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Is a MacBook Air Good for Video Editing (The Truth) | 2023

Is a MacBook Air Good for Video Editing (The Truth) | 2023

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Is a MacBook Air good for video editing? With the M1 chip and performance boost in the MacBook Air, users will be pleased to discover that the MacBook Air is good enough fit for video editing requirements no matter what type of video editing you are performing.

When choosing a MacBook, your priority when editing and rendering videos is being able to handle graphically-intensive tasks. You’ll need to prioritize three specs: a powerful graphics card, a 16Gb of RAM (memory), and a multi-core processor.

If you are running a super high-end studio level set up, then the MacBook Pro will certainly outperform the MacBook Air and is ideal for pro video editing since it can power up to 4 external screens with 4096 x 2304 resolution (and at 60Hz).

See: Best Mac for Photoshop & Photo Editing

…but, if you don’t need four external monitors (most of us don’t) and you’re not performing an extreme amount of multi-tasking the MacBook Air will suffice.

The fact still remains: If you are running Final Cut Pro X on a MacBook Air with a M1 chip, then you can expect 4k Video editing without much issue at all since the higher resolution and RAM allow for efficient rendering of HD and UHD video.

You may also want to see the Best Drawing tablets for Macbook Air and Pro. These make all sorts of tasks easier, including some related to video editing and graphic design apps.

In this post, I’m going to cover why exactly the MacBook Air is good enough for video editing, the specs that make this so, and what upgrades you’ll want to consider. I’ll also go over if it’s worth it to get the MacBook Pro or another alternative laptop instead.

Is a MacBook Air Good Enough for Video Editing?

Is a MacBook Air Good Enough for Video Editing_

Most professional video editors use powerful desktop computers for work. It is the most practical option; desktop computers give you more of everything you need for video editing at the same price as a much less powerful laptop.

If these professionals had to work while on the go, they would most likely choose a powerhouse laptop like a MacBook Pro which is more expensive but is known to handle complex video editing easily.

Is the MacBook Air good for editing videos? Yes, The MacBook Air can edit videos smoothly and is a solid option for amateur & intermediate photo editors and content creators who edit and post videos on their blog or social media platform, such as YouTube. The Macbook Pro with an M1 or M2 chip will provide less lag and render videos on final cut pro faster, but the MacBook air is compatible with the same video editing softwares. as the MacBook Pro.

No matter what you’re using your Mac for, see the answer to: Should I Shut Down my MacBook Every Night? (important)

The ports also provide a benefit since creative professionals typically require more of these. Let’s face it – an adapter is not always comfortable for traveling.

Related: 7 Best Drawing Tablets that Dont Need a Computer (Standalone)

Here’s what you should keep in mind when deciding if the Macbook Air will be good enough for your video editing needs:

MacBook Pros are definitely more powerful than the MacBook Air for Video editing

MacBook Pros are definitely more powerful than the MacBook Air for Video editing

When it comes to video editing, the Pro receives very good analysis by experts. The Air may be good for simple video editing, especially if its RAM, processor, and storage are maxed. However, the premium you pay to upgrade a MacBook Air 13-inch could bring you to the price point of the entry-level MacBook Pro that you may as well consider the basic MacBook Pro.

The type of editing matters when considering a MacBook Air for editing video

The type of editing matters when considering a MacBook Air for editing video

Basic video editing can be done quite well with the Air but 4k video editing will place significantly more resource demands on the computer and we know the MacBook Air is not a workhorse. If you are a content creator, however, who posts on YouTube, or an amateur doing basic video edits, you just may find the MacBook Air adequate for your needs.

Related: 5 Best Micro SD Card for 4K video recording

Aim to purchase a future-proofed computer

Aim to purchase a future-proofed computer

It’s ideal to grab a computer or laptop that will last you many years. Technology advances are rapid. Operating systems update regularly; so do video editing software. You want a computer that will be able to handle increasing resource requirements over the years.

After 7 years or so, I found my Macbook Air worked just fine, however, things did start to slow down. I also noticed how much more efficient newer models were and it was so appealing that I had to upgrade.

