Follow us

The 7 best free screen recorders in 2021 + bonus

Exploring the top 7 screen recorder tools and mini tutorial to the OBS Studio

Published: November 9, 2021 By Rakesh Naik

Title image for the 7 best free screen recorders in 2021 and a tutorial on how to use the OBS Studio displaying multiple screens of a computer system

Image source – freepik.com

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic went global, companies have switched to remote work models. A study in May 2021 reports that over 75% of the workforce of most US companies are working remotely, with 70% of the companies planning to switch to it in the future.

With such drastic changes in social, academic, and professional life, with meetings, lectures, and even seminars being conducted online, people are opting to keep a record of these for later reference or as documentation.

Screen recorders, while in the past were mostly used by gamers and YouTubers, now have also stepped into this new work from home and online classes domain.

Screen recorders are tools that allow a user to record whatever activity is visible on their computer (or mobile) screens as per requirement. They can be used for a myriad of functions such as recording your favorite game content to recording your university lectures.

In this article, we shall be looking at the 7 best screen recorder tools in the market in 2021 that can be used to record videos on your computer or mobile devices. I shall also detail, how you can use a popular screen recorder on your computer with ease.


Vendor
Platforms
Rating
Windows, MacOS 10.13+, & Linux
9/10
Windows
8/10
Windows 10
8/10
Windows
8/10
Windows, MacOS, Linux, & Chrome
7/10
Android
7/10
Windows
7/10

EDITOR’S CHOICE – OBS Studio


Pros
Cons
  • No watermark, and ad-free
  • Stream directly to third party websites such as Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, and such
  • Various preset filters that can be used on recorded videos
  • Customizable hotkeys to control recording session
  • No “pause” option for recording
  • Quite tedious during initial setup
  • No in-built video editor

Price – Free

Platform – Windows, MacOS 10.13+, & Linux

Verdict – 9/10

The OBS Studio software logo

Image source – obsproject.com

OBS Studio is the best screen recorder software in the market in the 2021 period. Whether you are a professional Twitch streamer, or just a student trying to record online lectures, OBS studio is the way to go.

Abbreviated for Open Broadcaster Software, the OBS studio is open-source software that runs on Windows, MacOS, as well as Linux operating systems.

The screen recorder software offers a wide array of functionalities such as direct streaming to third-party websites, and intuitive audio mixer, several filters for use on recorded videos, and even a 4K output format.

The only feature that the OBS Studio is missing is a video editing tool that can be used to edit the recorded videos. Being sponsored by tech conglomerates such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch, I don't see including a video editor as much of a challenge either.

Bandicam


Pros
Cons
  • Record videos with 4K resolution at up to 144 FPS
  • Add mouse click effects during screen recording
  • Draw on screen while recording
  • Quick setup and easy-to-use
  • Watermark on the free version
  • Record time per recording limited to 10 minutes on the free version
  • Only MP$ and AVI output formats are supported
  • No built-in video editor

Price – Free or $39.95 for paid

Platform – Windows

Verdict – 8/10

The user interface for the Bandicam screen recorder

Image source – bandicam.com

Bandicam, while one of the older players in the screen recorder scene, is still quite functional and popular in the market in 2021. Bottom line is, if the software is good enough for the most successful Youtuber Pewdipie, then it's good enough for me.

The software comes with support for 4K resolution recordings with a framerate of up to 144 FPS. It allows the user to select the area of the screen that needs to be recorded, to be the entire, or a small region of the screen.

The software also allows the user to add aesthetics to the recording, such as mouse click effects, draw on the screen, or even add text on-screen while recording.

Furthermore, Bandicam can even capture screen recordings from sources like Apple TV, IPTV, HDTV, or Set-top boxes by using a capture card and an HDMI cable.

However, Bandicam doesn't come with an in-built video editor software; it does have a tool called Bandicut, but it can only trim, split and join videos. It also only supports two video output formats, namely – MP4 and AVI.

Windows 10 Built-in Game bar


Pros
Cons
  • Built-in to windows making it convenient to use
  • Simple shortcut keys for start-up
  • No watermarks or time limits
  • Can't specify the area of the screen to record
  • Recording cannot be paused

Price – Free

Platform – Windows 10

Verdict – 8/10

The Windows 10 Game Bar being used to record user gameplay

Image source – microsoft.com

The Windows 10 operating system comes built-in with a new feature known as the “Game Bar” which is meant to be useful for gamers who like to record their content.

The screen recorder works seamlessly since it is built-in to the OS itself, which also eliminates the need for any tedious setup or installation. The Windows screen recorder can also be launched quite easily by simply pressing the “Windows Key + G” at the same time.

Furthermore, being a Microsoft product, the game bar also allows you to log in to your windows account and interact with your friends on PC, Mobile, or Xbox.

The screen recorder also has a variety of other features to make your use convenient such as tips and suggestions on game startup, linking to Spotify to listen to your tunes while gaming, linking Twitter, and even connecting to your Xbox network.

However, the screen recorder or game bar isn't without flaws the first of which is the lack of capability to specify the area of the screen to record. The software furthermore, doesn't have functionality for a pause button either to pause a recording, mid-session.

Flashback Express


Pros
Cons
  • Record multiple monitors
  • Schedule recordings
  • Specify area on-screen to record
  • Directly publish videos on YouTube
  • No watermark or time cap on recordings
  • Only supports MP4, AVI, WMV formats for output
  • No video editing features

Price – Free

Platform – Windows

Verdict – 8/10

The user interface of the Flashback Express screen recorder software

Image source – codecpack.co

Flashback Express is quite a comprehensive screen recorder and is the free/express edition of the Flashback screen recorder suite. Even though the software is free, it does in no way hinder user experience by taking away important functionalities and features.

