Whether you’re a pro gamer who likes to stream their online gameplay, a YouTuber who likes to create instructional videos, someone who’s just looking to get support by reproducing an error on video, chances are that at some point, all of us have felt the need to record whatever is happening on our screen. Screen recorders are pieces of software that allow you to record screen actions, complete with mouse movements, clicks, and in some cases, audio and video as well, including external devices as inputs. If you own a Mac and are looking for a screen recorder that you can use to your heart’s content, look no further – we have you covered with our top 10 picks for screen recording software for Mac OS X.
Best Screen recorders for Mac OS X
1. Camtasia 2
They say good things in life hardly come free, and while we generally disagree with that, in this case, it’s actually quite true. One of the most expensive screen recording tools out there for OS X, Camtasia 2 is as good as they get. This beast of a program is the most comprehensive recording suite that you’ll find, allowing users to not just record their screen and a number of external input devices simultaneously, but its studio-like layout with layered timeline allows smooth editing and mixing, enabling you to create screencast videos like a pro. Camtasia also offers a series of visual effects, including a unique “green-screen” mode that allows you to insert yourself into the video, as if you were a part of the action yourself. Videos created via Camtasia can be fully interactive, allowing your viewers to interact with hotzones as you set them up, and work across all sorts of devices.
Camtasia also offers a companion mobile app, TechSmith Fuse, which allows importing photos and videos directly into Camtasia Studio from your iPhone, Android or Windows Phone device. It is undoubtedly the most powerful screen recording suite out there, but is primarily aimed at professional users, in which case its rather steep pricing ends up paying for itself over time.
Developer — TechSmith
Compatibility — OS X 10.9 or later
Availability — Camtasia 2 for Mac ($99) (Also available for Windows, offers free trial)
The second best choice after Camtasia, albeit arguably (it’s hard to pick a clear winner between these two). ScreenFlow is another paid offering that brings professional-level screen recording and video editing to the table. What I particularly like about ScreenFlow is its user-friendliness over Camtasia, where the latter has a significant learning curve. ScreenFlow offers a similar set of powerful features but in a less complicated interface. It’s also aesthetically more pleasing, but that can be a subjective thing.
Some of the unique niceties of ScreenFlow include the program’s ability to record video not just from your Mac’s screen, but also from a connected iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, as long as they come with a lightning connector. It, too, can import video and audio from external webcams and microphones, and offers the highest bitrate for recording a retina display (30fps). We tested the output on a 2013 Macbook Pro, and it looked as gorgeous as the original display. ScreenFlow also has multi-track timeline and provides visual manipulation of elements. Another unique feature for this program is Motion control, which basically lets you zoom into a part of the screen where an action of interest is taking place, and then seamlessly moving back to the whole view.
Developer — Telestream
Compatibility — OS X 10.10 or later (iOS 8.0 or later for iOS recording)
Availability — ScreenFlow (starts at $99)
3. Snapz Pro X
This is the kind of software that you pick when you have a specific need, and you really want to address that. Take training videos and tutorials for instance. Snapz Pro X is especially optimized for those, allowing you to capture a specific region of your screen via a resizable drag box. This program offers a really straightforward interface (which could definitely use a major overhaul, by the way) with minimal learning curve. It’s not bloated, which means you only get features that are most relevant and matter most for the task at hand, instead of being a massively-powerful video editor. An interesting offering in Snapz is “live preview”, which allows you to see beforehand what region will be captured in the video, with pixel perfection.
Snapz Pro X is also a paid software that comes in cheaper than both Camtasia and ScreenFlow, but isn’t as feature rich. There’s a trial version that you can continue to use for as long as you like, albeit with a permanent watermark that will be placed on your recordings after the first 15 days.
Developer — Ambrosia Software
Compatibility — OS X 10.8 or later
Availability — Snapz Pro X ($69)
Coming from the same developers that bring us the excellent Camtasia, Snagit is another screen capture tool that you aim for when you don’t need the professional-level tools that Camtasia offers, yet you want the same level of reliability. The focus of Snagit is on annotation of your screen captures – both in stills and video formats. Akin to Camtasia, this program, too, allows importing mobile video and images via Fuse, and offers extensive sharing options, including the ability to export projects directly into Camtasia. Snagit doesn’t offer as extensive effects and timeline controls as Camtasia, but you’ll find the offering is enough in most cases. It also comes with a unique “scrolling capture” mode that will take snapshots of, say, long web pages, for easy sharing.
