Capturing and sharing a video recording of your screen can be the quickest, easiest and most effective way of sharing knowledge in many different situations.
And to help you with this, there is an entire range of screencasting software in the market, which offer a variety of features on top of basic screen recording capability.
As you’d imagine, these software tools have seen a surge in popularity among content creators for creating videos for their online courses, Youtube channel, for marketing purpose and even for answering customers’ queries.
Despite their popularity, it can be a challenge to find the best screencasting software for your needs — as there are hardly any in-depth resources on the internet which do a detailed assessment of the different tools out there.
So, I decided to create a comprehensive guide that will help you make the right choice by comparing the capabilities, features, pricing, etc. of different screen recording software.
Let's get started.
How to Choose the Best Screen Recording Software?
The process of finding the right screen recorder should always start with defining your goals clearly.
For instance, if your goal is to create an online course, you’d want to look for a software that also includes a powerful video editor.
On the other hand, if your purpose is to answer customer queries, a basic screen recording solution should be sufficient for you.
Now most screen recording tools will let you do basic things like:
However, a great screen recording software will go beyond these features and will stand out from a good one through its video editing and enhancement capabilities, which can really make or break the quality of a video.
Another thing you need to look out for is whether you want the recorder to work on Windows or Mac or both, and if you want it to be able to capture your mobile screen as well.
Finally, you need to take into account your budget and whether you're willing to pay for a premium screen recorder or want a free solution.
Now let’s discuss the 7 best screencasting software tools out there, which also include some free options.
Camtasia is the most feature-rich screencast tool out there that also includes a full-blown video editing software.
It offers you all the standard recording options, so you can record your entire screen or a portion of the screen, record the system audio along with your microphone audio, and combine all these streams with the webcam feed.
You can also pause and resume while recording; plus each of the streams is recorded as a separate track, so they can be edited separately and combined with flexibility.
When it comes to video editing, you get all the basic capabilities like trimming, splitting, or the ability to merge two videos.
On top of that, it offers you advanced multi-track editing capabilities, so you can superimpose multiple layers of images and video streams on a single video page to create a rich video experience.
But where Camtasia really stands out is in its video enhancement features. So, you get a starter library of elements that includes icons, motion graphics, music tracks, etc.
You can record with a green screen and easily replace your video background and add all kinds of annotations and comments, visual effects for transitions, cursor and mouse effects, etc.
It also allows you to add elements like hotspots and quizzes inside your videos which help make them more interactive.
Another thing I like about Camtasia is the audio effects it provides, so you can achieve things like removing background noise, audio compression, modify clip speed, etc. pretty easily.
In terms of export options, you can produce videos as MP4, EVI, or a GIF and store them either locally or directly upload them to all the standard places like Dropbox, Google Drive, YouTube, etc.
Since Camtasia has so much to offer, there is definitely a learning curve associated with using it. However, the software is user-friendly and easy to use, so anyone can learn and use it.
As far as system compatibility is concerned, you can use Camtasia on both Windows and Mac, and you can also use it for recording your iOS device directly by connecting it to a Mac.
Now pricing for Camtasia starts at $249 as a onetime fee for up to two machines and you can also get a volume discount if you want to buy multiple licenses.
They allow you to download a free trial version of the software to get familiar with it and assess if you need its all-in-one screen recording and video editing feature suite.
So, Camtasia isn't cheapest solution out there and if you are a hobbyist video maker or you just don't need these video editing features, then Camtasia’s price can be steep for you.
Having said that, Camtasia is overall the best screencasting software out there, and if you are looking to create professional-quality videos for your courses or any other purpose, it will be certainly worth the price.
ScreenFlow is another popular screen recording solution but it is available only on Mac. So to begin with, it’s lack of compatibility with Windows can be a deal-breaker for many users.
That being said, ScreenFlow has pretty decent video editing and enhancement features, so if you are a Mac user, it is definitely worth considering.
In terms of recording capabilities, it again offers you all the standard options like the ability to combine your screen recordings with the webcam feed, your system audio, as well as your microphone audio.
It is also packed with all the essential editing features along with multi-track editing capability that lets you superimpose different layers within your videos.
