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Best video capture software 2021

Best Video Capture Software 2021
(Image credit: cottonbro from Pexels)

The best video capture software makes it super easy to demonstrate what's happening on your laptop or computer. No matter what is happening on your screen it will capture it all for later, ready to share. From a walkthrough guide to a presentation recording, there's lots to be done with the best video capture software.

Once you've captured what you wanted, it can pay to use the best video editing software to trim and perfect the final result. Also, if you want to add some kind of voiceover to your video clip, you might need to shell out for some of the best voice recording software. But back to focusing on the video capture. What do you need to look for?

If you need this software for your PC, that's one thing, but if you also want it to work on your phone and tablet, that's another consideration. As you might expect, the more expensive options offer multiple platform coverage so they're more widely compatible. These can have options like editing tools, more output formats and capture from webcams too.

There are also options which are better suited to professionals, which have a fuller list of features. Or, for the gamers out there, you may want to go for something that can capture smoother video even on a machine under strain at the time. Not to be forgotten are the affordable and free options too, of course, as if you just want a basic video capture this could be all you need.

These are the best video capture software options you can get right now.


1. Movavi Screen Recorder Studio: Best video capture software overall

Movavi Screen Recorder Studio: Best video capture software overall

(Image credit: Movavi)

A fully featured screen recorder, Movavi will handle most things people need

Reasons to buy
+Optimize video for mobile devices+Export video to 11 video formats
Reasons to avoid
-Manually upload to social media-Slow customer support

Movavi Screen Capture is perfect for mobile device videos. With it, you can create, edit and share polished, professional-looking videos, including recording your whole screen, a section of it, or just a portion of a window or application. 

Movavi Screen Capture is designed with excellent built-in editing tools that are among the best and most comprehensive of all the video capture software we tested. You can do things like pan and zoom across video footage, add titles, captions and transitions, put in special effects and filters, turn normal movement into slow motion, stabilize the video if needed and adjust its colors. Unlike most other video capture applications, you can also improve the sound. Another benefit is that you can add other items from your computer to your video, such as putting outside video or sound into the original video and then editing that material until it's polished to your satisfaction.

You can also capture audio, either separately or at the same time, and you can create audio-only productions such as podcasts and audiobooks. Although you can optimize your video to upload to the internet, you cannot use this program to do the uploading directly, instead using your target site's upload tools. This is an unusual oversight in an otherwise first-rate application. If you have a question, you have access to a fine FAQ section, phone support, and live chat for speedier help.


2. Camtasia Studio: Best screen capture for professionals

Camtasia Studio: Best screen capture for professionals

(Image credit: Techsmith)

If you're capturing screen footage for a living, this is worth investing in

Reasons to buy
+Full array of capturing and editing tools+Easy enough to use
Reasons to avoid
-Scheduling an automatic recording is tricky-It's very expensive

The industry-standard video capture software for over a decade, Camtasia has an exhaustive array of capturing and editing tools displayed using an easy-to-use interface. It also produces the highest quality videos of every program we tested.

This program can capture your entire screen, certain windows or just selected areas. Additionally, you can use your webcam to capture your face while you record, integrating it into the final result, which is great if you’re making an instructional video or other presentation.

When you’re done recording, you can not only make basic edits and enhancements to the video, but also add your own audio and outside media, plus insert titles, annotations and other text into your project. It really has everything you need.


3. Snagit: Best for occasional use

Snagit: Best for occasional use

(Image credit: techsmith)

Snagit

Limited in terms of footage editing, but this will do a job for occasional use

Reasons to buy
+Excellent screen shot abilities, including taking scrolling screenshots of websites
Reasons to avoid
-Limited video editing abilities

Snagit is made by the same company as Camtasia: Tech Smith. So it’s no surprise that it is an outstanding program, and a great choice for those who only record their screens occasionally. The program is mainly geared toward taking and editing screenshots rather than video, nevertheless, the video tools will get the job done for smaller tasks.

One of the most useful features in this program is the ability to take scrolling screenshots of websites you visit. This is great for projects that require you to show a webpage in its entirety.

The capture and editing tools are basic, only allowing you to trim away unwanted footage, so if you need a more robust array of video editing tools, you should upgrade to Camtasia.


4. Debut Video Capture Pro: Good value screen capture software

Debut Video Capture Pro

(Image credit: NCH Software)

A good value option for footage, screenshots, and more

Reasons to buy
+Very easy to use+It is inexpensive+The software lets you schedule recordings
Reasons to avoid
-No editing functions

The easy-to-use Debut Video Capture lets you capture video either from streaming content, including Hulu and YouTube, or from footage you obtain with a webcam or DVD. You can record audio, either using a microphone for your own voice or capturing what's streaming on your screen. One interesting feature is the scheduled recording option, where you choose what you want to record and its source, the sound source, date, and start and end times.

Debut is remarkably easy to use. The functions are clearly labelled, and the toolbar shows you what there is to work with. Unfortunately, there are no editing capabilities, but you can make up for that by downloading a companion program, Videopad, which is free, and using that to edit your video.

The result is a good video, but our testing showed minor flaws as pixelation and some shakiness in the video, so the final result – while quite watchable – is acceptable, but not flawless.


Things to Look for in Video Capture Software

Visual & Audio Capture Tools
All of the above programs will let you capture what’s happening on a screen, but the best options allow you to specifically capture portions of your screen, such as a window or a particular application. We also like the options that allow you to record your own face, via your in-built cam, as this means you can record with a picture-in-picture set-up. This is useful if you’re trying to record and upload videos of yourself playing games, for example, where you need to record your lively narration. 

We also really rate the programs that allow you to record directly from your microphone or computer audio, as again this gives you a lot of creative freedom. You can then not only add commentary, but also weave in sound effects into your video.

Editing Tools
While you shouldn’t expect the best video capture software to match the best video editing software, you should find that the top-rated programs allow you to do some small edits, like chopping off footage you don’t want and adding in music and special effects. The more editing tools available on an application, the better since it lets you make the finished video free of unwanted material or sounds and makes it look more professional. 

Output
Excellent video capture software offers multiple video formats. We found some software that provides just one format, while others offer more than 10. In this case, the more, the better. You also will no doubt appreciate the top-notch software that lets you optimize video to be played back on various kinds of mobile devices. If someone is going to watch your video on a tablet or smartphone, it's great to be able to prepare your content so it shows up well on those devices. 

Ian has been a journalist for 20 years. He's written for magazines and websites on subjects such as video games, technology, PC hardware, popular (and unpopular) science, gardening and astronomy. In his spare time he has a pet tortoise and grows his own vegetables. He also has a passion for cameras and photography, and has written for TTR on these subjects.