Snagit comes in cheaper than Camtasia, and is a reliable offering if you’re willing to dish out some dough.
Developer — TechSmith
Compatibility — OS X 10.9 or later
Availability — Snagit ($49.95) (Also available for Windows and Chrome OS, offers free trial)
This is probably the most interesting and unique product on this entire list. Why, you ask? Because Screencast-o-Matic is an online screen recorder that you can use without much hassle. This is also the first tool on this list that qualifies as freemium, where it has a free version that you can use to your leisure as much as you wish, while additional features will cost you money. Screencast-o-Matic works by installing a “launcher” on your system, while recording sessions are initiated through the website. Think of it as using a conferencing tool like GoToMeeting – the same concept is at work here, too.
Free version of Screencast-o-Matic allows up to 15 minutes of screen recording in 720p video alongside webcam and mic input, and easy publishing. Pro version, which is a mere $15/year, not only removes all these limitations, but also introduces a plethora of new features like realtime editing, recording system audio, editing videos post shooting etc.
Developer — Screencast-o-Matic
Compatibility — Various – online
Availability — Screencast-o-Matic (Free) (Paid subscription for $15/year)
You might be surprised to find VLC here – after all, it’s merely a video player, no? Actually, VLC has a screen capture option that will be quite sufficient for most people’s needs, if you’re not looking for anything fancy and quickly need to record a screen action that you want to share with someone else. To access this “hidden” feature, navigate to the File menu and Open Capture Device, where you need to change the source selection to Screen. VLC allows some basic adjustments like which audio input device to capture, what frame rate to use for videos (it offers a decent max of 30fps), and allows following the mouse for easier focus as well, among other parameters. Best of all, VLC is free, so what do you have to lose?
Developer — VideoLan Organization
Compatibility — OS X 10.5 or later
Availability — VLC Media Player (Free)
Another surprise! Did you know that OS X’s built-in QuickTime Player can also do screen recording? Well, if you need a no-nonsense solution for your screen recording needs which caps at 15fps, can record microphone audio but not system audio, and doesn’t need your face to be shown in, and doesn’t need you to install anything or spend a single penny, QuickTime is the right answer for you. All you need to do is launch QuickTime and from File menu, Start Screen Recording session. There are hardly any options to configure, so you can be up and running in no time.
While this may seem like a fairly restricted solution, turns out, that’s all most users need. Hence, it’s worth a try. Just don’t use this for recording game videos.
Developer — Apple Inc.
Compatibility — OS X all versions
Availability — Built into OS X
Another free utility that is aimed at users that need to capture really quick, short screencasts with a maximum of up to 5 minutes. QuickCast is basically a menu bar app that just sits there, ready to spring into action at one click. It also allows both external mic and webcam capture, has two options for 3-minute and 5-minute recordings, and can either capture the entire screen or custom region, as you choose.
Developer — Reissued
Compatibility — OS X 10.8 or later, 64-bit processor
Availability — QuickCast on Mac App Store (Free)
Another free Menu bar app that packs quite a punch when it comes to just recording your screen without it being too fancy. One of the most unique features of Monosnap, other than it being available for a number of platforms, is that is records your screen in 60fps for an ultra-smooth playback even in the most demanding scenarios. Monosnap, too, can record both webcam video and microphone audio. There is a way to record system audio as well, should needed, through a third-party utility, and since Monosnap is free, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
Developer — Farminers Ltd.
Compatibility — OS X 10.8 or later, 64-bit processor
Availability — Monosnap on Mac App Store (Free)
I’ve put OBS at number 10 despite it being an extremely powerful free offering with a plethora of features that you would otherwise find only in paid software. The reason is that OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) has a very steep learning curve with very little tutorials available, which makes it unsuitable for an average user. However, the software is indeed really powerful, and offers powerful recording with all sources imaginable for both audio and video, allows editing, can capture a number of different presets including specific window, region or full screen, allows changing several parameters when recording video, and more. It’s a worthy offering that you should explore if you’re looking for a powerful free solution for your screen capture needs.
Developer — Open Broadcaster Software
Compatibility — OS X 10.8 and later
Availability — OBS (Free) (Versions available for Windows and Linux as well)
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That concludes our top 10 picks for OS X screen recording software. We took care in compiling this list that pretty much all category of users can find something that works for their specific need. Do you have another favorite that we missed? Let us know.