Best Screen Capture Software of 2018

Danny Chadwick ·
Updated
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After spending over 40 hours evaluating more than a dozen screen capture programs, we found Snagit to be the best one overall. You can use it to take screen shots, capture video, and edit and enhance your pictures and footage. It has every capture tool we look for and is very easy to learn and use – the tutorials can get you up and running in just a few minutes, even if you are a novice. Snagit uses your computer’s resources effectively, so it doesn’t slow down other applications as it runs. And you get a 15-day free trial period to see if it works for you before you pay. 

Best Overall

Snagit

Snagit is the gold standard of screen capture software. It has a full array of capture and editing tools, is intuitive enough for novices, and provides enough power and features for tech-savvy users. Also, its system performance is second to none.
View on TechSmith
Best Value

FastStone Capture

If you don’t need the best of the best, FastStone Capture is worth considering. It’s about half the price of our top pick and has all the capture tools we look for. However, you’ll miss out on extras like auto capture and social media sharing.
View on FastStone
Easiest to Use

Ashampoo Snap

New users will appreciate Ashampoo Snap’s helpful tutorials. When you launch the program, it shows you how all its tools work and how to use them to their fullest capacity.
View on Ashampoo

Product
Price
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Overall Rating
9.9
9.4
8
7.9
7.7
7.3
6.7
6.3
6
5.6
Capture & Editing Tools
10
10
9.8
8.8
8.8
8.8
7.3
6
8.8
5.3
Ease of Use
10
8.5
4.8
5.3
4.8
3.8
6.3
5.3
2.5
5.8
File Formats
10
10
10
9
9
9
5.5
7.3
5.5
5.5
Help & Support
9
8
6
10
9
9
9
8
8
6
Auto Capture
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Social Media
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Installation
B+
C
A
C+
B
A
C+
C+
C+
A+
Desktop Toolbar
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Windows 10
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Windows Vista
Windows 8/8.1
N/A
Windows 7
Tutorials
N/A
N/A
Phone
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Free Trial Period (days)
15
10
30
30
15
20
Limited Demo
30
30
15
Email
FAQs
N/A
N/A
N/A
System Performance
A+
A+
B+
C+
C+
C+
C+
D
C+
C+
Digital Editing Tools
Scrolling Capture
N/A
Insert Comments
Special Effects
N/A
Video Capture
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Freehand
N/A
N/A
N/A
Game Capture
N/A
WMV
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
JPG
GIF
N/A
MP4
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
AVI
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
PDF
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Camera & Scanner Import
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
PNG
Best Overall

Snagit

This application has a full set of capture, recording, editing and exporting tools, so it’s far more than a simple screen capture program. You can use it not only to take and edit screens shots, but also to make videos of what’s happening on your computer.
Additionally, you can record video streams, computer games and virtually anything else that comes across your screen. Its editing tools are as comprehensive as you can get without buying a full-fledged editing program – you can trim, crop and rearrange captured footage and add your own images and annotations as well as adjust picture settings such as hue, contrast and saturation. This screen capture software is also very easy to use, no matter your computer experience level. Its tutorials are easy to follow and informative and help you get the most out of the software. All the features and tools are accessible from the program’s main window, and there is a toolbar that allows you to use the capture features in Microsoft Office applications without launching Snagit itself. You can even set up custom capture profiles so you don’t have to pick your settings every time you start a recording.
Pros
  • It has the most comprehensive toolset of any screen capture program.
  • An intuitive interface and tutorials make it easy to use and learn.
  • Its toolbar can be used on all Microsoft Office programs.
Cons
  • Setting up your email to work with the program can be tricky.
  • You can’t export videos into WMV or AVI formats.
  • It can take new users a few hours to explore all the features.
$49.95TechSmith
Best Value

FastStone Capture

You can pick up this program for about $20, but don’t let the price fool you – it’s still a functional, useful application. FastStone Capture has all the tools we look for in screen capture software, including video capture, digital editing tools and video game recording.
However, it’s missing some of the extra features that make our top pick, Snagit, the best. For example, it doesn’t have a social media sharing feature, auto capture or tutorials. But the core features are more than enough to get the job done. FastStone Capture also has fewer export file formats than the best screen capture programs we reviewed. You can create the most common image formats, such as JPG, PNG and GIF, but it’s video formats are lacking. You can only create WMV (Windows Media Player) videos, which is very limiting. The most popular and widely used formats, such as MP4, AVI and MOV, aren’t supported and would make the program much more useful. You can only reach customer support by email – this is the only program we reviewed to have so few options. Other applications, provide information through FAQs and free tutorials.
Pros
  • It costs less than $20.
  • You can use it to capture video game footage.
  • The files it creates are very small, so you can store a lot of them.
Cons
  • You can only get support through email.
  • It only exports videos in WMV format.
  • You can’t upload your creations to social media through the application.
$19.95FastStone
Easiest to Use