When it comes to video enhancement options, you get access to several features, including zooming capability, different annotation options, transition effects, various visual and audio effects, etc.
At a high level, ScreenFlow’s video enhancement options are quite similar to Camtasia, but when you get into the finer details, you'll find that Camtasia provides you more options.
So for instance, you don’t get access to that many video effect presets, arrows and callouts in ScreenFlow. Similarly, you can’t create interactive quizzes or hotspots within your videos.
One thing that I like about ScreenFlow, though, is its Stock Media Library which has more than 500,000 images, audio and video clips, etc. Although, keep in mind that the starter library comes at an additional price.
When it comes to sharing options, ScreenFlow lets you export videos as MP4, ProRes, Animated GIF, etc. and allows you to publish on all the regular video hosting sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, etc.
In terms of pricing, it starts at $129 as a one time fee, but if you want to access its Stock Media Library as well, you’ll have to pay $175 instead.
You can try out the software by downloading its free trial version in a trial period to see if its features are sufficient for your needs.
Although I like what ScreenFlow has to offer and how it is priced, I prefer Camtasia over it, not least because I like the flexibility of using a tool which works with both Windows and Mac.
Having said that, if you're a Mac-only user, ScreenFlow is certainly a great option for creating professional-quality videos and tutorials, especially if you're don't want to shell out the price for Camtasia.
Screencast-O-Matic is a beginner-friendly screen recording solution that's available on both Windows and Mac, plus it also offers a separate app for iOS.
The software offers all the recording features that most people need like ability to capture your screen, add a webcam as well as record audio.
Plus it also offers basic video editing and enhancement options. So, you can split/trim videos, introduce additional design elements like arrows, shapes, freehand screen drawings, and visual effects like transitions, overlay effects, etc.
Having said that, Screencast-O-Matic can't match either Camtasia or ScreenFlow in terms of their video editing capabilities.
For example, the software lacks multi-track editing capability. Similarly, it has limited support for adding annotations, callouts and custom visuals to your recordings.
However, there are two things that I like about the software a lot. First is its simplicity and second is its pricing.
Using Screencast-O-Matic is straightforward and the tool has a very small learning curve compared to some of the other advanced screencast tools.
When it comes to pricing, it is quite budget-friendly. They have a free option but it offers limited recording options and zero editing features.
Their Deluxe Plan is priced at $18/year and it gives you access to the premium recording features as well as the video editor. You can also go with the Premier Plan (costs $48/year) which offers additional storage space and backups for your videos.
So if you want to go beyond the "basic" look and feel for your training videos, Screencast-O-Matic won't work for you and you should rather check out Camtasia or ScreenFlow.
However, Screencast-O-Matic is a decent option for creating simple videos for use in your online lectures or Youtube channel, especially for beginners operating on a tight budget.
Screencastify is basically a Chrome extension but it can also capture recordings outside of the browser window on your computer.
As far as screen recording is concerned, it provides all the essential recording features. However, when it comes to video editing and enhancements, you can only do simpler things like cropping and trimming your video, bringing focus on the mouse pointer, etc.
As a result, Screencastify is a good option only for creating quick screen recordings and not full tutorials or training videos.
Screencastify, though, gives you decent sharing and export options. So, you can save your videos as a .mp3 or .mp4 file on your system and it can automatically save your videos on Google Drive as well.
When it comes to pricing, Screencastify has a freemium pricing model. So, it has a Free Plan that lets you record videos which are up to 10 minutes in length, plus all videos come with a watermark, so it’s hardly suitable for any professional use.
Its Premium Plan, which is billed at $24/year, comes with no restriction on video length, allows you to remove watermark and gives you access to the video editing features of Screencastify as well.
Screencastify is suitable for creating simple screencast videos for customer support, team communication etc. — but I don’t recommend it for creating course videos or long how-to videos, due to its limited post-capture editing capability.
5. OBS Studio
OBS Studio is the only open source software in the list and it is unique for its advanced recording options and live streaming capabilities.
So with OBS Studio, you can create preset video and audio configurations, where you can access video elements like simple transition effects, background variations, etc. during the live recording entirely through predefined settings.
