Whether you’re a gamer setting up your own YouTube channel or an entrepreneur creating video of your latest company project, you’ll probably have moments where you think, “I wish I could record that!” While our computers have microphones and webcams, they don’t come with options to immediately record your computer screen at a moment’s notice…unless you know where to look.
So let’s go over how to record your screen on your own terms – from free programs you may already have downloaded, to apps filled with powerful tools for professional productions.
Use apps you already have
If you would rather not download any additional software, there’s a good chance that some of the apps you have laying around can indeed record your screen, even if that’s not their primary purpose. Here are several apps that you probably have access to right now, and how they can record for you.
PowerPoint: Didn’t know you can record your screen with PowerPoint? It’s true! The latest versions of PowerPoint include the capability. Start by heading over to the Insert tab, and select Screen Recording, with an icon of a recorder and a screen. You can then select the specific area of your screen you want to record, and start the recording process whenever you want. When you’re done you can save the video as a separate file to access or embed as you see fit. Editing and control options are very limited after that, but it’s a great option for quick-and-dirty recording, especially if you’re doing it for a looming presentation.
YouTube: If you don’t want to spend too much time on recording but still want a screen video for your YouTube channel – or any other social media – then YouTube itself can help out. Sign into your account, go to Upload, and under Live Streaming choose Events. Create an Event, Go Live, and then move over to the livestreaming page (you are now recording audio and video, although you can turn that off immediately if you want). On the left you should see a button that says Screenshare. Select it, and choose a desktop window for recording. Then choose Start Screenshare and Start Broadcast. You’re now recording that window! Select Stop Broadcast whenever you are done, and save your Event as you wish.
QuickTime Player: If you’re on a Mac, you may prefer using QuickTime. Launch QuickTime, select File, and then choose New Screen Recording. This will open up a small recording window that you can start, which will automatically encourage you to select either a part of your screen, or the full screen, for recording. Click Start Recording when you are ready. However, note that QuickTime recordings aren’t easy to edit in post, so be careful.
Use free apps available online
If you want an enhanced recording experience from an app specifically designed for more professional – and gaming-oriented – clips, then your best bet is downloading free software. Here are several of the top choices on the web and what you can expect:
Bandicam: Bandicam is a PC app that records your entire screen and saves the recording as AVI or MP4 video files, or as common image files like JPG (useful for screen shots). Bandicam’s value is in simplicity and speed – you can easily turn it on and off as you work – but it has a few extra tools, including the ability to use real-time drawing, mix in your voice afterward, and add a watermark logo to your work. While the free version comes with plenty of features, you will have to pay if you want to upgrade to the complete program.
ShowMore: ShowMore is an app that allows for instant recording, uploading, and sharing. You can choose from several video formats, adjust audio quality and input options, then adjust the recording frame in real time. It’s very user-friendly, especially for beginners who have microphone accessories to try out, and there’s plenty of options for adding text and shapes as you go. You can also select specific parts of the recording to save as separate video files when you’re done. ShowMore has its own video sharing platform, but you aren’t required to use it.
Fraps: Fraps is a Windows app with a lot of screen capturing options designed for more professional pursuits at higher resolutions. The free version isn’t the entire program, but it is enough to get started and make a few videos to see how you like it. It also tracks frames per second constantly so you can benchmark your own computer, making this option ideal for gaming rigs and graphics, if you want to show off.