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[Windows] Best free screen recording program (aka best free video capture program) [2nd Edition]

The ability to record screen activity and gameplay are undoubtedly an important part of digital media today due to the entertainment value as well as educational value of this feature.  As a result, several tutorial and instructional videos are made by recording the activity occurring on the author’s computer screen. It can be seen that screen captured videos are a large part of the complement of sites such as YouTube today. These screen recording functions are enabled by programs such as the four reviewed here today. Below are the best free screen recording programs available for Windows, however as you already know, only one program will take the title of Best Free Screen Recording Program.

[Note: If you are looking for screenshot programs, check out dotTech’s review on best free screenshot program for Windows [1].]

This review is part of our Best Free Windows Software [2] section. Check out more articles on the best free Windows programs from here [2].

Table of Contents

Best Free Screen Recording Program

active_presenter [10]Program Name: ActivePresenter [11]

Developer: Atomi Systems, Inc.

Download Size: 31.6MB

Version Reviewed: 3.7.2

Requires: Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8

Pros

Cons

Discussion

I have one word to describe ActivePresenter: wow! This easily the best video/screen recording programs I have ever used.

What makes ActivePresenter awesome is not necessarily its screen recording capabilities, although they are rather impressive… especially the ability to take still screenshots while recording a program, the ability to automatically pan the video with your mouse cursor, and the ability to record all sound that you hear from your speakers or record via microphone. What makes ActivePresenter awesome is the video editor it comes with.

You see after you record your screen with ActivePresenter, it sends the video to its built-in video editor. From this video editor you can perform simple to advanced functions, functions such as cutting/trimming, cropping, modifying the volume level of recorded sound, adding zoom-n-pan effects, adding annotations, adding text, highlighting something, insert overlaying images/videos/audios, insert closed captions, insert shapes, and much more. Really it is hard to ask for more in a free screen capture program.

When you are happy with your video, you can export it as AVI, MP4, MPEG4, WebM, SCROM 1.2/2004 with the ability to control output quality and the option to export closed captions a subtitles .SRT file. (While it is true supported output format is limited, you can always use a freeware video converter [13] to convert your videos to another format after export.)

Really the only downside to ActivePresenter is that it is so featured-filled, it can confuse new users. Indeed, when you first use ActivePresenter you will most likely feel overwhelmed. However, as you use ActivePresenter more and more, you will get the hang of the program and be less intimidated. Plus the program has an excellent ‘Help’ file which you can reference if you don’t understand something.

Overall, ActivePresenter is a *brilliant* screen recording program. Really you need to look no further than this gem. The only reason you should not grab ActivePresenter is if the learning curve is too high for you. If that is the case, then check out BB FlashBack Express [4].

[Thanks Hamza for tip on ActivePresenter!]

Runner Up

2013-02-08_003306 [14]Program Name: BB FlashBack Express [15]

Developer: Blueberry Software

Download Size: 12MB

Version Reviewed: 4.1.1 Build 2498

Requires: Windows 2000 and higher

Pros

Cons

Discussion

BB FlashBack Express is another excellent screen recording program.

The main difference between BB FlashBack Express is ActivePresenter [3] has more video editing feature (much more video editing features). However, BB Flashback Express one-ups ActivePresenter in the area of being able to include a recording of your webcam with your screen recording, showing a countdown before actual recording begins, and user-friendliness. Indeed, BB FlashBack Express is much easier to use with an easier-to-understand interface.

If I were to provide two sentences to help you decide between BB FlashBack Express and ActivePresenter, it would be the following. Use ActivePresenter if you want to do advanced screen recording, such as a demonstration that requires include zooming/panning and annotations. Use BB FlashBack Express if you are looking to do a simple recording of your screen, something that requires no editing or advanced funtionality.

Honorable Mention 1

Program Name: Ezvid [17]Ezvid [18]

Developer: Ezvid Inc.

Download Size: 1.41MB

Version Reviewed: 0.9.1.2

Requires: Windows XP S3/Vista/7/8

Pros

Cons

Discussion

Ezvid is a very capable screen recording program which provides users with the ability to handle all aspects of their screen recording needs from the capturing of the video to any editing which needs to be done and the program even allows for direct upload to Youtube.

Users are given the choice of recording with either basic settings or advanced settings. Basic settings allow users to simply get to the business or recording videos with no extra features added. If the advanced capture mode is selected however, users are given the options of enabling the ability to capture audio during the screen recording process, enabling headset mode, enabling transparent screen capture controls, choosing the area of the screen to be captured and enabling simultaneous webcam capture.

After screen capturing is completed users can edit their videos with Ezvid for upload to the internet or just for storage on physical media. Additional elements can be added to the screen captured video such as a video clip from another source, text, images or a set list of audio files. The elements being edited are laid out on a timeline which is typical of a video editing program.

After video editing is completed the choice is given to upload videos to the ever popular Youtube and users are provided with fields for inputting the title, descriptions, categories and keywords for the videos in order to make the upload of videos as smooth and seamless as possible.

