Skip to main content

How to record your computer screen

Need to create a how-to presentation for work? Want to share a fun gaming session with your friends? Recording your screen is a good way to accomplish both.




30 minutes

What You Need

  • Device with Windows 10 (Computer, Xbox), Mac, or Chromebook

  • PowerPoint (optional)

  • QuickTime Player (optional)

  • Screencastify (optional)

The task is easier than you might think, as Windows 10/11, MacOS, and even Chrome OS have built-in tools that can get the job done. In this guide, we’ll show you how by using native, open-source, and paid third-party tools.

How to record your screen on Windows using Xbox Game Bar

Windows 10 includes a native video capture tool, but it’s primarily designed for gamers. However, it can be used for any open application, offering a convenient way to record the screen and even add audio if needed.

Note: All steps for Windows devices will also all work on Windows 11, including options to use PowerPoint explained below. However, Windows 11 will look a little different from the images we are using. If you prefer step-by-step instructions for Windows 11, be sure to check out our Windows 11-specific screen recording how-to guide.

To use the Xbox Game Bar feature, your PC needs to support one of the following encoders. Most modern graphics cards or processors support them.

  • Intel Quick Sync H.264 (Intel second-generation CPU or newer)
  • Nvidia NVENC (most Nvidia GeForce 600 or newer; most Quadro K series or newer)

Step 1: Select the Start button, followed by the Gear icon located in the Start Menu.

Alternatively, you can select the Notifications message bubble icon on the taskbar and select the All settings tile in the Action Center. Both of these methods will open the Settings app.

Selecting the Settings icon in Windows 10.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Select Gaming in the Settings app.

Selecting Gaming option in Windows 10 Settings.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: The Xbox Game Bar section should load by default. As shown below, there’s a toggle under the second paragraph that should be set to On. If it reads Off, then select the toggle.

Windows 10 Settings Xbox Game Bar.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: Select Captures listed on the left to view and adjust further customization options if needed.

Under Captures, you can change your save location for your recordings and screenshots, enable background recording, and enable recordings even when your laptop isn’t plugged in. There are also options to enable recording while projecting your screen, set a maximum recording length, and adjust your audio settings and video quality settings.

Captures section in Windows 10 Settings.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 5: When you’re done adjusting your settings, type the default keyboard shortcut to open the Xbox Game Bar: Win + G.

You may or may not see a prompt asking if the highlighted application on your screen is a game. If you do, just select Yes. Sure, it’s a lie, as Xbox Game Bar is meant for capturing gameplay, but this little fib extends this feature out to other applications. However, Xbox Game Bar does not record the desktop or File Explorer, it only opens with applications.

Step 6: The Xbox Game Bar appears near your screen’s top-center edge. It provides buttons to access these overlays and settings:

  • Widget Menu
  • Audio
  • Capture
  • Performance
  • Xbox Social
  • Gallery
  • Looking for Group
  • Settings

The Game Bar’s Capture overlay should appear by default. If not, select the Webcam icon on the Xbox Game Bar, as shown below.

Note: If your PC has more than one connected display, like a three-monitor setup, the Xbox Game Bar interface will appear on the screen where you last clicked.

Step 7: To begin, select the round Start Recording button on the Capture overlay. To stop the recording, select the Stop recording button, which looks like a square within a circle.

Alternatively, you can type the Win + Alt + R key combination to start and stop recording with Xbox Game Bar enabled.

All captured videos are saved as MP4 files in the Videos > Captures folder under This PC in File Explorer.

Windows 10 Game Bar.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to record your screen on Windows using PowerPoint

Recording your screen with PowerPoint is relatively easy. The drawback is that you need Microsoft’s desktop software for this to work — and a Microsoft 365 subscription. This does not work with the online-only version.

Step 1: With a PowerPoint file already open, select Insert on the menu bar followed by the Media icon on the far right side.

From the drop-down menu that appears, choose the Screen recording option.

Selecting the Screen Recording option in PowerPoint.

Step 2: The screen dims white and renders a toolbar along your screen’s top-center edge, as shown below. Select the Select area button and use your mouse to draw a box around the area you want to record. The target area is then outlined with a red dashed line and devoid of the white transparency.

Alternatively, press the Windows + Shift + R keys simultaneously to record the entire screen.

Using the Select Area version of screen recording in PowerPoint.

Step 3: Select the Record button or press the Windows + Shift + R keys simultaneously.

PowerPoint Record Screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: You can choose the Pause button — it replaces the Record button — to halt the recording as needed. Select the square Stop button to end the capture.

