Want to record snippets of your screen and easily edit that footage after?
Recording your screen is a necessity for content creators, freelancers, and teachers, to name a few. So, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best free screen recorders in 2021.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about screen recording software. From what features to look for based on your needs and the different types of recorders you can choose from.
You can also find some helpful tips below to make sure you record high-quality videos—so stick till the end!
Roll sound… camera… marker… and ACTION!
In simplest terms, a screen recording software takes a video of what happens on your screen. You can record the entire display of your monitor, a specific area of the screen, or a particular window. Screen recording generally includes your microphone and computer audio, too.
So, aside from just what happens on your display, the recording software will also capture the sound of your programs or microphone.
What mainly separates screen recorders from each other are the watermarks, features, and quality. Most programs generally need to be paid to work optimally, but there are a ton of options that provide exceptional value for free.
Some programs limit a 720p resolution recording, others allow up to 1080p but add watermarks. There’s a pro and con to every product here, but that only means these free screen recorders are diverse. The programs below are the best screen recording software for PCs like Windows and Mac.
Before we recommend you anything, here’s a short breakdown of every key feature you need in your video recording software.
Recording your screen is surprisingly intimidating. There’s pressure to record efficiently. That means no spacing out, losing track of what you’re doing, or having a cursor that’s wandering around the screen aimlessly. A video recording with lots of filler content and pauses need to be trimmed with a video editor, which is its own challenge (not a problem with VEED though!).
A simple video editor should just record and save. Done. Worrying about how to use your screen capture software is the last thing you need.
The export quality is where most free screen recorders limit their features. You shouldn’t need anything more than a 1080p recording, especially if your monitor doesn’t natively support a higher resolution. Most free screen recorders add watermarks when exporting at 1080p quality, so watch out for that.
Advanced screen recorders also offer the option of recording through your webcam, microphone, and computer audio. By computer audio, I’m talking about recording the sound from your speakers too. Recording all of these at the same time is a powerful way to increase the quality of your video clips, especially if you’re making YouTube videos.
Having the best screen recording software is definitely a must for live streamers reading this. You’ll want to look for programs that let you adjust your volume on the fly, switch between recording screens or apps, and efficiently stream 1080p content.
Live streaming programs need to record multiple things at once, so a powerful desktop recorder is better. This doesn’t tax too much on the internet as well, if you don’t count the live video that’s being streamed.
Case in point, different users will need to look for different features. However, we’ve taken into account your varying needs with the selection of screen capture software below.
There are two types of screen records: desktop and online.
Desktop screen recorders are full programs that you have to download into your computer. These are more powerful and work locally through your system. This means that you can run them even if your internet is down.
Since these are full-on applications, you can expect them to have more features as well. The only bottleneck or limit for desktop recorders is pretty much the power and speed of your computer. So, if you have a complete powerhouse PC at home, then you’re more than equipped to run these types of programs.
These recorders are commonly used by streamers and gamers. You can also use this for video tutorials or instructional videos, but the process of exporting and editing will have to be moved to a different program altogether. With this caveat, online screen recorders like VEED come in.
For users who want something simple, convenient, and straightforward: online recorders are the easiest ones to use.
You can use these straight from your browser, only requiring a Chrome extension to download. These recorders rely on your internet, especially to upload the finished recording. Online recorders are also light, so you don’t need a beefy computer, and you can keep your recorded files stored online.
These recorders are perfect for video tutorials, in-browser guides, or instructional videos for your employees. The beauty of some online recorders is that they also offer video editing features. So, you can easily record your screen and then edit it immediately after you’re done. The process is quick, simple, and very intuitive.
In this article, we’ll be talking about VEED, Loom, Bandicam, and two other famous recorders.
These are Windows and Mac compatible, so there’s no shortage of OS compatibility here. Some of these screen recorders work as simple as record and save. Others offer a more all-in-one solution, allowing you to edit what you record too. We’ll talk about the pros and cons, prices, and everything you need to know about screen recording.
Price: Free (Includes Paid Plans for Video Editing)
Supported OS: Chrome Browser on Windows or Mac
VEED came in clutch with this extremely powerful screen recorder, even though it’s just a chrome extension.
The VEED screen and webcam recorder is a new tool on the block, but it’s already ahead in terms of features. You can record an unlimited number of videos for as long as you want. And, users also have the option to record their microphones and webcams at the same time.
For those of you who are artistic or prone to pointing out crucial points in your videos, you can also draw on top of your video. The sticky note feature is a great way to keep track of everything you’ve explained. You can even use it as a digital outline to talk to your viewers.
