Best Screen Recording Apps: Free & Paid Tools That Offer Modern Business Solutions

Sean Lund-Brown

Screen recording is not a new thing, but it’s definitely something that has gained popularity in recent years. There are a lot of different uses of this feature, and it can be great for training, sharing things with customers, and so much more. Many companies use screen recording for IT, tech support, employee training, customer service, tutorials, and other tools. It doesn’t matter what your purpose is, though, because it’s about the production that you create. 

One of the critical parts of that production is the screen recording app that you choose. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools on the market today that will help you get the most out of your screen recording, no matter what you have in mind. Before we dig into the top tools on the market, let’s start with some tips for using these tools and searching for the best resources. (And speaking of the best resources, consider the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai as a resource for all of your mission critical business solutions, from 24/7 live website chat to phone support, lead intake, and more.)

Screen recording 101: tips for success

If you’re going to make the most of screen recording, it helps to know how to use these tools. Here are a few tips that will help you get started once you’ve chosen your platform and started your first recording session. 

  • You can record anything. This is both a blessing and a curse, so be careful. Make sure that you clean up unwanted icons, popups, notifications, and other things that you might not want people to see. Remember, you’re recording—keep it professional. 
  • Start with a plan. You could just turn on the screen recording app and go, but that’s not going to get good results. That is going to cause you to ramble and run on and lose the interest of your viewers. You don’t have to write a whole script (although you can), but you should at least have an idea of what you want to say. 
  • Pay attention to length. Make sure that you’re only taking as much time as you need to say what you need to say. Don’t waste time or spend excess effort on things that don’t matter. Get to the point and keep people engaged. 
  • Audio quality is everything. You should make sure that you buy an external microphone for better audio quality and get rid of background noise. Some apps will include a “cleaning” feature to scrub the background noise and improve audio. Use them when you can. 
  • Make sure you are moving at the right speed. You don’t want to go too fast, but you also don’t want to be slow and lose people’s interest. Figure out a balance that works. Test some videos and recordings with different speeds to see how they do. 

These are just a few tips to get you started. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. Now, let’s get back to talking about the apps you can use and what you should be looking for there. Then, we’ll cover the best apps that should be on your list when you’re in the market for a screen recording tool. 

Screen recorders: what to look for

Ok, so now you know how to use them, but what should you even be looking to use? We’re with you, and that’s what we’re going to cover as we review the best apps below. However, before we dig in, let’s take a quick look at the key features that should be on your mind as you’re reading the reviews:

  1. Choose an app or software platform. There are some online web-based screen recorders that are available by using a standard website or opening an extension. These are fine, but they aren’t going to give you the full capabilities that you want. Apps and software also offer the chance to use the screen recorder on any device and share it with others. 
  2. Compare audio and video quality features. You want to make sure that you are producing the best content possible. That starts with choosing a screen recorder that has the best audio and video features so that you can customize the settings and create professional videos for training, tutorials, tech support, and more. 
  3. Security and sharing matter, too. Make sure that you stick with apps that have premium data security and that offer sharing tools that allow you to keep content secure when needed or make it public if you want to offer it to the masses. If you have encoded or private videos and your customers can’t access them, they aren’t going to be happy. 
  4. Price and value should be your final consideration. Notice that we don’t say “cost” -- there’s so much more to a good app than how much it costs. You need to make sure that you’re getting the features that you want for your money, no matter what that means. Fortunately, the items on the list below offer plenty of value. 

Roundup: the best apps

Now that you know what to look for and how you can put these apps to use, let’s take a look at the best screen recording apps on the market today. In the list below, you’ll find a host of free and paid tools to help with screen recording, with some dedicated to gaming or other uses, while others offer a general-purpose design. They all have something to offer, so check them out for yourself and see what you can find. 

Flashback Express and Flashback Pro: best all-around

Flashback Express comes as a free screen recording tool, but Flashback Pro takes things up a notch and adds comprehensive tools and features that you can use for a variety of different needs. While most of the features and tools of the express version will get the job done, the Pro version also offers frame-by-frame editing, picture-in-picture, annotations, and other premium features. 

Flashback offers an easy user interface and a choice of formats for output. It also offers the option to record from the screen or the webcam and the free version even gives you the chance to create recordings without watermarks, which isn’t something that all the apps offer. Plus, the free version of this tool offers simple editing, exporting to YouTube and FTP servers, and more.

There's even a dedicated gaming mode so that you can set the frames per second and there are no limits on the length of recordings that you can make. You will be able to integrate this software with a lot of the tools and apps that you already use, tool, whether you choose Express or Pro. 

