Jonathan is a certified teacher who has taught in the UK and in the US. He now works as a digital learning consultant.
Wait...YouTube has a Free Video Editor?
Believe it or not, the YouTube video editor has been around since September 2011. When it was first released it was somewhat limited, but over the years it has grown to become a versatile, free video editor. It works great on Macs, PCs, and Chromebooks, and if you are working on a mobile device you can take advantage of the app version too. Here's a look at what it can do for you and your online videos.
Why Use the YouTube Editor?
The YouTube Editor is not the most powerful editor you will ever use. However, it is free, and it includes the basic editing tools you need to make a professional-looking video. It is also an online tool, so you can use it anywhere you have an internet connection, and on any computer that you have access to.
The editor is easy to use, and most people can quickly get to grips with the mechanics of how to edit videos on YouTube. You also have some awesome sharing options built-in, and of course, it doesn't hurt to have the largest and most popular video sharing site in the world to host your video.
A Video Editing Workflow
To get started, you need to log in to your YouTube account and upload the clips that you want to use in the editor. You can do that by clicking the upload button in the top right-hand corner of YouTube, or by going to http://youtube.com/upload.
The next step is optional but certainly worth thinking about. When you upload your raw footage, you may want to mark it as Private or Unlisted. This prevents it from being publicly searchable inside of YouTube or in search engines. Why would you want to do this? There may be parts that you want to edit out before it is ready for public viewing. Setting your privacy settings on each video to Private or Unlisted is a good way to draw the curtain over your video until you are ready to unveil it in its finished form!
Once your clips are uploaded, you can head over to the YouTube editor, but it is harder to find than you might think. Here's how to find it:
- Click your profile picture in the top right-hand corner
- Click YouTube Studio
- Click Videos from the sidebar on the left-hand side
- Select the video you would like to edit by clicking its title
- On the Video Details screen, click Video Editor in the sidebar
How to Upload to a Video to YouTube
How to Trim the Beginning or End of Videos
Sometimes all you need to do to improve your video in an editor is to trim a little off the beginning or end of your movie. Thankfully, YouTube makes that easy and intuitive in the new YouTube video editor.
- Click the blue Trim button above the timeline of your video
- Hover your cursor over the beginning or end of your video until it turns into two horizontal arrows
- Click and drag the blue bar at either end of the video to trim it
- Click Preview to see the results of your edits. You can preview your changes by hovering your cursor over the video preview and clicking the play button
- If you want to adjust the trim points, click Edit Trim, otherwise, click Save in the top right-hand corner to save your edits
Splitting and Removing Clips
When you split a video in the YouTube editor, you can remove a section from the middle of your video. This is most often used to erase mistakes or to shorten the overall length of a video. To split your media, you use the same controls that you use to trim a video. Here's what you need to know.
- Click the blue Trim button above the timeline of your video
- Move the white, playhead bar to the point in your video where you would like to make your first cut
- Click Split on the blue bar at the bottom of your screen.
- Move the white, playhead bar to the point where you would like your video to resume after it has skipped the portion of the video you want to remove
- Click Preview to see the results of your edits. You can preview your changes by hovering your mouse over the video preview and clicking the play button.
- If you want to adjust your split points, click Edit Trim, otherwise, click Save in the top right-hand corner to save your edits
How to Trim and Split Video in YouTube
Add Music to Your Videos
YouTube has a great library of free music that you can use in your videos. It's available for anyone to use, and there is a huge variety of styles and genres for you to choose from. Best of all, you can add it directly from the YouTube editor. Here's how.
- Click the drop-down arrow next to the music icon in your timeline to expand the audio track
- Click the +Audio link to open the YouTube Audio Library in a new tab
- Click on the Genre tab or the Mood tab to filter through the available music
- Click the play button next to any track to preview it
- When you find the track you want, click Add to Video
By default, the music track that you select will overwrite any audio in your video. This includes spoken dialogue. However, you should see a slider next to your video called Audio Saturation. If you move this slider to the left, you will lower the volume of the music track so that the original audio in your video can still be heard. Once you have the music you want and have adjusted the volume level to your liking, click Save Changes.