When aiming to get a Macbook Air for video purposes, you’ll also want to figure out how Long Does a MacBook Air Last (The Truth)

If you have an old Macbook air and want a new one for video editing, then Id advise you to ask yourself if speed is an issue for you. Export speeds are faster, everything is smoother, especially rendering while editing.

MacBook Air: Does it reach video editing requirements?

MacBook Air_ Does it reach video editing requirements_

The new MacBook Air is definitely more powerful than its predecessor. It’s also a bit cheaper as well. But, will it make the cut as far as video editing requirements are concerned?

For simple video editing, including editing for content on YouTube, blogs, and other social media platforms, a MacBook Air running on an i5 processor and 16GB RAM would be ideal.

Related: Best Tablets for Watching Youtube & Videos

A higher SSD storage would also be better; each frame of the video contains a lot of information (metadata, visuals, audio, timestamps, etc) that can easily increase file sizes.

  • The 13-inch screen size though may be inadequate for some video editing and would be better with a larger external monitor.
  • The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a strong option if you are frequently mobile and need a bigger screen.

See our post: Best MacBooks for Music Production [Buyers guide]

We have reservations though about more complex video editing. This will place greater demands on processing power, graphics power, and even storage space. For this kind of work, we believe one should go with the MacBook Pro.

How good is the MacBook Air for 4k video editing?

How good is the MacBook Air for 4k video editing_

Is it even possible to do 4k video editing with a MacBook Air? Technically, yes. Some video editors have been able to do 4k video editing on the Air. But before you race out to get the MacBook Air, know that performance tests show two issues when using the Air.

One, the Apple Macbook Air heats up when rendering and exporting files slightly. Frequent heating will shorten your laptop’s life. Two, the export will take a noticeable amount longer compared to if you were using the Pro version of the Macbook.

In one performance test, a 4K, 3-minute file took around 15 minutes to render. Estimates of transcoding time of 4k videos range from 4 to 16 times longer on the Air.

If your tasks are mainly 4k editing, we strongly recommend you get the MacBook Pro. The Air might still be able to do some tasks but we think it will definitely be a struggle and will take more time to complete crucial tasks.

Related: Is the MacBook Air Good for Programming? (The Truth)

How well does MacBook Air run video editing software?

How well does MacBook Air run video editing software_

We already know that the MacBook Air is not ideal for regular 4k video editing. But if you are doing only 1080p videos on a MacBook Air, let’s see how different video editing software stack up.

Related: Is CleanMyMac Safe? (The Truth)

Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro X

The good news with Final Cut Pro X is that it was made to work on ALL Macs. The caveat: The Air will do well editing at 720p and even 1080p but will start to sputter with 4k video editing, especially rendering and exporting.

A feature called proxy footages may allow you to do intermediate editing with a lower resolution footage but it can be a bit cumbersome. Final Cut Pro X, on the MacBook Air, is a great tool for professional-looking editing for YouTube and amateur film makers.

The base model of the Macbook pro and air without upgrades or accessories will run final cut pro very well, especially with the m2 chip. In fact, unless you have a really heavy workload and run multiple apps at the same time, then the base model will be more than sufficient. If you can get more RAM and a better chip, it’s definitely a big help, but not required for video editing apps.

Related: 7 Best Laptops for Animation Students

Using the MacBook Air with final cut pro X and being able to multitask, handle many different layers, add special effects, and much more is crucia, because Apple has allowed this software to specifically work more efficiently than any other video editor on the macOS.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro

The MacBook Air can handle basic video editing apps and tasks. Some CPU-intensive tasks, such as rendering and exporting, may take a while longer than if you were on the MacBook Pro. Feedback from some users show that Adobe Premiere Pro is not as smooth as Final Cut Pro X on the Air.

Keep in mind that the card slot on the new laptops are useful in general, but especially for those who use adobe premiere pro or a similar apps.

You may also sometimes experience a lag while scrubbing through footage; the video timeline may also buffer. Be sure to know what video files you are using and whether or not you’ll need a fast micro sd or large micro sd when importing raw video files.