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: Starts at $49 
  • Premium screen recording
  • No watermarks
  • Lifetime licensing
  • 30-day refund on paid plans
  • Discounts available for more computers or users
  • Premium audio and video editing

OBS Studio: best for software and gaming

OBS Studio is one of the most popular screen recording apps used for gaming today. While there are several FRAPS out there that allow recording for 30 seconds at a time, OSB is an open-source platform that allows unlimited recording without any restrictions. You will find that it works with HD streaming and recording features, and has premium video and audio editing options geared at gaming. 

OBS also supports Twitch and YouTube gaming, encoding and exporting, and direct recording from the graphics card to help capture games that are running in full screen. There is also the option to use multi-core CPUs for premium performance and recording can be done at 60 frames per second or better. 

Setup takes a little while and you might have to invest some time tweaking the details, but all in all, this platform offers some of the best features for the money (free) and gives you the chance to make the most of your gaming. OBS is a hot choice and its open-source nature makes it a popular choice for all kinds of users. 

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: Free open-source tool
  • Designed for gaming
  • Impressive frame rates
  • HD streaming
  • YouTube and Twitch Support
  • For Windows, Linux, Mac, and more

Debut Video Capture: best for powerful features

Debut Video Capture is a great tool that offers free and cheap options for screen recording. Some report that the interface is a little dated, but that doesn't stop the app from delivering impressive quality and plenty of features. You can schedule recordings, record from webcams and IP cameras, and even enjoy no watermarks or time limits on the videos that you create. 

This app doesn’t have post-production editing but you can add captions and apply filters, making it a more personalized product. You can also choose to use this platform to export videos in all of the major formats, and since it’s currently in a public beta stage, it’s likely that the features will only continue to improve over time. 

Debut offers several platforms and plans to choose from, including the basic plan for professional use that starts at around $3 per month. You can record from the screen, send and share secure videos, and more. 

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: Starts at $3 per month
  • IP and webcam recording
  • Scheduled recording option
  • Captions and watermarks
  • Exporting options
  • Beta program

ShareX: best for sharing online 

If you’re not into gaming, you can count on ShareX to be the best choice for screen recording when you’re looking to share your recordings in the online environment. You will have dozens of different options for exporting and you can capture video files, GIFs, and even use the tool for static screenshots. ShareX doesn’t have watermarks or time limits, and it comes with handy keyboard shortcuts to make recording a breeze. 

You can use this free tool to share on social media and forums, and it even captures scrolling webpages, and can capture and identify text with the help of OCR. Screen recording can be done on a schedule, and you can even send videos and screen grabs right to social media sites or file sharing sites like Dropbox. 

While it offers features that could handle most games, it doesn’t have the availability to record games in full-screen mode, so it’s a better choice for those looking for something for tutorials, training materials, and the like. 

  • Free option? Yes 
  • Price: Free, open-source platform
  • File compression
  • Video converter studio
  • GIF maker
  • Mobile tools
  • PDF editing tools
  • Background Eraser feature

Apowersoft Unlimited: best for mobile capture

Apowersoft Unlimited is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and is rated as the best screen recorder for mobile capture. Any modern iPhone or Android device has its own built-in screen recorder and basic tools for editing. However, those are basic and sometimes, people need more. With Apowersoft Unlimited, there are 17 different apps in total that people can use, including an impressive eight apps dedicated to screen recording or editing

Apowersoft Unlimited also has bit-rate throttling, resolution control, framerate selection, and more. You can cast wirelessly from a device to a computer screen and even use the desktop recording tool to capture webcams, PC audio, and your mobile device at the same time. 

This tool is handy for showing people how to use tools that are available on mobile and desktop, and it also makes it easy for influencers, webinar hosts, and gamers to screencast and record from anywhere, no matter what they are trying to create. Although it’s not free, the suite is impressive and gives you a lot for your money. You can buy the apps separately, as well. 

  • Free option? No
  • Price: $59.95 for Unlimited Suite Personal, $99.95 for Business
  • Mobile recording features
  • Impressive editing tools
  • Framerate selection for mobile gaming
  • Wireless sharing
  • Cross-device recording and sharing
  • Suite of apps dedicated to recording and editing

When you want the best tools, it’s time to give Smith.ai a call

While you’re implementing or upgrading your screen recording tools, find out how the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can provide live chat support and phone answering support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sharing your tutorial screen recordings with your customers when they need help, or even helping you rapid-fire export that email marketing campaign with your screen recordings to show everyone how your new website works. 

We can handle all types of mission critical services and become one of the best tools in your arsenal, no matter what business you’re in. Schedule your consultation now to find out more, or reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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