October 6, 2021

16 Best Free Desktop Recorders

9 min

10 203

  • Desktop programs
  • Built-in tools
  • Online services
  • Browser extensions

Need to record your desktop? Try Movavi Screen Recorder!

If you are interested in how to record desktop, you’ve come to the right place! Here, you’ll find a review of the best free desktop recorders.

Software

Best for

OS

Movavi Screen RecorderCapturing streaming videosWindows, Mac
Game BarGameplay recordingWindows 10
Screen­capture.comQuick no-download recordingOnline
LoomEducational tutorialsChrome browser extension
OBS StudioMaking professional video clipsWindows 10, macOS, and Linux
Screencast-O-MaticScreen recording and clip mixingWindows, Mac and iOS, Android, Chromebook
Icecream Screen RecorderHD screen recordingWindows, Mac, Android
ActivePresenterDemos and educational tutorialsWindows, Mac
Flashback ExpressUnlimited game captureWindows, Linux
QuickTimemacOS usersMac
Apowersoft Online RecorderUnlimited screen recordingOnline
Screenapp.ioInstant screen recordingOnline
Screen­castifyHD screen recordingChrome browser extension
Nimbus Screenshot & Screen Video RecorderMaking screencasts and educational demosChrome browser extension
Awesome Screenshot & Screen RecorderProduct demo or how-to tutorialsChrome/Edge browser extension
Movavi Screen Recorder for ChromeRecording all screen activity with minimal effortChrome browser extension

A special mention must go to the Movavi Screen Recorder for Windows 7/8/10, which is easily mastered thanks to its intuitive interface. It is the perfect tool for recording good quality webinars, meetings, video calls, live or streaming videos or online tutorials, and then downloading or sharing to online platforms, such as YouTube. You can record audio and video or take simple screenshots and then take advantage of the suite of editing tools. The free trial will give you access to most features, so you can test it out for yourself.

Best desktop recording software

Choosing high-quality software to record your desktop video has its ups and downs. While having a program on your PC can benefit you by providing you with the full version and working offline, it can also take up a lot of space on your computer, depending on the specific software.

OS: Windows, Mac

Best for: capturing streaming videos, webinars, and online calls

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 41 good reviews out of 44

Capture webinars, record video instructions, and grab streaming or online videos directly from your screen with Movavi Screen Recorder. You can quickly capture desktop video by hitting the record button.

Main features:

  • Intuitive interface
  • High-quality audio and video
  • Fast
  • Easily share online or via Google drive

Pros:

  • Adjustable parameters for recording
  • Ability to record external and internal audio separately
  • No internet connection required to record video and audio

Cons:

  • Output video has a watermark with the free desktop screen recorder
  • No possibility to add tags to your videos with the free version

Here is how to use Movavi Screen Recorder.

Step 1. Install Movavi’s desktop video recorder

Download Movavi Screen Recorder, save the installation file to your hard drive, then run it and follow the instructions to install the program on your PC or Mac.

Step 2. Set the recording parameters

To start recording your screen activities, launch the program and hit the Screen recording button. Alternatively, you can just press F10 in Windows or ⌥ ⌘ 2 on Mac. To draw a capture frame, hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor. You can resize and move the frame if you wish. You can record full screen or any smaller area of the screen.

The program also enables you to capture input or output sound, or both simultaneously. Just make sure the required audio source is highlighted in green to indicate it is active.

You can make your video more informative by showing the mouse cursor and keyboard actions: to set this up, click the appropriate icons in the sidebar.

Step 3. Capture video from your desktop

Click REC to start capturing the software you’re working with. Click Stop to finish the recording. You can also use hotkeys: in Windows, hit F9 to pause and F10 to stop the capturing process. Mac users should press ⌥ ⌘ 1 and ⌥ ⌘ 2, respectively. You can also take snapshots during recording: hit the appropriate icon in the control panel or use a hotkey – F8 on a Windows PC or ⌥ ⌘ 3 on a Mac.

Step 4. Trim the recording

After you stop recording, you’ll see a preview window where you can either save the resulting video in a different format right away or cut out unwanted parts with the built-in video-editing tool first. Select the point on the timeline where you want to cut, click the Cut button to divide the segments, repeat if needed. Then select each unwanted piece and hit the Delete fragment button.

Step 5. Save or share the video

You have two options as to what to do with your recorded video: save it on your computer to watch later or share it with anyone who wants to see the recording (or you can do both). To save the video, click Export, enter the file name, select the target folder and format, and click Save. You can also share your video, just choose one of the available options. If you’re unsure which option to choose, select Movavi Cloud: the video will be uploaded to our cloud server and will be available only through a specific link. You can send the link to anyone you want to see your video.

