Best free screen recorders of 2022

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
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A person editing video on a computer.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best free screen recorders make it simple and easy to screen grab images and video for professionals, YouTubers, and gamers.

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.

Make the final cut with the best free video editing software.

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Which is the best free screen recorder? 

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

OBS Studio is the best free screen recorder and streaming software we've tested. Not only can the open-source software 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.


The best free screen recorders of 2022 in full:

Pictured: Screenshot of OBS Studio's free streaming software

(Image credit: OBS Studio)
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
-
Steep learning curve

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).

However, all those fantastic features come at the cost of a steep learning curve. Newcomers may be baffled by the often overwhelming interface. When we tested out OBS Studio, we found a few glitches and frustrations "and it might feel a bit overwhelming when you get started, but it possesses many tools to help you create great content. You just need to get used to the interface." For a simpler take on OBS Studio, we recommend checking out Streamlabs. 

Still, it's a minor gripe for an otherwise top free screen recording software. OBS Studio might take a little while to set it up exactly how you want, but the incredibly powerful tool is by far the best free screen recorder for gaming.

Read our full OBS Studio review.

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Screenshot of Debut Video Capture in use

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

Specifications

Platform: Windows, Mac

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Packed with top-tier features like scheduled recordings
+
Can record from webcams and IP cameras

Reasons to avoid

-
Looks a little dated
-
Issues capturing audio on Mac

NCH Software’s Debut Video Capture is one of the best free screen recorders  - for home users, at least. Commercial users will need to pick up a lifetime license or a subscription that, compared to similar products from rivals, is at the inexpensive end of the spectrum.

Debut is a multi-platform screen recording tool to capture your computer’s screen, and other connected and compatible devices. And, in the main, it delivers precisely the experience you’d expect. 

During our testing, we felt the screen recording software worked very well, letting users capture audio and video from multiple sources with relative ease. 

The interface might feel a little antiquated, but it comes with a wealth of features and customization options. The screen recorder app captures all selected devices separately, making it much easier to edit afterwards. However, you’ll have to do that with video editing software, as Debut offers little in the way of editing capabilities, aside from trimming. 

There is a downside to the tool. While reviewing Debut Video Capture, we sadly encountered a major issue on the Mac, unable to find a way to directly record the system audio. Every option we tried failed, aside from recording it via a microphone - which led to much lower quality. We did not encounter this problem on a PC.

You can download the software free for non-commercial use, or pick up the Home edition ($35 / £40 / AU$50), the Pro edition ($40 / £50 / AU$60 for personal and commercial use). You can also subscribe to get Pro for just over $3 / £4 / AU$5 per month.

Read our full Debut Video Capture review.

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Screenshot of ShareX, the open-source free screen recorder

(Image credit: ShareX)
(opens in new tab)
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 a free PC-only screen recorder and capture tool, and you’ll definitely get Millennium Falcon vibes when using it: it may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts. Underneath a sparse interface lies numerous tools that can help you make your screenshot shine.

These include being able to select the exact part of the screen you’d like to preserve, by using rectangle, ellipsis, and even freehand tools. You also have a myriad of options for marking and annotating your captured images. These include coloured borders, lines and arrows to point to specific areas, text boxes, sequential numbers, etc. You even have the ability to pixelate or blur sensitive sections you’d rather not share, or use a magnifying tool to zoom into a designated area.

Screen capture is also possible, but you have to download specialized software first, and the audio settings aren’t switched on by default.

Shame the interface is so sparse and unappealing. But it’s a small price to pay for so much power and versatility.

Read our full ShareX review 

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Screenshot of EaseUS RecExperts in use

(Image credit: EaseUS)
Best for small businesses

Specifications

Platform: Windows, Mac

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Auto-detects connected devices
+
Up to 4K/60fps captures
+
Packed with tools

Reasons to avoid

-
1-minute recording cap on free version
-
Limited editing tools

EaseUS RecExperts is one of the best screen recorders for Windows and Mac on the market. It’s quick, it’s easy to use, and it’s full to the brim with professional screen-capture features. 

When we tested out the software, we were impressed that RecExperts effortlessly captures your screen, webcam, system sounds, and audio from built-in and USB microphones. And it’s simple to select what you’re recording during set-up. 

Offering up to 4K/60fps captures, the free screen recorder has plenty of utility for delivering webinars, presentations, and even recording games. 

However, while we highly rated the features and tools, we found the editing abilities were lacking. Once you’ve recorded your clip, basic options include trimming and watermarking clips, and adding intros and outros. In this area, it’s not unlike FlashBack Express.

But the big issue is the limitation imposed on the free version. 

