The best free video recording software

Edited by Ben Stockton

July 14, 2021

A free video recorder is a versatile tool that allows you to record your entire computer screen, a specific window, or a designated area, all in real-time. The best free video capture software allows you to record your webcam at the same time as your screen. This allows you to create tutorials with video narration or video presentations to send to work colleagues.

If you’re looking to find the best free video recording software for your PC or Mac, you’ll need to try one of the recommendations listed below.

Comparing the best free video capture software

App

Best For

Download

Movavi Screen RecorderCreating annotated screen recordings that can be saved in multiple formats
Screencapture.comFree screen recording without the need to download any software
SimpleScreenRecorderLinux users looking for a free and lightweight app for screen recording
ScreencastifyQuick and easy screen recording directly from your browser window
ScreenflowCreating screen recordings on Mac without powerful editing features
OBS StudioRecording or live streaming gaming content with powerful editing options
EzvidCreating videos with a lot of narration using built-in speech synthesis

We’re recommending Movavi Screen Recorder as our top choice from this free video recording software shortlist. It’s simple to use, allows you to record both your screen and your webcam, and lets you record both internal and external sound sources. You can save your recordings in a wide range of popular formats and the free version is fully functional.

You can check out Windows Report’s review for an unbiased opinion, which recommends Movavi Screen Recorder as "a great program for both professional and casual users."

Review by Windows Report

Free video recorders for desktop PCs

If you’re looking for video recording software, you have a number of options to choose from. You can install a desktop app, use an online recording service, or install a browser extension to get the job done instead.

We’ll take a look at some of the best choices for all of these options, starting with apps for desktop PCs.

OS: macOS, Windows

Best for: beginners and professionals looking to create annotated screen recordings

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 42 good reviews out of 45

Movavi Screen Recorder offers everything you need from a screen recorder in an easy-to-use package for Windows 7, Windows 10, and macOS users. You can choose the capture area, and then either take a screenshot or record your screen. You can also opt to record your webcam rather than the screen.

You have the option to capture internal audio or external sources and you can choose to capture audio only if you prefer. There are simple editing tools to help you tweak your recording to exactly how you want it. You can also annotate your images or videos and captures can be saved in most popular formats.

With the option to set up scheduled recording, Movavi Screen Recorder makes creating screencasts or video tutorials quick and easy. It’s the perfect tool for beginners, while professionals can still create high-quality recordings with ease.

Key features:

  • Create screencasts
  • Record the screen and webcam simultaneously
  • Record audio
  • Annotate videos
  • Schedule recordings
  • Edit screenshots

Pros:

  • Can show keystrokes and mouse clicks
  • Can record webcam or screen
  • Easy-to-use
  • Save in multiple formats, including GIF
  • Annotation tools
  • Capture video or screenshots

Cons:

  • Watermark on videos with free version

OS: Windows 10, macOS

Best for: recording screen content with integrated cloud storage

TechRadar rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

TinyTake is a simple-to-use screen recorder that does the basics well. With a click of the mouse or one of the simple keyboard shortcuts, you can capture an image or video of a region, a window, the entire screen, or your webcam.

You then have the option to save it locally or upload it to the cloud with TinyTake’s free online web gallery (the free version offers 2GB of storage). You can then access your captures anywhere or share a link with others. Options to annotate your captures or upload videos to YouTube are only available with a paid subscription.

Key features:

  • Capture screenshots of a region, window, full screen, or webcam
  • Capture videos from the screen or webcam
  • Online web gallery gives access to all of your captures wherever you are

Pros:

  • User-friendly
  • 2GB of cloud storage included with free version

Cons:

  • Recording limit of five minutes with the free version
  • Free version is for personal use only
  • Annotations only available on most expensive plan

OS: Windows, macOS, Chrome, Android, iOS

Best for: creating screen recordings with musical backing

G2 rating: 4 stars out of 5, 35 good reviews out of 42

Screencast-o-Matic offers everything you need to start creating screencasts in just a couple of clicks. You can choose to record the screen, the webcam, or both at the same time, which is ideal for creating tutorial videos.

You can record narration with an external mic, but if you want to record the internal audio, you’ll need to pay for one of the subscriptions. The good news is these subscriptions are very competitively priced. You’ll also need a subscription to access editing tools beyond basic trimming and captioning.