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

OS: Windows 10, macOS, and Linux

Best for: making professional video clips

G2 rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars, 41 good review out of 44

Equipped with a powerful API, OBS Studio allows you to customize functionality to your specific needs. Native plugins to preview scenes and adjust them before you save your final recording. Switch between the scenes with custom transitions.

Main features:

  • Free, open-source
  • Fast
  • Full of features
  • High-quality video and audio recording

Pros:

  • Works seamlessly with Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10
  • Understandable user interface
  • Built-in audio mixer

Cons:

  • Requires additional plugins to customize effects and edits
  • High on RAM consumption

You can download OBS Studio by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

OS: Windows, Mac and iOS, Android, Chromebook

Best for: screen recording and clip mixing

G2 rating: 4 out of 5 stars, 34 good reviews out of 40

Allowing you to communicate while you record, this program is some of the best desktop recording software on the market. You can capture your screen, add a webcam, and narrate your recordings to create a high-quality video.

Main features:

  • User-friendly
  • Low cost
  • Packed with customizable features

Pros:

  • Robust video editor to overlay text, shapes, and images
  • Built-in stock program for all of your imaging needs
  • Cloud hosting so you can share your content

Cons:

  • Limited fonts and backgrounds
  • Time-consuming to build your personal content library

You can download Screencast-O-Matic by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

OS: Windows, Mac, Android

Best for: HD screen recording

G2 rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars, 18 good reviews out of 21

Record apps, video tutorials, webinars, live streams, Skype or Zoom calls, and much more with the IceCream Screen Recorder. Hotkeys are visible for you while recording but will not show up in the video, making adjustments like the frame of speed easy.

Main features:

  • Free version
  • Simple interface
  • Fast

Pros:

  • Possibility to select a previous recording area to automate parameters
  • Possibility to convert the format of the recorded videos easily

Cons:

  • Not all codecs are supported
  • Limited editing tools with the free download

You can download Icecream Screen Recorder by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

OS: Windows, Mac

Best for: demos and educational tutorials

Capterra rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Going above and beyond for those looking to create tutorials or guidelines, ActivePresenter is an eLearning Authoring Software that combines screen recording with software simulation and many other tools.

Main features:

  • Free
  • Good selection of editing tools
  • High-quality video
  • User-friendly

Pros:

  • Intuitive and responsive design
  • Interactive variables with full-motion recording

Cons:

  • Limited effects
  • Only videos created with ActivePresenter can be imported

You can download ActivePresenter by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

OS: Windows, Linux

Best for: unlimited game capture

TechRadar rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Capture your PC screen without limits on movie length, add audio commentary while you record, and easily share the file by uploading it to YouTube with this Windows desktop recorder. Need to do some fine-tuning and share the result later? That's okay. Keep it for yourself by saving it directly to your desktop with the free download.

Main features:

  • Free version and a free trial of the paid version
  • Screen capture and recording
  • Editing tools included

Pros:

  • No time limit on screen recording
  • Records both audio and video
  • Watermark-free

Cons:

  • Very simple in nature compared to other desktop recording software
  • You can't edit your recorded file via the free program

You can download Flashback Express by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

Built-in desktop capture tools

Like desktop software, using the built-in tools that come with your device can provide you with advantages and disadvantages when you're looking to record content from your desktop with sound. Firstly, built-in tools save you time, don't always require a download, and they're made to be compatible with your specific device so that you have the best software. The downside to this style of desktop recorders is that they can be limiting if you want features that aren't included in their programming.

OS: Windows

Best for: gameplay recording

PCWorld rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Xbox's Game Bar was crafted to improve workflow with Windows 10 devices. The recording software allows you to capture videos and screenshots while playing PC games. You can stream, record, and share without having to leave the comfort of your game.

Main features:

  • Free, built-in
  • User-friendly
  • Customizable gaming overlay

Pros:

  • DVR feature in Xbox app allows you to choose the duration of your video
  • Game Mode settings so that you can optimize video quality
  • Fluid recording and internal editing

Cons:

  • Without a video card that supports AMD VCE, Intel Quick Sync H.260, or Nvidia NVENC encoders, the app may not work
  • You can only record a single app, not the entire desktop

You can download Xbox Game Bar by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

Here’s how to record desktop video and audio:

  1. When using Windows 10, press the Windows key + G to launch Game Bar.
  2. Click REC and toggle your microphone on or off for narration.
  3. Click the REC button once more to pause or stop recording.
  4. Save, edit, and share your video.

