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One of the most effective ways to develop quality videos or presentations, is to utilize screen recording software.
You’ve likely seen this being used many times before. Video creators will record their screens to help showcase what they’re talking about, walk you through a tutorial, or explain things more quickly.
But how do they actually achieve this?
There is a large variety of screen recording software on the market today, with a diverse set of additional features.
In this article, I will break down what I’ve found to be the top solutions – both the paid premium options, as well as free screen recording software for those just looking to try it out.
Because the majority of us are using Windows, I will focus primarily on Windows software. However, I will also mention whether or not the software also supports Mac or Linux as I cover them.
Let’s get into it!
Overall Best Pick – Paid: Camtasia
Camtasia is the industry-leader for paid screen recording software.
Those that utilize screen capture to make a living, such as technical trainers or entrepreneurs, likely use Camtasia due to its powerful performance and robust set of features.
It’s also what I use myself for all of my screen capture needs, such as the videos I produce on my YouTube channel.
Some of my favorite features include…
- The ability to capture audio or webcam video as you’re recording, in addition to the desktop sound.
- The ability to capture only a specific window, or area of your choosing.
- The ability to draw on the screen to highlight important sections as you’re recording.
- The fact that it runs so smoothly, without bogging down your system. It’s very quick and easy to work with.
Camtasia also comes with a bundled video editor. It’s not nearly as powerful as something like Adobe Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas, but it gets the job done if you only need to do quick little edits, like trimming, zooming, or adding transitions / text / pointers. This makes it very quick to produce quality screen capture videos, especially for those producing a large volume of them.
The beauty of Camtasia is in its simplicity. It does exactly what you need it to do every time you want to use it, without requiring any lengthy setup or headaches.
Until that changes, I feel little need to use much else.
That being said, the main drawback of Camtasia right now is that it doesn’t record above 30 frames-per-second – so if you’re a game or media studio where 60f ps or higher is a requirement, you may want to opt for something else instead.
Price: $249. Systems: Windows, Mac
Overall Best Pick – Free: Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)
Open Broadcaster Software is a beast of a program, and may even be better than Camtasia if your needs are a bit more advanced.
OBS is free and open source, and will handle all of your screen recording needs better than most paid solutions. There’s only one reason it’s not my primary screen recorder:
It’s very powerful, which also makes it a bit more complicated. Getting it up and running takes a bit more time due to the sheer amount of options available to you.
Some highlight features include:
- The ability to capture any specific area or window, even if that window is not ‘in front’ on your computer.
- The ability to capture multiple windows simultaneously, and rearrange them as you see fit.
- The ability to capture audio or camera video from a number of different sources at once.
- Save different setups as a ‘Scene’, then switch between them during recording.
- Built in chroma keying for green screen use.
- The ability to stream directly to Twitch.tv and YouTube.
- A large number of community-built plugins are free and available to extend the software’s functionality.
There’s very little you can’t accomplish with OBS. It’s hard to believe that it’s free!
Price: Free. Systems: Windows, Mac, Linux
Other Good Choices
If for any reason you don’t want to use either Camtasia or Open Broadcaster Software, below are a few other good choices worth considering.
Bandicam offers many of the same features as Camtasia, at a much cheaper price ($39).
The primary drawbacks is that it seems to run a bit less smoothly, and does not have any sort of built in video editor. If you already have video editing software however, this isn’t any sort of issue.
For those looking to try it out, Bandicam also offers a free version.
The free version is limited in some ways, however. Free users are only able to record up to 10 minutes at once, and a Bandicam watermark appears over all of your videos. Upgrading to the paid version removes these limitations.
Price: $39. Systems: Windows
Another free and open-source option is ShareX.
I actually use this as my primary screenshotting tool, rather than the snipping tool that comes built-in to Windows. Using ShareX you can map different types of screenshots (such as capturing a certain window vs. fullscreen) to different hotkeys, then automatically take certain actions afterwards – such as opening a photo editor or uploading it to the internet.
For video capture, it offers many of the same features as other screen recording options. You can also record your screen and output to a .GIF file, which isn’t something that Camtasia does at this time.
Price: Free. Systems: Windows
Finally, we have SnagIt, which is made by the same company that produces Camtasia.
Snag-It is much more barebones than Camtasia, but still has all of the essential features.
I would recommend it in particular to those looking to make quick little tutorial type videos, due to the ease of being able to add things like text or arrows to your captures after recording. It’s also great for larger companies looking to aid in communication across teams.
If screenshot tools are also important to you, it offers many of the same features as ShareX, making it a great all-in-one solution.
You can learn more about the differences between Camtasia and SnagIt in this video from TechSmith, the creator of both:
You can’t really go wrong with any of the options mentioned within the article. The best choice for you will come down to what you value the most.
For those looking to create screen captures quickly and easily, Camtasia is still the best software available for that task. However, if you want to record something very complex, Open Broadcaster Software truly shines.
SnagIt is perhaps the best choice for those unwilling or unable to spend $249 for Camtasia, and Bandicam or ShareX both have their benefits as well.
I’d love to hear which software you’re planning to use going forward. Of course, if there are any questions that I can answer for you, just let me know.
Best of luck with your videos! To your success,
– James McAllister