After a long reign as one of the best free video editors around, Windows Movie Maker has been discontinued. Microsoft pulled the software installer from its website on 10 January (although you can still download it from TechRadar), and has removed references to a new version for Windows 10.
Don't worry, though – Windows Movie Maker may have gone to the great hard drive in the sky, but there are some excellent alternatives available that are more powerful, just as easy to use, and – crucially – completely free.
All the features you know and love from Windows Movie Maker, with a very familiar look
At first glance, Shotcut bears little resemblance to Windows Movie Maker, but hit the Playlist and Timeline buttons at the top and it starts to look very familiar.
Open files to add them to your playlist, then drag and drop them onto the timeline to piece them together, just like you could in Movie Maker. Once you’ve got everything in order, hit the Filters button, then click the plus sign to apply transitions and effects. You can apply as many effects as you like, including coloured filters like those available in Windows Movie Maker, plus advanced options such as chroma key compositing for greenscreen effects.
There’s even a text option that lets you create titles and watermarks – and they look less cheesy than Windows Movie Maker’s equivalents.
Best of all, Shotcut is open source, so none of its features are hidden behind a paywall. If you miss Windows Movie Maker, Shotcut is the best alternative.
Download here: Shotcut
A great Windows Movie Maker alternative for anyone with a creative streak
VSDC Free Video Editor looks less like Windows Movie Maker than Shotcut, but it’s superb if you’re willing to try something new. Video projects are built from video clips, audio files and pictures. Once you’ve selected your source files and put them in order, you can add annotations, effects, cursors, notes, and charts.
There’s a lot to experiment with, but thankfully VSDC Free Video Editor includes wizards that walk you through the trickier parts. We particularly like the retro-style filters and animations, which really bring a video project to life.
Note that you won’t be able to export your project if you’ve used premium features like hardware acceleration, which is enabled by default. You can turn it off by clicking Options (in the top right), selecting Acceleration Options and unchecking ‘Use hardware acceleration for encoding video’.
VSDC receives frequent updates to add new features, and is an excellent alternative to Windows Movie Maker if you’re interested in getting creative.
Download here: VSDC Free Video Editor
A simple Windows Movie Maker alternative with hidden depths, including lots of export options
If you only used Windows Movie Maker for basic video editing tasks, Avidemux is well worth a look. It doesn’t offer a fancy interface or direct sharing to social media, but if you take a little time to peruse its menus, you’ll find it’s surprisingly capable.
There are preset profiles for different output devices, video and audio filters, fades, subtitles, and lots of customizable encoding options.
The main downside of Avidemux is that you can’t combine videos that are different heights or widths. This won’t matter if you’re putting footage all shot using the same smartphone or screen capture tool, but can be inconvenient if your media come from different sources. To get around it, you have to resize each clip separately, export it, then make a new project. It’s not a serious issue, but the developers are aware and it should be resolved in a future update.
Download here: Avidemux
A Windows Movie Maker lookalike that layers new features on top of the old
Of all the tools here, VideoPad Video Editor is the one that most closely resembles Windows Movie Maker. You’ll be up and running in seconds – just import your video clips, audio files and still images, then drag and drop them into the timeline at the bottom of the window.
In fact, VideoPad Video Editor resembles good old Windows Movie Maker so closely that some of its effects now look a bit cheesy, and its interface (a busy combination of icons, menus and ribbons) looks rather dated. It’s kept up to date with stereoscopic 3D conversion, direct sharing to social media, and chroma keying. VideoPad Video Editor also lets you export videos in 4K – a feature you’d normally only find in premium tools.
There’s also a premium version of VideoPad Video Editor, which adds support for extensions and an unlimited number of audio tracks, but the free edition offers everything else you could wish for.
Download here: VideoPad Video Editor
A big step up from Windows Movie Maker – professional editing, free for personal use
If you liked Windows Movie Maker but found its simplicity restrictive, take a look at Lightworks. It’s free for personal use, and the professional version (which includes more export options) is used by real Hollywood movie producers.
Lightworks’ interface is very different from the other video editors here; it’s made up of floating windows and uses many terms that derive from the days of tape-based video recording and production. If you’re used to Windows Movie Maker, you’ll need to refer to a beginner’s guide to get started.
Lightworks is a superb video editing suite, and we highly recommend it, but its complexity means it’s a significant step up from Windows Movie Maker rather than a replacement.
Download here: Lightworks