OS: Mac

Best for: macOS users

MacUpdate rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Mac users lucked up with having QuickTime bundled with macOS. Unlike other options, it can play iTunes files and allows you to edit them through the pro subscription. However, it is not functional as a desktop recorder with Windows devices, even though you can download it.

Main features:

  • Pre-installed Apple app
  • User-friendly
  • Good selection of editing tools

Pros:

  • Automatically included with macOS
  • Simple interface
  • Full-screen recording

Cons:

  • Single source, macOS only
  • Only supports MOV file format

You can download QuickTime by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

This is how to record your desktop with QuickTime:

  1. Launch the QuickTime Player.
  2. Click File and then choose the type of the recording you'd like to do.
  3. Press the downward arrow next to the Record button to adjust your mic.
  4. Click Record.
  5. Select the circular stop button in the Menu bar.
  6. Click File and Save.

Free desktop screen recorders to use online

Online desktop capture programs make it easy to record your screen without taking up a surplus of room on your computer. You can rely on them to bring you some of the most updated features while simultaneously being able to upload content directly to your favorite platforms through many of them. The biggest con to online screen recording services is that they typically function online only, which means that you can’t utilize them if you don't have Internet access.

OS: Online

Best for: quick no-download recording

Trustpilot rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Capture your desktop and save a video in HD without any trouble. Movavi's Screen Capture solution brings you cutting-edge service so that you can capture your screen in just a few clicks. No installation is needed, and you can record sound and video without having to switch between multiple tabs.

Main features:

  • Professional quality of audio and video
  • User-friendly
  • Eliminates background noise

Pros:

  • Record both screen and webcam simultaneously
  • Ability to add your voice while recording internal audio as needed
  • Supported by all major browsers

Cons:

  • Watermarks video
  • Limited features until you download the app

You can access Screencapture.com by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Allow access to your webcam and microphone.
  2. Select the settings you want to use and prepare your video content.
  3. Start recording.
  4. Save your video to your computer.

OS: Online

Best for: instant screen recording

Want to know how to record desktop audio and video? Record instantly with this online screen recorder. Features include quick record so that you never have to install extensions or download heavy programming, the ability to record your entire screen with multiple windows, and more.

Main features:

  • Free version
  • Quick, easy to download recordings
  • Integrated storage solution

Pros:

  • No registration, sign up, or installation
  • Minimal learning curve
  • Works with various platforms

Cons:

  • Cloud storage is not included
  • Editing features are minimal

You can access Screenapp.io by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

How to record your desktop video in a browser

Looking for new ways on how to record desktop video with sound? Browser extensions allow you a best of both worlds opportunity. Depending on which browser you use, you can quickly begin recording without the hefty fallback of using all of your PC's storage. However, when you're away from an internet connection, or you only use one specific browser, your desktop recorder could be limited in use or not usable at all.

OS: Chrome browser extension

Best for: educational tutorials

Chrome web store rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Created as an extension that provides video messaging, Loom allows you to record your screen quickly and share the video with others via a link. You can trim and edit your recordings, as well as track who watches your videos and see when they watched them.

Main features:

  • User-friendly
  • Feature-rich
  • Professional quality results

Pros:

  • Quickshare videos and recordings
  • Fast processing
  • Notifications when somebody views your video

Cons:

  • Disruptive recording if you lose internet
  • Limit of 5 minutes recording time without the full version

How to use Loom:

  1. Install the Chrome extension.
  2. Click on the extension's icon when you want to record a new video.
  3. Toggle between screen and webcam or choose to record both.
  4. Click Start recording.
  5. Save and process your video to share it or save it to a folder.

OS: Chrome browser extension

Best for: HD screen recording

Chrome web store rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Designed to be simple, Screencastify allows you to record, edit and share HD videos without hassle. The Chrome extension automatically syncs with your Google Drive and uploads your content so that you never lose your recordings.

Main features:

  • Free
  • User-friendly
  • Good quality audio and video production

Pros:

  • Syncs with Google Drive
  • Ability to record a single tab or your entire screen
  • Live screen options

Cons:

  • Can't add a webcam while recording
  • Limited to Google Chrome

OS: Chrome browser extension

Best for: recording all screen activity with minimal effort

Chrome web store rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is another user-friendly software offering from Movavi. The intuitive interface of this desktop video recorder makes it simple and quick to capture screen activity with professional audio and video results. Create slick demos or webinars by recording full screen, selecting areas of the screen, using the webcam, via a microphone, or the computer’s audio. You don’t need to be an expert to record and edit your video production using the built-in editing tools. All experience levels can take advantage of the features to create quick, quality screen recordings.

