June 2, 2021

Best free desktop recorders

12 min

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Here are the best desktop recorders:

Desktop recorders are extremely convenient tools that easily record content as you interact with it. It’s the best way for YouTubers, teachers, and anyone who needs a tool for a hands-on demonstration to screen capture exactly what they need for later use. Here’s a rundown of various screen recorders that all make a case to be the best free desktop recorder available right now.

When looking for a good quality screen recorder, you want: adjustable recording area, features for editing, and a range of supported file types for download. Although some products included here have paid versions, you will be able to find the best desktop recording software free of charge.

Free desktop screen recorders: online apps

Best for: easy to move screen recorder area

Trustpilot rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars, 107 good reviews

Screencapture.com’s easy-to-use tool allows you to simply select what you want to record in addition to the screen (from the microphone, the system, or with the webcam), and then the desktop screen recorder does the rest. Then you can download your file straight away. The simple functionality of Screencapture.com makes it a useful capture and editing online screen recording tool.

The desktop video recorder has an intuitive interface that makes recording a variety of videos with audio easy, even if you’re not especially technical. Turn on your PC or Mac and let the online tool do the rest of the work. But if you want to remove the watermark, you will have to sign up for the premium version.

Pros:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Easy to record the computer screen, a window, a tab, or from a webcam

Cons:

  • Removing a watermark requires payment

Best for: storing videos online

TechRadar rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder has all the features you’d expect from an online desktop screen recorder, but one very interesting addition - you can save videos online. Now you can record videos to send to your friends and family even if you’re not at your own computer. Apowersoft also offers a range of built-in extras to edit your videos, such as adding text, shapes, and arrows to your videos.

In-recording editing is also a great feature – you can add arrows, colors, and touch-ups without having to stop the recording. This makes it easier for people to follow the content of your video as they watch, and you will have better engagement.

Pros:

  • No watermarks
  • Online saving and sharing

Cons:

  • Needs a browser plugin

Best for: uploading directly to cloud storage

AceThinker rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars, 121 reviews

Simple and straightforward, AceThinker’s desktop recorder software is an excellent choice for beginners. Tools for changing the recording area so that you only capture exactly what you want are very handy, as are the multiple output types. Save the exact recording you want in the file type you need.

If you don’t like installing plugins before using an online tool, AceThinker Free Online Screen Recorder might not be for you. A downloadable launcher is necessary to get the best out of this reliable tool, but this one-time download is safe and helps you get the best out of this freeware.

Pros:

  • Easy to change recording area tools
  • Multiple download file types

Cons:

  • Requires a launcher install
  • Some delays with online gaming

Best for: recording multiple sources at the same time

G2 rating: 4 out of 5 stars, 75 reviews

Designed for educators, Panopto comes with tools to record everything you need to build valuable learning resources. Multiple webcam support and Smart Camera technologies help you get interactive and interesting videos ready for students. Even better, you can instantly upload to Google Classroom and other platforms for easy sharing.

Panopto is a very interesting tool that can help teachers improve their lessons, but the editing process is a little fiddly. It will take time to learn how to get the most out of Panopto, especially if you want to trim, loop, or add graphics to your videos.

Pros:

  • Multiple webcam support
  • Smart Camera technology
  • Easy to upload to learning platforms

Cons:

  • The editing process can be unintuitive

Best for: incredible simplicity

If you just want to record a video with audio and don’t care about fancy features, screenrecorderapp.com is about as efficient as you will find. Loading the website will give you one choice - choose the screen you want to record. No chance of getting confused with this online screen capture tool!

Of course, simplicity means that you can basically only record and trim. If you don’t need anything else, this is a fine online desktop video capture tool. If you need something more like graphics, text, or complex editing, you will need a different piece of software.

Pros:

  • Super simple interface that is foolproof

Cons:

  • Lack of extra features

Best desktop recording software free

Best for: capturing scheduled events

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

Setting up your recording parameter and capturing the exact content you need is super easy with Movavi Screen Recorder, a program designed to make recordings, editing, and saving your download as easy as possible. Thanks to its intuitive interface and streamlined approach, Movavi Screen Recorder is a beginner-friendly and powerful tool.

Useful tools such as show keystrokes/mouse and drawing allow you to change your videos to make your tutorials engaging and attractive. The schedule recording feature is also extremely helpful for people who need to record seminars or other regular events when not at their computer.

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Drawing and show keystroke tools
  • Simple editing interface

Cons:

  • Watermark in the free version

Best for: Linux users needing to screen capture content

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 45 reviews

Available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, OBS Studio is a powerful freeware recorder/editor that can create complex video and audio arrangements. An excellent selection of features includes custom transitions, an in-depth audio mixer, and an adjustable recording area tool. You can even rearrange the modular UI to make it feel exactly how you want.

The interface can be a little confusing before you rearrange it, with some features hidden away in long menus. Additionally, as this is an open-source project, there’s no customer support team to help you out if you run into difficulties.