You can upload your videos to YouTube or Google Drive with the free version, and the paid tiers also allow you to upload to Dropbox and Vimeo.

Key features:

  • Record screen, webcam, or both at the same time
  • Record narration through an external mic
  • Record internal audio with paid subscription
  • Trim videos and add captions
  • Upload to YouTube or Google Drive

Pros:

  • Ideal for tutorials as you can record webcam and screen simultaneously
  • Easy upload to YouTube and Google Drive
  • Access to free music tracks
  • Subscriptions are good value for money

Cons:

  • No video editing with the free version
  • Can’t record internal audio with the free version
  • Videos are watermarked without paid subscription

OS: Windows, macOS

Best for: tech tutorials

Techimarket rating: 8 out of 10

AceThinker Screen Grabber Premium offers you a range of recording options through a simple-to-use interface. You select the area you want to record, choose whether or not to record the webcam, and decide if you want to record system audio, external audio, or both. Hit Record and you’re off and running.

The paid version includes additional tools that can help you to make your screen recordings even better, such as real-time annotations and picture-in-picture webcam overlays. You can also choose to have animated mouse clicks and a mouse hot spot to make it easy to follow your tutorial videos.

Key features:

  • Video capture from screen or webcam
  • Editing and annotation tools in the paid version
  • Record external and system audio simultaneously
  • Animated mouse clicks for tutorial videos

Pros:

  • Multiple options for screen or webcam recording
  • Output to most major formats, including GIF
  • Scheduled recordings

Cons:

  • Watermarked videos in the free version
  • Free version limited to three minutes recording
  • Only the full version offers editing tools

OS: Windows

Best for: quickly producing heavily narrated recordings

TechRadar rating: 3 stars out of 5

Ezvid is a completely free video recorder that allows you access to all of its features without any subscriptions or one-time payments. The core features include screen or webcam recording, audio narration, and video editing. You can also access advanced features, including picture-in-picture webcam recording and both internal and external audio recording.

One feature that sets Ezvid apart from its rivals is speech synthesis. This allows you to turn any text into spoken word. It means that whilst you have the option of recording your own narration, you can also just type in your narration and have the text-to-speech function read your narration for you.

If you’re making long, narration-heavy content, Ezvid can speed things up considerably.

Key features:

  • Record the screen, or screen and webcam with picture-in-picture
  • Record narration with external audio devices
  • Text-to-speech for quick and easy narration
  • Video editing tools include playback speed controls
  • Upload recordings directly to YouTube

Pros:

  • All features free to use
  • Easy to use with advanced features hidden from the main recording screen
  • Text-to-speech voice synthesis
  • No watermarks

Cons:

  • No option to save your recordings to your computer
  • Controls always appear on screen although they can be made transparent
  • The editor allows a maximum of 45 minutes

OS: Windows

Best for: free screen recording without watermarks

TechRadar rating: 5 stars out of 5

FlashBack Recorder comes in two flavors. Flashback Express is the free version, which offers all the basics you need to start screen recording. You can record any part of your screen, add webcam footage to your recording, and record narration from an external audio source. Unlike many competitors, there are no watermarks and no recording time limits.

FlashBack Pro is the paid version that adds additional features such as video editing, video effects, and allows you to add text, images, and sounds to your recordings. You can also export to all major formats; FlashBack Express only allows you to export to WMV, AVI, or MP4.

Key features:

  • Record screen, webcam, or both simultaneously
  • Record commentary from an external mic
  • Upload to YouTube or save to WMV, AVI, or MP4
  • The paid version allows saving in any format and includes editing tools

Pros:

  • No recording time limits
  • No watermarks even in the free version
  • Capture webcam and screen

Cons:

  • Access to full editing features requires the paid version
  • Limited output options in free version

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

Best for: recording or live streaming gaming content

TechRadar rating: 4 stars out of 5

OBS Studio is a free and open-source application for video recording and live streaming. It allows you to record or stream video from a wide selection of sources, including individual windows, browser windows, and your webcam. You can use capture cards as a source, allowing you to stream or record gameplay from consoles such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

OBS Studio includes video editing tools that allow you to edit individual clips or combine clips together using in-built transition effects. You can even mix together clips while streaming live. There are also audio mixing options which are something that many rivals don’t offer.