Even though the Flashback Express screen recorder is a free version of the software, it does not add any watermarks or impose any time caps on the recordings. It also allows the user to specify the area of the screen is to be recorded and also include the webcam in the recording.

To point out flaws, I would have to start nit-picking. One flaw is the fact that it only supports limited output formats, and another is that it doesn’t have a video editor tool. But these flaws are mostly addressed in its paid version.

Screencast-O-Matic


Pros
Cons
  • Directly launched after download
  • No need for software setup or install
  • Can specify the area of the screen to be recorded
  • Publish video directly to third-party video hosting websites
  • Online video editor also supported
  • Free version recordings capped at 15 minutes
  • Videos will have a watermark
  • Advanced features only come with the paid version with no trials

Price – Free

Platform – Windows, MacOS, Linux, & Chrome

Verdict – 7/10

Screencast-o-matic being used to capture a video from user computer

Image source – screencast-o-matic.com

The Screencast-O-Matic is a web-based screen recorder software that works almost like a “plug-and-play” screen recorder software. You simply need to download the software and run it to start screen recording; it is that simple and requires no installation or set up.

The software also allows the user to post the recorded videos directly to video-sharing websites such as YouTube, and Vimeo, etc.

Even so, the one major drawback that I found with the software is that most of its best features are only included in the premium version, which even has no trial option to test these features.

Also, recordings in the free version of the screen recorder software are capped at 15 minutes, and will also have a watermark on them.

AZ Screen Recorder


Pros
Cons
  • Doesn't require root access to the android device
  • Support for 1080p 60 FPS recordings
  • No time cap on recording time
  • Built-in video editor
  • Internal audio stops working if the mic is turned on in a game
  • Rendering edited videos are time-consuming

Price – Free

Platform – Android

Verdict – 7/10

The AZ screen recorder logo

Image source – play.google.com

The AZ Screen Recorder is a screen recorder software for android devices only. It is quite popular and has comparable features to the previously popular DU recorder. The AZ recorder comes in both a free version as well as a paid premium version with extra features.

The feature that I found quite interesting in the screen recorder, was its support to record 1080p videos at 60 FPS framerate. This accounts for very clear and smooth videos, and when paired with the pause function, allows recording really good tutorial videos.

The app also supports the addition of video from the front camera to the recording, as an overlay. This would be very useful for YouTubers and gamers who produce content for online social media platforms.

One major drawback that I found with this software is that whenever I turn on the in-game mic while recording, the entire device’s internal audio stops working. The only way to get it to work again is to stop the recording.

ShareX


Pros
Cons
  • No watermarks
  • No cap on the time limit of recordings
  • Can upload recorded videos directly to YouTube
  • Built-in photo editor
  • Not very good to be used to record gaming content
  • The user interface is very basic

Price – Free

Platform – Windows

Verdict – 7/10

The user interface of the ShareX screen recorder tool

Image source – getsharex.com

Compared to the other tools on this list, ShareX is quite a peculiar screen recorder software. It isn’t as “functional" as some of the other tools on the list, meaning that it can't be used for producing content for any YouTube videos or live streams.

Being targeted for technical users, the ShareX screen recorder is more suited for documentation purposes and such tasks where FPS or 4K resolution aren’t as important.

Even so, the screen recorder is quite efficient, and even though it is free-to-use, it doesn’t create any watermarks or impose time caps on any of its recordings. It even has a built-in photo editor to make simple edits to screenshots captured with the tool.

Furthermore, you can even upload videos recorded by the software to YouTube directly with no hassles.

Steps to use the OBS Studio screen recorder

Now that we have discussed some of the best screen recorder tools available in the market, let’s look at how to use one.

I shall be looking at the best screen recorder in the market, the OBS Studio to explain how to use it. While most screen recorders are quite straightforward with a start and stop button, the OBS studio has a few additional steps before you can start using it for recording.

First, download and install the OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) Studio from its official website. It has 3 different variations for Windows, MacOS, and Linux, you can choose which you’d like according to the OS on your computer.

Downloading the right version for your operating system

Stages of the installation process for the OBS Studio software

Next, launch the OBS Studio using the new shortcut created, and in the sources section, in the bottom left of the window, click on the ‘+’ to add new sources.

Adding a new source to the OBS Studio

This shows you a new drop-down menu from which you can pick a source of your preference and click on it.

Picking the new source type

For this example, I am choosing the source “Display Capture” which selects the entire display of your computer as a source.

Now, in the “Create/Select Source” window, you can either create a new source or select a pre-existing source and then click OK. Please note that the checkbox for ‘Make source visible’ should be checked.

Option to create a new source or select a pre-existing source

Next, in the ‘Properties for Display Capture’ window, you can select the capture method (leave it as automatic if you’re unsure) and the display if you have more than one displays for your computer and click OK.

Selecting the capture method and display for screen recording (private information blurred)

Finally, once you have successfully added the new source, simply click on ‘Start Recording’ to begin your new recording session and click on ‘Stop Recording’ when you would like to end your recording.

Selecting the newly added source and then start recording

Conclusion

With the social, academic and professional landscape changing with more meetings, lectures, and even seminars moving online, the need for screen recorders has increased.

Screen recording could be useful for various reasons including saving your university lectures, documenting important meetings, and even recording the gameplay of your favorite games.

In this article, we explored 7 of the best free screen recorders in the market for 2021 along with their pros and cons. I also described the steps to be followed while using a popular screen recorder, the OBS Studio.

If you enjoyed reading this article or would like more How-Tos for other software, let us know by leaving a comment below.

Tags: 
Technology
Author
Rakesh Naik
Freelance Cyber Security Analyst and Writer practicing in Infosec Assessment.

Leave a comment

click to select