They say there is no free lunch and, more often than not, that’s the rule. Screen recorders, though, are a delightful exception — there are heaps of free tools out there.
To help you find the best screen recording software, we have created a shortlist of the top screen recorders that are free, and you can use to record your desktop screen and system audio. Ideal for communicating your ideas and feedback faster, recorder video tutorials, explainer videos, report bugs, etc.

How we reviewed the top screen capture tools

We took information about each screen desktop recorder directly from their official website. In addition, we gathered insights from independent reviews published on G2Crowd and tested each tool ourselves. The article starts with a comparison table and continues with more in-depth reviews of each screen capture tool.

Comparison Of The Top 5 Best Free Screen Recorders In 2019

ScreenreciSpring Free CamApowersoft Free Online Screen RecorderScreencast-O-MaticEzvid
Save screencast to your hard drive
Video Hosting2GB of secure video hosting for freeUpload to YouTubeUpload to a YouTube-like platformUpload to the Screencast-o-matic platformNo video hosting or uploading options
Cloud RecordingThe video is automatically saved to the cloud
Instant sharingGet a private sharing link when you stop recording
Sharing optionsUniversal sharing link. Share privately or publicly.Upload to YoutubeUpload to Youtube, Dropbox, Vimeo or GDriveUpload to YoutubeNone. You can save the screen capture to your hard drive.
Record computer audio and video at the same time
Record your voiceComputer microphone
Record in full screenGame recordingYes, but you can’t hide the recording widget
Capture Screenshots
Video LibraryVideo CMS
Video Encryption
Video Analytics
Video Editing ToolsBasic video editing, e.g. delete selectionTrimming onlyBasic video editing, e.g. delete selection
Facecam recordingInsert your webcam in the screencast
Recording TimeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited15 minutesDepends on how much free space you have
AdsAd-freeAd-freeAd-freeAdsAd-free
Video compressionMP4 (Universal)WMV (Windows only)MP4, WMV, AVI, FLV, MPEG, VOB, ASF and GIFMP4, AVI, FLVWMV (Windows only)
Supported PlatformsWindows, Mac, LinuxWindowsWindows and MacWindows and MacWindows
Works when you’re offline

1. Screenrec

Click. Record. Share instantly. If you’re looking for the quickest and easiest possible way to capture your computer screen and share the recording with someone else, this is it. No ads and limitations and you get business video hosting for free.

screenrec free desktop recorder

Pros

  • Record computer audio
  • Record your computer screen in HD
  • Recording software for Windows, Mac & Linux (Works on all platforms)
  • Capture screenshots and annotate them
  • 2Gb of free video hosting included
  • Cloud recording. Your video capture is uploaded on the fly to a secure video hosting platform — StreamingVideoProvider.
  • Files are saved in the .MP4 format which can be played on any device
  • Instant private sharing. Once the recording is complete you get a private sharing link that you can send to anyone online.
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Video CMS to manage your recordings, e.g. tag, add descriptions, organize in folders and playlists
  • Video encryption. No one can download your videos without your explicit permission.
  • Video analytics
  • Unlimited recording time
  • No ads

Cons

  • There are no video editing tools at this point
  • You can’t record your webcam

2. iSpring Free Cam

Easy-to-use screen capture video tool without ads and time limitations. It only works on Windows which can potentially be an issue but, otherwise, it’s got all the chops to help you capture your desktop.

iSpring Free Cam

Pros

  • Record your microphone and system sounds
  • Highlight your mouse
  • Basic video editing tools, e.g. delete selection, remove background noise.
  • Webcam recording is available but only in the Pro version
  • You can upload your screencast to YouTube
  • No ads
  • No time limits

Cons

  • Only works on Windows. No support for Linux or Mac.
  • Screen captures are saved in .WMV format (OK if you’re using a Windows PC but might not play on other platforms)
  • Uploading large videos might take quite some time because there is no cloud recording option. The file is compressed and uploaded after recording.
  • You can’t take screenshots
  • Some users report high CPU usage

3. Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder

A nice web-based screen capture tool with basic video editing capabilities. The free version runs in your browser (Mac or Windows) and requires an internet connection. The Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder might be a good choice if you’re looking for a one-time solution.

