Jonathan is a certified teacher who has taught in the UK and in the US. He now works as a digital learning consultant.
The Windows Movie Maker Replacement You Waited For?
When Microsoft retired Windows Movie Maker, many people were sad to see it go. It wasn't the most capable video editor on the planet, but it was free, easy to learn, and could always be relied upon when you needed it. Other video editors were available, but most were paid options or had a steep learning curve. However, a recent update to Windows has seen many of your favorite Movie Maker video features integrated directly into the Photos app. There are even some new tricks too. So, here's how to use the free video editor that's now built-in to Windows 10.
Automatic Video: The Quick Fix
This new replacement for Windows Movie Maker comes with two editing modes. The first is the Automatic Video option. It's fast, easy, and Windows does all the hard work for you. Here's what you need to do to get started:
- Open the Windows 10 Photos app.
- Click the New Video button in the top right-hand corner, and then choose Automatic Video
- Then choose the photos and/or videos that you want to combine. When you have everything you need, click the blue Create button
- Give your video a name, and wait a few moments for Windows to stitch it all together for you.
- The finished video will play automatically. If you like it, great! If not, click the big blue button that says Remix it for me, to see another version. Keep doing this until you get one that you like.
- When you are happy with what you see, click Finish Video for options to download your video or share it online.
Windows Video Editor: Manual Control
The Automatic Video option is great for many purposes, but if you yearn for the manual control that you enjoyed in Windows Movie Maker, you will want to take a different path for editing your video. Here's how that works:
- Open the Windows 10 Photos app.
- Click the New Video button in the top right-hand corner, and then choose New Video Project.
- Name your project.
- Click the blue Add button in the top left-hand corner to import photos and videos.
- Drag your photos or videos to the storyboard to put them in the order you want.
How to Trim and Split Video Clips
When you add a video to the timeline, you can adjust the length by trimming time off the beginning or end of a video. Here's how:
- Select the clip that you want to trim by clicking the checkbox in the corner
- Click the Trim button below the video preview window.
- Move the sliders on either end of the video to create the clip length that you need and click Done when you are finished trimming
Sometimes you need to split a video into two or more parts. This works in a similar way to the trim tool.
- Select the clip that you want to split by clicking the checkbox in the corner
- Click the Split button under the video preview window
- Move the playhead (the lollipop icon) to the point where you want the video to be split, and then click Done
- This will return you to the timeline where you will see both clips. Repeat as needed to make all the splits you need.
Adjust the Duration of Photos
One of the great things about the video editor in Windows 10 is the ability to add photos and videos to the same project. You can't split or trim a photo, but you can adjust the duration that it appears on the screen. The default time is three seconds, but you can quickly make that longer or shorter as needed.
To do adjust the duration of a photo in your project, select the photo by clicking on it, then click on the 3.0 number in the corner to choose a different length of time for this photo. You can also click the Duration button and do the same thing. You can choose a preset time, or enter a custom time in seconds.
Adding Text to Videos on Windows 10
Text can be added to photos or videos. This is great for titles, additional information, or just to add some fun for your viewers. Simply select the photo or video on your timeline and then click the Text button to get started.
This opens a new window where you can choose from a variety of different text styles. Each style has its own characteristics, (including motion), and will look different depending on where you place it on the screen. You can choose your preferred location for text by selecting one of the Layout options below the font styles.
Once you have the text you need, and you picked where you wanted it to appear, you can adjust how long it appears on the screen. To do that, drag the blue trim handles left or right to choose the start and end time for the text. Once set, the text will appear and disappear at the time you choose.
You can also add a title card to the beginning of your video, or as a transition point between scenes. The title card is a blank slide with text on it. Look for the Add Title Card button under the preview window, and then add text to it as you did above. The background color of the title card can be changed by clicking the title card and then clicking the Background button to choose a new color. You can add as many as you need to help tell your story.
Using Photo and Video Filters
You can give your video a distinct look by applying a variety of video filters like Sepia, Black and White, Denim, and more. Filters can be applied to any photo or video in your timeline. They will not be applied to the entire video unless you select each clip individually and apply filters to them.
To apply a filter, select the photo or video in your timeline, and then click the Filters button under the preview window. You can preview the available filters by clicking on the styles that are available on the right-hand side of the filter screen. When you are happy with the one you chose, click Done to apply the filter.
Adjusting the Ken Burns Effect
By default, photos that you add to your video project are static. However, you can easily add a subtle pan and zoom, often referred to as the Ken Burns effect. Simply select the photo you want to animate, and then click the Motion button. This opens a new window and gives you a variety of different movement options to choose from. Pick the one you want, and click Done to apply. Motion effects can also be added to videos if needed.
