8 free ways to record Zoom meetings
Edited by Pat Bitton
May 18, 2021
In the current age of social distancing and remote workspaces, virtual meetings have become a daily occurrence for many people. This shift in work venues has increased the need for video conferencing software like Zoom.
Zoom makes long-distance gatherings easy and safe in a post-pandemic world. But can you record a Zoom meeting?
This article will provide step-by-step instructions on how to record Zoom meetings with eight free options, including built-in features on PCs and mobile devices as well as recording software for computers or devices. These options make recording Zoom meetings with sound simple at no cost to the user.
This article will also answer some frequently asked questions users who want to record a Zoom meeting may have, including where to find Zoom call recordings once they have been created and how to give permission to record a Zoom call.
How to record Zoom meetings with the built-in feature on a desktop сomputer
Using the built-in feature on a desktop is the simplest way to record a Zoom meeting. It does not require the user to download any additional programs, and the process is relatively intuitive. The recording function is initiated with a simple process, and the resulting video is automatically saved either locally or in the Zoom cloud.
There are a few drawbacks to using the built-in feature, however. This feature will not provide timestamps, audio transcripts, or participant names. It also requires that permission be granted by the host in order to record.
Step 1. Start the Zoom call
Open the Zoom software and choose the meeting you want to join from the menu under the Upcoming menu. Click Start.
Step 2. Click the record icon
The record icon is a black square with two concentric circles, one much thinner than the other, inside.
Step 3. Select Record on this computer
Hosts and participants will be visibly notified that the session is being recorded. Dial-in participants will receive an audio notification.
Step 4. Click Participants
This will show which participants are recording the meeting.
Step 5. The recording will be automatically converted
After the meeting ends, the Zoom software will convert the file to make it accessible to the user.
Step 6. The folder containing the file will automatically open
The MP4 file is saved locally and can be uploaded to cloud storage or video streaming services.
How to record a Zoom meeting without permission
Only the host is allowed to record meetings in Zoom. Also, by recording a meeting via the built-in Zoom tools, you agree to Zoom storing your recordings. If you disagree with these rules, you can record the session with alternative software.
However, you should comply with the state laws on recording personal conversations. They may differ: in some states, one-party consent is enough; in others, you need all the parties to agree.
Using alternative software to record a Zoom meeting provides more freedom in how/where the recording is stored. At the same time, this practice could run afoul of state laws, depending on the state in which the recording is made.
If you cannot obtain permission from the host of a Zoom meeting to make a recording, the following programs make it possible to record the session anyway.
Best For: Recording and editing video streams
G2 rating: 4.5/5 stars, 44 reviews
Movavi Screen Recorder provides a recording feature for video as well as screen capture capability and video editing options, all of which can be exported directly to YouTube and social media sites.
The screen and audio can be recorded separately or simultaneously. Recordings can also be scheduled ahead of time, and a time length can be set. The program can also be set to show keystrokes and mouse movements and even offers an option for drawing on the videos.
This desktop screen recorder can also capture webcam footage without recording the screen and take photos through the webcam. The interface is user-friendly and offers multiple export options, including YouTube.
At 60 frames per second and with full HD 1080p, this software creates clean, well-defined screen capture videos. However, the full features are not available on the trial version, and this program is not compatible with Linux OS.
- Intuitive interface
- Recording in Full HD 1080p
- 60 frames per second
- Capable of recording audio from webcam, microphone, or operating system
- Multiple export options, including YouTube
- Easy-to-use editing capabilities
- Full features are not available on the trial version
- Not available for Linux OS
Step 1. Install the software
Install Movavi Screen Recorder for Windows or Mac. For the installation, you’ll need just 280 MB of available hard disk space, and 2 GB more for ongoing operations.
Step 2. Adjust the capture parameters
First, check the Settings menu to customize the recording parameters. Here you’ll find effects for mouse and keyboard, time scheduler, control panel settings, etc. If you have no preferences and you need just a simple recording, you can skip this step.
If you want to include your face and voice, you need to activate Microphone and Webcam. You’ll find these buttons on the main recording panel. To include voices of other participants, enable System Audio, too.
Step 3. Record your Zoom webinar
Start recording by hitting the REC button. The process starts automatically after three seconds. Hit the same icon to stop capturing.
If you want to grab screen captures, use the Screenshot icon.
Step 4. Save the recording and share it with colleagues
When the meeting is over and you have the recording, you can edit the video. You can trim it with Scissors and Trash Can.
