Content Creation

How to Edit YouTube Videos for Free

Vukasin Ilic 8 min read
Table of Contents

As a content creator on YouTube, one of the things you will realize is that creating quality visual content on YouTube requires a certain level of a financial investment.

This investment covers many activities that go into content creation, one of which is video editing.

You may need to pay for a video editor or a premium video editing software, both of which may cost you a considerable amount of money.

And even before the editing process comes to mind, you first have to shoot and produce your video.

And that's not something you can always do without a camera (unless you are recording your screen or using stock footage) or a solid microphone.

And once you have the footage, getting your videos edited right still ends up being crucial to having quality content to present to your audience. I'd say that a well-edited footage will go further than a well-recorded footage in most niches.

So if you don't have many resources on your hand, you will have to figure out how to edit your videos for YouTube for free.

This is where this guide comes in.

Consequently, leaning into this guide will get you more immersed in the creative process that goes into content production.

Why Do You Need to Edit Videos for YouTube?

I have mentioned that editing is a vital post-production process, but how?

Before you learn everything there is to know about free YouTube video editing, let's consider why you need to edit your videos in the first place.

It Helps You Stand Out

Current statistics show that there are about 800 million videos and 37 million channels on YouTube. These numbers reflect the competitiveness of one of the biggest platforms right now.

Your content must be of great quality, or nearly so, to captivate and hold your audience's attention.

Editing your videos helps you achieve this, as it allows you to tell the story in a unique way. Editing will help you emphasize specific parts of your footage. You get the opportunity to transform content from a simple recording into a well-crafted story.

Standing out from a crowd of video content is the most crucial reason for editing your YouTube videos.

It Gives Room Content Reviews and Redoings

The process of shooting a video for YouTube is usually fast-paced and leaves room for lots of mistakes and oversights. You may get the wrong shot, audio, or lighting.

The editing process allows you to review the entire content and ensure that it meets your standards as well as your audience’s requirements before going onto YouTube.

It Allows You To Perfect the Video

Most exciting and captivating videos you see on YouTube have many technical processes behind them.

After shooting the video, there is a lot to do, from ensuring that the audio and flow are perfect to making smooth transitions between the different scenes.

Editing is the part of the process that makes that a reality.

It Improves the Creative Process

It is essential to mention that shooting a video is not the only creative process involved in making a YouTube video. Fine tuning the video to appeal to your audience is also vital to the creative process.

Thus, when you engage in video editing, you are improving your own creative content creation process.

How to Edit YouTube Videos for Free

The first step in editing your YouTube videos for free is by using a free video editing software.

The following are some of the free video editing software you can use to edit your YouTube videos for free.

YouTube Video Editor

Of all the free editing software, YouTube Video Editor remains the most sought-after for YouTubers.

This software is the native editing tool on YouTube, meaning you do not have to download a new app or software to access the YouTube Video Editor.

It is right there on your YouTube Studio that you use to upload your content to YouTube.

As much as the YouTube Video Editor is a basic video editing tool, as is most free editing software, it allows you to carry out important editing processes. These include:

This section will discuss how to carry out each of these editing processes. However, you should note that before accessing any of these editing features, you must first upload the video to YouTube Studio. Here’s how.

How to Upload Videos on YouTube Studio

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio.
  2. After signing in, click on the “Content” option on the right side of the screen. Then click on “Upload Videos.”
  3. This option allows you to choose the files you want to select, leading you to your file directory to choose your preferred video files.
  4. After choosing the video file you wish to upload, you need to complete all the video elements.
  5. These elements include creating an appropriate video title and description, creating a video thumbnail, choosing the playlist to add the video to, and selecting the target audience's age range, language, and subtitles for the video.
  6. You can also choose whether to make the video public or private, as well as the scheduled time and date for publishing the video. Click “Save” at the end of the process, which means the video is already uploaded.

How To Use a YouTube Video Editor to Trim a YouTube Video

After uploading the video, you can then proceed to edit the video. For this, the first editing feature you should try out is the trim feature.

The trim feature allows you to choose the start and end points of your video.

This lets you cut out unnecessary parts of the video at the beginning and end. To access the trim feature, follow the steps highlighted below:

  1. Go back to the YouTube Studio Dashboard, and click on “Content” again.
  2. This time, you will find the thumbnails of the videos you have already uploaded. Click on the one you wish to edit.
  3. This will bring you to another page, where you should choose the “Editor” option on the left sidebar. Click on the “Select” button after that.
  4. A list of editing features will appear on the page, and you should select the “Trim” option.
  5. After choosing the option, a timeline will appear under the video’s thumbnail on the screen. All you have to do is drag the bars on the timeline to your preferred start point and end point on the video.
  6. When you are done, click the Preview option to preview your trimmed video. If you are satisfied with the result, Click the save option.
  7. Using the Trim feature, you can also cut out sections from the middle of a video. To do this, move the bar on the timeline to the starting point of the part you want to cut. Click on Trim and then the Split option.
  8. After doing this, drag the bar to the endpoint of the video you would like to trim out. Once you are done, click on the Save option, and you are good to go.