Adding Music to Videos in Windows 10
The music options in the new Windows 10 Photos app are actually quite sophisticated, but they remain very easy to use. Confused? Let me explain. There are a number of built-in audio tracks that you can use in your video for free. This is really useful because if you share your video online, it keeps you on the right side of the copyright laws.
To see what is available, simply click the Background Music button on the toolbar at the top of the screen and use the play button to preview the tracks. When you find the one you want, click it to highlight the track and then click Done. So far, that doesn't sound all that sophisticated, right?
Well, it gets better because Windows will automatically alter that track so that it fits the length of your video. No more abrupt stops or fade-outs when your video ends. The music will be timed perfectly to the length of your video. If you add an extra video clip later, the music adjusts accordingly. If you take out a few photos, the music adjusts accordingly. It's really very clever and it definitely adds a level of professionalism to your videos.
Sharing and Exporting Videos in Windows 10
So, there is quite a lot here, and you may not get your project finished in one sitting. If you don't, that's no big deal. Windows saves everything automatically as you work and you can safely quit the Photos app whenever you run out of time. To go back to your project later, simply launch the Photos app and click the Video Editor button in the top left-hand corner of the screen. Here you will find all the video projects you have been working on. Click one to jump into the editor and pick up where you left off.
When you are ready to share your video with others, click the Finish Video button to see a list of your options. You can choose the file size you want to produce as well as whether you want to download it to your computer or share it via email or social media. The choice is yours.
Video Editing Basics: Windows 10 Editor
Alternative Video Editor for Windows 10
Of course, the free Windows 10 video editor isn't going to be for everyone. After all, it's still missing some features that you might have got used to from using third-party editors. Things like video transitions, chroma key support (for green screen), or multiple video and audio tracks, are just not supported right now, and they may never be added in order to maintain that ease of use.
So, if you are looking for even more control, try Animotica. It’s a free download from the Windows Store and it will work on all Windows 10 computers. It is packed full of features that the Photos app is lacking and although you only get the basic tools with the free version, the full version of the app is very affordable. A one-time fee of $16, with no monthly fees, will unlock everything it has to offer. To learn more, read How to Use Animotica: A Free Video Editor for Windows 10.
Vote Now in the Battle of the Windows Video Editors
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: How can I apply smooth transitions between slides in the Windows 10 free video editor?
Answer: As of March 2019, there are no transitions that you can choose to use between media clips. Try Animotica for more transition options and other effects that are not currently in the Windows 10 Photos app. Here's a link to show how that works: https://turbofuture.com/graphic-design-video/How-t...
Question: How do you save the video from your Windows video editor to a USB drive?
Answer: First, export the video in the size you need. By default, the video is saved to your Pictures library, (C: > Users > Name > Pictures). If you open that, you will see a folder called Exported Video, and you will find your finished video here.
Next, insert the USB drive into your computer, then right-click on the video you created and choose Send to. Select your USB drive and the file will be sent to your USB drive.
Question: Can I record a video using the Windows Photos app? If so, how?
Answer: You cannot record a video with the Photos app. You have to use videos that you have already created. If you want to record a video, use the Camera app for Windows. It is a built-in app for Windows 10.
Question: I have this free Windows Video editor with which I made a great slideshow/video. I clicked on export/share, choose the size I wanted, then no other options came up. I can't find anywhere on my computer that it was sent to. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: By default, the video is saved to your Pictures library, (C: > Users > Name > Pictures). If you open that, you will see a folder called Exported Video. Check and see if it is in there. If not, your project will be saved in the Photos app. Go back in there, click Video Projects, find your video and export it again.
Question: I have a video combining photos and video clips. Is there a way to use Windows 10 video editor to insert music in the background during the pictures, but muted during the video clips?
Answer: This is not really an option I am afraid. The best workaround I can think of is to edit the photos as a separate project, add music to it, export it, then add it to your main project. Not ideal, I know, but there is not much control over the audio in a project. It is either on or off.
Question: I've added video clips but they are only playing a black screen for the duration of the video. What do I do?
Answer: Do the videos play outside of the video project? If you double-click them on the desktop or in the Photos app, will they play? It could be an incompatible video format. Maybe try converting the video to another format with something like https://cloudconvert.com/.
Otherwise, it could be an issue with your video card, or drivers for your video card not being up to date. Check for updates in Settings to see if there are any Windows 10 updates available, or on the support site for your video card.