Step 5: To save the recording, right-click on the video displayed within PowerPoint and select the Save media as option on the pop-up menu. Follow the on-screen prompts to save your recording.

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 PowerPoint is a great option for quick-and-dirty recording — especially if you’re doing it for a looming presentation.

PowerPoint Save Media As menu option.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to screen record your screen on a Mac using the Screenshot tool

Included with macOS Ventura is a native feature that allows you to record the screen and take screenshots. Here’s how:

Step 1: Press Shift + Command + 5 to bring up the screenshot toolbar.

Step 2: The toolbar appears on the screen with two sets of buttons: Three on the left to capture a screenshot and two in the middle for recording the screen. It also provides Options and Capture (or Record) buttons.

Step 3: Select the Record entire screen button (left) or the Record selected portion button (right) followed by the Record button — it replaces Capture if the tool was originally in screenshot mode — located on the right.

MacOS screen recording tools.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: When done, select the little Record button located on the menu bar at the top of the display, as shown below. Alternatively, press Command + Control + Esc. The video saves to the desktop by default.

MacOS Video Record Button.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to screen record your screen on a Mac using QuickTime Player

If you’re running a version of MacOS older than Mojave, you can always use QuickTime Player for basic screen recording, as well as audio recording. QuickTime recordings aren’t easy to edit, but if you want a fast and easy recording method, it’s one of the simplest.

Note: QuickTime Player is also available on Catalina and Big Sur.

Step 1: Open QuickTime Player from the Launchpad. If you don’t see it, check the Launchpad’s Other folder.

Opening QuickTime Player on MacOS Big Sur.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: With the app open, select File, located on the Menu Bar.

Step 3: Choose the New screen recording option listed on the drop-down menu.

Selecting New Screen Recording option in QuickTime Player.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: You may see a prompt asking permission to record the computer’s screen. Select the Open System Preferences button and add a tick to the checkbox next to QuickTime Player. You may need to restart QuickTime Player. If not, skip to Step 6.

Selecting Open System Preferences button in macOS.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 5: When QuickTime restarts, select File, followed by New screen recording.

QuickTime Player Capture Options.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 6: The Screenshot tool toolbar appears on the screen with two sets of buttons: Three on the left to capture a screenshot and two in the middle for recording the screen. Choose Options to add or remove mouse clicks, use the built-in microphone, and designate the video’s destination.

Step 7: Select the Record entire screen or Record selected portion button, followed by the Record button located on the right.

MacOS Record Screen Tools.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 8: When finished, navigate to the menu bar and select the Stop recording button, as shown below. Alternatively, select the appropriate symbol if your Mac has a Touch Bar.

MacOS Video Record Button.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 9: To save your recording, select File on the menu bar, followed by Save in the drop-down menu. Choose an appropriate save location (if you haven’t already) and name for the recording, then select Save to confirm.

How to record your screen on a Chromebook

Google now offers a native screen recording tool for Chrome OS — no hopping to the beta required. Google continues to update its screen recording options with new capabilities over time.

Step 1: Log in to Chrome OS. Simultaneously press Shift + Ctrl + the Show windows button (which looks like a box with lines beside it).

Step 2: Click the Screen capture button on the pop-up menu.

Chromebook Capture Video.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: The screen dims, and a toolbar appears along the bottom. In this example, the screen capture tool is set to Record partial screen, as shown above. Press and hold the mouse button or touchpad to draw a box around the area on the screen you want to capture. The toolbar also provides options for Record full screen and Record window.

Step 4: By default, the screen capture tool is set to Screenshot. Select the Screen record button on the toolbar — it resembles a movie camera pointing to the right — to capture video.

Step 5: Select the Record button centered within the selected area.

Step 6: To finish, choose the Stop screen recording button displayed on the Shelf next to the system clock.

By default, the captured video saves to the Downloads folder as Screen recording [date][time] in the WebM file format.

Launching Screencastify extension.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Multiplatform (Chrome extension)

If you’re not keen on the three native solutions listed above, you can install a Chrome extension called Screencastify that does a good job. Here’s how to install and use it:

Step 1: Open the Screencastify listing in the Chrome Web Store and select the Add to Chrome button, followed by Add extension in a pop-up window.

Step 2: Select the Screencastify icon located next to the address bar. If the icon doesn’t automatically appear there, you will need to select the Extensions icon (looks like a puzzle piece) and then select the pin icon next to Screencastify so you can pin the extension’s icon next to your address bar.

