12 best laptop screen recorders for free

Edited by Paula Beaton

May 18, 2021

Here are the three best laptop screen recorders:

  1. Movavi Screen Recorder – a desktop program
  2. OBS – an open-source software
  3. Screencapture – an online tool

Laptop screen recorders are an excellent way to record what’s happening on your computer screen. You might want to record a live meeting to review later, eliminating the need to take notes. Or perhaps you want to record tutorials or lessons to share with your team for online learning. Whatever your reasons for needing to record video on your laptop screen, there are plenty of recorders out there to choose from. In this article, we’ll explain how to screen record on a laptop and take you through some of the best screen recorders for laptops available. We’ll also answer your most frequently asked questions about laptop recording software – so keep reading.

Best screen recorders for laptop

Best for: Anybody looking for a free laptop screen video recorder that’s packed with features, easy to use, and versatile.

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 44 reviews

Movavi Screen Recorder is one of the best screen recorders for laptops. It’s packed with screen recording features and built-in editing options and allows you to capture your entire screen or just a part of it. It’s easy to take and save screenshots and record video with your webcam or sound from your microphone.

Pros:

  • Simple to master
  • Capture screen, webcam, and microphone
  • Free version with no time limits

Cons:

  • Free version watermarks output videos

Best for: Those looking for a laptop screen recorder for free who don’t want to download and install software on their PC.

Rating: N/A (built into Windows)

Windows Game Bar is a screen recording feature that’s built into Windows 10. It’s easy to activate it from your settings menu, and you can use keyboard shortcuts to start and stop recording your screen. It’s a very basic screen recorder, but it’s free and easy to use.

Pros:

  • Built into Windows – no need to download
  • Free to use
  • Easy to get started

Cons:

  • No additional features, just screen recording and screenshots

Best for: Bandicam is great for organizations or individuals looking for free screen recording software that allows them to record short (under 10 minutes) videos.

Capterra rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars, 23 reviews

Bandicam is laptop recording software for Windows devices. As well as recording your entire screen, you can record certain areas, add a webcam overlay, or draw on videos while they’re being recorded. Recordings can be saved as AVI or MP4 video files or still images.

Pros:

  • Add own logo to recording
  • Add mouse effects/animations while recording
  • Record games
  • Choice of the free or full version

Cons:

  • The free version has a 10-minute recording limit
  • Videos are watermarked with the free version

Best for: Screen Grabber Pro is great for anyone looking for a free screen recorder that’s easy to use and allows quick sharing of videos to various sites.

Rating: 4.2 of 5 stars, 121 reviews

AceThinker Screen Grabber Pro is a free laptop screen video recorder that’s simple to use. Available for Mac and Windows, you can record your entire screen or a specific area and record audio both from your computer itself and an external microphone.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Upload video to YouTube, Google Drive, or Dropbox
  • Free version available
  • Available for Windows and Mac

Cons:

  • Adds a watermark in the free version

Best for: Individuals and small businesses looking for a free screen recorder with additional features.

G2 rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars, 21 reviews

Icecream Screen Recorder is a free way to record video on a laptop screen on Mac or PC. Select certain areas to record, add your own watermark, or record via your laptop webcam. There’s a Pro version available, too, with additional features.

Pros:

  • Can take screenshots
  • Lets you record selected parts of the screen
  • Audio recording
  • Save screenshots and send via Skype or email

Cons:

  • Some features only available in the Windows version

Best for: Windows users looking for a free, compact solution for video recording that’s simple to use.

Rating: N/A

DVDVideoSoft Free Screen Video Recorder is a compact app for Windows that’s packed with features. Record your screen and speech from your laptop mic or an external microphone. The software also lets you save screen captures and resize, rotate, and crop images taken.

Pros:

  • Capture multiple windows
  • Save screen captures to edit, share, or print
  • Save your recordings in MP4 format

Cons:

  • No Mac version – only available for Windows

Open-source software to record video on the laptop screen

Best for: Professional videographers or gamers looking to live stream and record video on laptop screens.

