Adobe has always brilliantly catered to professional designers and editors, with industry-standard tools like Premiere Pro and Photoshop defining modern creative workflows.
Adobe Creative Cloud Express, on the other hand, is the company’s overture for beginners (or those who simply don’t have the time to fine-tune every little detail).
The cloud-based design platform serves free video editing softwarea free logo makerbase Photo editorand a simple graphic design tool.
Everything is set up as simple and accessible as possible. When we rated the other parts of the service we found “smooth and powerful whether you’re using a computer, tablet or phone,” and recommended it to those looking for “an easy design tool to create everything from posters to posts on social media.”
But what does Adobe, the masters of movie making, offer modern creatives with its best free video editing software?
Adobe Express Pricing and Subscriptions
- Free for basic use
- Premium features require an Adobe Creative Cloud Express subscription
Adobe promises that videos edited in Express will be “forever free to use” – and that applies to any design, in any medium you create on the cloud-based design platform.
If that seems generous from a company famous for being? Creative cloud subscription packages, you’re right. While there are plenty of freebies available, such as templates and pre-built elements, there are many more tucked away – what else? – a Creative Cloud Express subscription.
The subscription costs $9.99 / £9.98 per month, or $99.99 / £99.98 per year, and gives access to Adobe Premiere Rushphotoshop express, Adobe Spark, in addition to unlocking additional design resources and features in the video editor. It is also available in Adobe’s broad Creative Cloud All Apps subscription.
Adobe Express getting started
- Easy to get started
- Includes theme templates
When you first launch the free online video editor, you are not greeted with the familiar timeline and media viewer found in just about every other video editing software (and that includes Premiere Pro, Premiere Rush and Adobe Premiere Elements).
Instead, start by giving your project a title or story, then select a template that fits the type of video you’re making, such as “Promote an Idea,” “A Hero’s Journey,” and “Learn a Lesson.” Each template fills the timeline with signs explaining what each clip should represent, in what order.
This is painting by numbers, as easy as 1-2-3, and ideal for anyone without much experience with video editing software or storytelling in general. Or marketing teams that need a streamlined, factory-like process to make it easier to create and publish video content on a regular basis.
Once you’ve chosen your template or chose to start from scratch, you can start cutting clips together. From here on, the video editing process becomes a lot more recognizable.
Adobe Express interface and experience
- Basic editing functionality
- Accessible interface
If you ever tried canva videothe free video editor app from the popular design platform, you’ll be instantly familiar with the Adobe Express video editor (and so are the graphics design offerings, with Adobe adopting the same simple user experience that helped Canva’s popularity during the pandemic increase).
In our review of Canva Video, we called it “a simple and simplistic program ideal for short videos and social media assets”. However, we noted that the lack of power, basic workflow and lack of effects meant that it would not satisfy professional video editors.
Adobe Express video editor is largely built for the same purposes: short, simple videos suitable for social sharing.
The interface reflects this accessible approach. A timeline rests at the bottom of the screen, style buttons on the right so you can choose a layout such as full screen or split screen, and add a theme (essentially filtered overlay).
Stealing the spotlight is the viewer. Unlike most video editing apps, you can’t just preview media here; by clicking the + button you have the option to add your videos, text, photos or icons. At the base of the viewer is a microphone button. Press and hold to record narration over the marked clip.
As you would expect from the suppliers of Photoshop and Lightroom, you can upload photos directly from your Adobe Creative Cloud storage. But there’s also select photo cloud storage support for Dropbox, Google Photos, and Google Drive.
Everything professionals and students need to create an engaging slideshow.
Oddly enough, there is no such option for videos. When you hit the video button, make sure it’s accessible from File Explorer or Finder. From there it just gets unnecessarily complicated. The best video editing software allows you to upload multiple files at once, place them in the timeline and crop them as you like. Adobe Express runs a different course.
You upload a single video each time (unfortunately, dragging and dropping multiples from Explorer to the viewer only opens the first selected video). Be careful here. if you don’t select the correct frame on the timeline before uploading, each new video will overwrite the last one.
Then cut out your clip using the trim handles before saving. You can always go back and make further adjustments by pressing the pencil icon. Here you can adjust the volume of a clip, zoom in and use the opaque name ‘Continue Clip’ – a way to split a clip at the last trim and continue in a new frame.
At this stage, as the editing app is processing the video and adding it to your timeline, you realize that Express might be a misnomer. Because it’s slow. But once the video is in situ, you can hit the + again and add to your masterpiece.
- User Experience Score: 3/5
Adobe Express design assets and download
- Includes free stock photos, music, and graphic design assets
- Limited to MP4 downloads
To give your clips an extra professional shine, the Adobe Express video editor offers a range of out-of-the-box design resources and royalty-free music – the library isn’t huge, but there’s just enough ‘mood’ music to set the mood. for your video. Alternatively, if you find the selection limited or not tailored enough, you can upload your own selection music samples.
If you have used the Canva design app, you will immediately be familiar with icons – simple images, such as shapes, symbols and even people. Unlike its rival, however, Adobe Express offers no way to adjust the icon colors (it’s black and white through and through) or even move the icon away from the center of the screen. It’s a mind-boggling decision from a stylish, design-heavy company.
Elsewhere, you can access stock photos. And this is where Adobe Express gets into the freemium model. While we found the free selection quite to the point of being generous, many of the images are locked behind the Creative Cloud Express paywall, indicated by the gold crown in the corner of these ‘premium’ snaps.
Unlike Canva, Adobe doesn’t let you try the premium photos with a watermark on them. So you can’t even see what they would look like in the finished video to see if it’s worth subscribing.
When you’re happy with the cut, click download. Don’t worry about extra controls and options here. There are not any. Your video comes as an MP4 – it’s up to you convert videos to your preferred format (or use Adobe Express to convert it to a GIF). In our tests, videos typically took about three times as long to render and download.
Adobe Express Video Editor Scorecard
|Where the||Free, with Creative Cloud Express plan upgrade||4/5|
|Easy start||Accessible and easy to edit videos||5/5|
|User experience||Clean and fairly intuitive, but with some frustrating interface choices||3/5|
|Functions||Tons of free design resources, images and music||4/5|
Should I try it?
Try it if…
Don’t try if…
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First reviewed July 22, 2022