OpenShot

OpenShot

Want free and open-source video editing software? Take a look at OpenShot. It is a cross-platform software that works on Macs, Windows, and Linux.

Open Shot has a long list of impressive features and gets regular updates per year. However, user forums are rife with problems using the software — from popup warnings about malware to hanging and lagging issues. You can try OpenShot (just because it’s free) but be prepared to eventually ante up some money to get more stable apps like Final Cut Pro X.

Related: Is CleanMyMac worth it? Everything you need to know. Even creative professionals can benefit from apps like these.

iMovie

iMovie

iMovie comes installed with every Mac so if you are looking for a basic app that is both free and robust, this may just be the one for you. I have used iMovie for simple video edits and have had no problems at all.

The large screen on the Macbook air and Pro models look amazing with imovie and apple tv type of apps. The colors and resolution make for a bright and clear display when editing with these apps, which is quite important and overlooked.

The user interface is beginner-friendly and there are enough features in it for fairly decent videos that I normally upload to YouTube. My MacBook Air has had no problems at all running iMovie.

Can you run Final Cut Pro on a MacBook Air?

Can you run Final Cut Pro on a MacBook Air

Yes, you can run Final Cut Pro on the MacBook Air as well as the MacBook Pro. The base model MacBook Pro will render videos faster than the base model of the MacBook Air due to the improvement of its technical specs.

You can also upgrade the MacBook Air upon purchase at the Apple store, which can help speed up video editing using Final Cut Pro. the MacBook Air is a slightly less powerful device, but you can certainly run final cut pro and without an issue.

We tested this and found the only difference between the Mac pro and air models when running final cut pro was the overall speed of video production. Otherwise the MacBook Air is completely compatible with Final Cut Pro and there’s an option to purchase this software along with the MacBook Air if you are grabbing it through the Apple website.

If you want a top-tier studio set up for video production, then the MacBook Pro with an M1 or him to Chip is the absolute best for running Final Cut Pro; particularly if you are multi-tasking with additional video softwares.

It’s important to know that you can upgrade the RAM 16 GB and higher on the MacBook Air, just like you can on the pro model; which will help run Final Cut Pro faster.

Can you edit YouTube videos on MacBook Air?

Can you edit YouTube videos on MacBook Air_

Yes with a BUT. You absolutely can use the MacBook Air for video editing YouTube videos. Many content creators I know do and they are fine with it.

However, there are limits as to which video editing software you can use. If your video editing is limited to iMovie or Final Cut Pro X, and all you need are 1080p videos, you should be fine. Even on the base model of the MacBook Air, with an i3 processor, video editing using Final Cut Pro X was pretty fast. It should be about the same with iMovie.

See our post: What Stylus Pen do Artists use to Draw on iPad? A Beginners Guide | 2021

There is a marked difference, however, when rendering and exporting files. The i5 processor significantly cuts down the time. In one performance test, a 4-minute 1080p video at 30 frames per second (fps) took roughly 25 minutes on an i3 processor while it only took about 4 minutes on an i5 processor. If you are thinking long-term, it will be good to go for the i5 processor and a minimum of 16GB RAM.

Also see: How to loop a video in VLC on Mac and windows

Is the MacBook Air good for photo editing?

Is the MacBook Air good for photo editing_

If the MacBook Air can handle video editing, it can surely do the same with photo editing. Lightroom and Photoshop are popular photo editing apps. Photoshop, for example, can easily handle even high-resolution images from smartphones and handheld cameras. Lightroom should be able to do the same. It is when you start working with high-resolution RAW files and opening multiple applications when some hiccups can occur.

Feedback from some people using Lightroom Classic shows that on the Air, photos take a while to render and edits made to contrast, exposure, for example, take a few seconds to be reflected onscreen. A workaround is to run Lightroom in low resolution mode, disable graphic acceleration, and use smart previews instead of the original images for developing in order to speed up Lightroom. Uploading and downloading photos can also challenge patience.