As a result, this can be the fastest way to record screen capture videos with simple visual effects, because it reduces post-recording editing requirements significantly.
In fact, it is a fairly popular tool among YouTube content creators who often need to create quick how-to videos.
What you don’t get with this software are any real video-enhancement or editing options, so you can’t achieve even simple after effects like bringing the focus to your mouse pointer, increasing the size of an element, adding annotations etc.
And this is the reason why I don't recommend using a tool like OBS studio for creating videos for your online courses etc.
That being said, OBS studio is the best screencasting software for recording during webinars or Facebook Live and can be a really handy tool even for creating videos for your Youtube Channel.
6. Apowersoft Screen Recorder
Apowersoft is another screencasting software that differentiates itself as a cross-platform screen recorder. So, it works on Windows and Mac, plus you can also use it for capturing screen on Android and iOS.
It is packaged as a suite of different apps for screen capturing, video editing, mirroring your phone screen to desktop — and you can buy these apps individually or choose the Apowersoft Unlimited Plan ($59.95/year) which gives you access to all the individual apps.
They do offer a free screen recording option which comes with all the standard recording features as well as basic video editing capability.
Unlike most other free options, it doesn’t place any restriction on the length of the videos you can create with it.
However, the video editing features of Apowersoft, though, are quite limited, and you can mostly achieve a few simple things like trimming or cropping videos, adding a few additional elements like some basic shapes, icons, text notes, arrows, etc.
Overall, I think there are better screen recording solutions out there, both in terms of features and pricing.
However, Apowersoft has the best free plan for all the tools in this list and is worth considering if you're looking for a free option. In addition, Apowersoft can be a decent option for creating mobile screencast videos which require minimal editing.
7. Icecream Screen Recorder
Available on Windows, Mac and Android, Icecream Screen Recorder is another tool which offers most of the essential recording features like all other screen recorders in this list.
It’s editing features, on the other hand, are fairly rudimentary even though it lets you achieve a few simple things like trimming videos, zooming in and out, and changing the speed of videos.
For video enhancement, it offers you a drawing toolbar similar to paintbrush through which you can add text, basic shapes, or even draw on the screen. In addition, you can add some basic transitions and a few other simple video and audio effects.
Overall, the production quality of the videos you can create with Icecream Recorder will be quite basic.
In terms of pricing, it also offers a Freemium option like Screencastify. The free plan lets you create videos up to 5 minutes in length, and only allows you to export in WebM format.
The premium plan, reasonably priced at $29.95 one-time, has no restriction on video length and lets you export videos in multiple formats.
So, Icecream Screen Recorder is an easy-to-use tool for creating simple screencast videos on budget, but you should keep in mind that you won’t get any advanced video editing options here.
Apart from these screencasting tools, there are also several other basic options like Loom, QuickTime player on Mac, etc. and for that matter, some online course platforms also let you record your screen.
But all these tools have very limited screen recording capability, plus you don’t get any real video editing features. That's why I haven't mentioned them in this list.
In addition to these tools, there are also some super advanced video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro X.
These tools, though, involve a much higher learning curve, and they mostly cater to professional video makers — so if you are a course creator or a YouTuber, you won't need these tools.
Picking the Best Screencasting Software - Final Conclusion
In this guide, we have discussed some of the most popular screencast tools out there, and how they compare to each other.
The first tool that I recommend is Camtasia. It is an all-in-one screen recording solution that offers the best video editing and enhancement capabilities of all the screen recording tools in the market.
ScreenFlow is the second-best option in this list, and so if you are a Mac-only user, it is certainly worth considering, mainly because it has a lower price point than Camtasia.
Another option worth mentioning is Screencast-O-Matic which is quite beginner friendly and offers the best value for money if you're fine with the lack of advanced video editing capabilities.
Finally, OBS Studio is a great option for recording video during a Webinar or a Facebook Live Session because of its live-streaming capabilities and ability to add preset effects to your video.
I hope this guide helped you pick the right screen recording solution. If you have any questions about any of these solutions, feel free to post them in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I am using affiliate links within this post, so if you do want to go purchase any of these solutions, clicking a link might pass me off a little commission (without costing you anything extra)!