Click on the Export button and choose the format for saving. If you want to share the recording with other participants, you can do so right in the preview window using the Share icon.
Best For: Recording audio and video from multiple sources
G2 rating: 4.4/5 stars, 45 reviews
Designed to stream or record computer gaming, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is a user-friendly program that can be used to record a Zoom call. Its HD screen captures offer recording without a time limit.
This program offers hotkeys, which can switch between screens, mute audio, or stop or start recording, and countless other functions. OBS also allows users to set video and audio quality preferences for each video they capture. This software features an intuitive audio mixer, a high-level view of recordings, and an easy connection with streaming services.
OBS is not compatible with Windows XP. Its audio files cannot be linked as sources, and it cannot network across multiple devices.
- Easy connection with streaming services
- Intuitive interface
- Functionality can be enhanced with over 20 plugins
- Easy-to-use audio mixer
- Capable of recording audio and video from multiple sources
- Not compatible with Windows XP
- Audio files cannot be linked as sources
- Cannot network multiple devices
Best For: Users with some video capturing/editing experience
G2 rating: 4.5/5 stars, 51 reviews
The EaseUS RecExperts allows users to choose which part of the screen they want to record and supports multiple formats, including MP4, AVI, and MOV. The program offers an option that allows users to set it to record ahead of time. Another option enables users to add arrows, lines, and text to screen capture videos.
EaseUS RecExperts’s editing capabilities include adding a watermark and trimming video length. This software can remove background noise, boost audio, and compress footage without sacrificing its quality. EaseUS RecExperts exports to multiple video and cloud services, including Google Drive, Vimeo, and YouTube.
While it offers an impressive array of features, this software is not as user-friendly as some of the other programs listed in this article, and its recordings are limited to two minutes at a time in its free trial.
- Converts videos to multiple formats
- Easily exports videos to multiple video and cloud services
- Provides the ability to choose which part of the screen to record
- Not as user-friendly as some other options
- Free trial only provides two minutes of recording at a time
- Audio cannot be set in decibels
Best For: Recording video game footage
PCWorld rating: 3.5/5 stars
Game Bar for Windows 10 is based on the Game DVR function on the Xbox, which screen captures gameplay. Despite its gaming-based design, Game Bar is also more than capable of recording Zoom meetings.
Game Bar is a native function on Windows 10, which means users with this operating system won’t need to download it. It offers users a choice between 30 or 60 frames per minute and provides control over the audio bit rate and video quality. Game Bar also includes basic video editing capabilities.
The program does have a few limitations. It is only available on Windows 10 PCs and only works with one app at a time, so it will not record the entire screen if more than one window is visible. It also only produces MP4 format recordings. Some users have reported occasional trouble getting the program to open, as well.
- Native function on Windows 10 – no need to download
- Offers 30 or 60 fps
- Provides control over audio bit rate and video quality
- Includes video editing capabilities
- Only available for Windows 10 PCs
- Only works with one app at a time – will not record the entire screen
- MP4 is the only option for file type
- Some users report trouble getting the program to open at times
Best For: Mac Users
MacUpdate rating: 3.6/5 stars, 169 reviews
QuickTime is a screen recording program designed for Apple products; it offers recording and editing features that are easy to navigate. QuickTime sets no recording time limit, so users can create clips as long as they prefer.
This software also provides a variety of editing functions and simple activation of the screen recording feature. All of this is housed in Apple’s signature streamlined, stylish interface.
QuickTime does have a few limitations. It can only be used on Mac products and only supports MOV file format for its recordings. It also offers no system audio recording. Some users have reported that the program crashed after the OS X update.
- Offers both recording and editing
- No recording time limit
- Provides a variety of editing functions
- Simple activation of the screen recording feature
- Streamlined, stylish interface
- Can only be used on Mac products
- Only supports MOV file format
- No system audio recording
- After the OS X update, some users report that the program crashed
Can you record a Zoom meeting with built-in features on iOS and Android devices?
Recording a Zoom meeting on mobile devices with Zoom’s built-in features is an easy task. The drawback is that the resulting file is saved in the cloud rather than a folder, limiting your control; it also requires anyone joining the call as a participant to obtain permission from the host to record.
Step 1. Start the Zoom call
Open the Zoom app and choose Join a Meeting.
Step 2. Press the More option, then choose Record
This option will begin the recording of the Zoom call. The Recording icon will appear on the screen.