© 2017 Jonathan Wylie
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on September 10, 2020:
Yes you can!
Kal on September 09, 2020:
Can I upload the video on youtube or no?
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on June 12, 2020:
Hi OB. I looked for an answer on this and could not find one. Apple has licensing terms for the music in Garageband on a support page, so I was hoping Microsoft would have the same, but they don’t appear to have that. I looked in the MS Community Forums and people were having the same issue as you, and nobody was really getting an official answer from Microsoft. The demo video that I have in this article is on YouTube and did not get flagged, so maybe only certain tracks are exempt? Not sure.
I think the best advice I can give is to use the YouTube Audio Library for commercial or public videos. It won’t automatically sync to the length of your video, but it is all registered in the YouTube database so it will not get flagged.
OB on June 12, 2020:
Hey Jonathan, I've recently been using Video Editor to make some videos for an organisation I work for. I'm not monetizing the videos or anything like that but we've received a strike on YouTube for copyright infringement on the music used.
The music is just the 'Blossoming' track offered on Video Editor. We have used the videos on Facebook with no complaint. Do you know anything about how copyright works when using Video Editor tracks on different social media? Thanks in advance :)
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on June 11, 2020:
Do you mean a thumbnail image for the video? You can do that in sites like YouTube or Vimeo, depending on where you upload it. If you put it into Drive or Dropbox, then that service will just choose an image for you.
email@example.com on June 11, 2020:
Can you select a frame for display? When I post my teaching videos, the display screen shows me looking like I'm wasted or something. Thanks, cheers!
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on June 09, 2020:
Yes. Click on the Title Card slide, then click Text. You should see some a bar with draggable handles underneath your preview window. Move the handles so that the bar expands the full length of your slide length. This will ensure that the text is one screen for as long as the title card is displayed.
AF on June 09, 2020:
When using the title card feature, I've set a duration timer of 3 seconds. However, my text stays up for about 1 second, and a blank screen remains for the remaining time. Any advice on how to keep the text the entire 3 seconds?
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on May 30, 2020:
Windows 10 has a built in recorder called Voice Recorder. It should come built-in, but you can get it for free from the Windows Store too. Otherwise, you could try something like Vocaroo.com or download a free audio tool like Audacity.
Gnr vintage diecast racine on May 30, 2020:
Hello and thank you for the walk through of this software. I like it because it’s easy to use and I know nothing. One thing many have learned is the installed music in the app does indeed create copyright issues on YouTube. The songs are flagged under their true name and copyright holder. There are some songs that do not cause any issues which I am now limiting myself to. Do you know how to use this software and do a voice recording overlay. Because of the song copyright issues, I am considering talking over the recorded video rather then letting the music carry the day. Thank you again
Joe Poniatowskis from Mid-Michigan on May 10, 2020:
Nice write-up. I happen to be in the middle of converting a bunch of old home-shot videos from VHS to digital, and a nice, easy, free editor for some trimming and stitching will help.
Barry on December 28, 2019:
I edit my video with Pinnacle Studio 23 -- simple to learn, incredibly powerful
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on December 12, 2019:
Simon, there is no option to do that right now. You would have to use another tool to do that.
Simon on December 12, 2019:
Is there a way to distort voice (like low or high pitch) without altering the speed of the video?
Charlie Serf on December 05, 2019:
Sorry I had to vent my frustration on you. When I said I spent hours every day getting wrong or incomplete instructions I really did not exaggerate. In fact I’ve set my Google search criteria to last 12 months and not any shorter cause the answer may be 11-1/2 months old. Although your post was only 3 weeks old things may have changed since then. Anyway, I clicked on the Video Project tab and figured out the rest. I have already created 2 videos with satisfactory results. Thank you for replying. Appreciate it.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on December 04, 2019:
Charlie, I am sorry you did not find the information you wanted here. As I am sure you know, software like this gets updated frequently, and while I try to my best to update the articles I write to match those changes, I only have so much time. I will update the sections you highlighted, and while I understand your frustration, the reality of the internet is that some things will be more current than others. Maybe you can lobby Microsoft to make better tutorials for their own products.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on December 04, 2019:
Not that I am aware of. You would need to use a more full featured editor to do something like that.