Ashampoo Snap

If you’re new to the world of screen capture software, there’s no better program to start with than Ashampoo Snap. It is the easiest software to learn and use compared to the other programs we tested, and it also has all the tools we look for in screen capture applications, including video capture, editing tools and special effects.
This program supports most of the file formats we looked for. The only image format it’s missing is GIF, which, while popular, you can probably do without. Ashampoo Snap is also frugal with system resources. In fact, it received a perfect score when we tested to see if it slows computers or hogs processing power. It has a very light footprint, and you likely won’t notice any lag in other programs while Ashampoo Snap runs. Although this program is easy to use and install, it installs additional software you can’t opt out of. It also places a shortcut on your desktop called Your Software Deals, which links to Ashampoo’s website. While it isn’t a virus and is easy to uninstall, it’s a pain to deal with if you don’t want it on your computer.
Pros
  • This is the easiest screen capture program to learn and use.
  • Its toolbar lets you start capturing your screen in just seconds.
  • It won’t slow down your computer.
Cons
  • Unwanted bloatware installs along with the program.
  • The software doesn’t create images in the GIF format.
  • Ashampoo doesn’t offer telephone support.
$19.99Ashampoo

Why Trust Us? 

We have reviewed the best screen capture programs since 2005. In that time, we’ve examined dozens of applications and spent hundreds of hours performing hands-on tests. Our reviewers combed through the applications’ features and tools, captured images, and recorded hours of video. They then inspected and compared the results to see which products are the easiest to use and most useful as well as which provide the most value for your dollar.

How We Tested 

We evaluated and ranked screen capture software by testing each program hands on. Based on the results, we found that the best programs create small files, don't use a lot of your computer's processor power and are easy to install.

One way the best screen capture programs stand above the rest is the size of the files they create; in this case, smaller is better. This is because small, less impactful images and video files take up less space on your hard drive. During testing, we created several types of files using each program and averaged their resulting sizes. We then compared these averages, to determine which applications create the smallest files.

We also recorded how much impact each program had on our test computer’s system as we created videos and images. These tests showed us how system intensive each application is, which can affect your computer’s overall performance – screen capture programs that use a lot of your computer’s resources can cause lag in other software.

The average file size and system impact data were compiled into an overall system performance grade. Screen capture programs with high system performance grades take up less space on your hard drive and have minimal or no impact on your computer's performance.

We also tested how easy it is to install each program. We gave each one an installation grade to help you determine how easy it is to download, install and start. The best applications are easy to install and allow you to start capturing screen content moments after they finish installing.

Important Things to Consider When Choosing a Screen Capture Software
 
As you search for the right screen recording software for your needs, there are a few things to keep in mind, namely each program’s capture and editing tools, ease of use, compatible file formats, and available help and support.

Capturing & Editing Tools

Some of the top features to look for include menu, scroll, video game and scheduled captures. Menu and scroll capturing are great for creating software tutorial documents because you can capture an entire page, even if most of the content is off screen and requires scrolling to view. If you plan to capture some video game footage but don’t want to use this software primarily for gaming, choose software that can record games or DirectX applications in general. Finally, scheduled capturing allows you to record your screen at set moments in time, so you don’t have to be at your computer to capture images and video.

One of the biggest differences between for-purchase screen capture software and freeware is the former lets you edit your captured images and videos. Consider programs that allow you to add comments and bubble captions and draw shapes. These tools help you create step-by-step instructions, notes or highlights, which can be incredibly helpful.

Ease of Use
Look for a program that includes a quick-to-access toolbar. This feature allows you to record what’s on your screen without opening the screen capture software separately. Rather, you can simply click a record button on a small toolbar on the side of the screen.

You should also consider whether you can share your captured images or videos on social media sites, like Facebook and Photobucket, directly from the program. This is a great way to reach family, friends, coworkers or followers quickly. Software with this function allows you to share your content at the push of a button.

File Formats

If you want to create videos and share them online, you need a program that can create files in formats that are optimal for the web, such as MP4s. It’s also important to choose software that can create high-quality small images if you plan to post them online. You may also want a program that can support scanner or camera imports, allowing you to pull images directly from these devices.

Help & Support
If you're on the fence about purchasing a program, you can often download a free trial or demo version to check it out. Although every screen capture application we tested offers a trial or demo version, the trial time varies significantly. Look for products you can test out for at least a couple weeks before making a final decision.

The best programs have tutorial sections or FAQs pages to guide you through each step of the process. Also, look for software that offers customer support through email or over the phone should you need help.

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