Final Cut Pro is a credible choice for YouTube video editing if you’re using a Mac.

It’s the third most-used video editor by YouTubers and a step up from iMovie. Even though it’s not packed with features like Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X lets you do color grading and correction, import presets and work with multi-camera projects and special effect transitions.

Final Cut Pro X organizes all of its content into Libraries, Events and Projects. The first time you open Final Cut Pro, a Library and Event will automatically be created for you. That means all you need to do is create a project. Then arrange and trim media in the timeline, add text and titles, effects, music, audio and so on.

Keep in mind that before uploading a completed video edited in Final Cut, you will have to compress the file due to size. 

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve is a solid editing choice for YouTubers looking for visual effects, audio, text, transitions and color grading for their projects. What’s better — they offer a “free” version with all of the capabilities of the paid version.

So what makes DaVinci Resolve a good choice for YouTubers? Unlike its Premiere Pro and Final Cut competitors, you can upload your videos directly from Resolve to YouTube. It’s a fully featured set from editing to exporting — all in a single platform. DaVinci is ideal for making short films or videos for your YouTube channel.

If you’re just starting out with your YouTube channel, DaVinci offers a good starting point for content creators looking to add catchy intros, production value sound effects, text animations or green screen compositing to their videos. You also get great color grading with DaVinci Resolve. As a matter of fact, most Hollywood movies and television series color grade using Resolve.

Adobe Premiere Rush

Adobe Premiere Rush has all of the editing tools YouTubers need to create quick, customized YouTube videos. It’s an easier-to-use version of the more powerful Adobe Premiere. For budding YouTubers, the Rush variant is the best tool for easy and fast video editing. You have the ability to shoot, edit, and upload — all in-app.

With Adobe Premiere Rush, bring multiple clips together, import content directly from your smartphone’s camera roll, arrange clips however you want and add presets to your video to give it a cinematic look. You can also mute parts of your video and choose whether you want each clip to have audio or music. Tint, temperature, vibrance and saturation can also be adjusted.

Adobe Premiere Rush is a great choice for editing videos on the go. You can still make a short-form video look good while editing from your mobile device. And that’s what makes Adobe Premiere Rush one of the best choices for YouTubers. Not to mention — Premiere Rush is completely free to use.

Apple iMovie

Apple iMovie is great for beginners. It’s easier to use than the more advanced editing software programs and third-party apps. However, it doesn’t offer as many editing options or features. Despite its basic options, iMovie is still the most used video editing software by YouTubers. You can play around with special effects and transitions, do basic color matching and color adjustment using filters and create intros and add titles. Plus, uploading to YouTube is fast and easy.

Find the video you want to upload on your computer, click the file, select Open With then click iMovie. Rearrange content in the timeline by clicking and dragging video clips or photos. You can also insert transitions between pieces of content and cut sections of your video.

Once you’ve edited your video’s content to your satisfaction, save and upload it to YouTube. Because of its user-friendly interface has an abundance of tools for working with audio and support for working with 4K video, iMovie is minimally all you need to get started as a YouTuber without getting too involved in the complexity of video editing.

YouTube’s video editor

If you’re working on a shoestring budget, YouTube offers a free, web-based video editor in Creator Studio. It’s an extremely basic editing tool for YouTube videos. However, it allows you to trim clips out of any part of your video. While YouTube is compatible with multiple formats (3GPP, AVI, FLV, MOV, MPEG4, MPEG-PS, WebM and WMV), YouTube recommends MPEG4 or “MP4” formats to preserve the highest possible quality.

To trim your video, select Trim. You should see a blue box around the sides of your video timeline panel. Drag them to cut the beginning or end of your rough cut. Click Preview to view the edit, then click Save in the top right-hand corner.

Want to give your viewers the option to watch one of your linked videos or playlists or subscribe to your channel? Click the end screen icon at the bottom of your timeline panel. You can upload your existing end-screen template by clicking Apply template in the pop-up menu.

While YouTube’s video editing tool is free and useful, you may need an editing tool with more features. Choose any of the editing tools outlined in this article, or discover alternatives on your own. The ultimate choice depends on your needs.

Wrapping it all up

No one video editing software can be recommended to everyone, and no single how-to or tutorial can teach you the dynamics of producing high-quality content. A pro editor can walk you through the steps of starting the editing process, but how to edit your video depends on the overall quality of your footage and what features and effects you want to use.

Choosing a good video editing program is key in creating videos for YouTube. Learn how to create high-quality videos from pro YouTubers and see if the editing software they use fits what you’re looking for with your own video content.

There can be a lot of questions thrown at you if you’re just starting out. But while understanding how to edit your videos is important, it really boils down to creating video content into a final showcase that viewers and fans are interested in watching.

Stephen Mandel Joseph
Stephen Mandel Joseph
Stephen Mandel Joseph is a published, professional writer and director of several Sci-Fi 3D animated shorts and a short drama film.

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