Having tested a number of sub-par and budget-friendly video editors recently, I was skeptical when I first encountered VideoPad, a totally free (for non-commercial use) program. Much to my surprise, VideoPad is not only passable but is superior to some of its $50-$100 competitors. This makes VideoPad a great choice for people who aren’t looking to spend a healthy chunk of change on a video editing program. However, it’s good enough to consider using it even if you aren’t on a budget.
There are two paid versions of VideoPad, “Home” and “Master” edition. Both offer new features in addition to a commercial license. The Home edition is fully-featured but is limited to two audio tracks and no external plugins, while the Master edition permits you to use any number of audio tracks and allows external plugins. These versions normally cost $60 and $90 respectively on the NCH Software website but are currently available at a 50% discount for a limited time.
What I Like: Extremely fluid, malleable, and responsive user interface. Very easy to find exactly what you’re looking for and learn the program. Surprisingly usable effects and transitions. Quick and easy to add text, transitions, and effects to your clips. Available for macOS users.
What I Don’t Like: Though highly effective, the UI appears a little outdated. Copying and pasting results in some strange behaviors.
Editorial Update: It seems VideoPad is no longer free. We’ll re-test this program and update this review as soon as we can.
What is VideoPad?
It is a simple video editing program developed by NCH Software, a software development company founded in 1993 in Canberra, Australia. The program is geared towards the home and professional market.
Is VideoPad safe?
Yes, it is. I tested it on my Windows PC. A scan of VideoPad’s content with Avast antivirus came up clean.
Is VideoPad really free?
Yes, the program is completely free for non-commercial use. If you’re interested in using VideoPad for commercial projects or would like to have a few more features, there are two paid versions of VideoPad available.
The “Masters Edition” costs $100, comes with every feature that VideoPad has to offer, and can support an unlimited number of audio tracks and external plugins. The “Home Edition” costs $60 and is also fully featured, but restricts you to two audio tracks and does not support external plugins. You can purchase both editions, or download the program for free.
Table of Contents
Why Trust Me for This VideoPad Review
Hi, my name is Aleco Pors. Video editing started out as a hobby for me and has since grown into something I do professionally to complement my online writing. I taught myself how to use professional video editors such as Adobe Premiere Pro, VEGAS Pro, and Final Cut Pro (macOS only). I also tested and reviewed a number of basic video editors catered to amateur users including Cyberlink PowerDirector, Corel VideoStudio, Nero Video, and Pinnacle Studio.
Because of my experience, I’m confident that I understand what it takes to learn a new video editing program from scratch. What’s more, I think I have a pretty good sense of whether or not a program is high-quality, and what features you should expect from such a program.
I spent several days playing around with VideoPad on my Windows PC and made a short demo video (unedited), which you can watch here, just to get a feeling for the effects and output VideoPad has to offer. My goal in writing this VideoPad review is to let you know whether or not this program is one that you will benefit from.
Disclaimer: I have not received any payment or requests from NCH Software (the maker of VideoPad) to create this review and have no reason to deliver anything but my honest opinion about the product.
Several Thoughts About Video Editing
Video editors are complex and multifaceted pieces of software. Development teams have to worry about designing features in a way that is both effective and intuitive: the UI, the effects and transitions, the recording features, the rendering process, the color and audio editing tools, and more. These features tend to fall into one of two categories, “essential” or “non-essential”, meaning that the feature is either necessary for creating professional quality videos or is simply nice to have.
The most common mistake I’ve noticed in my reviews for SoftwareHow is that developers tend to put a little too much effort into the “non-essential” features, the bells and whistles which make excellent bullet points on marketing pages but do very little to improve the actual quality of the videos the program is capable of producing. Frivolous features often come with a cost. It feels as though NCH Software, the creators of VideoPad, were aware of this common pitfall and did everything in their power to avoid it.
VideoPad is the most straightforward video editor that I’ve ever used. All of the most basic, essential features of the program are highly effective and generally work exactly as you’d expect them to. The UI feels clean and intuitive because the features you use the most are the easiest to find. The most critical tools you need for creating quality movies do their job admirably while providing a headache-free user experience, which is especially impressive when you consider that the program is completely free for non-commercial use!
The only true criticism I have regarding VideoPad is that it’s so straightforward. Though this is certainly the program’s greatest strength, it also manages to be its greatest weakness due to the program’s stunning simplicity. The UI is highly effective, but it appears as though there was very little time spent on making it look nice. All of the basic tools are functional and fluid, but more than a few of the advanced features which you might hope to find aren’t present in the program. That said, NCH Software and VideoPad deserve a great deal of credit for focusing on the essential features first.
Detailed Review of VideoPad
Please note: I tested VideoPad for Windows on my PC and the screenshots below are all taken based on that version. If you’re using the program on a Mac machine, the interface will look slightly different.