Apowersoft

Pros

  • Record your webcam
  • Add annotations within the video
  • Capture computer audio
  • Crop your video (no other editing tools, though)
  • Works on Windows and Mac but not on Linux
  • After recording, you can save the video file to your computer or upload it to YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
  • You can save the file in a number of different formats (This can also be a con if you don’t know what you’re doing)

Cons

  • Requires a browser plugin to run which may slow your browser down. There is a “Download desktop version” button on the website but this is actually the Pro version, not the free one.
  • No cloud recording option. If you want to share your screencast, you will have to wait for the video to render and, then, you will have to wait for it to upload.
  • Time limits and watermarks (removed when you create a free account)
  • Not suitable for game recording because you can’t hide the recording widget
  • Users report that it takes quite a lot of time to view the replay
  • You must be online to use it

4. Screencast-O-Matic

The free version of Screencast-O-Matic is another browser-based screen recording tool. It should work for you if you don’t need to record computer audio and you only want to make very short videos.

Screencast-O-Matic

Pros

  • Narrate the video (record your computer microphone)
  • Record your webcam
  • After recording the video, you can upload it to YouTube or the Screencast-o-matic hosting service
  • Highlight your mouse
  • Available for Windows and Mac

Cons

  • 15-minute recording limit
  • There is a watermark
  • You can’t record computer audio in the free version
  • No screenshot tool
  • The free version can only run in the browser which can slow your computer down
  • Ads on your screencasts
  • Requires Java to run
  • Some users report that it crashes their browsers and slows down their computers
  • No cloud recording option. If you want to share your screencast, you will have to wait for the video to render and, then, you will have to wait for it to upload.

5. Ezvid

Ezvid has some cool features like the ability to draw while recording or synthesize human speech from text. Like iSpring Free Cam, it only works on Windows and saves screencasts in the bulky WMV format.

Ezvid

Pros

  • HD video capture
  • Include computer narration with your video
  • Trim videos
  • Insert images and videos in your screencast
  • Draw while recording
  • Facecam recording
  • No watermarks
  • No ads

Cons

  • Works on Windows only
  • Recording limit — depends on how much free space you have on your hard drive
  • Delayed replay — you have to wait until your video is rendered
  • Some users report that it slows down their computers
  • Screen captures are saved in .WMV format (OK if you’re using a Windows PC but the video might not play on other platforms)

 

 

How to choose the top screen video recorder

There are two important points to consider when looking for the best free screen recorder.

1. File Format & Compression

A file format is a particular way of organizing the data within the file. There are many video file formats and some screen recording tools support more than one. However, most of the time, it goes down to MP4 vs. WMV.

MP4 or WMV for screen capture?

MP4 or WMV for screen capture

The WMV format is a product of Microsoft. Back in the day, it was created to allow professional videos to be recorded in high quality, e.g. on DVD, Bluray. The biggest issue here is that Mac users often have trouble viewing WMV files.

MP4, on the other hard, helps you produce video files that can be opened on any platform. And, when it comes to video quality, MP4 is actually better than WMV.

So, MP4 is more suitable for publishing your screen captures on the web and sharing them with others. Choose a screen recorder that allows you to save your videos in MP4.

2. Video Hosting & Uploading

When looking for a screen capture software, you’d probably look at the recording features like — recording time, ability to record the computer audio, and so on.

But what happens after you record your screencast?

Most of the time, video files are very big and can’t be attached to emails. This means that, to share a video, you have to upload it somewhere in the cloud. In other words, you need video hosting.

This is a book-worthy topic but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Hosting on YouTube. Some screen recorders allow you to post your videos on YouTube. That’s great when you want to share your videos publicly but not recommended if the screencast contains sensitive information.
  • Proprietary video hosting. Some screen recorders like Screenrec, Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder and Screencast-O-Matic come with video hosting. When storing your videos on these platforms, it would be wise to research if the platform is free and what level of security it offers.
  • Cloud Recording. If there is no Cloud Recording option, you will have to wait for the video to upload until you can share it. Having this feature saves a lot of time.

Conclusion

All of these free screen capture tools have their own advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, the recording features — what you can do with the tool, are just as important as the effectiveness — how quickly you can record your computer screen and share it with others.

Therefore the top screen recording software for us is the ScreenRec free screen recorder. We hope we helped you make a more informed choice.