Without a subscription, RecExperts recordings are capped at one minute. And useful tools like the excellent recording scheduler are locked behind that paywall. Great, then, for quickly showing a friend or colleague how to perform a particular task, but not for longer videos.

Read our full EaseUS RecExperts review.

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Screenshot of Screencast-O-Matic free screen recorder

(Image credit: Screencast-O-Matic)
Best free screen recorder for those who don't edit

Specifications

Platform: Windows, macOS, ChromeOS (in browser)

Reasons to buy

+
Simple interface and experience
+
Browser-based
+
Can zoom while recording

Reasons to avoid

-
Videos are watermarked
-
Maximum length 15 minutes

Screencast-O-Matic’s Screen Recorder is an interesting free screen recorder as it offers a lot for free: you can easily record your screen, webcam or both with just a few clicks, and apply callouts live, as you perform your talk. The editing is extremely minimal, mind. 

We found the screen recording app simple to use

Unfortunately, the post-edit and export experience is a bit of a let down. After editing and exporting your screen capture, the footage is automatically and instantly discarded as the app shuts down. It’s an unnecessary flaw in an otherwise easy-to-use screen recorder for your browser. 

The free screen recorder should service the needs of most casual users. However, three monthly and annual subscription packages are available, adding more functionality for professional or commercial use. 

These paid-for upgrades let you remove the watermark from screen recordings, as well as the time -limited captures. You’ll also be gaining more video editing tools, and access to an online media library. The more you pay, the more you get. 

Higher subscription plans add stock media, unlimited cloud hosting, video quizzes and polls, and premium content from Shutterstock. If you need online collaboration tools, there’s Team Business for commercial use. 

Read our full Screencast-O-Matic free screen recorder review.

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Screenshot of screen recorder FlashBack Express in action

(Image credit: Blueberry)
Best for capturing live footage

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
-
Free version limited to 720p exports
-
No real editing features

FlashBack Express offers users a free screen recorder for PC without a watermark. We found the tools work exactly as you’d expect. The interface is pared back and easy to understand, with a big ‘Start Recording’ button when you’re ready to begin. 

You can also record your webcam at the same time as your screen, as well as external audio. You even have the ability to crop what you’d like to record, or just choose a specific window.

There are limitations (it is free, after all), such as the recording size (only 720p), and your post-editing capabilities are practically non-existent: all you can do is trim the start and end of your video. 

During our review, we found this the real low point of otherwise acceptable software, saying, “calling that editing is a pretty generous way of referring to trimming. That’s right: you can trim the start and end of your recording and that’s it. These are the only options at your disposal. At this point, you can understand why FlashBack Pro might become a tempting alternative.”

When it comes to exporting, you have access to the usual online storage options such as Google Drive and DropBox, and you also have the ability to upload straight to YouTube. You can also save the file to your computer.

If you need to record something quickly and don’t mind the lack of bells and whistles, we found FlashBack Express is one of the best free screen recorders on the market.

Read our full FlashBack Express review.

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Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder screenshot

(Image credit: Apowersoft; Shutterstock)
(opens in new tab)
Best for .webm exports

Specifications

Platform: Web, Windows, macOS

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for games
-
Frustratingly glitchy set-up

No prizes for guessing what Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder does. The tool offers an interesting take on the screen-recording concept: capture and control recordings direct from your browser. Everything from screen, webcam, microphone and system audio - from it. It sounds great in theory, and would make this a multi-platform tool.

Sadly it doesn’t work as well in practice. When we tested the free screen recorder online, we encountered problem after problem across multiple browsers on Mac and PC. In our review, we felt that “when it works, it records well, but the file format causes headaches.” 

Lack of default .mp4 exports, no editing tools, and means ultimately, it’s great in a pinch - if you can get it working - but we don’t think it’s ready for primetime: it’s too glitchy in its current iteration. And that’s a shame, because its promise of an easy-to-use online screen recorder is appealing.

The company also offers ApowerREC, a screen recorder app for Mac and PC. This fixes most complaints we have with the online version. But, like EaseUS RecExperts, the free trial only lets you record one-minute long videos. 

To make longer recordings, you’ll need to take out a monthly or annual subscription, or buy a lifetime license. The lifetime license offers the best value for money for heavy users, as the one-off payment includes perpetual free updates and technical support. 

Read our full Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder review.


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.  

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Steve has been writing about technology since 2003. Starting with Digital Creative Arts, he's since added his tech expertise at titles such as iCreate, MacFormat, MacWorld, MacLife, and TechRadar. His focus is on the creative arts, like website builders, image manipulation, and filmmaking software, but he hasn’t shied away from more business-oriented software either. He uses many of the apps he writes about in his personal and professional life. Steve loves how computers have enabled everyone to delve into creative possibilities, and is always delighted to share his knowledge, expertise, and experience with readers.

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