Pros:

  • Available on Linux
  • Complex editing capabilities
  • Modular UI

Cons:

  • There is a learning curve due to the interface being muddled
  • No customer support team

Best for: adding watermarks to your original content

G2 rating: 4 out of 5 stars, 21 reviews

Icecream apps’ desktop video recorder comes as a free download or as a PRO subscription. Both versions have useful features like annotation and logo/watermark inclusion for brands wanting to lock down their content. This means that you can easily create content that you want to share that is informative and protected!

For people wanting to make tutorial recordings, you can display keystrokes and hotkeys used in the video to show your viewers exactly what you’re doing without lengthy editing sessions.

If you expect to be editing often and with large files, you may find that Icecream Screen Recorder’s premium version serves your needs better. You can access additional formats and some lossless codecs for high-quality images and videos.

Pros:

  • Annotation tools
  • Custom watermark features

Cons:

  • The PRO version offers some of the best features

Best for: quickly sharing videos, annotated images, or GIFs

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 1,076 reviews

If you’re working in a busy industry, long meetings can be difficult. CloudApp was designed to help professionals quickly put together videos and send them to their colleagues. Some helpful design tools like arrows and drawing functions make getting your point across easily. CloudApp also has a range of useful walkthroughs and guides to help you get the most out of their platform.

When using the editing tools, you will find that CloudApp forces continuous saves as you work on your project. This can mean that you have multiple files all related to one editing job. This can be frustrating at the time, but it is a known glitch to the support team. This can be tidied up by deleting unwanted copies after the process, however.

Pros:

  • Designed for professionals
  • Quick and easy design features

Cons:

  • Continuous saving
  • Support can send a lot of emails

Best for: creating large video files

TechRadar rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Learning how to record desktop video with Flashback Express is very easy, thanks to the intuitive interface. Simple editing tools to trim, enhance, and add commentary to your videos are all included in the standard package. And no limits on movie length mean that you make large files easily. You can also turn on sharing settings to enable uploads to YouTube.

Sadly, this is another screen recorder that has features locked behind a paywall. But the interface is extremely easy-to-use, and there are plenty of useful features included in the free version to deliver high-quality screen captures.

Pros:

  • Simple editing tools
  • Capable of handling large video and audio files
  • Can auto-share to YouTube

Cons:

  • Some features are locked behind a paywall

Built-in desktop video recorders

Best for: capturing gameplay videos while you play

PC World rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Built into the Windows 10 chassis as standard, Windows 10 Game Bar (also known as Xbox Game Bar) can be activated with one keystroke during gameplay and allows gamers to capture any video and audio content they want to share. Its easy-to-use hotkey functionality means that it is excellent at its primary function - quickly capturing video game content.

Fantastic at what it does, the Game Bar is responsive, comes with basic features to edit videos in the app, and doesn’t cause jitter or lag. It’s an excellent free desktop recorder for Windows 10 that comes packaged with, but you will need extra software to do more complicated editing.

Pros:

  • Hotkey functionality
  • High-quality screen captures of video games

Cons:

  • Not designed for complex editing tasks

Best for: quick screen captures on Mac

For Mac Users, QuickTime Player serves a similar function. Although many will know QuickTime as a tool for playing videos, it also works as a desktop video recorder with a hotkey. Whether you need to create a whole screen recording or only to capture a portion of it, QuickTime supports your screen capture needs.

You will need extra software to edit it, however. QuickTime wasn’t designed to function as an all-in-one capture and editing tool, so it lacks most editing features we would expect. Combined with other tools native to Mac, however, you can still get the best quality video easily.

Pros:

  • Intuitive screen selection and recording area tools
  • Hotkey functionality

Cons:

  • Not designed for complex editing tasks

Desktop video capture: browser extensions

Best for: quickly capturing videos on Chrome

Chrome Web Store rating: 4 out of 5 stars, 11,589 reviews

Screencastify is a simple extension that allows a wide range of functions, including full HD capturing. Despite only being an extension, it also accommodates a range of features like trimming, drawing, and resizing tools, as well as auto-saving to Google Drive. Screencastify also supports MP3, MP4, and GIF downloads, allowing quick sharing for users.

Don’t plan to use this with large recording projects, however. It is designed for small tasks, and you can run into long processing times with large (30 minutes+) projects. If you use it for what it is designed for, it will be responsive and allow easy editing.

Pros:

  • Range of editing tools
  • Multiple download types
  • Fast to deal with small projects

Cons:

  • Large files can have long processing times

Best for: sending instant video messages

Chrome Web Store rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars, 10,063 reviews

Promising to speed up enterprise messaging by sending quick video messages, Loom is an enterprise tool that is also a free desktop screen recorder. Very simple and made for instant messaging purposes, there aren’t many editing tools included. But you can use editing, CTA, and “who’s watching?” features to make sure your videos engage your target audience and get your message out there.

