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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

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

ShareX

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

SnagIt

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:

Conclusion

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

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of JamesMcAllisterOnline.com. He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on JamesMcAllisterOnline.com, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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  1. Hi James,
    This is a great post. And quite timely too, as I am currently developing an online course, and I need to find an effective way to develop quality videos and presentations, utilizing screen recording software.
    It would be awesome to be able to record the screens to help showcase what we’re talking about, walk our students through a tutorial, or explain things more quickly.
    And it’s fantastic that you’ve showcased the best of both the paid and free screen recording software.
    Thanks again for sharing 🙂
    Best,
    Pedro

      (Quote)

    1. Hey Pedro, great to hear from you again! How have you been?

      Screen recording software can definitely be a great way to do this – it’s just so convenient to be able to walk people through something while actually doing it yourself. Camtasia is a key part of running my business, and I’ve been including more and more screen captures inside my YouTube videos.

      Look forward to hearing more about the development of your course as well!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…Content-Based Businesses – The Key To True FreedomMy Profile

  2. Hi James,
    This post helps a lot. Thank you for sharing.
    I’ve been using Bandicam you’ve mentioned. It’s cheap but has great quality. works great for me.

      (Quote)

  3. This is a great list for gamers and bloggers alike. It is really good to invest on a screen recording software for your gaming career. Other stuff you should invest on are gaming chairs, sound system and planning software. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve read lots of reviews online and there are great choices out there. Always go for comfort and productivity.

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  4. Hi James,

    I’m using Camtasia for the past three years and experienced a lot of good features and it is more comfortable . I just want to try a new recording software for a change. It doesn’t mean that Camtasia is not good, but I want an alternate one for that. This page helps me in selecting the software which suits me. Hope, OBS do its best for me. Thank you.

    Victor.

      (Quote)

  5. Hello James!

    People nowadays mostly using the online platform for making money, especially in this quarantine period. I’m also started my new YouTube channel for video tutorials. I do search for perfect screen recording software for my purpose. On this page, you shared both free and paid software, hope OBS works well for me. Have a great day buddy!

    Victor.

      (Quote)

    1. Hey Victor,

      I’m sure you’ll find a lot of value out of OBS. If I remember correctly there is a way to save custom templates for what you want to record and what you don’t, which makes it convenient for online tutorials and lessons. I know it’s really popular of people who do screencasts with both a recording of their screen and a webcam video in the corner for example!

        (Quote)
      James McAllister recently posted…Your Company, Or Your Life?My Profile

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