Main features:

  • Record all desktop activity including websites, Zoom calls, webinars, podcasts, etc.
  • Can record audio only

Pros:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in video editor
  • Fast

Cons:

  • Free trial lacks full functionality
  • Webcam options are limited

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Install the Chrome extension.
  2. Allow access to your webcam and microphone.
  3. Click on the extension's icon.
  4. Choose sound and webcam recording options.
  5. Click Start Recording.
  6. Save the recorded video to your computer.

OS: Chrome browser extension

Best for: making screencasts and educational demos

Chrome web store rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

For full webpage compatibility, you can use Nimbus to capture, screenshot, edit, and annotate video conveniently.

Main features:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Good selection of editing tools
  • Easy sharing across platforms

Pros:

  • Record desktop screen, voiceover, and webcam all at once
  • Interactive interface
  • Integrates directly with Google Drive

Cons:

  • Limited to browser
  • You must review updated notes in the extension before using new tools

OS: Online

Best for: unlimited screen recording

TechRadar rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

As a smart screen recorder, this web-based app allows you to capture video and audio without having to download screencast software. One-click recording and adjustable parameters ensure you can record anything on your screen without limitations. Additionally, you can add your webcam to the screen for tutorials, streaming, and more.

Main features:

  • Free
  • Easy-to-use
  • Easy to share or save

Pros:

  • Record both audio and video simultaneously
  • Edit in real-time
  • Cloud-based, so you never lose content again

Cons:

  • Download required before you can access all editing features
  • Cannot record on a second monitor

You can access Apowersoft Online Recorder by following the link below:

Go to the program’s official website

How to record desktop with Apowersoft:

  1. Click Start Recording on the webpage.
  2. Adjust the parameters.
  3. Click Record.
  4. Choose to save the file to your desktop or upload it.

OS: Chrome/Edge browser extension

Best for: product demo or how-to tutorials

Chrome web store rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Compared to other Google Chrome extensions, this screen recorder is loaded with powerful tools and even allows you to edit content while offline. The browser extension will enable you to choose video dimensions, share or save content files, and annotate recordings with ease.

Main features:

  • Free for personal use
  • Annotation tools
  • Instant sharing of screenshots and videos

Pros:

  • Runs offline
  • Quick switch between screen capture and screen recording features
  • Instantly sharable content

Cons:

  • Limited to recording your desktop, current tab, or camera only
  • Not cross-platform supported

Conclusion: what to look for in a screen recorder

It can be tricky choosing the best screen recorder to fit your individual needs when you are starting out. Here are some important points to keep in mind while doing your research and before you make your ultimate selection.

  • User-friendly or not: you don’t want to spend too long mastering your software, so check out how intuitive the interface is.
  • Free or paid: either opt for free software or a program with a free trial, so you can try before you buy to avoid any nasty surprises.
  • Ability to easily share or download and save: consider how you want to use your video creations – share them on online platforms, via email, or download and store them on your computer.
  • User reviews: do your research online and find user feedback.
  • Customer/technical support: make sure someone is available to answer your questions.

Frequently asked questions

How do I record my desktop?

When you need to know how to record desktop audio or video Movavi Screen Recorder makes it simple.

  1. Install and launch the program.
  2. Adjust your parameters, alter your mic and webcam settings as needed, and click REC.
  3. Edit the video as needed.
  4. Save your file or share it.

How do I record my desktop on Windows 10?

Movavi Screen Recorder allows you to record your Windows 10 desktop with minimal clicks. Once you download and launch the program, all you have to do is save your file.

What are the best desktop recorders?

Depending on your specific needs, what device you're using to record, and what tools you'll need to edit and share your recordings, you may find that one desktop recorder fits your list of necessities more. Below is a list of the best desktop programs, online services, browser extensions, and built-in software for you.

Desktop software

  • Movavi Screen Recorder
  • OBS Studio
  • ScreenCast-O-Matic
  • IceCream Screen Recorder
  • ActivePresenter
  • Flashback Express

Browser extensions

  • Game Bar
  • QuickTime

Online services

  • Apowersoft Online Recorder
  • Screencapture.com
  • Screenapp.io

Built-in software

  • Loom
  • Screencastify
  • Nimbus Screenshot & Screen Video Recorder
  • Awesome Screenshot & Screen Recorder

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