Long videos weren’t really what Loom was designed for, so keep it to short messages, and you will be fine. As with most extensions, you will find that they’re not designed for big projects. You can use your CTAs and other additional features to get your message across.

Pros:

  • Designed for professionals
  • Instant video messaging capabilities

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer long video recording capabilities

Best for: recording web pages in full or partially

Chrome Web Store rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars, 14,532 reviews

If you need to screen capture or take a screenshot of a webpage, Nimbus Screenshot & Screen Recorder provides multiple editing tools to convert your content to video and then downloadable as a GIF or MP4. In addition to working as a recording tool, Nimbus can also function as a screencast tool. And to increase engagement with your captures, you can add graphics, text, and highlight content.

Sadly, Nimbus does have some glitches which cause lock-up when working with big files. There seem to be glitches in the software, which causes the extension to hang if the video you are working on is too large. For small projects, this can be a powerful freeware tool.

Pros:

  • A range of editing tools
  • Download as GIF or MP4

Cons:

  • Small bugs and glitches in the system can make it frustrating to use

Comparing Windows 7 video recorders

Software

Best for

Pros

Cons

Screen­capture.comEasy to move screen recorder area

Intuitive interface

Easy to record the computer screen, a window, a tab, or from a webcam

Removing a watermark requires payment
Apowersoft Free Online Screen RecorderStoring videos online

No watermarks

Online saving and sharing

Needs a browser plugin
AceThinker Free Online Screen RecorderUploading directly to cloud storage

Easy to change recording area

Multiple download file types

Requires a launcher install

Some delays with online gaming

Panopto ExpressRecording multiple sources at the same time

Multiple webcam support

Smart Camera technology

Easy to upload to learning platforms

The editing process can be unintuitive
Screen­recorderapp.comIncredible simplicity

Super simple interface that is foolproof

Lack of extra features
Movavi Screen RecorderEasily captures scheduled events

Beginner-friendly

Drawing and show keystroke tools

Simple editing interface

Watermark in the free version
OBS StudioUseful for Linux users needing to screen capture content

Available on Linux

Complex editing capabilities

Modular UI

There is a learning curve due to the interface being muddled

No customer support team

Icecream Screen RecorderAdding watermarks to your original content

Annotation tools

Custom watermark features

The PRO version offers some of the best features
CloudAppQuickly sharing videos, annotated images, or GIFs

Designed for professionals

Quick and easy design features

Continuous saving

Support can send a lot of emails

Flashback ExpressCreating large video files

Simple editing tools

Capable of handling large video and audio files

Can auto-share to YouTube

Some features are locked behind a paywall
Windows 10 Game BarCapturing gameplay videos while you play

Hotkey functionality

High-quality screen captures of video games

Not designed for complex editing tasks
QuickTime PlayerQuick screen captures on Mac

Intuitive screen selection and recording area tools

Hotkey functionality

Not designed for complex editing tasks
ScreencastifyQuickly capturing videos on Chrome

Range of editing tools

Multiple download types

Fast to deal with small projects

Large files can have long processing times
LoomSending instant video messages

Designed for professionals

Instant video messaging capabilities

Doesn’t offer long video recording capabilities
Nimbus Screenshot & Screen RecorderRecording web pages in full or partially

A range of editing tools

Download as GIF or MP4

Small bugs and glitches in the system can make it frustrating to use

Frequently asked questions

What are the best desktop recorders?

There are lots of excellent desktop records around, but here are 15 of the best available right now:

  • Screencapture.com
  • Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder
  • Acethinker Free Online Screen Recorder
  • Panopto Express
  • Screenrecorderapp.com
  • Movavi Screen Recorder
  • OBS Studio
  • IceCream Screen Recorder
  • CloudApp
  • Flashback Express
  • Windows 10 Game Bar
  • QuickTime Player
  • Screencastify
  • Loom
  • Nimbus Screenshot & Screen Recorder

How do you record your desktop?

Recording your desktop with Screencapture.com is a straightforward, 5 step process.

  1. Load up the website in your favorite browser.

    Go to Screencapture.com

  2. Select the types of media you want to record (microphone, webcam, and sound).
  3. Click Start recording.
  4. Select what you want to record (entire screen, window, or a tab).
  5. Let Screencapture.com record your content and click Stop recording when you’re finished. Then you can download the video or start up a new recording.

How do you record your desktop on Windows 10?

Windows 10 Game Bar (also called Xbox Game Bar) is an easy-to-use tool designed to let users record their gameplay. Using an overlay that is already built into Windows 10, it is extremely easy to start. Pressing Windows + G opens an overlay bar full of features for recording in great quality.

Another option is to use Movavi Screen Recorder, a powerful tool that offers a simple interface with multifunctional features. For a full overview of Movavi Screen Recorder’s functionality, check out this review.

Read the review