Since VEED is also a video editing platform, you can trim and refine your video when you’re done. It’s easy, simple, and immediately exports into the VEED editor after you’ve recorded. This lets you easily share your video with a public link, edit and trim unnecessary areas, and more. You can even annotate and add extra effects to the video to help get your message across.
This tool is ideal for educators and content creators who frequently need to record their screen. The transition to online classes and work hasn’t been kind to everyone. Thankfully, even the most beginner-level user can easily use VEED’s screen recorder.
All in all, VEED’s screen recorder is a solid choice. It’s a lightweight online recorder with tons of cool features, like the on-screen writing, sticky notes, and magic button for confetti. The icing on the cake is the fact that the screen recording automatically exports into an online video editor when you’re done. Here, you can:
It’s a complete package for content creators and educators, definitely one of the best free screen recorders in the market.
Price: Free (Includes Paid Plans to remove limits and drawing tool)
Supported OS: Windows or Mac
Loom is one of the more famous screen recording tools, especially for corporate work.
Right off the bat, Loom is a simple screen recorder. You can choose between multiple on-screen recording layouts, and it records your webcam too. Loom isn’t the most powerful in terms of features. Unlike other screen recorders, you won’t be able to add on-recording notes. The drawing feature is limited to paid users as well, which is a bummer.
On a brighter note, you can use Loom as a dedicated desktop application or through a Chrome extension. Giving users the option to choose between both is a plus in my book, just keep in mind that some user reviews do find the desktop app buggy. Other than that, you can also adjust the size of your webcam video during the recording. This is a great way to shift the attention of your viewer from your content to your face, especially when you need to explain something through your webcam.
A couple of key things you should consider before using Loom is that they only allow a 5-minute recording limit. They also have a 100-video and screenshot limit to free accounts, but that’s more than enough for most people.
One thing that Loom does right is that it’s convenient to share your video around. The finished output is automatically uploaded when you’re done and you can just send a link to your co-workers to access the video.
However, the signing up process for Loom is quite lengthy. If you’re looking for a simple and quick screen recorder, signing up alone might be more trouble than it’s worth. Loom also asks about your work background, which should give you a specialized experience. It doesn’t really change the features though, so it’s probably asked just to track your behavior and usage.
In conclusion, Loom is simple to use and has been a staple for corporate and online freelancers. It’s a convenient record-and-save screen recorder, but you’ll have to register for an account to use Loom. Unfortunately, signing up does take a bit of effort, so I don’t recommend Loom to users who are looking for quick screen recording.
Finally, Loom doesn’t support on-screen drawing and sticky notes for free users.
Price: Free (Paid plans are very affordable)
Supported OS: Windows or Mac
Screencast-o-matic is one of the oldest screen recorders in the market, but did it age well?
Screencast has taken a lot of drastic changes lately. First off, they’re no longer a browser editor. You have to download a program called the WebLaunchRecorder to get started. The interface is very straightforward, and while that’s good to see, it’s lackluster because of how laggy it can get.
Considering that this is the first desktop recorder on this list, Screencast-o-matic does give a lot of flexible recording options on your computer. You can pick between specific areas on your screen or your full resolution. I wouldn’t recommend this recorder for streamers and gamers though. The free plan doesn’t record your computer audio, so your viewers wouldn’t be able to hear the video game during your stream.
Once you’re done recording, Screencast shows you a preview and playback of your video. If you’re happy with everything, saving it will move the video to a simple editor. Here, you see the sound waves and trim the video. The editor controls are very limited, so you might be better off with a dedicated video editing program.
The sharing is simple though. You can immediately upload it on Dropbox, YouTube, Google Drive, and more. Key praises for the recording is that Screencast highlights your mouse cursor on the screen. Aside from supporting native resolution quality, you also don’t have to sign up for an account. I always give plus points for convenience.
Screencast-o-matic has been one of the best screen recorders for a long time. The company itself was founded way back in 2005, so they catered to the very early days of YouTube and online content creation. That being said though, the software and features don’t seem to have aged well. There’s a limit to the editing, and no screenshot, pauses or on-screen drawing.
If you’re looking for a simple screen recorder that has been in the market for years, the Screencast-o-matic is a reliable choice.
Price: Free (Paid plans are a one-time purchase and licensed per computer)
Supported OS: Windows or Mac
Anyone familiar with old-school gaming understands that Bandicam is the OG, responsible for almost half of YouTube videos since 2010 and older.
