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Recording Video of Your Computer Screen

Need to record a video playing on your computer? This process is called different things, but screencasting and screen recording are two popular terms. The process is not perfect, not by a long shot. For example, it may rely on your computer’s microphone to grab the sound. Often, this will also pick up any sounds in the room. This means you’ll want to do this in a quiet place. I recommend doing a test run first, just to check the quality. (If you need to record sound from your computer, you may also need to crank up the sound for your mic to pick it up.)

Here are some different options for you to try. As always, I suggest checking them out and seeing what works best for you/your computer. You may also want to do some websearching/research. There is a lot of different freeware out there and something that I haven’t listed here may wind up working better for you.

Quicktime Player (Macs) – Highly Recommended
 If you have a Mac, I highly recommend using the built in Quicktime Player. You simply open the player and right-click the program icon in your dock. Select the “new screen recording” option in the menu. You can also access the screen recorder by opening the program and looking for “new screen recording” in the toolbar. Quicktime will let you select a section of the screen to record and it has various export options for different kinds of video. Totally easy.

If you have easy access to a Mac or a Mac Lab, you might want to jump onto a Mac and do this. It’s much quicker/easier than some of the other methods.

Xbox DVR (Windows 10+)
Newer Windows computers may have screen recording options built into them. Check your programs and see if you have the Xbox software installed. If you do, open it up and look for the “Game DVR” tab. This will tell you more about how to record your screen. Please note: This software is designed to record gameplay, you can use it to record your screen outside of gameplay but you may need to test it out first.

OBS Studio (Windows, Mac, Linux) – Recommended
Free. Popular video recording and live-streaming software. The interface takes some getting used to, but once you’re comfortable with it you’ll appreciate all the functions it offers.

CamStudio (Windows)
Free. Desktop recorder and video streaming software.

Jing (Windows, Mac)
Free. Offers screencapping and screen recording options. Free version limits video capture to 5 minutes per video.

Screencast-O-Matic (Windows, Mac)
Free version limited to 15 minutes, has watermark.

Popular Commercial Software

Camtasia (Windows, Mac) –
Very popular video editing and screen recording program. It’s expensive though. As of 2016, it costs $199 for a user license.

Recording Gameplay on Your Screen or Console

OBS Studio (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Popular video recording and live-streaming software

XSplit Broadcaster/Gamecaster (Windows, Consoles)
XSplit offers a mix of free and paid options. You’ll want to research them first to see if this software will work for you. Go here for information about the capture cards XSplit works with:



Screen Recording and Sound
Screen recorders often pick up sound from the room you’re recording in. Check the program you’re using and see if there’s an option to only record from the internal-speakers rather than the built-in microphone. If this isn’t an option, choose a quiet space to record in and test the sound quality before you record all your clips.

Audio Not Recording?
This is a common problem when you first test screen recorders. First, check your software settings. There’s often a place in your preferences or computer settings where you have to turn on the internal microphone.In Quicktime, you’re looking for the little tiny options menu hidden next to the giant red “record” button:

screencap of Quicktime options menu
In this menu, choose the microphone you want to use to record.

If you’re using a different program but having similar problems, look around in the software for something similar to the options menu shown in the image above.

Still having audio issues?
It might have to do with your computer’s audio/sound settings. Check your computer’s preferences and make sure your microphone is enabled.

Confused about DRM Protections on Your Files, DVDs, or Streaming Media?
Even though there are many legal reasons why you might need to record/create a video or audio clip, some sources for digital content block any/all recording of files. Videos purchased on iTunes/Apple Store often block screen recorders. Netflix can cause glitches in certain browsers (but not always). Amazon’s digital content is generally easier to work with. Always make sure you test your recordings and make sure they’ve worked before you create all your clips.

For more information about the Fair Use exemptions to copyright, see my Copyright and Fair Use Primer Disclaimer.

Do you have another tool you like? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!