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Best free screen recorders in 2022

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
A person in a wheelchair working at a laptop.
(Image credit: Shutterstock: AnnaStills)

The best free screen recorders help you capture everything on your screen and convert it to video. If you need to record assets for work, education, games streaming, and YouTubing, or you just want a free screen recorder for gaming, there’s plenty of great tools available that won’t cost you a penny. 

While many of the best screen recorders often pack advanced features and premium effects, you don’t need to spend out if you’re a creator on a budget. Free screen recording software are often loaded with just as much power without any frustrating limitations. 

When choosing which free screen recorder is best, look out for:

+ Easy experience - make sure the video recording software is simple to set-up and use and doesn’t get in the way of your workflow.

+ Resolution - the best free screen recorder software will output professional, high-definition videos.

+ Format - not all screen recorders are equal. For example, free game recording software might not work best for Zoom meetings.

+ Output - even free screen recorders should offer a range of file formats, like MP4, MOV, and even GIFs. 

We’ve assessed a range of free, budget, and premium screen capture tools, judging accessibility, use-case, and capture quality, to select the best free screen recorders for Windows 10 and Mac right now.

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The best screen recorder right now is: Flashback Pro (opens in new tab)
Flashback Pro offers a much more comprehensive set of tools than the free Flashback Express version listed below, including the ability to edit video and audio frame by frame, add picture-in-picture video and annotations. It's not a free screen recorder like the options below, but if you need something for professional use on a regular basis then it might be worth the investment.

Which is the best free screen recorder? 

OBS Studio is the best free screen recorder we've tested. 

Not only can it record everything happening on your desktop, but also capture footage from your webcam and use it for picture-in-picture video, and even record audio from a microphone. This free screen recording software gives you the option to save captures in a format of your choice, or stream them via the service of your choice.

For a long time, it’s been one of the best free screen recorders for Windows 10 - and now, it’s available on Windows 11 through the redesigned Microsoft Store, so you can download it right now if you're trying out Microsoft's latest operating system.

But while OBS Studio is an ideal choice for professionals and gamers alike, it’s worth exploring which other free screen capture tool is best for your needs. So, let’s say you only need to capture a few minutes of footage - more straightforward free screen recorder software might serve you just as well. 

Whether you're making an on-screen tutorial, recording a Let's Play video, or capturing a video conference call, there's something in this list that'll fit your needs.

OBS Studio

(Image credit: OBS Studio Contributors; Shutterstock)
The best free screen recorder for any software, including games

Specifications

Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux

Reasons to buy

+
HD streaming and recording
+
No restrictions on video length
+
Open source and ad-free

Reasons to avoid

-
Setup takes a little while

If you’re looking for free game recording software, OBS Studio is easily the best free screen recorder for you. Unlike the hugely popular FRAPS (which only lets you record for 30 seconds at a stretch unless you’ve bought a license, and applies a watermark to the resulting footage), OBS Studio is open source, and completely free to use without restrictions.

OBS Studio supports both streaming and recording in high definition, with no restrictions on the number or length of your creations. You can stream live to Twitch or YouTube gaming, save projects and come back to them later, or encode your footage in FLV format and save it locally.

Because OBS Studio can record directly from your graphics card, it’s able to screen capture games running in full-screen mode (many other screen recorders can only record if the game is windowed), with customizable hotkeys to control the recording. OBS Studio can also make full use of multi-core CPUs for improved performance and can record at 60FPS (or even higher).

It might take a little while to set it up exactly how you want, but the incredibly powerful OBS Studio is by far the best free screen recorder for gaming.

Read our full OBS Studio review

FlashBack Express

(Image credit: Blueberry Software; Shutterstock)
Best for gaming and capturing footage from a webcam

Specifications

Platform: Windows

Reasons to buy

+
Well designed interface
+
Choice of output formats
+
Record from screen or webcam

Reasons to avoid

-
Some tools are paid-only

OBS Studio is our favorite free screen recording software, but Flashback Express comes an extremely close second. Despite being a free version of a paid program, FlashBack Express is a free screen recorder for PC without a watermark. And it won't impose time limits. 

The screen capture tool is packed with features and tools that rival many premium programs. Its interface is less intimidating than OBS Studio, so if you've never used a free screen recorder before, it's an excellent choice.

