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Best Video Capture Software 2020

Best Video Capture Software 2020
(Image credit: cottonbro from Pexels)

The best video capture software will let you record all the activity on your computer desktop, including pop-ups, error messages, and the applications you use. This kind of program is great for anyone who wants to create how-to tutorials for a particular application, show a problem to tech support, or to share an amazing gaming moment with their friends. It can also help you make videos for presentations, even without separate editing apps.

Best Overall: Debut VCP

A great set of capturing and editing features make Debut Video Capture Pro a great choice for most users in 2020. It's easy to use too, so ideal for beginners.VIEW DEAL ON Debut

That's because the best video capture software in 2020 also includes editing functions, so you can trim your captured footage into shape. It will let you include handy on-screen notes, to highlight areas of interest, and of course, it will let you delete the embarrassing moments where you are defeated by a video game boss 20 times. 

We’ve spent a long time testing video capture software to find the best products on the market this year, and Debut Video Capture Pro has the best set of editing tools of all the products we tested, enabling such things as fixing the colors of your captures and improving their audio quality. However, the video capture software you need really will depend on what you actually want to do with it.

Cost is a factor too, as you likely don't want to spend too much on the capturing process. We've included a range of software to suit each budget, along with an assessment of tools and features that set each one apart. If you need more advanced tools than the built-in ones, our guide to the best video editing software should have you covered.


1. Debut Video Capture Pro: Best screen capture software overall

Debut Video Capture Pro: Best screen capture software overall

(Image credit: NCH Software)

Debut Video Capture Pro

Our favorite video capture software for footage, screenshots, and more

This program is very easy to use.
It is inexpensive.
The software lets you schedule recordings.
You must download a free sister program to do any editing.
Adding the editing program is an extra step.
The final video will have some flaws.

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.

Read the full review

2. Movavi Screen Recorder Studio: Best for mobile videos

Movavi Screen Recorder Studio: Best video capture software overall

(Image credit: Movavi)

Movavi Screen Recorder Studio

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

Optimize video for mobile devices
Export video to 11 video formats.
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.

Best for Professionals

Camtasia Studio

Camtasia Studio

It has a full array of capturing and editing tools.
Scheduling an automatic recording requires more digging than we’d like.

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.

Read the full review

Best for Occasional Users

Snagit

Snagit

Excellent screen shot abilities, including taking scrolling screenshots of websites.
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.

Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We have been researching and testing video capture software since 2010, with hundreds of hours devoted to searching for and evaluating the best programs. We looked for a range of capabilities in the products we investigated, from those easily used by beginners to more sophisticated applications. We also looked at what each could do and price ranges to suit all pocketbooks.

We scoured company websites, contacted manufacturers with questions, looked at anything new on the marketing horizon, and conducted tests ourselves to make sure we thoroughly understood the merits and drawbacks of the applications we ultimately reviewed.

How We Tested

We spent more than 40 hours testing video capture software, which combined with our other research, led to our scoring and ranking for the 10 best products on the market. Our first goal was to find software that is easy to use, even for people who have little or no experience when it comes to creating digital videos. We looked at each application's features, interface, stability, workflow and other characteristics that can make all the difference between a terrific experience and a disaster. We gave low scores to products that were difficult to use.

There is no point in using any video capture software if the result turns out badly. We prepared a test project and used it for each of the software products we had chosen for testing, checking in particular the quality of the final video. We looked for anything that could detract from the viewing experience and graded the products accordingly.

We examined how much customer support you can expect and how easy, or difficult, it is to get in contact with the software publisher if you run into a problem. All the information we learned, particularly from our testing, helped us produce a numerically ranked lineup of best video capture software.

Sound is a big part of the video viewing experience, so it's best to seek out an application that lets you record and improve it.

Things to Look for in Video Capture Software Visual & Audio Capture Tools

Our testing showed the best video capture software lets you record in a variety of ways, including the whole screen of your computer, portions of it, different windows or applications. In addition, the software's recording function lets you capture other things including video games and streaming content, and in some cases, VoIP calls from programs such as Skype. It also helps if your video capture software lets you record your face, especially if you want to be seen via a picture-within-picture fashion on the final video as a narrator or commentator while other material also is being displayed on the video.

We especially liked software that records sounds from a microphone or your computer. Having both of these capabilities gives you considerable opportunities for creativity as you add your commentary or sound effects to what's visible on the final video.

Editing Tools
The best video capture software permits you to edit the original content so you can get rid of footage you don't want, add special effects and do much more. 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. 

Can You Legally Monetize Gameplay Videos?

You have no doubt heard that videogame streamers like Ninja have made profitable livings by uploading their gameplay videos to Twitch and YouTube. Ninja hasn’t been shut down by Epic Games for his Fortnite uploads, but what are the copyright rules about posting your gameplay? Well, it's a bit of a grey area.

As CBC News reported, most videogaming companies "tacitly permit YouTubers to violate their copyrights, with creators and publishers turning a blind eye out of consideration of the promotional value of being featured on high-audience channels." So, the fact that videogaming companies are getting free publicity for their creations in one of the top reasons they don't take legal action against lucrative streamers.

However, videogame companies do retain the right to take action against streamers should they choose. With this being a relatively new form of media consumption, it wouldn’t be surprising if copyright rules changed in the near future to be more strict against streamers. But the push for this change might not come from the services you’d expect.

According to Juniper Research Report, it’s believed that the growth of game streaming consumption will create $3.5 billion in revenue by 2021, a massive jump from current earnings. Additionally, Netflix stated that videogames like Fortnite, not other streaming services, are its largest competitors for viewers’ eyes. Netflix even stated that during a YouTube global outage, it saw a spike in account signups and viewings, which isn’t conclusive but further shows just how popular videogame streaming is.

If you plan on making money from gameplay postings on YouTube, you first need to agree to YouTube’s Partner Program. The same goes for any other video posting site. You need to make sure you follow and agree to the website’s terms and conditions.