Key features:

  • Record multiple sources, including specific windows, webcams, and capture cards
  • Offers recording and live streaming
  • Video editing tools, including transitions between scenes
  • Audio mixing from multiple sources

Pros:

  • Free and open-source
  • Optimized for streaming games with support for major streaming platforms
  • Wide range of recording sources
  • Customizable UI
  • Packed with features

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Not the most intuitive
  • Additional options can become overwhelming

OS: macOS

Best for: creating screen recordings for iPhone or iPad

TechRadar rating: 4 stars out of 5

ScreenFlow is a video recording application for Mac that offers a powerful collection of features. You can record your screen, your webcam, and can even record the screens of connected iPhones and iPads.

It has an impressive array of editing tools that allow you to add professional-looking effects to your recordings. You can add filters such as color filters or blur, use animations or motion graphics, and even remove or change the background of a webcam recording without the need for a green screen.

The free version of ScreenFlow is fully featured but will add a watermark to your finished projects.

Key features:

  • Record from multiple sources, including connected iPhones and iPads
  • Powerful editing features, including video animations and motion graphics
  • Background removal feature
  • Export to YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive, Dropbox, and more
  • Allows you to record the screens of connected iPhones or iPads

Pros:

  • Recording from iPhones and iPads
  • Remove backgrounds without the need for a green screen
  • Powerful editing tools with a wide range of options
  • All features available in the free version

Cons:

  • The free version includes watermarks
  • Lacks screenshot options

OS: Windows

Best for: creating video content for websites

Capterra rating: 4.3 stars out of 5, 12 good reviews out of 13

MadCap Flare is a professional authoring and publishing suite. It includes authoring, publishing, translation, and CMS tools, as well as image capture and screen recording apps. These apps allow you to capture or record your entire screen, or select which portion of the screen to capture. There’s no option to capture images from your webcam, however.

There are useful editing tools that include video transitions, arrows and callouts, zooming and scaling, and animated typing boxes. You can export your completed movies to HTML5 or PDF format and upload movies to Vimeo or YouTube directly.

MadCap Flare’s free trial is limited to 30 days but is fully functional during that time for you to try before you buy.

Key features:

  • Dedicated apps for image capture and screen recording
  • Wide selection of editing features
  • Studio of applications including translation and authoring apps
  • Useful how-to guides

Pros:

  • Image capture and screen recording have their own apps
  • Powerful editing features including transitions and animated typing boxes
  • No watermarks on videos
  • A suite of applications included

Cons:

  • Free trial limited to 30 days
  • No option to record webcam
  • Have to switch apps to change from image capture to screen recording
  • Output options limited to HTML5 and PDF

OS: Linux

Best for: Linux users

AlternativeTo rating: 4.6 stars out of 5, 12 good reviews out of 12

SimpleScreenRecorder is a freeware screen recording app for Linux. It allows you to record the full screen or select a specific area to record. There is also the option to record OpenGL apps, which is useful for recording Steam games.

The app is simple to use with default settings that will suit most users, but there are also plenty of customization options if you want to make changes. You can save your recordings to most formats, but there’s no way to edit them at all. You can also live stream, although this is an experimental feature.

Key features:

  • Can record full screen, specific area, or OpenGL apps
  • Pause and resume recording at any time
  • Get key information such as file size during recording
  • Export to multiple file types
  • Also allows live streaming

Pros:

  • Sensible default settings so you can be up and running quickly
  • OpenGL recording ideal for Steam games
  • The lightweight app can run on older hardware
  • Live information during recording
  • Free and open source

Cons:

  • No option to record webcam
  • No screen capture options
  • No macOS or Windows versions
  • No editing options

OS: Linux

Best for: fans of open-source formats

Sourceforge rating: 5 stars out of 5, 8 good reviews out of 8

recordMyDesktop is an open-source screen recording app for Linux. It allows you to record the full screen, select a region of the screen to record or capture a specific window. The interface is simple to use with minimal options, including the ability to change the video and audio quality to reduce file size.

There are no editing options available; you can’t trim or make changes to the recording. The application is focused on open-source protocols, and as such, the only output options are OGA files for audio and OGV files for video. The application is lightweight meaning it can run on older hardware.