Bandicam has aged beautifully since it was released. It’s a complete desktop screen recorder full of all the features you need and didn’t know you needed. A quick overview of Bandicam’s features include:
All this while remaining lightweight on your computer. Bandicam is very versatile and intuitive to use. Although there are more options and customizations here than any of the screen recorders combined, Bandicam makes it easy to configure the recorder to your personal needs.
Quick trivia: Bandicam is also what Pewdiepie uses to record and stream his videos.
Live streamers and gamers alike definitely have something here. Bandicam is a great beginner-level program and a good way to record some early YouTube videos for your channel. The logo watermark isn’t huge and can be easily removed through a video editor later on. That being said, live streaming will be difficult with the program if you don’t have a paid version.
Bandicam doesn’t come with a video editor. But you can get a free version of Bandicut, a program from the same Bandicam company, which only offers trimming and splitting.
Bandicam is a staple desktop recorder with a solid history of reliability. The company’s pricing system alone (one-time purchase for the app) and the lifetime warranty are green flags. The software itself is simple, intuitive, and powerful for a desktop recorder. Although you do get a watermark and a 10-minute recording limit, that’s more than enough to snip multiple clips for YouTube tutorials.
If you want a dedicated desktop recorder, Bandicam is the way to go. Just remember that it doesn’t come with any type of video editor, so you’ll need a separate program for that.
Price: Free (Paid plans are very affordable)
Supported OS: Windows or Mac
Screencastify was released back in 2013 as the first of its kind. The mother of all extension screen recorders.
Screen recording with Screencastify only lasts up to 5 minutes with the free version. So, you’re going to struggle with sending out complete and thorough video briefs in that limited amount of time. Their built-in editor only supports 5-minute video exports too, so you can’t stack videos on top of each other as a makeshift solution.
Regardless, their on-screen features are more diverse than most recorders on this list. Users can choose between on-screen pens with different colors. These stay permanently on your screen until you either clear all the drawings or erase them with the eraser. The cool thing about Screencastify’s pens is that they track the area that you drew on. So, if you scroll up and down, your drawings will scroll together with the window.
This is a really neat feature, especially for long videos. Unfortunately, a 5-minute video will have to be extremely concise if you want to use the tracking feature effectively.
The editor that automatically opens up when you’re done recording is full of basic features too, like the trimming tool. Sharing is where everything is easier. Videos automatically save to your Google Drive and you get the option of publishing it to YouTube, sending a link, or posting it in a Google Classroom. Screencastify’s sharing system is one of the best here for educators and teachers.
Grade school teachers will especially benefit from the on-screen emojis. This can add a layer of style and color that helps younger children focus throughout the videos.
Screencastify does require you to sign into their platform. You’re asked to sign into your Google account, which can feel annoying if you aren’t the type to easily link your Google account to just any site. The signing up process is fairly simple, with only 4 pages of quick questions to go through before you can start recording.
Being the mother of all browser screen recorders, Screencastify has a lot going for them. Their free plan allows on-screen writing, and the drawings themselves track to your screen! That feature alone feels like a premium tool already. Teachers can make use of on-screen emojis too and rectangles to keep children focused throughout the video.
Unfortunately, Screencastify only supports up to 5 minutes of videos and that’s simply not enough for most content creators.
In case I missed out on some vital information, here’s a FAQ about screen recording. These are the short summaries of everything we’ve discussed so far. You can count them as mini-conclusions.
The best screen recorder for Windows 10 is Bandicam if all you want to do is screen record and not edit. For screen recording and editing, like adding in subtitles, music, progress bars, or resizing, VEED would be the better free screen recorder.
VEED is the best screen recorder for Mac and Windows users because of its many features and ease of use. You can learn how to use VEED in just a few seconds of recording, and once you’re done, users are directed to a free and powerful editor to customize their video recording.
The best way to edit screen recordings is through online editors like VEED. These screen recorders automatically move your video to a video editor when you’re done recording. You can trim, edit, split, add music, annotate, and even resize the video with VEED.
YouTubers primarily use OBS, because of how powerful they can be. However, simple YouTubers and content creators also use online editors like VEED, especially when they have a very mobile life. Online editors are fast, simple, yet powerful enough to create professional videos without the need for a beefy laptop.
VEED, Loom, and other online screen recorders are what most content creators, freelancers, and teachers use today. These are powerful and interactive screen recorders that let video content creators make the best videos even with the worst laptops—and with little to no video creation experience at all. Recorders like VEED only need to be installed as a Chrome extension as well, so they’re very lightweight.
Written By: Mako Young
Mako is a freelance tech writer with a passion for writing about the best tools in the market. Make your life better one article at a time.