There are now so many reasons why you might want to record a video screen capture of your desktop or even your smartphone or tablet display. There are clear business reasons for doing so, not least for adding to presentations due to the increased support for video file files in Power Point. Alternatively, you may want to put together a video for training or education purposes, which may require adding images, video, or website content from multiple sources and is easier to capture and record to video.
Alternatively, you might be a consumer looking to put together a video for a YouTube channel, especially if considering a career as a YouTuber. Alternatively you may simply be an online gamer looking to share your adventures directly with friends or family.
There are many different reasons why you might need a capture your display, so here we'll look at the best screen recorders on the market. Some of these are paid-for, others are free, and others a hybrid where you are allowed so much recording time before you need to upgrade.
- Check out our list of the best free screen recorders.
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Long-standing software for professionals
Camtasia (Windows, macOS) has been in the screen recording game longer than most, and offers more features than most too – as well as capturing what's on screen with aplomb, this fully fledged video editing solution can also add plenty of extras and edits on top too.
Whatever you want to record, from games to PowerPoints, Camtasia can take it all in its stride – with or without audio, with or without a webcam feed, and so on. Annotations, extra media files, transitions, titles and more can then all be dropped in with your footage.
Despite all its features, the software never feels too complex, thanks to an intuitive timeline interface. On the downside, it is expensive at $249 (£240), but you can test it out for 30 days for free. For something cheaper and simpler, try SnagIt from the same developer studio.
- Want to try Camtasia? Get hold of your free trial here
The leading free screen recorder
People who don't want to pay for their screen recorder tools tend to flock to OBS Studio (Windows, macOS), and with good reason: it lets you effortlessly blend different sources and audio tracks together, packing in features you'd usually have to spend heavily to get.
Built with gamers in mind, live streaming options feature prominently, but you can just as easily save your recordings to disk. On top of that you get advanced features like noise reduction (for your voiceovers) and the ability to set transitions between your scenes.
All of this is overkill if you just want to record a quick clip – and to the complete beginner, OBS Studio perhaps isn't the best of the options listed here – but you get a pile of fine screen recording and live streaming features for free, and that's difficult to argue with.
- Think OBS Studio is the recorder for you? It's a free download
Does the basics, and does them well
Not everyone wants the hefty feature sets of the likes of Camtasia or OBS Studio, and Icecream Screen Recorder (Windows, macOS) is a more compact and friendly alternative. Fire it up, click the record button, select the part of the screen to record, and you're off.
Choosing your recording area and saving your footage couldn't really be any easier, though it's not the most precise tool we've ever come across. The program lets you draw on your footage, add a webcam feed, zoom while recording, and choose your final video quality.
Upgrade to the Pro version of the software ($29.95/£19.95), and you can break through the five-minute time limit, as well as select from more output formats, convert between formats, add watermarks, and schedule screen recordings – features which can all come in handy.
- Ready to give Icecream Screen Recorder a go? Here's the download
Screen recording made simple
Continuing the theme of smaller, simpler screen recorders, we present TinyTake (Windows, macOS). It has all the features you're likely to need, none of the fluff you don't, and is particularly good when it comes to sharing captured videos and photos with other people.
As for the main capturing process itself, once you've created an account (which isn't optional), you can be recording your computer screen in a couple of clicks. Drag out the area you want to record, click the start button, and TinyTake effortlessly handles the rest.
And that really is all there is to it – if you want to add annotations, or record anything longer than five minutes, you'll need to upgrade to the paid-for version of TinyTake ($29.95 or about £22 a year). For simple screen recording and easy sharing to places like YouTube, though, it's ideal.
- Tempted by TinyTake? Head here to download the software
One of the best options for Macs
Apple macOS actually comes with some screen recording tools built in – more on that in a moment – but ScreenFlow (macOS) is a serious upgrade on what Apple's desktop software can do on its own, plus it adds a pile of handy features and extra video editing tools.
For example, you can crop, pan, and zoom around different parts of your video recording, as well as add annotations and callouts on top of the footage you've captured. It's a fully featured and intuitive video editor as well as a comprehensive tool for screen recording.
As for the actual capturing bit, it couldn't be any easier to use: pick your video source(s), pick your audio source(s), and away you go. Footage from your webcam can be easily added into your main video, and the whole process is slick and streamlined throughout. It'll set you back $129 (about £94) but a free trial is available.
- Want to put ScreenFlow through its paces? Click here
Straightforward Chrome extension
If you don't want to install extra software on your computer (well, apart from a browser extension), Screencastify (Chrome) is one of the best options. To use the extension without a watermark and for more than 10 minutes at a time, a premium upgrade ($24 or about £17 a year) is required.
Just because the program is an add-on for your browser doesn't mean you're restricted to recording browser windows, although you can do that if you want. Screencastify is able to record in full-screen mode as well, and supports audio from your system or a microphone.
The extension is even smart enough to embed a feed from your webcam as well, so you've got lots of flexibility, even if you don't get quite as many bells and whistles as you do with other programs. On-screen drawings and annotations are supported in Screencastify too.
- Want to add Screencastify to your browser? You can get it here
Comprehensive Android screen recording
AZ Screen Recorder (Android) is one of the top choices for Google's mobile operating system, bringing with it easy-to-use controls, plenty of recording options, and even a lightweight video editor if you want to trim down your recordings before sharing them.
Everything is handled with a little pop-up window that disappears when you start recording. You have the option to illustrate screen touches, and include microphone audio capture too, depending on what you need from your Android screen recording.
Delve into the settings and you can adjust the video recording resolution, frame rate and orientation, and even add a timelapse effect if necessary. It's got just about everything you could want from a screen recorder tool on an Android device.
- Ready to try AZ Screen Recorder? Here's the Google Play Store link
The popular recorder for Apple mobiles devices
Record it! is a screen recorder specifically for iOS devices, such as iPhones, iPads, and iPods, and it's available as an free download from the iTunes appstore.
The app is surprisingly good for what you get. As well as recording the whole screen, it can also use the Facetime camera to record your face for reaction videos. Additionally there is a video editing option, and sharing available via AirDrop and Open In.
It's more ideally suited to iOS 12 or higher for full one-touch functionality, and the video editor comes with a small but decent range of features such as the ability to trim your video, add filters, adjust playback speed, change the background, and rotate the image.
Recordings are filed within the app for easy access, but as well as being available to save in your camera roll, there's also an easy export option for uploading to YouTube.
While the main app is free, there is a pro version available for $3.99 which allows sharing of videos more than 3 minutes long.