Key features:

  • Record full screen, specific windows, or select a region
  • Simple to use with few settings to change
  • You can change audio and video quality for smaller file sizes

Pros:

  • Simple and lightweight
  • Can record the full screen, a specific area, or a specific window
  • Free-to-use with no watermarks

Cons:

  • Only saves to OGV format
  • No webcam recording options
  • No editing tools
  • Only available for Linux

Best online recorders

If you’d rather not install any additional software on your computer, there are plenty of online video recording options to choose from. These websites allow you to record your screen directly from the web page itself. Here are some of our favorites.

Best for: recording your screen without downloading any software

Trustpilot rating: 4.6 stars out of 5

Screencapture.com is an online screen recorder that allows you to record the entire screen, a window, or even a browser tab. It’s compatible with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

You can select whether to record system audio, your microphone, or both. There’s also the option to simultaneously record your webcam. When you finish recording, you’re given a preview of the recording which you can choose to download in MP4 format.

Key features:

  • Record the entire screen, a specific window, or a specific browser tab
  • Record system sound, microphone, or both
  • Option to record webcam simultaneously

Pros:

  • Simple interface
  • Can record webcam and screen simultaneously
  • Record system audio or external audio device
  • Can preview a video before you download it
  • No downloads required prior to use

Cons:

  • Can only save to MP4 format
  • Watermark on video

Best for: creating screen recordings in a wide range of formats

TechRadar rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder allows you to record the full screen, select a specific region, or record your webcam. You can simultaneously record your system audio, your microphone, or both.

Although the app runs online, you’ll need to download a small launcher app the first time you use it. Once you’ve installed this, you can start, stop, edit, and save recordings all from within your browser.

Once your recording is complete, you have the option to trim it by setting the start and end points, and you can save it to a wide range of formats, or upload it to the cloud.

Key features:

  • Record full screen, selected regions, or webcam
  • Record system sound, microphone, or both
  • Can add live annotations
  • Save in multiple formats

Pros:

  • No watermark or time limits
  • You can set start and end points to trim your recording
  • Can save in multiple formats or upload to the cloud

Cons:

  • Requires download of a launcher before you can use it
  • Fewer options on Mac

Best for: creating YouTube content without installing apps

User rating: 4.1 stars out of 5, 138 good reviews out of 141

AceThinker Online Screen Recorder allows you to record from your webcam as well as recording the full screen or a specific region. You can launch it directly from your browser, although you’ll need to download and install a small launcher app the first time you use it.

Selecting Start Recording allows you to choose what region to record or whether you want to record your webcam. You can select whether you want to record system audio, your microphone, or both simultaneously. You can also choose your video settings, such as the bitrate and the video format you want to save in.

Once completed, you have the option to upload your recording to YouTube, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Vimeo.

Key features:

  • Record full screen, a specific region, or webcam
  • Record microphone, system sound, or both
  • Add annotations during recording
  • Save in a range of formats

Pros:

  • Customizable video settings, including bitrate and frame rate
  • Options to upload to YouTube or cloud storage sites such as Dropbox
  • No time limits or watermarks
  • Save to AVI, MOV, WMV, MP4, GIF, and more

Cons:

  • You have to download a launcher before the first use
  • No editing options

Best browser extensions

Video recording browser extensions allow you to start recording your screen directly from your browser. They allow you to record a single browser window, the entire desktop, a specific region, and even your webcam. Below are some of the best browser extensions.

Best for: quick and easy screen recording on Chrome

Common Sense rating: 4 stars out of 5, 9 good reviews out of 11

Screencastify is one of the best browser-based video recorders. As a Google Chrome extension, it allows you to quickly capture important moments in your web browser. It also allows you to capture your desktop or screen output, as well as capture video directly from your webcam.

It integrates directly with your Google account, allowing you to sync your recording to your Google Drive cloud storage. It supports an unlimited number of recordings with zero watermarks, making it a powerful free option for recording your videos, although you are limited to a maximum recording length of five minutes with a free account.

You can also quickly edit your videos, thanks to some basic features such as video trimming. If you want to narrate your videos, Screencastify allows you to do so, thanks to narration support. Overall, Screencastify is one of the most powerful video recorders for Chrome users, with cross-platform support on all platforms.

