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How to Record Your Desktop and Create a Screencast on Windows

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Screencasting can seem a bit daunting at first, but there are a few good free ways to do it.

The Game DVR feature in Windows 10 can create a video of your desktop. Technically it was just designed for capturing gameplay, and other software does a much better job—but it’ll work in a pinch if you need it. If you want something more powerful, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is a good free program that will do everything you need, but you’ll need a few minutes to learn its interface.

Record Your PC or Mac’s Screen the Easy Way with Camtasia

If you want to create a screen recording with the most powerful, full-featured solution on the market, you’re looking for Camtasia. It’s a complete solution that lets you create amazing screencasts with effects and high-quality editing.

Whether you are trying to make lessons, tutorials, or demos, Camtasia is the best solution on the market. You can record your webcam simultaneously to explain what the viewer is looking at, or you can add any video separately and edit inline.

Quick and Easy: Windows 10’s Game DVR

We recommend skipping Game DVR and going straight to the OBS section below. But, if you want quickly record any application’s window without any third-party software, you can do it on Windows 10. This relies on the Game DVR feature, which is designed for capturing PC gameplay—but which can capture any application’s window.

To do this, just press Windows+G in any application on Windows 10. The Game Bar will appear. Select “Yes, this is a game” even if the application isn’t a game.

If the Game Bar doesn’t appear when you press this key combination, you might have disabled it in the past. Head to the Xbox app on your system and ensure the “Game DVR” feature is enabled.

Click the red “Start Recording” button to start recording that application window.

An overlay will appear at the top right corner of the window while you’re recording. You can toggle your microphone on or off by clicking the microphone icon. Windows will also record the sound playing on your PC and include it with the the saved clip.

Click the square-shaped “Stop” button when you’re done.

Windows will save your clip to C:\Users\NAME\Videos\Captures in MP4 format. There you go.

More Powerful and Customizable: Open Broadcaster Software

We recommend using Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) for screencasts. It’s completely free and open-source and allows you to both stream live and record a screencast to a video file. It works with Windows 7, 8, and 10.

You’ll just see a black screen in the preview pane the first time you fire up OBS. That’s because you haven’t added a source. OBS uses “scenes” and “sources” to assemble your video. The scene is the final video or stream—what your viewers see. The sources are what comprise that video.

You can stick with the single scene OBS provides, but you’ll need to add one or more sources to it.

How to Record Your Entire Display

To record your entire display—that is, everything that appears on your screen—right-click inside the Sources box at the bottom of the window and select Add > Display Capture.

Name the source whatever you like and click “OK”.

You’ll see a preview of your display. If you have multiple displays connected to your PC, you can choose…