Although Ezvid provides users with all the features needed to produce decent screen capture videos it is lacking in some aspects. Yes it does cover all aspects of producing the video but users are not given the option of choosing the output resolution of their videos but are instead stuck with the 1280 x 720 format. Additionally there is no option which allows for high definition output. Users are also limited to the set list of audio files which come with the program but it should be noted that copyright issues have played a major role in this limitation therefore much better could not be done by the developer unless companies such as Viacom were to change their tough stance as it relates to this type of media.

With that being said Ezvid provides users with an all-in-one solution for creating their screen captured videos and there is no need to look for other software to complete tasks such as editing. This is hard to beat when it comes to a screen recording program.

Honorable Mention 2

Program Name: TipCam [19]Tipcam screenshot [20]

Developer: UTIPU INC

Download Size: 5.41MB

Version Reviewed: 2.2.0.4248

Requires: Windows XP/Vista

Discussion

Tipcam is a screen recorder which offers users a wide variety of options for producing high quality web-standard video or otherwise.

The main menu of Tipcam offers users users the usual record, playback and save options as well as zoom, edit, upload, discard and an option to upload files privately. The zoom option is self-explanatory while the upload option allows users to either upload video to utipu.com or to Youtube. The edit function gives users the option of adding a voice over or “trimming” the length of recorded video. Users have a great degree of control over the video which is output. For example, users can choose audio input devices, choose to set uTIpu.com or Youtube as the default video upload sites, set hot keys for various functions, choose whether to output videos as .FLV for web sharing or .AVI for post-processing with editing software, set the recording quality, choose to record from a remote computer, change the resolution or change the zoom level.

These options make TipCam a very effective screen recorder but there are some issues that I had with it however. Firstly when a recording is being made in Windows 7, the colour scheme is changed to basic which is rather annoying. Also  Tipcam doesn’t offer features such as the video editor or simultaneous web cam recording which can be found in Ezvid. Therefore, although it is a great program, it doesn’t offer the appealing total package of Ezvid.

With everything in perspective, Tipcam will fulfill all of the screen recording needs of most users and offers them a simple one click share/record layout.

Honorable Mention 3

Program Name: ScreenTwin [21]ScreenTwin Screenshot [22]

Developer: Elecard

Download Size: 5.75MB

Version Reviewed: 1.0

Requires: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7

Discussion

ScreenTwin is a very effective  screen recorder and provides users with the essentials needed to create high quality video content

When ScreenTwin is opened, the only evidence that it is indeed open is the small square icon in the system tray. Right clicking the icon brings up options such as run/stop and settings. Users can also choose to double-click the icon to start recording or to enable recording as soon as the program is opened. In settings, options such as the height and width of the recorded area can be adjusted or users can choose to record the full screen area. ScreenTwin also gives users the option of enabling the recording of audio input from a selected source such as a microphone and the ability to adjust the quality of the video output. Perhaps the most interesting feature of ScreenTwin is the ability to stream video to a network location. Of course if this is not desired users can also choose to save recordings to a specifiec location on their hard drives. In addition the entire process of capturing, transmission and playback of recorded video takes a very short period of time and after recording my screen for a period of time, I immediately went and searched for the video in the location I specified videos to be saved to and it was there already processed and encoded. This feature is attributed on the developer’s website to Elecard Low Delay Codecs.

Although ScreenTwin has proven itself to be a very effective solution for screen recording there are some issues with it. It does do its job of screen recording very well but unlike Ezvid it doesn’t offer users options for altering the video after it is actually recorded or during recording. For example options such as simultaneous web cam recording and video editing are unavailable which leaves users to rely on other programs in order to produce a fully polished video.

Aside from these issues ScreenTwin is clearly a brilliant choice for a screen recording program.

Honorable Mention 4

Program Name: YouRecorder Free [23]YouRecorder Free screenshot [24]

Developer: JianChao Zhou

Download Size: 1.33MB

Version Reviewed: 1.6.1

Requires: Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/7

Discussion

Don’t let YouRecorder Free’s simplicity fool you, it is quite the powerful screen recording program.

YouRecorder Free is capable of recording the full screen area, a region of the screen or simply taking screen shots of a specific area of the screen or the whole screen. YouRecorder Free also allows you to simultaneously record audio while recording the screen. Users are allowed to set the frame rate, size of video and quality of the outputted video as well as the quality and volume of the audio. Additionally there are several parameters for assigning hotkeys for various functions such as the starting and stopping of recording.

YouRecorder Free is great at the things that it does do but it lacks some functionality such as incorporating additional media into the screen captured video. In addition even though it allows a certain degree of customizability of the outputted video, it does not offer as many options in this regard as TipCam [4] which offers more options for setting the resolution and dimensions of the captured video.

YouRecorder Free as stated before is simple but powerful and would be ideal for applications which do not involve many variations.

Other Alternatives