VideoPad follows some familiar, modern paradigms in its UI while adding a few of its own unique and welcome twists. The UI designers did a fantastic job at identifying the features of a video editor that people use most, such as making splits in the timeline, and making those features easily accessible. Moving the timeline cursor to a new location within the timeline automatically brings up a small box next to your mouse which allows you to clip at that location. The dropdown menus which appear after right-clicking on an element seem to contain more useful options within them than I found in competing programs. It feels as though a good deal more thought was put into organizing the UI of VideoPad than was put into other programs.
As a general rule of thumb, adding new elements or accessing new features brings up a pop-up window. This design choice works better in VideoPad than in other programs due to its amazing fluidity. I found that these pop-up windows did a great job of presenting all the options and functions you need without overwhelming the user with choices.
The only true downside to the UI is that it isn’t much to look at. It looks outdated. However, the ugliness of the UI has no bearing on the effectiveness of the program itself.
The Effects and Transitions
As a free piece of software, I was wholly expecting the effects and transitions to be fairly low-quality. Much to my surprise, the effects and transitions in VideoPad are roughly on par with the ones I’ve seen from other video editors in the $40-$80 range. Though you probably won’t be blown away by any of them, most of the effects are usable in a pinch and some of them look quite nice.
The transitions are of similar quality to the effects, which is to say that they’re much better than I would have expected from a free program but not one of VideoPad’s biggest strengths. I expect that the average user will be able to get plenty of mileage out of the transitions in VideoPad.
The recording tools in VideoPad worked as well as you could expect. They automatically detected my laptop’s built-in camera and microphone, were simple to navigate through, and seamlessly integrated into the rest of the video editor, allowing you to add your home recordings into your projects with ease.
The rendering process in VideoPad is just as straightforward:
The program presents you with just as many rendering options as the average user would ever need, and the rendering process itself is neither slow nor fast. The thing that makes exporting in VideoPad great is the long list of easily accessible output formats. VideoPad makes it very easy to upload your videos directly to the internet or burn them to a disk.
To be honest, I didn’t try out the video and audio editing tools present within the Suite tab very much. It is my understanding that these tools, which are accessible through the VideoPad UI, are just completely different programs. All of them are free for non-commercial use without a license.
Reasons Behind My Ratings
VideoPad does everything you need it to do with none of the bells and whistles. The most important video editing tools are the program’s greatest strengths.
It’s hard to get better than free! Completely free for non-commercial use, VideoPad is the most cost-effective video editor on the market. It’s not super expensive for commercial use either – the paid versions normally cost $60 and $100 dollars but are currently on sale for just $30 and $50 dollars. If you end up enjoying the program, consider purchasing a license to help support the developers.
Ease of Use: 5/5
I can’t recall a single instance in my testing of VideoPad where I struggled to find a feature or tool in the program’s UI. Everything works exactly how you’d expect and you’re liable to find it where you’d expect to as well. The program also operates on a relatively low amount of resources, providing a smooth and fluid user experience throughout.
NCH Software provides a tremendous amount of written documentation on their website, along with a useful assortment of video tutorials to help get you started with the program. If you’re ever facing a particularly tricky problem, you can also submit a written support ticket or take it to the VideoPad official forums.
If You Want The Most Bang for Your Buck:
If budget is your primary concern when it comes to finding your next video editor, then you can’t beat free! Normally I would recommend Nero Video to my budget-conscious readers (you can read my review of Nero Video), but I honestly feel as though VideoPad and Nero Video are comparable enough that you should just go with the free program unless you need to create videos for commercial use.
If You Want to Make High-quality Movies:
VEGAS Movie Studio has an incredibly user-friendly UI while offering high-quality effects and a number of useful features. If video editing turns out to be more than a passing interest for you, the experience you gain with Vegas Movie Studio sets you up to learn the professional-level version of the program with ease. You can read my full VEGAS Movie Studio review here.
If You Want The Cleanest and Easiest Program:
Nearly all of the video editors in the 50-100 dollar range are easy to use, but none are easier than Cyberlink PowerDirector. The creators of PowerDirector spent a great deal of time and effort creating a simple and pleasant user experience for users at all levels of experience. You can read my full PowerDirector review here.
It is free if you actually download the free for non commercial use edition and not the trial edition.
Usually many people say it’s “free to use” and it’s “unlimited”. I thought so with this software but actually after exporting about 3-4 videos, it said to buy a license and all. There are many that say it’s free, but VERY limited. Humans don’t got mercy on ya’ll. They just want their money to get more richer, that’s all.
Not only is it not free, but when they auto-update it from version 9 to 10 your “Lifetime license” is no longer valid and you have to pay all over again… Avoid these grifters like the plague!
