They say there is no free lunch and, more often than not, that’s the rule. Screen recording software, though, is a delightful exception — there are heaps of free tools out there.
To help you find the best free screen recorder, we have created a shortlist of the best free screen recorders in 2021 that are free. Ideal for communicating your ideas and feedback faster, recorder video tutorials, explainer videos, report bugs, etc.

Best Free Screen Recorders

What Is Screen Recording Software?

Screen recording software captures what is on your computer screen. You can either record in full screen or capture a specific area. Most of these apps can record your microphone (audio narration) and the best desktop recording software can also record your computer screen with audio (the system sound).

However, this is where the similarities end. Not all such programs are HD screen recorders. Some screen recording tools can save the recording in various file formats or export it to social media websites like YouTube. Top screen recorders, though, can upload your screen captures to the cloud in real-time and give you a sharing link instantly (much more effective).

So, before you set your mind on a free screen recording software, it’s best to evaluate your own recording needs. Maybe you don’t need to upload your videos to social media or maybe you don’t need to record in HD.

How we reviewed the top screen video recorders

We took information about each of the best desktop recorders directly from their official website. In addition, we gathered insights from independent reviews published on G2Crowd and tested each tool ourselves.

What is a good screen recorder?

While our picks range from desktop apps to browser plug-ins, each one meets the following basic criteria:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Can record the entire screen or a specific area
  • Captures both system and microphone audio
  • Built-in video sharing and/or convenient exporting options

See this video for more information.

Here Are The Best Free Screen Recording Software In 2021

ScreenreciSpring Free CamApowersoft Free Online Screen RecorderScreencast-O-MaticEzvidPrezi VideoVeedMovavi Screen Recorder
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.Steam to web conferencing appsNone, You can save the screen capture to your hard drive.Upload to the cloud, Google Drive, or YouTube; share via WhatsApp, YouTube, Telegram, or email
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 selectionBasic editing option (removing extra fragments)
Facecam recordingInsert your webcam in the screencast
Recording TimeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited15 minutesDepends on how much free space you have15 minutes10 minutesDepends on how much free space you have on your hard drive
AdsAd-freeAd-freeAd-freeAdsAd-freeAd-freeAd-freeAd-free
Video compressionMP4 (Universal)WMV (Windows only)MP4, WMV, AVI, FLV, MPEG, VOB, ASF and GIFMP4, AVI, FLVWMV (Windows only)MP4, AVI, MOV, MKV, WEBM, GIF, and MP3
Supported PlatformsWindows, Mac and LinuxWindowsWindows and MacWindows and MacWindowsWindows, Mac and ChromWindows and MacWindows and Mac
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. You not only get a screen recorder for free but you also get business video hosting for free.

Pros:

Cons:

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

Free Download For:

2. iSpring Free Cam

iSpring Free Cam made our list of the best screen recorders because it’s easy-to-use, 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 the full screen or a specific area of 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

Available for:

  • Windows

3. Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder

A nice online screen recorder with basic video editing capabilities. This free screen capture software 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

Available for:

  • Windows and Mac

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

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.

Available for:

  • Windows and Mac

5. Ezvid

Ezvid is on our best screen recording software list because it 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)

Available for:

  • Windows

6. Prezi Video

Prezi Video gives you the opportunity to record a presentation from your Prezi slideshow using the desktop app. This app lets you record, edit, and download your presentations and even stream them to conference apps.

Record Your Screen

Pros:

  • Connects with Prezi or other Powerpoint presentations.
  • Powerful editing right within the app
  • Offers templates to customize videos
  • Have the option to show either webcam with presentation in background or just the presentation content
  • Downloads in mp4 format
  • Can live stream to Zoom, Webex, and GoToWebinar
  • Can pause and resume recording

Cons:

  • 15 minute recording limit
  • Only records up to 720p

Available for:

  • Windows, Mac and Chrom

7. Veed

Veed is an online screen recorder and video editor. If you can’t install new apps on your computer, this may be a good solution. Works on Windows and Mac, no software download or plugin required.

Apps To Record Your Computer Screen

Pros:

  • Screen capture with a click
  • Unique layout options
  • Fast and simple review
  • Full video editing
  • Auto-generated subtitles
  • 2 GB of free storage
  • No need for downloading

Cons:

  • Has watermark
  • 10-minute recording limit
  • No customer support

Available for:

  • Windows and Mac

8. Movavi Screen Recorder

Screen recorder by Movavi is a simple but functional program. It will work perfectly if you need to record a screencast with the sound, webcam, and highlighting of your mouse and keyboard clicks, or make a screenshot. The program is suitable for Windows and Mac users, and it does not require an internet connection.

How To Record Your Computer Screen

Pros:

  • Record both the system sound and the microphone. Disable one or both of them if you do not need to record it
  • Record your screen and your webcam
  • Highlight the cursor and keystrokes
  • Make screenshots
  • Save recordings to the hard drive or the Google Drive
  • Save videos in MP4, AVI, MOV, MKV, WEBM, GIF, or MP3 formats
  • Instant sharing: you can share a video on a cloud, on WhatsApp, YouTube, Telegram, or via email directly from the program
  • No time limitations for recordings
  • No ads

Cons:

  • There are no opportunities to edit a recording; you can only cut extra fragments
  • No support for Linux

Available for:

  • Windows and Mac

What Is a Good Screen Recorder?

There are two important points to consider when looking for the best free screen recorder in 2021.

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 hand, 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. The best free video capture software 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. The best free screen capture tools come with this option.

Conclusion

Even the best free screen recording software has 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.

So, before you set your mind on a free screen recording software, it’s best to evaluate your own recording needs. Maybe you don’t need to upload your videos to social media or maybe you don’t need to record in HD.

Based on this criteria, the top screen recording software for us is the free screen recorder by ScreenRec. The final decision is, of course, yours to make.

Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between a desktop screen recorder vs. online screen recorder?

As the names suggest, the biggest difference is that a desktop screen recorder can capture your screen while you're offline or on a poor internet connection. An online screen recorder requires stable Internet. For this reason, an online screen recorder isn't the best option when it comes to game capture. It may be a viable option when you're recording a tutorial, though.

What is the best alternative to Screencast-O-Matic?

Screencast-O-Matic is a popular screencasting tool. Many people use it to record tutorials, training videos and other educational content. The biggest advantage of Screencast-O-Matic is, perhaps, the ability to share the recording to a number of platforms like Vimeo, YouTube and Screencast-o-Matic's own video hosting platform. One downside, however, is the fact that you have to wait for the recording to upload and, if you've been recording for, say, 1 hour, this can be a huge pain. That's why, as an alternative, we'll suggest ScreenRec. It's quick and lightweight, allows you to capture both your computer audio and microphone audio and, finally, it's got instant private sharing--your screen recordings are uploaded in real time which means that you never have to wait. You get a sharing link as soon as you press "Stop".

How do I record my computer screen?

It depends on the screen capture tool you're using and your platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc). With ScreenRec, for example, you have to press Alt + S to start recording your desktop. This works on all platforms.

References & Further Reading