Step 3: Sign in with your Google account and follow the prompts to create a Screencastify account.

Step 4: Select the Screencastify icon in the top-right corner again. A drop-down menu will appear.

Screencastify Record Video drop down menu.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 5: Select a source: Browser tab, Desktop, or Webcam only.

Step 6: Enable the microphone and/or webcam if needed.

Step 7: Select Show more options for additional settings, like a countdown timer.

Step 8: Select the blue Record button. You can only record for 30 minutes using the free account.

Note: If you choose Desktop, the following screen prompts you to select your Entire Screen or application Window. After that, choose Share.

Step 9: When you’re done recording, select the pink and white End recording button in the bottom left corner of your screen.

Another tab will open with your recorded video ready to playback for you.

Screencastify screen recording and Stop button.

Step 10: You can now edit the video, share a copy, download it, and more. To edit the name, select the text field to the left of the Open in editor button.

The video saves to your Google Drive by default.

How to record your screen on other devices

Recording your screen isn’t just limited to PCs. You can do so on mobile devices too. Need to know how to record your screen on an iPhone or Android? Check out our guides for screen recording on Androids and screen recording with iPhones.

Alternative offline apps for professional work

If you want an enhanced recording experience from an app specifically designed for more professional — and gaming-oriented — clips, then your best bet is to download one of the apps below.

OBS Studio screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

OBS Studio (free)

As one of the more advanced and freely available screen-recording apps, OBS Studio is open-source and has built-in streaming functions for those who want a live audience while recording. OBS Studio is more fully-featured than some freemium apps, but setting up your personal preferences can take a little longer. However, it’s still the best of the free screen-recording apps currently available. It’s available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Snagit screen.
Digital Trends

Snagit ($63+)

Snagit targets startups more than gamers. It packs a ton of recording features primarily for use in a workplace setting. You can use Snagit to help you put together your next training presentation or illustrate an idea or new workflow. These features include a screen recorder, annotations for screenshots, templates, and the ability to create video from a series of screenshots. It does cost $63 (and possibly more after the first year with a yearly Maintenance subscription), but if you don’t mind paying for the privilege, the added features are worth it. Snagit also offers a 15-day free trial.

Editors' Recommendations

Anita George
Anita has been a technology reporter since 2013 and currently writes for the Computing section at Digital Trends. She began…
This hidden menu has forever changed how I use my Mac
A comparison of two images in macOS Ventura. The image on the left is the original, while the image on the right has had its background removed using a Quick Action.

The more you use Apple’s macOS operating system, the more you come across amazing little tools and features that you’ve somehow never heard of, yet which can totally blow your mind. I’ve been using Macs for over a decade, yet I just stumbled upon a killer feature I never knew existed -- and I absolutely love it.

That feature is called Quick Actions, and you’ll need macOS Mojave or later to give it a try. The name is pretty self-explanatory -- they’re a collection of lightweight tools and tweaks that can save you oodles of time. The reason I never knew about them, though, is they’re hidden away in the right-click menu. I use keyboard shortcuts all the time, so rarely open this menu. But Quick Actions are worth breaking your habits for.

Read more
How to combine PDF files on Windows, macOS, or the web
A man sits at his couch using the M2 Macbook Air.

From housing contracts to business deals, PDFs seep into just about every area of the internet as the official document format you need to get things done. But sometimes using the popular format means we need to convert, combine, or edit them. PDFs, however, can often pose quite a challenge when working with different operating systems.

Whether you’re a Mac or Windows user, we’ve broken down the steps for combining your PDF files. Here is how to do it with whichever computer you have.

Read more
How macOS Sonoma could fix widgets — or make them even worse
Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air on a desk, with macOS Sonoma running on its display.

At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this year, Apple revealed that interactive widgets would be coming to macOS Sonoma. That probably sounds like a tiny new feature, and sure, it’s not as earth-shattering as the Vision Pro announcement. But it could turn out to be one of the most divisive new features in the Mac operating system.

In macOS Sonoma, you’ll be able to plant widgets on your desktop instead of hiding them in the Notification Center. Many widgets will be interactive, letting you tick off to-do list items without opening the widget’s app, for example. And you’ll be able to run iOS widgets right on your desktop, even if that app isn’t installed on your Mac. It’s a pretty comprehensive overhaul. Depending on how well these interactive widgets work, though, we could be left with a bunch of annoying distractions or a set of super-helpful timesavers. The way Apple handles them is going to be vital.
We've been here before

Read more