It kept automatically getting rid of video clips, ruining a massive swath of work without my input. It took me four months to build up a video I intended to upload to YouTube, and all my clips disappeared from the sequence after an audio problem forced me to restart the app without saving.
Restarting without saving should have worked by reverting to the previous save, but it did not, and I lost my entire video after trying multiple times to restart. I will not be using this app again as this has happened to me twice before, and this time I was close to finishing it.
I was pretty stoked for this software. It worked great and was really intuitive. I made a really good first effort without too much trouble, and only a few YouTube tutorials. AWESOME. Then I went to do a second one. No dicen, shmeisen. You get one or two kicks at the can, then you gotta buck up. NCH has always been dicey for me. So I when this turned out to be good, I was impressed….but they tricked me again. Good thing I didn’t waste a week on the second video before trying to export.
As others have said – Videopad is free for a few tries and then after that you can not even export and create a video anymore!
Please update this article as you are misleading your readers!
I have been using Videopad Professional Version 8.00 and I will be honest with all the video editing software I have used.
I have also used Video Pad Master’s Edition,, however, only for Android at the moment, but not for Windows or Mac, as if I was using a thousand for a software that can produce both videos/movies at Hollywood Film or any feature films that can produce the same quality product as Videopad, it’ll its the best.. Definitely 10/10 in my book!!
If it really is ‘completely free’, then why is my edition refusing to launch without purchase?
You should update your review. VideoPad is NOT FREE, even for home use. After exporting 2 or 3 times, it asks to buy a license before allowing any more exports. I also could not make it work properly for a quite simple task. For example I had a video with 2 people throwing and catching a ball. They were both in the same frame. Now I wanted to put each of those 2 people in their own frame and alternate the frames so that when one throws the ball, the frame changes to the other person catching the ball. A kind of ping-pong with the video. I was able to extract the first frame of the video with the zoom effect and added it to the sequence. Next, I used the zoom effect to capture the second part of the frame and added to the sequence. However, the second frame turned black after applying the same effect. The sound was there, the cursor was playing, but nothing in the image. I tried every intuitive method I could think of but nothing worked for the second frame. So as a last resort, I thought to export each individual sequence with the parts of the frame I needed. Then import those back in the video and merge them in a new video. So I think I exported 3 files in total (of the same frame trying to get the right format that will output the entire image without cropping) and after that, VideoPad started asking for a license. So although they advertise free on their website, they lay a trap after the 3-rd export. Luckily I did not had a finished product that I wanted to export. Otherwise I would have been forced to buy the license in order not to lose the work. So in my opinion, this is yet another company with shady marketing tactics.
“VideoPad supports just about any video input device including DV based or HDV camcorders.” -> not from GoPro. No H265.
This is a tech question. I have completed a video section, an audio section and a title. But wen I post either one on the tracks that are called for the other disappears. Do I have to purchase before it performs?
I downloaded Videopad under the impression it was free but after my first edit it would not let me save anymore until I buy it!
Nice job on the review. I downloaded the suite a couple of years ago and never looked at it. I author travel & sports videos for the family using background music, voice overlay, various transitions, titles, etc. I have used numerous packages for which I paid – Pinnacle studio 8&9 (crashed a lot) Adaptec V 5, Dazzle Fusion, Roxio several versions up to creator 2011 which I used thru 2013 when the video editing ceased to function. The ability to edit “native video” along the timeline from a video clip I used a lot.At I bought Sony Movie Studio and finally Pinnacle Studio V17 Pro and neither provide that function. Is it available in NCH Video Pad. Also how many audio tracks are available in the free version?
It’s NOT a free. After couple of days it lock ALL your projects and request money!
Don’t even to install this program.
I just found Videopad 2 days ago. I was like you really surprised to see, that is was SO good. I have paid for years several hundred USD for Camtasia Studio for Windows.
Video pad is much better, faster etc AND free. I probably buy – also to support – soon the paid versions.
But what I wanted to write: I have not read the whole page, will do, but excellent webpage. Thank U so much.
Regards from Denmark
It’s free as long as you want to spend hours editing only to find that you can’t actually create an edited movie without paying for it. Total waste of time.
Thank you for this great review Aleco! As someone who occasionally needs to use video editing software commercially, I am convinced that VideoPad Video Editor’s “Master Edition” will be my next purchase, especially at the great price and features it has. I’ve never used it before, but I’d rather learn it and own it for future projects.
I learned how to use Adobe Premiere Pro at college and I enjoyed using it for the most part, but it doesn’t allow you to buy a perpetual license like other editing programs which doesn’t suite my needs since I don’t use video editing software often. But when I need it, then I can only re-sign up with their contract. And if I decide to stop making monthly payments to use it, I end up paying a penalty fee.