Quick Tips for Using the YouTube Editor
- Don't forget about the Undo and Redo buttons that are handily placed in the top left-hand corner above your video preview. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts, Ctrl/Cmd + Z or Ctrl/Cmd + Y.
- Speaking of keyboard shortcuts, you can see a full list of keyboard combos for the YouTube editor by clicking the three dots next to the Save button. From here, you can click Keyboard Shortcuts to reveal dozens of great shortcuts.
- The slider next to the magnifying glasses on the right-hand side will let you zoom in and out of your video timeline. This can be very helpful for making precise trims or splits in your video.
- Ever wondered how YouTuber creators put those thumbnail images at the end of a video for you to click on and watch more of their content? Click Add An End Screen in the YouTube editor to create your own. You can choose any video from your channel, or pick from other videos on YouTube.
How to Share YouTube Videos
How to Edit YouTube Video on Smartphones
While YouTube's online video editor is convenient for Mac, PCs, and Chromebooks, it won't work as well on your phone. Thankfully, the YouTube mobile app includes some options of its own. You can record video from inside the YouTube app, or upload something you have already recorded. Here's how it works.
- Open the YouTube app
- Tap the Camera icon in the top right-hand corner
- If prompted, allow YouTube access to your photos and videos
- Tap Record to start a new video, or choose from your existing videos at the bottom of the screen.
When you have chosen the video you need, you will see three options on the bottom of your screen that can be used to make edits to your video. They include:
- Scissors: Trim the beginning or end of your video
- Wand: Add a color filter to your video
- Music note: Add a music track to your video. After you have selected a song, tap the sliders to the right of the song title to adjust the volume level of the music.
There are fewer options for editing your video on the mobile app, compared to the web version, but you can always log in to YouTube later on a Mac or PC to make some more edits if you need to.
It might not always be your first choice, but if you take the time to learn how to use the YouTube video editor, you will soon appreciate the power and convenience that a tool like this offers. It's easy enough for both kids and adults to use, and it's freely available on the web as part of the world's largest video-sharing website. So, the next time you need to edit some video, take a look at this handy online video editor. It does more than you might think, and if you need them, more options are available in the free video editor that is built-in to Windows 10.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: The only downside is that once your video is published, it doesn't seem possible to make any significant edits, such as adding a forgotten scene or changing words in the narrative. Do you know of any work-arounds to achieve post-publish edits?
Answer: You are correct. YouTube does not allow for many post edit changes. The best you can do is remove the video and upload a new version. This is not ideal because it changes the URL, but that is about all they allow you to do.
© 2014 Jonathan Wylie
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on April 22, 2020:
Not at this time. You used to be able to do that in the previous version, but not in the new one. Hopefully that gets added back soon.
Adrian on April 22, 2020:
Can you put two videos together?
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on March 28, 2020:
Great question? There are none right now.
macgo on March 28, 2020:
where are the options to LIGHTEN video?
miamifishingpros from USA on February 14, 2020:
Aniket Kable on September 27, 2019:
Ccutie on March 05, 2019:
What do this app do?
jackson on December 20, 2018:
yeah, nice information. I used to use wonderfox free hd video converter factory to download and edit youtube videos. cool
Travel Chef from Manila on December 01, 2018:
I haven't tried YT video editor but would love to try it. The main reason is it seems like complicated to use. I will definitely consider this.
Josh on November 04, 2018:
Does anyone know how to simply adjust the audio level of an already uploaded video? I know I could simply re-upload but I did upload the video I want to adjust a couple weeks back. Frustrating.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on October 03, 2018:
Yes it has, but they are replacing it with a NEW YouTube Editor. You can try that out in the Creator Studio Beta, but it is pretty limited right now. Only trim, split and end cards really, with more to come in the near future.