Key features:

  • Record entire screen, browser tab, or webcam
  • Webcam can be captured simultaneously
  • Record narration from microphone
  • Basic editing allows trimming of videos
  • Export as MP4, GIF, or MP3
  • Share recordings via the Google Drive link

Pros:

  • Videos autosave to Google Drive
  • Can record with embedded webcam video
  • No watermarks
  • Unlimited number of recordings

Cons:

  • Additional editing tools and annotations require paid upgrade
  • Requires Google account
  • Only works in Chrome
  • Recording limit of five minutes for the free version

Best for: creating video messages for work

Chrome Web Store rating: 4.7 out of 5

Loom is a free screen recorder designed with businesses in mind. It allows you to record your screen at the same time as your webcam and microphone. The finished video is a professional-looking recording with your webcam feed appearing in a bubble over your screen recording.

You can embed your recording in popular work apps such as Slack, Jira, and Gmail for easy sharing making a great collaboration tool. You can also set up a team library where an entire team can access and share their videos.

There’s a limit of five minutes per recording for the free version, and you can only store 25 recordings. If you want to make more, you’ll need to delete some or upgrade. Standalone apps are also available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Key features:

  • Record screen, webcam, and microphone simultaneously
  • Integrations for Slack, Jira, Github, Gmail, and more
  • Allows unlimited screenshots
  • Includes video editing tools

Pros:

  • Integrates with popular work apps
  • Recording your screen and webcam simultaneously useful for work collaboration
  • Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android apps also available
  • Popular app with over 9 million users

Cons:

  • Recordings limited to five minutes on the free version
  • Can only store a maximum of 25 recordings without upgrading
  • Browser extension only available for Chrome

What to look out for in free video recording software

With any luck, there’s a video recorder for you in this shortlist of some of the best free video recording software out there. It can be difficult to know where to start, especially with so many options. If you’re still struggling, here are some key things you should look out for:

  • Ease of use: Ideally, you want to be able to start recording your screen as quickly as possible. Some software may offer you a huge amount of features and settings, but it’s easy to get bogged down with too many choices.
  • The right features: This will depend on your personal use cases, but key features to look for include the ability to record your webcam, the option to record both internal and external audio, and the ability to edit your finished recordings.
  • Output formats: You can create the perfect screen recording but it’s not much use if the person you share it with can’t watch it as it’s in the wrong format. Look for software that allows you to save your recordings in the most popular video formats.
  • Good reviews: You’re not the first person who has looked for free video recording software. You can save yourself some headaches by checking out user reviews to get honest feedback from people just like you.

Ben Stockton

Ben Stockton is a technology writer from the United Kingdom. He was previously a computing college lecturer in the UK, but since leaving the classroom, he's been a writer, creating how-to articles and in-depth technology tutorials for sites like MakeUseOf, How-To Geek, and Online Tech Tips. He has a degree in History and a postgraduate qualification in Computing.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that Movavi Screen Recorder does not allow capture of copy-protected video and audio streams. Learn more

Frequently asked questions

How do you record a video on Windows?

On Windows, there is a built-in screen recorder called Game Bar. To launch it, press Win + G on your keyboard. Some panels will appear. Click the Start recording button on the upper left one and here you go! After you finish capturing, click Stop recording. Here’s the detailed guide about video capturing using Game Bar and some other apps.

What is the best video recording software for Windows?

It’s difficult to choose between the best video recorders for Windows, but here are some top choices to choose from:

  • Apowersoft Screen Recorder
  • TinyTake
  • Screencast-O-Matic
  • Ezvid
  • FlashBack Recorder

What is the best video recording software for Mac?

If you need to capture your Mac screen, choose one of the programs listed in the guide below. These apps are easy to master and you can choose the one which best suits you.

What is the best free video recording software?

Here’s some of the best recording software available for free:

  • Apowersoft Screen Recorder
  • TinyTake
  • Screencast-O-Matic
  • Ezvid
  • FlashBack Recorder
  • OBS Studio
  • Screencastify
  • ScreenFlow

What is the best video recorder for PC?

There are plenty of top quality video recorders out there for PC, but here’s a shortlist of some of the best of them:

  • Movavi Screen Recorder
  • Bandicam
  • AceThinker
  • CamStudio
  • Icecream Screen Recorder