Whether you’re a gamer setting up your own YouTube channel or an entrepreneur attempting to create a video of your latest project, you’ll probably have moments where you think, “I wish I could record that!” While many of today’s computers come pre-equipped with microphones and webcams, they don’t always come with options for easily recording your computer or phone’s display at a moment’s notice — that is, unless you know where to look.
With that in mind, let’s go over how to record your computer screen on your own terms, whether you want to do so using a free program you already own or an app that’s chock-full of powerful tools aimed at professional productions.
With apps you already have
If you would rather not download any additional software, there’s a good chance that some of the apps you have laying around can already record your screen, even if that’s not their primary purpose. Here are several apps that you probably have access to right now, and how they can record for you.
Didn’t know you could record your screen with PowerPoint, the presentation software included with Microsoft Office? It’s true — the latest versions of PowerPoint include the feature.
Step 1: Head to the “Insert” tab, and select “Screen Recording.”
Step 2: Click “Select Area” to choose the specific area of your screen you want to record. If you want to record the entire screen, press the Windows Key, Shift and “F.”
Step 3: Click the “record” button,” or press the Windows key, Shift and “R.”
When you’re done you can save the video as a separate file to access or embed as you see fit. Editing and control options are very limited after that, but it’s a great option for quick-and-dirty recording — especially if you’re doing it for a looming presentation.
If you’re on a Mac, you can always use the QuickTime Player for basic screen recording (as well as audio recording). QuickTime recordings aren’t easy to edit in post, but if you want a quick and easy recording method on MacOS, it’s one of the simplest.
Step 1: Launch QuickTime.
Step 2: Select “File” and choose “New Screen Recording.”
Step 3: To decide whether mouse clicks and sounds appear in your recording or not, click the small, white arrow and select the appropriate options from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: When ready, click the red record button.
Step 5: You’ll need to select what you want to record. To record the entire screen, click once anywhere on the screen. To record only a portion of it, click and drag a box and then click “Start Recording.”
Step 6: When finished, navigate to the menu bar and click the stop recording button designated by the square symbol. Alternatively, if you have one, tap the appropriate symbol on your Touch Bar.
Step 7: To save your recording, click “File,” then “Save,” and choose an appropriate save location and name for the recording.
YouTube Live Streaming
If you don’t want to spend a ton of time recording but still want a video for your YouTube channel, or any other social media platform, then YouTube can help out.
Step 1: Sign into your account as you would normally.
Step 2: Go to “Upload,” click “Get Started” under Live Streaming.
Step 3: Choose “Events,” and select “New live event.”
Step 4: Fill out the required information, and click “Go Live Now.” A Google Hangouts page will open — keep in mind that you are now recording audio and video.
Step 5: On the left, you should see a button that says “Screenshare.” Select it, and choose a desktop window for recording.
Step 6: Click “Start Screenshare,” followed by “Start Broadcast.” You should now be recording!
Step 7: Select “Stop Broadcast” when finished, and save your Event as you wish.
If you want an enhanced recording experience from an app specifically designed for more professional — and gaming-oriented — clips, then your best bet is to download one of the apps below.
OBS Studio (free): One of the more advanced freely available screen-recording apps out there, OBS Studio is entirely open source and allows unlimited full-screen recording without watermarks. It has built in streaming functions for those who want to have a live audience while recording and has great hardware support, so 60 FPS recording is perfectly possible. It’s more fully featured than some freemium apps and can take a little longer to set up how you like it because of that, but it’s arguably the best of the free screen-recording apps out there today.
Snagit ($50): Snagit is designed more for start-ups than gamers, with a ton of recording features made for showing off products and creating your own marketing videos, how-to features, vlogs, and so on. If you are planning an elaborate video that includes several types of video and multiple graphics as well as screen recording, Snagit is a great choice for simpler needs. It does cost $50, but if you don’t mind paying for the privilege, the added features are worth it.