Best Screen Capture Software of 2018

Danny Chadwick ·
Multimedia & Home Improvement Editor
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 screenshots, capture video, and edit and enhance your pictures and footage. It has every capture tool we look for and is very easy to learn – the tutorials can get you up and running in just a few minutes, even if you are a novice. Snagit also uses your computer’s resources effectively, so it doesn’t slow down other applications as it runs. 

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. And its system performance is second to none.
View on TechSmith
Longest Trial Period
FastStone Capture
While it didn’t make our best overall or best value pick, it did rather well in our evaluation. You can do quality work with this program, and you get a whole month free to see if it works for you.
View on FastStone
Best Value
Ashampoo Snap
New users will appreciate Ashampoo Snap’s low price and 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
OVERALL RATING
Capture Tools
Editing Tools
Export Options
Help & Support
Screen Capture
Video Capture
Image Editing Tools
Video Editing Tools
Image File Formats
Video File Formats
Upload to Internet
Online Support
Tutorials
$49.99 Techsmith
9.3 10 10 10 10
19
MP4
$19.99 Shop.Ashampoo
9.3 10 10 6.2 10
7
WMV/AVI
$19.95 Faststone.Org
8.3 10 10 3.9 5
8
WMV
False
False
$29.95 Wisdom-Soft
7.6 10 5 4 10
False
6
MP4
False
$29.99 Pixelmetrics
7 10 5 1 10
False
4
N/A
False
$29.95 Mindgems
6.85 5 5 6.4 10
False
False
15
N/A
$39.95 Hyperionics
6.2 5 5 3.2 10
False
False
12
N/A
False
$24.99 Any-Capture
6.2 5 5 1.3 10
False
False
5
N/A
False
$19 Instant-Screen-Capture
5.5 5 5 1 5
False
False
4
N/A
False
$79.99 Inbit
5.5 5 5 4.2 10
False
False
16
N/A
False
False
Best Overall
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 screenshots 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. You can also 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. 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.
  • 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
Read the full review
Longest Trial Period
Being able to try out a program before you buy it is great for any software. At 30 days, this product has the longest trial period available. And while some programs match it, none of them did as well as FastStone in terms of pure functionality. Even at the end of the trial, it’s only $20 for the unlocked version.
FastStone Capture has many of 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 our top pick boasts. 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 its 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.
  • Its interface is antiquated.
$19.95FastStone
Read the full review
Best Value
If you’re new to the world of screen capture software, there’s no better program to start with than Ashampoo Snap. You can pick up this program for about $20, but don’t let the budget price fool you – it’s still a functional, useful application.
In our tests, this was the easiest software to learn, and it has all the tools we look for in screen capture applications, including video capture, editing tools and special effects. While you can export your snapshots to most of the popular file formats, you miss out on ones like GIF, which remains popular even though it’s quite old. Ashampoo Snap is also frugal with system resources. In fact, it received a perfect score when we tested to see if it slows processing power. It has a very light footprint, so you likely won’t notice any lag in other programs while Ashampoo Snap runs. This program has a great array of editing tools that rivals that of our top pick. But it is missing a few features such as the ability to grab text out of images and a magic wand selector. But given its price, these are things you can go without.
Pros
  • This is the easiest screen capture program to learn to use.
  • Its toolbar lets you start capturing your screen in just seconds.
  • It’s less than half the price of our top pick.
Cons
  • Some file formats, such as GIF, are missing from the export options.
  • Its video editing capabilities are limited to trimming footage.
  • Ashampoo doesn’t offer telephone support.
$19.99Ashampoo
Read the full review
Most Capture Options
ScreenHunter Pro is one of the best screen capture programs you can buy. Capturing your screen is a simple as one click.
In addition to its image capturing tools, it has recording functionality, such as capturing video of what’s happening on your screen, you can also use your computer’s integrated webcam to get video of yourself, which is great if you’re making an instructional video, vlog or other project where you are the star. The main problem with this software is that its interface is at least 15 years out of date – or at least looks that way. The graphics are antiquated, and the navigation is similar to a program coded in the late 90s-early 2000s. We had a hard time getting around and understanding how it all fit together. But after a few hours of using, we got the hang of it.
Pros
  • Multiple ways to capture images, videos and sound.
Cons
  • The interface is badly out of date.
$29.95Wisdom
Read the full review
Best for Capturing Audio
Screen capture software is primarily for taking screen shots of what’s on your computer’s monitor.
But there are other uses for several of these programs, some also capture video and sound. CaptureWiz Pro excels at recording the audio playing on your computer. This is very convenient if the project you’re working on calls for sounds that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s also decent at capturing video, but not as good as our top choice. Like several of the other screen capture programs we reviewed, the interface is in sore need of an update. The experience of this program is like stepping into a time machine and going back to the days of Windows XP. We were surprised that this program would even run on a computer running Windows 10.
Pros
  • This program captures audio as well as our top choice in this category.
Cons
  • The interface is an eyesore in comparison to more modern applications.
$39.95Mindgems
Read the full review

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. We’ve combed through the applications’ features and tools, capturing hundreds of images and recording hours of video. We 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 ourselves. Based on the results, we found that the best programs create small files, are easy to install and don't use a lot of your computer's processor power.

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.

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 price, capture and editing tools, ease of use, compatible file formats, and available help and support.

How Much Does Screen Capture Software Cost?
There are some screen capture programs that you can download online for free. However, they don’t have the functionality of the paid programs we reviewed. When we tested, we took a price range from $20 to $80. However, we feel that $50 is the absolute maximum you should spend.    

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.