In our latest review of OpenShot (opens in a new tab), the free and open source video editing software, we thought it showed promise. However, in our opinion, it wasn't quite ready for prime time yet.

Ultimately, during our time with the editor app, we felt that it "shows potential but hasn't really received the number of updates we'd hoped for after two years."

But that was then. Do the new OpenShot developments finally deliver on the promise made two years ago?

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mac problems

First, a word of warning: Although OpenShot is cross-platform software, capable of running on Windows, Mac, and Linux, the latest official version doesn't actually work with Macs at the moment.

This is particularly damning since version 2.6.1 was released on September 6, 2021. However, you can download and install Daily Builds. We had heard that this issue had been fixed a few months ago, and the latest version we tested (dated June 22, 2022) launched perfectly.

Some people may be reluctant to work with a daily version instead of an official version, but if you use a Mac, this is the only way, for now, to get a version that works with your computer.


OpenShot has an extremely flexible and editable interface (Image credit: OpenShot)

The interface doesn't seem to have changed much since we last tried OpenShot. But that's definitely not a bad thing, as it's incredibly versatile and flexible.

Not only do you have simple and advanced view options (the former limits the number of panels to simplify the interface), but you also have the ability to move, add and remove panels as you see fit. You even have the option to turn them into floating windows.

This flexibility is welcome, as it allows users to customize the interface exactly how they want, which can only be a good thing.

Changes and improvements

OpenShot offers a wide variety of controls

Right-click on any clip to benefit from a host of controls (Image credit: OpenShot)

However, not everything is set in stone. Major improvements are also present.

For one, you'll notice a new zoom slider tool, right above the timeline. This gives you more control over where you are in your project. You get an overview of your entire timeline, and you can drag the blue highlighted section left or right to change which section you see in the larger section below.

Even better, this blue section has handles on each side. Drag them forward or backward to zoom in or out on the timeline. It's a great and intuitive way to find your way around your project.

OpenShot keyframing tools in action

Each keyframe parameter turns green and you can easily switch between keyframes with a simple keyboard shortcut (Image credit: OpenShot)

The grip has also been greatly improved. This is a feature enabled by default that helps you place clips next to each other, without overlapping. As they crawl towards each other, you'll see them "snap" when you get close enough, like one magnet latching onto another.

There are many uses for this feature, including resizing one clip to match the duration of another above or below. This eliminates any possible guesswork, is a huge time saver, and worked well in our experimentation.

You'll also find that the clip transformation tools are much easier to use than before, which enhances the software's animation capabilities, although they can be confusing at times.

We struggled to find a way to move along the timeline frame by frame. Usually the arrow keys on the keyboard allow you to do this, but not in OpenShot. It seems like the slider is the only way to do this, although there is a handy hotkey to jump between created keyframes.

New effects

We were disappointed with the low number of effects in the previous version. Fortunately, OpenShot 2.6.1 has several new ones that provide useful tools, though they're unlikely to compete with the best VFX software (and if your productions demand high-quality visual effects, pair the free video editor with Adobe After Effects or the best After Effects alternatives to use screen glasses).

The two new video effects in OpenShot are Stabilization and Tracking.

The first analyzes your clip and smooths its motion. We found this to work quite well, but obviously the end result will always depend on the quality of the original footage: if the clip is already fairly stable, the analysis will enhance and smooth motion with aplomb. However, if the shot was too jumpy, there's not much a computer algorithm can do. As always with such tools, what you get largely depends on what you put into it.

The latter allows you to isolate an object on the screen, which OpenShot will follow throughout the clip. You can then connect another object to this data and have it move in sync with the one being tracked.

You'll also find nine new audio editing effects. These are pretty standard fare like 'Compressor', 'Expander', 'Distortion' and 'Delay', but they weren't available before, and finally having them included can only be seen as a bonus.


Emojis now included in OpenShot

Perhaps the weirdest, or funniest, addition to OpenShot: vector emojis (Image credit: OpenShot)

You'll find another new addition, though outside of novelty value, most editors may not find much use for it: emojis. OpenShot has integrated the vector art from the OpenMoji project into its app.

They're as easy to use as any clip: drag one into your project and it will appear wherever you drop it (plus, it'll be included in your project files). You can resize it, reposition it, move it, process it almost like any other clip.

The main difference is that they have no restriction on their duration: being still images, they can be as long or as short as you need. They're also on a transparent background, making it easy to layer them over other clips on your timeline.

Whether you're creating content for social media, looking for a free video editing app for Instagram and other visual platforms, or just simple vector images, you might find this new feature very useful. It's a pretty simple and eye-catching way to add character, both figuratively and literally, to your videos.

transition problem

OpenShot effects include transitions, when they work

Transitions are even more complex than they should be (Image credit: OpenShot)

OpenShot has received its fair share of minor improvements and new features since 2020. But there are still aspects that are not easy to understand, especially when exploring for the first time.

Take transitions for example. You can overlap two clips and a crossfade transition will be automatically added between them. You can also drag a transition and add it to your project. It seems that since you can drag it, you can drop it anywhere and the effect will work as expected.

Except it's not: drop it between two clips and OpenShot will skip the first one, creating the transition between a black frame and the second clip.

For the transition to work as expected, you need to drag one of the clips over the other to create this crossfade. Then remove the crossfade and add one of the other available transitions in that overlay. It's convoluted and overly complex and confusing.

final verdict

It's always good to see free and open source video editing software getting better over time. OpenShot has been refined in some places and improved in others. New welcome features have been added. However, with that said, it can still be a confusing video editor to use.

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