See our post: 7 Best Tablets for Lightroom & Photo Editing

A good argument for using the MacBook Air for photo editing would be its portability and light weight. Our strong recommendation, if you decide to go for the Air, is to go for the highest RAM, more powerful processor, and largest storage your budget can afford. This will make performance a little better for you.

But if performance is more important to you than mobile convenience, consider the MacBook Pro which takes performance to a different level and can readily handle even the resource-heavy photo editing software.

If you’re planning to use a stylus to draw, and retouch photos, see our post: 7 Best Stylus for Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator

Which is better for Video editing: Apple’s Macbook Pro or Macbook Air?

Which is better for Video editing_ Apple’s Macbook Pro or Macbook Air_

When choosing the right laptop for video editing, creators are considering between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. So which is better?

It will come to no surprise the MacBook Pro is technically better at handle video editing better as well as high-performing CPU intensive tasks due to it’s more powerful M1 processor, upgradable graphics card, 16GB base RAM, and 16-inch display (which makes a difference).

When you take price into account when deciding between which MacBook model you will use for video editing, it’s a different ballgame.

The MacBook Air is not only lighter and more thin but it is also a priced at lower cost; making it very appealing for video editors graphic designers, and content creators.

Related: Mackeeper vs CleanMyMac: Buyers Guide

The fact that the MacBook Air has a bit lower storage capacity does not effect its ability to process and handle 4k video, but it might matter for some who don’t utilize the cloud to store their videos. 

Because both MacBook models are able to handle final cut pro in both have a SSD solid-state drive, the two will compete fairly closely when it comes to casual and every day video editing.

If you’re planning on using Procreate, an iPad is more ideal. See more on our post: Which iPad is Best for Procreate?

One big noticeable difference between the two was that the MacBook Pro was able to export 4K video significantly quicker compared to the MacBook Air.

FAQ

Does MacBook Air have video editing software

Yes the MacBook Air has video editing software you can use Final Cut Pro X as well as the Adobe suite and any other macOS compatible software.

While the Apple MacBook comes with iMovie already installed, the more advanced video editors will enable you to add additional layers. You’ll even be able to adjust special effects colors and other adjustments like saturation, and filters.

For knowing when to shut your Mac down, see our post How Often Should I Shut Down my MacBook?

How to Edit Videos on Macbook Air

You can edit videos on the MacBook Air to be used with content, YouTube videos, Vimeo, and other popular media sites. In order to do so, you’ll need to install a software. Some examples include Apple final cut pro, da Vinci resolve 17, and Camtasia (to name a few).

First you upload the video that you want to edit, then you use the different features with in the software to change the exposure, color, and apply filters.

Keep in mind: The apple silicon and intel core chips do a great job with video editing, but the M1 & M2 models are superior based on our testing.

You’ll also be cutting certain parts of the video and placing them at different points within the timeline of the editor. Finally once you’re done you can export the video in the desired format.

Related: Best Macbook for Kids

If you’re using Final Cut Pro you can even export to the exact platform you choose online.

Can MacBook Open video files like AVI and MKV?

Macbooks can only play MKV and AVI files when they have assistance from another video player or by using a plugin for quicktime.

QuickTime, the default media player on Mac, does not support MKV and AVI format by default. However, you can install a third-party media player like VLC or use a plugin like Perian to extend QuickTime’s capabilities and play MKV and AVI files.

Additionally, you can also convert the MKV and AVI files to a format that is natively supported by QuickTime, such as MP4.

I have a two full guides on how you can make AVI and MKV files work properly on Mac:

Bottom Line

If you were looking to video edit casually and you’re wondering if the MacBook Air is good enough for video editing, then you can rest assured that it’s performance, speed, display, and overall capabilities will enable adequate video editing for Casual and intermediate video editors.

Also see: How to View and Move a Video Frame by Frame in VLC (Windows & Mac)

If you were looking to edit video professionally, such as in a studio the MacBook Pro will outshine the MacBook Air because it’s not only more powerful but he performed much faster and more efficiently when we tested the two laptops side by side.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