Using free screen recorder apps on Windows or Mac can help convert a meeting, a project, or a game into a movie with ease.
There are some impressive tools available that can capture everything that’s happening on your screen completely free, without any frustrating limitations.
Whether you’re making a software tutorial for your YouTube channel, recording a Let’s Play video, or capturing a video call, there’s something in this list that’ll fit your needs.
The best free screen recorder for any software, including games
If you’re a keen gamer, 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 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 OBS Studio is by far the best and most powerful screen recorder for gamers.
Ideal for recording games and capturing footage from a webcam
OBS Studio is our favorite free screen recorder, but Flashback Express comes an extremely close second. Despite being a free version of a paid program, FlashBack Express won’t put ugly watermarks over your recordings or impose time limits, and it’s 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 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 free screen recorder, but take a minute to dive into Flashback’s advanced options and you’ll find a wealth of thoughtfully designed settings that will make your desktop recordings look truly professional. The recorder 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 software and you’re ready to start recording.
Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder
An in-browser recorder more powerful than most desktop apps
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 the 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.
A great choice if you want to share your screen recordings online
ShareX is an open source app for capturing still screen grabs and recording videos. There are no watermarks 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 recorder 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 doesn’t support taking screen grabs or recordings from games running in full-screen mode. Other than that, it’s a superb screen recorder that will serve you extremely well.
Windows 10’s built-in Game bar
You might be surprised that Windows 10 and 11 have a pre-installed Game bar for anyone who wants to capture their game clips and screenshots. Of course, this Game bar can be used to record apps only – it cannot record full screen or a specific region. This makes sense as it is designed for gaming capture. Although the Game bar is available on all Windows 10 PCs, to record game clips and screen, your computer’s video cards must meet the hardware requirements.
Recording your screen with the Game bar is easy by following these steps:
Press WINDOWS+G to open the Game bar. If required, select the “Yes, this is a game.” check box.
Press the Start/Stop Recording button to start and stop a recording. Use the Turn Microphone On/Off button to toggle microphone if you wish.
After recording, trim your video or rename it in the Xbox app. Your video will be saved in the Captures folder, which by default is in your Videos folder.