Step 3. End the call when the meeting is finished
Once the call is ended, the recording can be viewed, shared, and downloaded from the Zoom cloud.
Recording Zoom meetings on iPad
As with other mobile devices, using the built-in features for recording a Zoom meeting on the iPad is a very simple process. Again, anyone joining the call as an attendee will need to procure permission from the host to record the meeting.
Step 1. Start the Zoom call
Open the Zoom app and click Join a Meeting.
Step 2. Tap the More icon
This icon is found at the far right of the meeting toolbar.
Step 3. Choose Record to the Cloud
This will begin the recording.
Step 4. Stop the recording when you are finished
In the upper righthand corner of your screen, click Recording, then Stop. Your video will be automatically uploaded to the Zoom cloud service.
Where are the Zoom call recordings stored?
When made with the built-in features, recordings of Zoom meetings are stored either locally on your desktop’s hard drive or, for licensed users, on the Zoom cloud.
The recording is stored locally for both paid subscribers and free users when the recording is made on a PC. iOS and Android users cannot save locally, however, and Zoom cloud storage space is limited based on the user’s subscription tier.
How to find Zoom recordings saved on the Cloud
- Log onto Zoom.
- On the left sidebar, click Recordings.
- Find your recording listed under Cloud Recordings.
How to find Zoom recordings saved locally
- Log onto Zoom.
- On the left sidebar, click Recordings.
- Find your recording listed under Local Recordings.
How to find Zoom recordings saved on your computer
- Click on your Documents folder (Windows) or Finder (Mac).
- Type Zoom in the search bar.
- A folder entitled Zoom Meetings will appear.
- Find the recording you are looking for and double click it.
How to view Zoom recordings?
- Open Zoom on your device.
- Click on Meetings.
- Click Recorded on the left.
- A list of recordings will appear.
- Select the recording you wish to view.
- On the right, choose Play.
How to let a participant record a Zoom meeting?
If you are the host of a meeting, you can give any attendant permission to record the call.
- Open the Zoom website on your browser.
- Log into your account.
- On the upper right, choose My Account.
- On the left-hand side, choose Recordings.
- The recordings settings will open with two tabs: Cloud Recordings and Local Recordings.
- At the top-right corner of either of these options, click Settings.
- Check the boxes that allow hosts and participants to make a recording of the meeting.
Comparing Zoom recording software
|PC built-in Zoom recorder||Simple to use||Requires permission from host|
|Movavi Screen Recorder||Full HD 1080p||Not compatible with Linux OS|
|OBS||Audio and video from multiple sources||Not compatible with Windows XP|
|EaseUS||Converts video to multiple formats||Not user-friendly|
|Game Bar||Control over audio and video quality||Only compatible with Windows 10|
|QuickTime||No recording time limit||Only compatible with Mac products|
The desktop screen recording programs listed above make it possible to record Zoom calls without using the built-in functions. Each of these software options provides specific benefits and drawbacks. With this article’s analysis of the pros and cons of each program, you should be able to identify the desktop screen recording program that will work best for your needs. If you’re choosing the program to start with, try Movavi Screen Recorder. Download the free trial version and see if it suits your needs.
Frequently asked questions
Can you record a Zoom meeting if you are not the host?
Only hosts and participants to whom they grant permission can record Zoom calls with the built-in features. If you are not the host of the meeting, you can request permission from the host to make a recording. If this is not possible, you can use a desktop screen recorder to record the call.
How do I record a Zoom meeting without permission?
Using Zoom’s built-in recording features is impossible if you do not have the host’s permission. However, a section of this article explains how to record a Zoom meeting without permission by using a third-party desktop screen recorder:
- Movavi Screen Recorder
- OBS (Open Broadcaster Software)
- EaseUs RecExperts
- Game Bar for Windows 10
When I record a Zoom meeting, where does it go?
A Zoom meeting recording is saved either locally or on the Zoom cloud. Locally stored recordings are saved to your computer’s hard drive and can be found in the Documents folder (Windows) or Finder (Mac). Only licensed users can store on the Zoom cloud.
Does Zoom record your screen or just the meeting?
If you use Zoom’s built-in tool to record the call, it only records the meeting itself. If you use a third-party desktop screen recorder, it may record only the session window or the entire screen, depending on the software’s capabilities and settings. Most desktop screen recorders will capture the whole screen.
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