Android 4.4 added a new screen-recording feature, making it much easier to create video recordings of an Android device’s screen in MP4 format. This is useful when creating walkthroughs and tutorials or just showing off an app.
Google officially recommends using the Android SDK and a USB connection for this. However, if you have root access, you can also do this entirely on your device with an app. Both methods require Android 4.4 KitKat.
Record Your Device’s Screen With the Android SDK and ADB
To start screen recording without root access to your device, you’ll need the Android SDK. The Android SDK’s command-line ADB utility allows you to initiate screen recording over a USB connection.
You can download the Android SDK from Google’s Android Developers website. Note that you don’t need Java installed, as we’re just using ADB here. For more information on setting up the Android SDK and ensuring it’s working, read our guide to installing and using ADB.
You’ll also need USB debugging enabled on your device before you can interface with it. Follow our guide to accessing the hidden Developer Options menu and enabling USB debugging. After enabling USB debugging, connect your device to your computer with a USB cable.
To use ADB, extract the Android SDK package and navigate to the sdk\platform-tools folder. Hold Shift, right-click inside the folder, and select Open command window here.
Run the following command to ensure ADB can communicate with your connected Android device:
Assuming your device is connected via USB, USB debugging is enabled, and you’ve accepted the security prompt on your device, you’ll see a device appear in the window. If the list is empty, adb can’t detect your device.
To start recording your device’s screen, run the following command:
adb shell screenrecord /sdcard/example.mp4
This command will start recording your device’s screen using the default settings and save the resulting video to a file at /sdcard/example.mp4 file on your device.
When you’re done recording, press Ctrl+C in the Command Prompt window to stop the screen recording. You can then find the screen recording file at the location you specified. Note that the screen recording is saved to your device’s internal storage, not to your computer.
The default settings are to use your device’s standard screen resolution, encode the video at a bitrate of 4Mbps, and set the maximum screen recording time to 180 seconds. For more information about the command-line options you can use, run the following command:
adb shell screenrecord –help
Create Screen Recordings With an App [Root Required]
If you have root access on your device, you can skip the Android SDK and USB cable. Various apps on Google Play will allow you to run the screen record command entirely from your device. Android 4.4 Screen Record is one such app. After using such an app, you’ll find the video on your device, just as you would if you had connected it to your computer via USB.
These apps require root access because they provide a way of running the command entirely on your device. Normally, this command can only be initiated over a USB connection with a computer. They take advantage of the screen-recording feature built into Android 4.4 KitKat and should work the same way.
However you choose to record your device’s screen, you’ll end up with an MP4 file stored on your device. You’re free to edit the file, upload it, or do whatever else you want with it. The screen recording obviously won’t capture your finger, so there are still situations where you might want to point a camera at your device’s screen instead.