Capterra rating: 4.6 of 5 stars, 499 reviews

OBS (Open Broadcaster Studio) is one of the best screen recorders for laptops. It's free, open-source, and also supports live streaming. With its powerful API, it’s packed with features and allows you to capture your entire screen, browser windows, still images, webcam recordings, and more.

Pros:

  • Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Free
  • Modular ‘Dock’ UI that’s easy to set up to suit your needs

Cons:

  • There’s a steep learning curve as it’s designed for professionals
  • It can frequently crash on lower-spec machines

Best for: Anybody looking for a free laptop screen recorder that’s simple to use to create AVI videos.

Capterra rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

CamStudio is a free, open-source laptop screen video recorder. You can record all or part of your screen as well as audio, but videos can only be saved in AVI format. There’s a handy built-in help file if you get stuck using the software.

Pros:

  • Free to use
  • Lets you add captions to recorded videos

Cons:

  • Can only save videos in AVI format
  • The installer may install unwanted programs on your computer
  • Windows only

Best for: Those already using VLC as their media player, or anybody looking for a quick and easy solution for screen recording.

G2 rating: 4.6 of 5 stars, 409 reviews

VLC is one of the most popular media players around, but it can also be used as a laptop screen video recorder. If you already use VLC as your media player, it’s easy to set it up to record your screen, but it doesn’t have any advanced features.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Choice of desired frame rate
  • Great if you already use VLC for playing media

Cons:

  • Only saves files in MP4 format

Online laptop recording software

Best for: Anybody looking for a free online solution to record meetings or training sessions.

Trustpilot rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars, 101 reviews

If you’re wondering how to record a laptop screen with audio, Screencapture is the free online solution you need. There’s no software to download, and you can save your videos in HD quality – you can also record your webcam.

Pros:

  • Free, and no software to download
  • Record voice and computer system sounds
  • Option to add or remove a watermark

Cons:

  • Watermarks in the trial version

Best for: Anyone looking for a free, fully-featured screen recording tool that allows you to edit, annotate, and share recordings easily.

TechRadar rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder is a free online tool that’s easy to use. You’ll need to install the browser extension, but then you can start to record video on your laptop screen in a few clicks. You can also record webcam and audio and annotate your videos in real-time.

Pros:

  • No time limits
  • Real-time editing and annotation
  • Easy to share to YouTube or other sites
  • Handy user guide to help you get started

Cons:

  • Requires browser plugin
  • Not suitable for recording games

Best for: Educators and professionals creating how-to videos, lessons, and presentations.

G2 rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars, 75 reviews

Panopto Express is a free online screen recorder that makes it easy to record anything on your computer screen. There are no recording limits, and you can easily share your recordings through Panopto, Google Classroom, or YouTube.

Pros:

  • No software to download or install
  • No recording limits
  • Record webcam using SmartCam technology
  • Capture multiple sources simultaneously

Cons:

  • Can be a bit clunky to use
  • UI is very basic
  • Can only download recordings in MP4 format