Lee New from Lynchburg on October 02, 2018:
Are Quick Fixes now gone from YouTube? I just wanted to lighten a few videos.
Jackson on March 08, 2018:
Hey Jonathan I saw your comment about youtube maybe bringing back the video editor with new revisions if that's true it might be the same for slide shows too but is this true if so please keep me posted at email@example.com
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on January 28, 2018:
I believe YouTube said it wasn’t being used much so that is why they removed it. However, I think there must be more to it than that. The old editor was Flash based, and Flash is being retired so I would think that is something to do with it too.
Franck on January 28, 2018:
Why was editor removed in 2017 ? Under the current simplified editor can you fade out the music and video at the end the way you could before ?
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on January 24, 2018:
You are correct Bart. I actually mentioned that in a comment further down the page. However, there is some recent talk of YouTube bringing it back with some revisions so stay tuned!
Bart on January 24, 2018:
The Youtube video editor has been removed on September 20th 2017, so most of the functions described in this article are alas no longer available, and neither is http://youtube.com/editor.
Mat Acher on September 08, 2017:
Just found the article on online video editing tools: a great read with many options. I wanted to mention that if you are looking for an affordable paid service and want to save the time and of not going through the hassle of the editing process. You can check out www.viddedit.com I happen to be the owner :-).
autodealersa on September 05, 2017:
thanks, Jonathan I will check in tomorrow
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on September 05, 2017:
Changes are saved automatically. You can close the tab and come back tomorrow to find everything is right where you left it. Trust me :)
autodealersa on September 05, 2017:
how do I save my changes without changing the URL. I don't see a save button only a publish - which then makes a new video
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on July 24, 2017:
Yes. Me too. On Sept 20, 2017 there will be no more YouTube Editor. Google said only 0.1% of YouTube users actually made use of it, but with over 1bn users that still adds up to over 1 million users! I’d like to say I am hopeful that Google will come up with something else instead, but I am not hopeful that will happen.
BuhaySaAmerica on July 24, 2017:
Thank you very useful but it sadden me as a New YouTuber as YouTube Editor will be gone on September. again, thank you.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on June 08, 2017:
I sure do. You can download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player here: https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/. Once installed, the editor should work fine for you. You could also try using the Chrome web browser because it has Flash built-in and won't require any updates.
Chuck on June 07, 2017:
I cant get the trim feature to work it keeps saying i need the newest version of flash which i have any tips on how to fix that
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on November 02, 2016:
Glad it was useful for you Sanjay!
sanjay hemani on November 01, 2016:
I am very new to you You Tube....thanks for sharing wonderful detailed information ......
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on August 05, 2016:
Glad you liked it. Keep in touch if you need any help.
Chiara on August 05, 2016:
Thanks a lot for your very useful article from Italy, Jonathan!!! I've found it great :-)
askformore lm on October 23, 2014:
Thanks a lot for this very detailed info.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on August 07, 2014:
Thanks ptosis, I will have to check that out too.
ptosis from Arizona on August 07, 2014:
I have used the Youtube video editor to add some quick music at the end or some other effect. I have used a bunch of video editors that are free and I just discovered OpenShot. Not very intuitive but there are TONS of how-tos. Today I learned how to pan and zoom a panoramic from a video by Harry van der Wolf and wrote a hub on it in text version today. Shameless self promotion will most likely have this comment deleted but - I can't seem to stop my self http://hub.me/agJxA
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on June 05, 2014:
Johnny Parker from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England on June 05, 2014:
That's brilliant, I use imovie but sometimes you just want something simple and quick. Good article.
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on May 22, 2014:
Thanks Ilona1. Good luck with your video project. Feel free to ask if you have any more questions! :)
Ilona from Ohio on May 22, 2014:
Just began making video for youtube, never used the editor and thought your hub was very helpful. Thanks!
Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on May 20, 2014:
Thanks jessyk. Glad you found it useful :)
Jessy Katz from Boston on May 20, 2014:
Thanks a lot! this hub helped me editing my videos!
great job sir!