The Best Screen Recording Software for YouTube

Want to take screen recordings of your computer, smartphone, or gaming console? Here’s a list of free and paid software to try.

The ability to screen-record your computer, smartphone, or gaming console simplifies the YouTube journey - especially for gaming or reaction-style channels.

For these types of creators, what takes place on their screens is exactly what viewers want to see. They’re looking for action-packed gameplay and visual tutorials that add more context to a video.

If that perfectly describes your channel, watch our video highlighting the best screen recording software right now:

Now that you have some background knowledge, it’s time to take your video content to the next level. But before you do that, answer this one simple question: What type of videos do you produce for YouTube?

Keep your answer in mind as you read this guide. There’s a wide variety of screen-recording apps and products, and it’s important to choose the best software for your content.

Nvidia's ShadowPlay

System Requirements: Windows 7 or higher

If you have a Nvidia graphics card, you may already unknowingly have this screen recording software. ShadowPlay is built into modern graphics cards, and once you set it up, all you have to do is issue a quick keyboard command to activate it. From there, ShadowPlay will start capturing your screen.

If you discover that you do have ShadowPlay, don’t get rid of it. This fantastic software yields the highest frame-rate footage you’ll ever see.

Just keep in mind that it doesn’t work with every program and can sometimes fail when you’re using it. We don’t know why it happens, but maybe it’s just a sacrifice of capturing high-quality video on a PC.

OBS Studio

System Requirements: Windows 8+, Mac 10.13+, Linux

With OBS Studio, you may have to adjust your settings to get the highest video quality from screen captures. But don’t worry - there are plenty of tutorials to help you do that. OBS is free, open-source, and definitely worth the learning curve.

Additionally, you can look into Streamlabs OBS if you’re into live streaming. It’s the same thing as regular OBS, except it’s strongly tailored toward gamers. For example, you can use Streamlabs OBS to go live on Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook within minutes. You also get personalized streaming overlays, 46 handy apps, and fun alerts when viewers send monetary donations during live streams.

AZ Screen Recorder

System Requirements: iOS, Android

Let's shift gears for a minute and talk about screen recording on a mobile device. First of all, consider yourself lucky if you have an iPhone. iOS users don’t need to hunt for screen capturing software because it’s already built into their devices. If you're an Android user, capturing your screen isn’t always easy. Certain versions of Android have a built-in screen capture, and some don't.

If your device doesn’t, our top recommendation for screen capture software is AZ Screen Recorder. It’s a great choice because the free version doesn’t add a watermark to your captures. Plus, there's no limit on how much footage you can record.

Capturing Video Footage on a Gaming Console

Compared to PC recording, capturing the screen of your gaming console is a different process. Gamers ask us how to do this all the time, so we’re happy to finally share an answer.

The PS4 and Xbox One both feature built-in screen capture software. Of course, a new generation of consoles is on the horizon with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, but there’s a good chance they’ll both have that feature. As far as the Nintendo Switch goes, there's a built-in screen capture software, but it only grabs 30-second clips.

Purchase a Capture Card to Record Gaming Console Screens

If you haven’t bought a capture card yet, it may be time to invest in one. This wonderful device lets you record and stream content from your video game consoles - and honestly, it’s the mark of a serious gamer.

Dan, our executive producer here at vidIQ, uses the HD60 S from Elgato. There are newer, fancier capture cards out there, but it does a great job for him.

And guess what? Even if you’re using a PlayStation or Xbox with built-in screen capture, it’s still a good idea to use a capture card. You’ll get high-quality clips that you can quickly drag from your desktop to any video-editing software. From there, you can work your magic and upload the finished video to YouTube.

That about covers it for screen capture software! Here’s a quick recap of all your options:

  • Capturing your desktop or your mobile screen is free and produces high-quality recordings.
  • Capturing your console's screen is trickier. It requires some money, but in the end, you'll get high-quality footage. And that’s totally worth it.

So, which will it be for you: Nvidia's ShadowPlay, OBS Studio, AZ Screen Recorder, or a capture card for your console? We always love hearing from the vidIQ community, so tweet us your thoughts @vidIQ.

Want To Get More Views as a Gamer on YouTube?

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