Charlie Serf on December 04, 2019:
I am really sick and tired of spending hours every time I look for instructions on the web. In this case Win10 (Ver 1903, OS Build 18362.476) Photos. All I wanted was to create a new video by combining a few clips and add some text. I’ve already spent 2 hours with ‘instructions’ on the web and couldn’t get a final product. So I made sure the app was updated ( necessary?) and REBOOT. Then I found your post (2019-11-10).Even the first step is a dead end…”Open the Windows 10 Photos app, Click the Create button and choose Video Remix….” In the home screen there is no Create button! See attached screen shot. However I see do a tab “Video Project”. If that’s what you mean it’s really NOT helping the reader when you say one thing and mean another. Sadly you’re not the only one. I REALLY spend hours every day with almost ALL instructions on the web that are inaccurate.
Lauren on December 03, 2019:
Hello, Is there a way to overlay an image during part of a video using Video Projects?
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on November 13, 2019:
Not really an option I am afraid. Best workaround I can think of is to edit that last 5 seconds as a separate project, add music to it, export it, then add it to your main project. Not ideal, I know, but there is not much control over the audio in a project. It is either on or off.
Kendall on November 13, 2019:
Buuuut how do you add music to ONLY the last, lets say 5 seconds of your video?
I dont want music throughout the whole video just the last little bit.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on October 24, 2019:
Sorry Dee, I have not had this problem before and I am not sure what could be causing it. Hopefully someone else will reply with something that helps.
Dee on October 24, 2019:
I'm having an issue with Microsoft video editor, I don't know if you've come across this but after exporting my finished video from editor to my computer not only did the exported video not have any audio track but also the original video files which are on the external hard drive no longer have audio as well.
Before exporting I tripled checked and they all played their audio fine in editor and on the external hard drive.
Now after being exported the original files on the external hard drive do not have audio either.
I've tried several different media players and editors including Vegas and there seems to be no audio track on the original files anymore.
I don't understand how video editor changed the file that was on the hard drive and not originally on the computer. Please help!
Ana on June 07, 2019:
Mice software, but I prefer animotica, much more features and effect
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on May 23, 2019:
Thanks Sam. It's always good to have options :)
Sam Guevarra from Toronto, CA on May 23, 2019:
Hello, you may try BeeCut. I have been using this software for a couple of months and I love it!
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on October 22, 2018:
I would save it as a video, open PowerPoint and add the video to the first slide, save it, and then send the PowerPoint file.
Nola on October 21, 2018:
So I've made a project in video editor but need to send to someone as a PowerPoint file. Is this possible?
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on September 16, 2018:
I couldn’t agree more!
Kara on September 15, 2018:
it would be nice if they can add transitions
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on August 24, 2018:
There in nothing the Photos app to suggest otherwise, so I would say you would be fine putting it on YouTube.
kei on August 23, 2018:
Is the music that's available in the editor all in creative commons? Can they be used in monetised YouTube videos?
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on August 19, 2018:
Yes and no. Text can be added to any photo or video. Only one block of text can (currently) be added to a photo or video. It will be on screen for the duration of the photo or video.
A workaround for duration could be duplicating the photo or video and adding text to one of the duplicates. You can change the duration of the duplicate so that the text is only on screen for the duration that you need.
Damion on August 19, 2018:
Can text be added and how many? Does it have text duration?
Agnes on July 26, 2018:
Hi! Do you know if it is possible to hide the "title" of the video (which is actually the file name)? Not really nice to have "Your video.mp4" during the first 5 or 6 seconds...)
Thanks for your help
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on July 21, 2018:
Yes. That's some pretty professional software, but I didn't know they had a free version. Thanks for sharing.
lordjames on July 21, 2018:
I use Da Vinci Resolve 15 which is available as a free version for individual personal use or the paid professional Studio version which caters for higher resolution editing and muli-user editing on projects and support for editing consoles. Runs under Windows 10.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on July 20, 2018:
Thanks for the idea Ninel! :)
Nina De la Cruz from Brooklyn, NY on July 17, 2018:
Thank you for the in-depth review. Would be great to hear your thoughts on the alternative solutions as well!
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on July 08, 2018:
@Jay - Ugh. I wish there was, but as of right now, it doesn't look like there is. It would be great to o a Ctrl+A or Shift+click to select multiple photos and do just that, but I can't see any way to make that work right now.
JAY HYER on July 08, 2018:
Built a 240 slide show. Wanted 2 per second (rapid) or .5 sec per slide. Had to click on each slide and manually set duration. Is there a batch way to do this or a way to change default for all slides? Thanks. Jay
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on July 04, 2018:
Not that I have found either
Bryan Waltrip on June 28, 2018:
on the transition - is there a fade in/fade out option? If so, I can't find it.