Comparing laptop screen video recorders

Software

OS

Pros

Cons

Movavi Screen RecorderMac, Windows
  • Simple to use
  • Capture screen, webcam, and microphone
  • Free version
  • The free version has watermarks
Windows Game BarWindows 10
  • Built into Windows
  • Easy to use
  • No Mac version
  • No additional features
BandicamWindows
  • Add own logo to recording
  • Add mouse effects/ani­mations while recording
  • Record games
  • The free version has a 10-minute recording limit
  • Watermarks with the free version
AceThinkerMac, Windows
  • Easy to use
  • Upload video to YouTube, Google Drive, or Dropbox
  • Free version
  • Videos watermarked in free version
Icecream Screen RecorderMac, Windows
  • Take screenshots
  • Record parts of the screen
  • Audio recording
  • Save screenshots and send via Skype or email
  • Some features only in the Windows version
Free Screen Video RecorderWindows
  • Capture multiple windows
  • Save screen captures to edit, share, or print
  • Audio recording
  • Save in MP4 format
  • No Mac version
OBSMac, Linux, Windows
  • Free
  • Modular ‘Dock’ UI
  • Can crash frequently
  • Steep learning curve
CamStudioWindows
  • Free to use
  • Add captions to videos
  • No Mac version
  • Can only save videos in AVI format
  • May install unwanted programs on your computer
VLCLinux, Mac, Windows
  • Easy to set up
  • Choice of desired frame rate
  • Great if you already use VLC for playing media
  • MP4 format output only
ScreencaptureOnline tool
  • Free
  • Nothing to download
  • Record voice and computer system sounds
  • Add/remove watermark
  • Watermarks in the free version
Apowersoft Free Online Screen RecorderOnline tool
  • No time limits
  • Real-time editing and annotation
  • Easy to share to YouTube or other sites
  • Handy user guide
  • Can’t record games
  • Need browser plugin
Panopto ExpressOnline tool
  • Nothing to download or install
  • No recording limits
  • Capture multiple sources simultaneously
  • MP4 format output only
  • Very basic UI

How to screen-record on a laptop

If you’re wondering how to screen record on a laptop using Movavi Screen Recorder, here are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1. Download and install the software

Download the software. Then double-click the file to install it on your computer.

Step 2. Launch the software

Open Movavi Screen Recorder by double-clicking the icon in your Start Menu or on your desktop.

Step 3. Set up recording parameters

Adjust your recording settings to suit and set up the screen capture area by clicking the Video Camera icon in the right-hand menu and following the on-screen prompts.

Step 4. Capture audio and video

Hit the red REC button to start recording audio and video. Tap the Stop button in the bottom right or hit F10 to stop recording.

Step 5. Edit

Simple editing tools make it easy to edit your recording.

Step 6. Save your recording

Your file will automatically be saved to “Videos > Movavi,” but you can change this in the settings.

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 your laptop screen?

One of the easiest ways to record video on a laptop screen is to use Game Bar, which is already installed with Windows 10. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Click Start > Settings > Gaming > Game Bar.
  2. Toggle the top button On to activate Game Bar.
  3. Click Capture in the left-hand menu to see where your screen capture will be stored by default.
  4. Click to toggle the Background Recording button On and adjust the max recording length to suit.
  5. Adjust your audio settings. We recommend turning on the Record Audio toggle and checking the box next to turn the mic on by default when you record.
  6. If recording training videos, you may want to turn on Capture mouse cursor movements.
  7. Use keyboard shortcuts Win + G to display Game Bar and Win + Alt + R to start and stop recording.

If this all seems a bit complicated and you’re looking for a simpler video capture alternative, give Movavi Screen Recorder a go!

What are the best laptop screen recorders?

There are plenty of great, easy-to-use laptop screen recorders out there packed with features, but here are some of the best screen recorders for laptops, in no specific order.

  • Movavi Screen Recorder
  • Windows Game Bar
  • Bandicam
  • AceThinker
  • Icecream Screen Recorder
  • DVDVideoSoft Free Screen Video Recorder
  • OBS
  • CamStudio
  • VLC
  • Screencapture Free Online Screen Recorder
  • Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder
  • Panopto Express

Does Windows 10 have a built-in screen recorder?

Yes, it does. Windows Game Bar comes built into Windows 10 and can be activated by following our step-by-step guide in the first FAQ above. It doesn’t have any advanced features, but it’s a quick and easy way to record video on your laptop screen if you’re using a Windows laptop.

Paula Beaton

Paula is a seasoned content creator, copywriter, and editor, with more than 8 years of experience writing for tech and travel brands such as Thomas Cook, Skyscanner, Eltima Software, and DigitalTrends.com, as well as many others. She studied fiction editing with Liminal Pages in 2016 and launched her fiction editing business the same year, working with publishers in the UK and US and authors from around the world across a range of genres, from sci-fi and fantasy to thrillers and crime fiction. Today she writes regularly for DigitalTrends.com and Skyscanner's blog. She's also passionate about film photography and enjoys gaming.