You can record from your whole screen, a window, a selected area, or a webcam. Once you’ve finished, your recording will appear in a simple editor, where you can crop and trim it to suit your needs, then export it to YouTube, an FTP server, or your PC.

That’s all fairly standard fare for a screen recorder, but take a minute to dive into Flashback’s advanced options. You’ll find a wealth of thoughtfully designed settings that will make your desktop captures look truly professional. The free screen recording tool for PC can automatically obscure passwords entered on-screen, replace your silly wallpaper with a plain one, hide messy desktop icons, and highlight your mouse pointer to make it easier to follow. There's also a dedicated gaming mode that lets you define the number of frames recorded per second.

There’s no limit on the length of your recordings unless you choose to set one, which can be useful if there’s a chance you might accidentally leave the recorder running. You can also choose to break long recordings up into chunks – a brilliant touch that helps you avoid creating huge, unwieldy files. Your recordings won’t be watermarked, either.

Following a recent update, Flashback Express can export in WMV, AVI and MP4 formats, eliminating the need for a separate video converter, and it no longer requires a free license key for activation – just install the recording software and you're ready to start capturing footage.

FlashBack developer Blueberry Software has also released free game recording software FBX (opens in new tab). This recorder captures HD in-game footage, with hardware acceleration for AMD and Nvidia cards, and Intel CPUs.

If you're thinking about upgrading to FlashBack Pro, Blueberry software is offering TechRadar readers an exclusive 25% discount (opens in new tab).

Read our full Flashback Express review

Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder

(Image credit: Apowersoft; Shutterstock)
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Best in-browser recorder - more powerful than most desktop apps

Specifications

Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux (in browser)

Reasons to buy

+
No time limits or watermarks
+
Lots of export options
+
Can record from webcams

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for games

If you want to record a presentation, software demonstration, or tutorial, give Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder a try. This browser-based tool may not be suitable for games, but it’s the best free screen recorder for any other tasks.

The first time you use Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder, you'll be prompted to download a small launcher application. You'll then be provided with a control bar packed with more options than you'll find in most desktop screen recording software. You can capture footage from your desktop or a webcam, and record audio from your PC, microphone, both, or neither.

You can record the whole screen, select an area manually or choose one of the preset resolutions – ideal if you’re recording a clip for YouTube, for example, and don’t want to use a separate video editor to resize it later.

Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder also offers customizable keyboard shortcuts for speed and convenience. You can choose whether or not to include the cursor in the recording and take your pick from a range of output formats including MP4, WMV, AVI, MOV, and many more. You can even add annotations during screen recording.

Once you’re done, you can save the recording as a video file or GIF, upload it directly to YouTube or Vimeo, or send it to Google Drive or Dropbox. You can also edit the clip. Selecting this option will download an additional component – Apowersoft Video Editor – which lets you make simple adjustments before exporting your video in your preferred format. A truly exceptional tool.

Note that the 'Download desktop version' button links to a program called Apowersoft Screen Recorder Pro. This is a trial version of a premium application and is more limited than Online Screen Recorder.

Read our full Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder review

Debut Video Capture

(Image credit: NCH Software; Shutterstock)
Best for recording from screens, IP cameras, and webcams

Specifications

Platform: Windows

Reasons to buy

+
Scheduled recordings
+
Can record from webcams
+
Can record from IP cameras

Reasons to avoid

-
Looks a little dated

Debut Video Capture is a new addition to our roundup of best free screen recorders, and although its slightly dated design does it few favors, it's an extremely powerful program that can do much more than just capture what's happening on your PC monitor.

In addition to free screen recording without watermarks or time limits, Debut Video Capture can also record footage from external devices, including webcams and security cameras. It can even record on a regular schedule, which means it can become the main hub of a home security system. Not too shabby for a program that's totally free for personal use.

There are no post-production editing tools, but you can apply filters and add your own captions and watermarks before you begin a capture. There's no option for exporting videos directly to YouTube or Facebook, but they can be saved in all the main formats, including MP4, MOV, and AVI (to name just three).

Debut Video Capture is currently in public beta, so we look forward to seeing the final release version with a lick of extra polish soon.

