18 Jul 2013

How To Video Record Your Desktop

Screencasting software has sprung up all over the place in recent years, and there are a number of good reasons why you might want to use it to record your desktop.

Firstly, it’s a great way to create software tutorials that you can share with others. There are thousands of them on Youtube to date already, and companies use them to display clear instructions for their own products, as well as putting them to use for marketing purposes.

Screencasting is also useful if you’re having PC issues and need tech support – by recording your screen as you step through a problem, you can show the techie exactly what goes wrong where, and you’ll give them the best chance of helping you resolve the issue.

Here are some of the best tools currently available for recording your desktop. Some of them are OpenSource.

Camtasia Studio

Camtasia studio is one of the most well-known screen recording tools.

It’s an expensive piece of software, coming in at $300 on Windows and $100 on Mac (and we’re not sure the difference is entirely fair!).

Pricing aside, it’s fully loaded with features. You can record your entire screen, select a single application to video, or even just record a section of your display.

Audio editing allows you to add in commentary and instructions in a separate track, which can then be combined into a final video track once you’re happy with what you’ve created.


EZVid is a fun little free desktop recording tool.

It doesn’t have extensive functionality – in fact, it doesn’t actually let you export the video you’ve recorded outside of its own player. It does however let you upload it directly to YouTube, which means that you can easily post tutorials online.

So what else stands out about it?

Well, the built-in video editor allows you to split recordings and add frames of text in between, which can be useful if you want your final piece to have an extra level of description.

It’s also the screen recording tool of choice for gamers. ‘Gaming Mode’ will effortlessly record all the action from your recorded game, useful if you want evidence of your latest Call of Duty high score.


Another quality free desktop recording tool, Camstudio is open source and very user-friendly.

It’s a lean piece of software with a minimal feature set, but it definitely does the job if you’re just looking to quickly record your desktop activity and export it.

It has options for screen captions, and also a fun little “picture-in-picture” feature which allows you to include video from your webcam in your desktop video, so viewers can see you explaining what you’re doing.

Currently, Camstudio is only available on Windows.


Jing is the free alternative to Camtasia, produced by the same company – Techsmith. It’s good for screenshots and screencasts (the trendy term for screen recording). Like Camtasia, Jing allows you to record all of your screen or just select a portion of it.

Paying the small yearly fee of $15 unlocks most of Jing’s functionality, allowing you to save in Mpeg format and upload directly to Youtube.


Screenr is an exciting way of sharing screencasts online, without having to install any software on your computer or learn the ropes of a tricky program.

It’s a free browser-based Java program available through Screenr.com.

It’s a great tool for producing usable screencasts on the fly, and there’s virtually no learning curve involved - it’s a one button click to record your desktop and vocal input, and Screenr will automatically generate a link to your content.


Screenflow is perhaps the most feature-packed desktop video recording tool on the market currently.

It offers full and partial screen capture, extensive tile, text and cursor customisation, and the option to incorporate the video streams from your webcam and video camera.

Screenflow is only available on the Mac, and it costs a fairly hefty $99 – but if you’re planning to produce high quality screencasts that need some heavyweight production values, then Screenflow is the tool for you.


Like Screenr, Screencast-O-Matic is a java-based web app. The basic version is free, with the Pro version only setting you back $12 per year.

It records your desktop and uploads it to the web, enabling you to share recordings via the link generated. You can then upload the video to Youtube, and also save it as a file on your PC.

The Pro account lets you download the app for offline use, and also comes with some simple editing tools.

That about does it for our roundup of the top tools that let you record your desktop. Screencasts are a fantastic way to show others what you’re doing on your PC, and one of the best way to teach IT skills visually. Choose a tool from the selection roundup above or from another article, and get to work creating your own high-quality desktop recordings.

Image licensed under Creative Commons. image source

Amanda Johnson is a Newcastle based writer and mother to a busy toddler. When she is not writing for Newcastle video production company, Rolling Ball, she writes for a wedding publications in Australia and abroad.


  1. The QuickTime Player that comes with every Mac can record screen and audio to make a video "screencast". Just start QuickTime, choose "file >> new screen recording", choose the sound source, choose to record from the entire screen or from a selected region, then press the red "start" button. As soon as you press "stop", a high-quality .mov file will be deposited on your desktop. Edit with iMovie (comes with OS-X) or Avidemux (free download).

  2. This is a Linux Blog and you only provide alternatives for other SOs, and ports to other SOs? No mention of amazing linux software like kazam, vokoscreen or SimpleScreenRecorder? Shame on you!

    1. Because this is Linux-related resource, it also publishes FOSS-related article. This article covers some FOSS tools. However, it's up to the author to select particular products. You're free and welcome to write your own article with the tools you like! I'm ready to publish it!

  3. The company I work for uses the built-in screen recording tool of NoMachine, www.nomachine.com. You can record both the local desktop as well as the remote desktop. We use it for the latter, but I imagine it is useful also for the local desktop.