How to record your computer screen

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Whether you’re a gamer setting up your own YouTube channel or an entrepreneur attempting to create a video of your latest project, you’ll probably have moments where you think, “I wish I could record that!” While many of today’s computers come pre-equipped with microphones and webcams, they don’t always come with options for easily recording your computer or phone’s display at a moment’s notice — that is, unless you know where to look.

Let’s go over how to record your computer screen on your own terms, whether you want to do so using a free program you already own or an app that’s chock-full of powerful tools aimed at professional productions.

Recording your screen in Windows 10

If you would rather not download any additional software, there’s a good chance that some of the apps you have laying around can already 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 could record your screen with PowerPoint? It’s true — the latest versions of PowerPoint include that feature. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:

Step 1: Head to the Insert tab, and select Screen Recording.

Step 2: Click Select Area to choose the specific area of your screen you want to record. If you want to record the entire screen, press the Windows Key + Shift + F.

Step 3: Click the Record button, or press the Windows key + Shift + R.

Step 4: You can select Pause to pause the video when you want, and Stop to end it and save when you are ready.

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. And don’t ignore the video enhancement tools that PowerPoint offers, such as changing the video’s shape, adding a border, and adding effects like shadows, glow, and more.

YouTube Live Streaming

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

If you don’t want to spend a ton of time recording but still want a video for your YouTube channel, or any other compatible social media platform, then YouTube can help out.

Step 1: Sign into your account as you would normally, using Google’s Chrome browser. Click on your account icon and select YouTube Studio (beta).

Step 2: Choose Live Events under Other Features, and choose Enable live streaming if necessary (if you haven’t created your YouTube Channel yet, this will start the process for you). Then select New live event.

Quick and Custom YouTube Streaming
UW Canvas

Step 3: Fill out the required information, and choose either Quick or Custom for the type of video you want. Custom allows you to choose more coding options for your recording, while Quick immediately opens a streaming window. Note that Quick currently uses Google Hangouts on Air to launch, but since Google is phasing out Hangouts this option may change in the future. When you are ready to begin, click Go Live Now, and select the green Screenshare button in the top left.

Step 4: Select Stop Streaming when finished, and save your Event as you wish.

For a more detailed guide to YouTube streaming for gaming Let’s Plays, check out our full guide. Alternatively, if you want to record yourself, Chrome has some quick-recording features now.

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 (free)

One of the more advanced freely available screen-recording apps out there, OBS Studio is entirely open source and allows unlimited full-screen recording without watermarks. It has built-in streaming functions for those who want to have a live audience while recording and has great hardware support, so 60 FPS recording is perfectly feasible. It’s more full-featured than some freemium apps, and it can take a little longer to set up your personal preferences because of that. However, it’s still the best of the free screen-recording apps out there today.

Snagit ($50+)

how to record your computer screen snagit01

Snagit is designed more for start-ups than gamers, with a ton of recording features made for showing off products and creating your own marketing videos, how-to features, vlogs, and so on. If you are planning an elaborate video that includes several types of video and multiple graphics as well as screen recording, Snagit is a great choice for simpler needs. It does cost $50, but if you don’t mind paying for the privilege, the added features are worth it.

Recording your screen in MacOS

QuickTime Player

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

Step 1: Launch QuickTime.

Step 2: Select File and choose New Screen Recording.

Step 3: To decide whether mouse clicks and sounds appear in your recording or not, click the small, white arrow and select the appropriate options from the drop-down menu. This menu also lets you decide what camera to use if you have multiple cam options.

Step 4: When ready, click the red record button.

Step 5: You’ll need to select what you want to record. To record the entire screen, click once anywhere. To record only a portion of it, click and drag a box and then click Start Recording.

Step 6: When finished, navigate to the menu bar and click the stop recording button designated by the square symbol. Alternatively, if you have one, tap the appropriate symbol on your Touch Bar.

Step 7: To save your recording, click File, then Save, and choose an appropriate save location and name for the recording.

MacOS screen recorder

Screen Recording in Mojave

Included with the latest MacOS Mojave update is a new feature allowing you to record video of your screen as well as take screenshots with the MacOS screen capture tool. If you’re running the latest version of MacOS, here’s how to do it.

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

Step 2: Decide whether you want to record your whole screen or just a portion of it and click the respective button. If you chose the latter, you will then need to select where you want to record, otherwise the recording will begin immediately.

Step 3: When you have recorded everything you want to, click the Stop button to halt the recording.

Step 4: As part of the new version of MacOS, when a screenshot or recording is taken, they appear as a thumbnail in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Click it and choose a save location.

Home Theater

Don’t cash in that 401(k)! These are the best 4K TVs you can get for under $500

These days, you can land a pretty epic 4K TV for under $500. Still, sorting through the litany of options online can be both time-consuming and overwhelming. Check out our list of the best 4K TVs under $500.
Mobile

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Home Theater

Netflix can drain your data in a hurry. Here's how to turn it down a notch

Ever wondered how much data you need to stream a show (or movie) on Netflix? You aren't alone. The answer could be anywhere from 1GB per hour to 7GB per hour, but there's more to it than that. Here's how to control your Netflix data.
Mobile

Get together with your buddies, talk, and play games with Snapchat's group chat

You can get your friends together for a good time, even if they are hundreds of miles away, by starting up a group chat on Snapchat. Here's how to make a group chat on Snapchat and get the party started.
Deals

Dell sale drops up to $895 off Alienware and XPS 13 laptops for grads

If you’re sniffing around for a new PC and are hunting for a deal, Dell has a couple of its best offerings – the mighty Alienware 17 gaming laptop and the super-sleek Dell XPS 13 ultrabook – on sale right now at pretty solid…
Computing

The best webcams you can buy are mostly made by Logitech

Webcams are a bundled feature in most laptops, but if yours doesn't have one or you're video conferencing on a desktop, you might need a standalone webcam. These are the best webcams you can buy.
Computing

Forget Facebook: These are the 5 weirdest cryptocurrencies you can buy today

Though cryptocurrency may sound like a big and serious topic, a few of its implementations are actually fun. From Shiba Inus to feline coins and everything in between, we've rounded up the most eccentric digital coins.
Deals

Amazon deal cuts prices on the latest 11-inch Apple iPad Pro tablets

The Apple iPad Pro has been among our favorite tablets since its initial release in 2018. While Amazon and Samsung offer powerful products, no tablet can touch the iPad Pro's power and productivity. Score yours now on Amazon for just $699.
Computing

Time for a desk upgrade! These great stands will elevate and protect your laptop

The best laptop stands keep your laptop cool and elevated to a position where it's most comfortable to work. Stands come in many different designs with a number of added features, so here are our favorites.
Computing

PCI Express 6.0 is coming in 2021, and it’s already overkill

The PCI Special Interests Group began laying out the specifications for its next, next-generation motherboard socket: PCI Express 6.0. It will double bandwidth again and offer some clever efficiency-boosting technologies.
Cars

Volkswagen says no thanks to outsiders as it develops its own operating system

Volkswagen is taking software development into its own hands instead of joining forces with tech companies. It's assembling a team of more than 5,000 engineers to design an operating system that will equip in all of its cars by 2025.
Computing

Dive into the best VR experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist on it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 29 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

What is Libra? Here’s what you need to know about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency

Facebook released a white paper announcing its new cryptocurrency, Libra, which it intends as a way to enable more people around the world to process online payments. Here's how the new blockchain technology works.