Read our full Debut Video Capture review

ShareX

(Image credit: ShareX Team; Shutterstock)
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Best for open-source sharing of screen recordings online

Specifications

Platform: Windows

Reasons to buy

+
Capture as video file or GIF
+
Dozens of export options
+
Also great for static screen grabs

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for games

ShareX is an open-source app for capturing still screen grabs and recording screens without a watermark or time limits to worry about, but the interface isn't the most intuitive in the world so you’ll be best off using keyboard shortcuts. For quick reference, you can start a recording by tapping Shift + Print Screen, and stop it again using Ctrl + Shift + Print Screen.

You can also use this free screen capture tool to save your capture as a GIF rather than a video file, which can be extremely useful for sharing on forums and social media.

Not only is ShareX among the best free screen recorders, but it can also capture an entire scrolling webpage, capture and identify text via OCR, and even capture your screen according to a schedule.

Another of its best features is the ability to send your captured grabs and videos straight to a file-sharing or social media site. There’s a vast array of options, which you can check out on the project’s site.

Unfortunately, ShareX isn't the best free screen recorder for gaming, as it doesn’t support taking still an video captures from games running in full-screen mode. Other than that, it’s a superb screen recorder that will serve you extremely well.

Read our full ShareX review

Screencast-O-Matic

(Image credit: Screencast-O-Matic; Shutterstock)

6. Screencast-O-Matic

A browser-based free screen recorder with a lot to offer

Specifications

Platform: Windows, macOS, ChromeOS (in browser)

Reasons to buy

+
Supports captions
+
Can zoom while recording

Reasons to avoid

-
Videos are watermarked
-
Maximum length 15 minutes

Screencast-O-Matic is one of the best free screen recorders online in your browser, and a very capable one at that. Recordings are limited to 15 minutes in length, but you can record as many clips as you like, zoom while recording, trim your clips, add captions, save them to your desktop, YouTube, or the cloud, share a video link, or add one of 30 royalty-free music tracks. It's an ideal free screen recorder for low-end PCs.

Hit ‘Start recording for free’, followed by ‘Launch free recorder’. As with Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder, you’ll be prompted to download and install a small web launcher, after which the screen recorder will launch. Prepare your screen and adjust the size of the recording window to suit your needs (it can record the whole screen or just a selected area), then hit the red button. You can capture audio from your PC or a microphone, and record footage from your screen, a webcam or both.

Upgrading to a Deluxe account gives you extra features including scripted recordings, drawing and annotations, a video editor, and (perhaps most usefully) the ability to generate captions automatically with text-to-speech. That’s an impressive set of screen recording tools, but the free version of Screencast-O-Matic has a lot to offer as well.

The only real downside is that recordings are watermarked unless you upgrade, but if that’s not an issue then this free screen recorder is well worth a look.

How to choose the best free screen recorder for you

These are the best free screen recorders, so you could always try out each of them and see what gels. Most options are really easy to use, even if you’re new to screen recording. 

But it’s easier if you start by knowing what it is you’re going to capture - is it a professional video capture for meetings, a screen recorder for YouTube, or even streaming via game recording software. 

Decide if you need proper, professional-grade software, like OBS Studio, or whether recording from your browser will suffice. Next, consider what devices you’re capturing from - you’ll find loads of screen recorders for Windows and Mac, but also Android and iOS apps. Some of the best free screen recorders effortlessly capture webcam footage, too. Ideal for streamers and webinar hosts. 

Finally, think about long-term use. If you’re likely to outgrow free options, it might be worth choosing a package that lets you upgrade to a screen recorder without watermarks, like FlashBack Express or Debut Video Capture. 

How we test the best free screen recorders

When we review the best free screen recorders out there, we evaluate the user experience, the performance, the output, and the audience and use. 

Even if the learning curve is steep, it should be clear how users can start recording their screens - with additional support if necessary. Upon export, we test the quality of outputs, reviewing the video resolution, file formats, and overall quality for lags or stuttering. 

Free screen recording software must be unambiguously free. Users shouldn’t have to navigate complex charges and hidden fees. 

The very best screen recorders are versatile tools, letting you capture and record everything from meetings to gaming. However, we recognize that individual screen recording apps may be built for specific purposes, and judge these tools on how well they deliver for, say, professionals in a business environment or YouTube creators and streamers.

See how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.  

Daryl Baxter
Daryl Baxter

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.

With contributions from