Blurring a Video Using YouTube Video Editor

The blur feature allows you to blur out a face or add a blurry effect to some scenes in the video.

This feature is the second option on the screen after the trim feature.

You can use either the Face Blur or the Custom Blur functions. Face Blur detects faces automatically and allows you to select which ones to blur.

On the other hand, the Custom Blur Function will enable you to customize the blur box's timing, location, and size.

Regardless of the option chosen, you can review and save the video when you are done.

How to Add Sound Effects or Music to Your Videos Using YouTube Video Editor

The third option on the YouTube Editor screen is "Audio." This feature allows you to add uncopyrighted music and sound effects to your audio.

YouTube has an extensive list of free music and audio that you can use without fear of copyright issues. You must search for the song through its title, artist name, genre, or duration.

Once you find the track you want to use, hover over it and click "Add." The song will appear alongside the video; you can edit the audio mix level.

Other Free Video Editing Software to Edit Your YouTube Videos

Apart from the YouTube Video Editor, other free video editing software programs allow you to fine-tune your content before uploading it to YouTube.

The following are some examples:

PowerDirector 365

This video editor is one of the best free software editors around. One good thing about this software is that it is compatible with Mac and Windows computers.

It is also easy for both beginners and pros, with key features such as YouTube intro templates, transitions, animated titles, and a green screen.

While the software is free to use, a paid premium plan allows you access to advanced features such as keyframing, motion tracking, multi-cam editing, and 360-degree editing.


This is a complete open-source video editor that is also lightweight.

As such, the software is small and takes up little space on your computer. The software is compatible with operating systems such as Linux, Windows, and Mac.

Its key features include scaling and snapping, bezier curves, audio waveforms, and numerous vector title templates.

What’s more, this software is completely free to use.


To know how powerful this software is, its paid version is used by professional Hollywood video editors to finetune movies and digital content for the industry.

The free version is not too far off and gives you access to many editing effects and functions.

You also get to export directly to YouTube when you use Lightworks.

What To Consider When Choosing a Free Video Editor

Due to the number of these video editing tools, it is essential to consider certain factors before choosing an ideal option.

These factors include:

Skill Level

Video editing tools are usually complex software, and your skill level determines the extent to which you can use them.

There are video editing tools suited for professional Hollywood editors and those that work best for first-time editors.

Thus, ensure that you check the editor's skill level before choosing the software.


It is necessary to ensure that the video editing tool you choose works and is compatible with your device.

Some software is explicitly built for specific operating systems, such as macOS or Windows.

There are also software that require some specifications in your computer before they can work appropriately.

As a result, it makes sense to ensure that your device is compatible with the video editing tool you are about to choose.

Availability of Important Features

Some features must be available in video editing software, especially for YouTubers.

Features include overlay, trimming, a screen recorder, and an extensive library of uncopyrighted stock music.

Best Practices for Editing a YouTube Video for Free

More than the technical aspects of editing the video, there are essential points to remember when editing a video for free.

These points include:

Create an Engaging Thumbnail for Your Video

Thumbnails provide you with an opportunity to capture the attention of your audience before even playing the video, and ensure you get a good CTR. The thumbnails refer to specific screenshots from moments in the video.

The process of editing allows you to create a thumbnail, and it is essential that you get it right.

In any case, remember that the thumbnail is the first thing a viewer sees before playing the video.

Thus, it is essential that you make them engaging and enjoyable.

Use Engaging Elements

Apart from the thumbnails, every other element of the video should be enticing, from the video title to the description and every other aspect of the video.

The idea is to use elements that capture viewers' attention and allow them to focus on the high-quality content you have for them.

Have a Baseline Video Editing Style

You need to create a peculiar video editing style for your YouTube videos.

It will make you stand out to the viewers and streamline the editing process.

Creating a baseline style means you have a standard and consistent way of editing your videos.

This includes a specific type of thumbnail, the music, transitions, and other nuanced aspects of the video.

Remember to Keep It Simple

As much as the goal of the editing process is to finetune the video, you must ensure that you do so sparingly.

Remember that simplicity is elegance, and you should avoid using too many transitions, loud music, and unnecessary effects in your videos. Rather than draw viewers to the video, they distract them from enjoying it.

It is always important to balance the original video content with the additional elements used to beautify the video.

Take a Break from Editing Sometimes

The editing process is one creative process that goes into content creation, so it gets overwhelming sometimes.

You should take time off from editing and do something else when this happens. With time, you will get a better creative boost, which will help you edit the video effectively.

The Bottom Line: Editing Videos in the Modern Day

Editing videos is a vital post-production process for visual content. It is even more critical for YouTubers, who have millions of competitors.

However, contrary to popular opinion, you do not always need to pay much money to edit your videos.

In fact, you can edit your videos without spending a dime.

As you have seen, editing software such as YouTube Video Editor, Lightworks, and PowerDirect 365 allow YouTubers to create and edit videos for free.

Remember that a creator is only as good as their tools. As such, you should select a platform that works best for your unique workflow.


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