Best Free Video Editor on Windows

Windows Movie Maker

Teaching online courses can be a challenge. For one, there are fewer opportunities to interact with the students. Adding a human touch is a strategy that is often recommended. Inserting video clips works really well.

There are many commercial video editors, but I found most of them to be too much for what I wanted to do. Most are capable of lots of things, but all I really wanted to produce were simple videos that complement the lectures. When I looked for the free editors for Windows, surprisingly, there aren’t many out there (Mac OS X users can use iMovie).

I found Windows Movie Maker to be the best of the freebie bunch. The best feature is its ease of use. I had tried video editing software in the past, but I just could not grasp the intricacies of how video editing works. The Movie Maker’s interface is simple and easy to follow along.

Movie Maker is an entry program, but it packs many useful features. The two I like are integration of YouTube and visual effects I can add. Once I finish editing my movie, all I have to do is click on the YouTube button and the video gets uploaded to my YouTube account.


I use quite a lot of transition effects in my movie (see the graphic at the top). It is fun to play around with different effects, in my effort to make my movies look a bit less dull.

There is not a lot of official documentation about Movie Maker’s features on Microsoft web site, but I found this article from PC Magazine useful to learn about the program:,2817,2426902,00.asp

Here is the link to download the software:

How to Automate Cloud Backups


I gave a talk on automating cloud backups so that you will never lose your pictures again:

Snagit Upgraded to Version 12

Snagit 12

My favorite screen-capture tool just got updated. Techsmith’s Snagit does the usual image and video captures, but version 12 now adds the ability to trim the videos. I snagged 🙂 the screenshot of the new editor above using Snagit.

Useful Features

I like Snagit because it is thoughtfully designed. It is extremely easy and intuitive to select exactly what area of the screen or window you want to capture. For example, I do a lot of Excel screen captures. Sometimes I want to focus only in a certain cell or all of Excel’s window.  One nice feature is that if I want an application’s entire window captured, Snagit snaps its capture window to it so that I don’t have to be so precise in making the capture selection window to the exact size. Follow this link to see this in action.

Editing images is also easy. You can add the pointers, arrows, borders, edge effects to the images. The Blur tool comes in handy when you want to share something but not the private information. Video editing is nothing fancy, but now I don’t need to use Movie Maker to trim the beginning and the end of my videos. I can do that within Snagit!

Snagit added Google Drive integration in version 11. I also like this feature. When you install Snagit and if you have Google Drive installed on your computer, it creates a “Techsmith” folder within Google Drive and you can upload your captures directly into that folder without leaving the application. Saves you time.

Last reason why Techsmith products beat the competition is that the company is educator friendly. The tutorials are easy to follow and informative. There are lots of examples where the teachers use Techsmith products to produce amazing lectures. Support is quick to reply. I cannot complain.

For more information on how to use Snagit, the link is:

How teachers can use Snagit in the classroom:

Dropbox vs. Google Drive: Which One is Better for Teachers?

Dropbox vs Google Drive

There are many cloud storage services to use. I use all three major providers: Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Most of the time though, I only use Dropbox and Google Drive, as between these two services, they do everything I need to do.

Both Dropbox and Google Drive has strengths and weaknesses. For instructional purposes, I think Google Drive wins. I list my reasons below.

Storage Space

From the get-go, Google wins. Anyone can get 15 GB of free space, including storage for Gmail. Dropbox offers 2GB to start, and you are able to increase the amount by referring new users. I did this and now am up to 20 GB, but it was a pain. Google beats Dropbox for additional storage space as well. For a Dropbox Pro Plan subscription, Dropbox charges $9.99/month and you get 100 GB. Google gives you 100 GB at $1.99. For $9.99, you get a whopping 1 TB.

Winner: Google

Ease of Use

Both services are easy to use. I will focus on the desktop clients and the web interface. Dropbox is the easiest service to use. From within the desktop (Windows or Mac), it’s easy to share files and send the links to fellow teachers, and it’s much easier to publicly share your files without the fuss of authorizing who can download what.  The Dropbox web service is usable, but it’s rather sparse.

Google Drive is almost as easy to use as Dropbox. Google Drive focuses more on collaboration, so it has more features to do that. While the features require the users to learn a bit more about collaboration techniques, once you understand them, they are powerful I can share most of my files with my students while restricting access to the files that contain answer keys and such, for example, only to the fellow instructors. The Google Drive web site is also more powerful than Dropbox’s, so unless you are looking for absolute ease of use, Google Drive offers more.

Winner: Google

Extra Features

There are other benefits that make Google Drive better for teachers. Google Drive lets you convert text from uploaded PDF and images files (OCR). The uploaded files are converted to Google Docs and you can edit them. Also Google Drive is getting integrated with other applications such at SnagIt. Again, this makes content sharing much easier, a plus for teachers.

For more information on Google Drive, Google has the Help Center that gets you started. I think it’s well worth the effort to learn all about the Drive. More tips below:

26 Google Drive Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss
Google Drive: Access and Collaborate Around Your Content
16 secrets of Google Drive | Macworld

How to Quickly Verify Whether Your Google Docs are Marked Public or Private


I found this little trick in Google Drive by accident. If you are using Google Drive, sometimes it is a bit difficult to tell whether the files are public or private. You don’t want to make a mistake of sharing the files private files (financial files, for example).

To check only those files set to public or private, see the steps below.

  1. Open Google Drive in your browser. Click on the drop arrow in the search box at the top.
  2. You can either choose the “Public on the web” option to view those files marked public. If you choose the “Private” option, you will see a list of files you had marked private.

This tip will help you tidy up your list of documents in Google Drive.