Whether it’s posting to YouTube, streaming on Twitch, or just emailing a friend, it’s always helpful to record video on your computer screen. And there are several screen recording software choices that try to address different usage situations, so let̵
What to pay attention to
There are a few things we would like to discuss before going into the programs themselves.
- Pricing: This list contains a mix of free and paid programs. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the free programs are any worse, as all the programs on this list target different niches. We’ll be sure to mention how much each program costs, and any differences between free and paid versions of the same tool.
- Characteristics: There are many different features that video recording software can include that are attractive for different usage situations. If you want to create short tutorials with your recorded clips then a simple editor where you can add text and merge short videos is a great feature for you. But if you want to live stream or save highlights from your games, you will need tools such as options for customizing stream overlays.
- Performance: Especially for gameplay recording and live streaming, performance is a major concern – it’s not an easy task for a computer to run both processes simultaneously. So whether the program is for simply saving clips or broadcasting your screen to sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming, we’ve made sure that the options here won’t ruin your PC’s performance.
Free and Versatile: OBS (Windows / Mac)
OBS is an open-source program with an emphasis on putting power in your hands. While the user interface is a bit difficult to learn, you can edit just about anything you can think of. OBS is most commonly used for streaming, and you can customize your stream overlay to your heart’s content using the software’s tools. It’s also easy to create multiple “scenes” that you can quickly switch between while live (for example, switching between your desktop screen and your camera view).
But OBS is still great for screen recording – you have plenty of options for configuring your screen recording, and it costs your computer relatively little. And because OBS is open source, you can install many different plug-ins to further customize the software. If you’re willing to learn, OBS is by far the most powerful tool on this list – and it’s even free.
Best for New Streamers: Streamlabs (Windows)
If you’re completely new to the streaming game, Streamlabs is probably more appealing to you – literally. The overall design of the software is refined and easier to learn as compared to something like OBS. The goal of Streamlabs is to make setting up your stream as easy as possible, and as such, there are a ton of presets available for stream overlays, donation and chat screen alerts, and end screens. While it’s still an advanced tool, especially if you delve into personalizing everything, Streamlabs will get your streaming career off to a smooth start, but you can also use it for general screen recording.
Streamlabs is free to download, but Streamlabs Prime offers premium themes, installable apps to add new features, and help getting sponsors for your stream for $ 149 per year or $ 19 per month.
Recording and then editing: FlashBack Express (Windows)
FlashBack Express makes it easy to convert your screenshots into short videos. You can record the entire screen or just part of it, then drop it all into the built-in video editing tool. The editor keeps things simple so it’s easy to learn, but you can still stitch clips together, add text, comments, music, and simple shapes like arrows. FlashBack Express is an excellent tool for creating video tutorials or presentations, and you can even upload videos to YouTube directly from the program itself.
FlashBack Express offers a free version, but if you want some of the more advanced editing tools like video and sound effects, you’ll need FlashBack Pro, which is a one-time cost of $ 49.
Share it !: ShareX (Windows)
If your sole purpose for taking clips or screenshots is to share them with others, ShareX is the program for you. ShareX prides itself on being easy to upload and send videos through social media sites or through simple links. You can even create GIFs with your video clips. ShareX is a great lightweight tool to install and makes sending those short clips to your friends as easy as possible.
And the best? ShareX is open source and as such completely free to use.
Free for Mac: QuickTime
While most of the options covered in this list were exclusive to Windows, QuickTime is exclusive to Mac devices – which makes sense when you consider that it was developed by Apple. This free software allows you to quickly record parts of your screen and then bring those clips to the editor for trimming, rearranging and rotating. QuickTime can even connect to your iPad and iPhone, so you can transfer clips from those devices to your computer to create one unified video in the editor.
Lots of tools: Snagit (Windows / Mac)
Snagit aims to be the end of all screen capture software, but it also has a lot of great screen recording tools. You can capture a single screen, a region or a scrolling window and when everything is done you can add text, edit the video clips and audio, all in the software. There are plenty of great visual templates so that your videos look good without spending hours on them, and you can convert videos to GIFs with ease. Snagit also has a simple tool for sharing your finished video to a ton of different sites and services, including email, YouTube, and Slack.
There is a 15-day free trial of Snagit available, but after that you have to pay a one-time price of $ 49.99 to use the software. It is also compatible with TechSmith Capture – an iOS app that allows you to record your iPhone’s screen and send the footage directly to Snagit on your computer.
Built-in: Nvidia Shadowplay and AMD Radeon Relive
The latter options are already on your PC if you have a dedicated AMD Radeon or Nvidia GeForce graphics card. While these tools differ in some ways, they have the same basic selling point as the built-in capture / broadcast tools that come with your GPU. Both programs allow you to capture your screen and audio, which broadcasts video and audio, and even save clips of a configurable amount of time at the touch of a button.
In the world of broadcast tools, both of these are very simple, but sometimes simple is just what you want. If you want a show where you can just press “Go Live” to stream without worry, both of these are excellent. And when it comes to gameplay recording, both of these do a great job without significantly impacting performance.