Screenshots are great, but sometimes you need to create a video recording to really get your point across. You can record your computer’s desktop, your smartphone’s screen, or your tablet’s display.
This process gives you a video file, which you can do whatever you like with. Upload it to YouTube or email it to a friend. Put together a video tutorial or just capture a problem you’re having so you an demonstrate it later.
Windows 10 includes a built-in tool for recording your screen, so you don’t need to install anything—just use the GameDVR tool to create a quick desktop recording. Don’t let the name fool you: GameDVR can record any application, even if it’s not a game.
For more advanced screencasts (or Windows 7 users), we recommend OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). It’s a powerful, free, open-source tool that allows you to do a lot more than GameDVR. Insert watermarks, embed a video of your webcam while capturing your desktop, or capture multiple windows at once and position them wherever you like. OBS is widely used for video game streaming on Twitch.tv because it’s so powerful, but it works just as well for creating a professional-looking video of your desktop.
If you want something even more powerful that also comes with editing capabilities, you can pay for Camtasia, which doesn’t just record your screen, but contains powerful video editing tools as well. Just be warned, it’s not cheap. Luckily they do have a free trial, so you can test it before you buy.
macOS offers a convenient, built-in screen-recording tool. It’s one of the many useful functions hidden in QuickTime, which is more than just the simple media player it looks like on the surface.
To record your Mac’s screen, open the QuickTime application and click File > New Screen Recording.
You can then click the little menu to the right of the Record button and choose whether you want to capture audio from your microphone in the video, too. This will allow you to narrate along with your actions. Click the Record button to start when you’re ready.
QuickTime will minimize itself to a small icon on the right side of your menu bar and start recording. Click Stop when you’re done, and you’ll be able to preview and save your video. QuickTime can also edit the video, trimming out any unnecessary bits.
For something more powerful, you may want to try Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). It’s not just for Windows—it works on Mac, too. If you want something even more powerful that also comes with editing capabilities, you can pay for Camtasia, which has powerful screen recording and video editing tools, but like we mentioned earlier, it’s not cheap.
Android allows you to record your screen through a few different methods. The easiest is to download an app with screen recording features, like AZ Screen Recorder. It has a ton of features, allowing you to control the quality of the video, record your voice, add a watermark, or even record video from your camera as well.
Alternatively, Android also allows you to capture a video of your device’s display via the adb command if you connect your Android device to your computer, but you’ll likely find apps like AZ Screen Recorder more convenient. You can read up on both methods here.
iPhone or iPad
There are two ways to record an iPhone or iPad’s screen: An official one that requires a Mac and an unofficial one that can be performed on a Windows PC.
Apple offers a convenient, official way to record an iPhone or iPad’s screen. This requires a Mac running OS X Yosemite or newer, along with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 8 or newer. Unfortunately, this feature is only available for Mac users. It’s intended for developers to capture their apps in action, and iOS developers will need to have Macs anyway.
If you have a Mac and an iPhone or iPad, you can connect your iPhone or iPad to it and use the QuickTime application to capture its screen. Just select File > New Movie Recording, click the menu button next to the record button, and select the connected iOS device instead of your Mac’s built-in webcam.
If you don’t have a Mac, you can use AirPlay mirroring software like the free LonelyScreen tool to view your iPhone or iPad’s screen on your computer’s desktop and record it using any Windows screen capture tool.
There are quite a few open-source screen-recording applications for Linux, and you’ll probably find many of them if you pull up your Linux distribution’s package manager and do a quick search. There’s even a way to do this with ffmpeg and other commands from the terminal, if you’re into that sort of thing.
One of the most popular and longest-standing open-source tools for this is recordMyDesktop, which you can install from the Ubuntu Software Center or your Linux distribution’s package management interface of choice.
Launch recordMyDesktop and use its options to choose video and audio quality levels. This tool can record your entire desktop or just a small portion of it. recordMyDesktop works well, provides a simple interface, and offers the most important desktop-recording options.
If you want something more powerful, try Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). It’s available for Linux as well as Windows and macOS.
You can live-stream your desktop instead of recording it, too. On a desktop PC or laptop, OBS works very well for live-streaming. You can even live-stream your desktop straight from VLC!