What is screen recording & why do you need it?

Chats and emails are great for simple explanations, but when things get complicated, it’s best to show, not tell. 

In those cases, screen recorders are your answer. 

These simple tools record your computer screen in real time, so you can demonstrate workflows, share feedback, or troubleshoot problems with someone as if they were sitting right next to you.

Ahead, you'll learn how screen recordings can enhance your business communications, saving you and your colleagues time and energy.

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What does screen recording mean?

The screen recording process lets you record what's on your screen, including audio and video, and save it to your computer. You can use screen recording to create tutorials, record online meetings, or give feedback on a project.

Screen recording software records everything on your screen, including movements, audio, and video playback. Once your recording is finished, the software compiles these visuals into a video file, which you can save, edit, and share.  

What is a screen recorder?

A screen recorder is an application that captures what’s displayed on your computer screen. It’s also known as a screencast. 

There are many different paid and free screen recorders available. Some are for iOS and mobile devices, some are built into your computer, like QuickTime Player for Mac and Xbox Game Bar for Windows. You can download others like Descript and OBS Studio onto your computer or laptop. 

Regardless, most screen recording apps have features like:

  • Audio recording: Capture sound from a microphone or system audio to include in the screencast.
  • Annotation: Add text, shapes, and highlights to emphasize specific areas of the screen.
  • Selective recording: Choose a particular area of the screen to record, instead of the entire screen.
  • Webcam overlay: Record your face via webcam and overlay it on the screencast.
  • Editing features: Trim, cut, or merge different parts of the video.

With Descript's screen recorder, you can easily capture, edit, and share 4K screencasts. Because it’s part of Descript's broader audio and video editing suite, it simplifies the workflow of turning screen recordings into polished, professional-looking videos. 

Image of preparing a screen record in Descript app
You can easily record, edit, and publish your screencast in the Descript app

When should I use screen recording?

Whenever it would be faster, easier, or more effective to show someone what’s happening on your screen than to describe it in an email, send a screen recording.

Onboarding, training, and customer support

Whether you’re training internally or helping customers learn your product, screen recordings are an excellent tool to make solutions and workflows easily understood. Good product documentation is essential — but good product documentation supplemented by screen recordings is even better.

Screen recordings make an excellent jumping off point toward building a library of training videos and product solutions. Use screen recordings demonstrating solutions as source material for polished, edited support videos that users can return to whenever they need.

Screen recordings are handy for customer support tickets, too. Describing a workflow or solution in words isn’t always easy — but a screen recording will let you show a customer exactly how to solve a problem, saving both of you time and effort.  

Content creation for social media and YouTube

Instead of relying on high-end video equipment, you can use screen recording software to capture tutorials, record reviews, or create how-to guides directly from your MacOS or Windows computer. 

Screen recordings are also great for answering comments, doing reaction videos, and showing new features. Doing this keeps the audience engaged with relevant content and maintains an authentic connection with them.

Remote collaboration and communication

Make screen recordings part of your communication toolkit if you manage a remote team. They're a great way to communicate ideas, give feedback, and show workflows.

Screen recordings are more flexible than real-time meetings since they can be played back and viewed at any time, like when you’re training new team members or revisiting past decisions.

To improve remote collaboration, encourage team members to use screen recordings. For example, developers can record and share coding issues with their teams. Designers can also present concepts asynchronously through screen recordings. 

Sales and customer success

If you’re demoing your product for a prospect, you don’t need a 30-minute meeting to show how it works. Instead, create a short, customized video and use screen recordings to demonstrate why they should choose your business.

Because you can make the pitch without booking a meeting, you’ll save your prospects’ time—and your own, too. Once your screen recording pitch video is polished and edited, re-use it as a template for future clients.

After you’ve closed the deal, empower your customer success team to use screen recordings to support clients and maintain the relationship. Inform clients about new features with a quick video. And if you need to troubleshoot, screen recordings will help you and your clients avoid confusion.

Content marketing

Are you still relying on screenshots and infographics to present information to readers? Try a screen recording app to create your how-to guides and explainer videos instead. This adds variety to your content and caters to people who prefer to watch videos on their iPhone or Android. 

If you're marketing a software app, you can show it in action with a screen recording, which makes it easy to see its features and benefits. Potential customers will be more engaged and informed using a visual approach instead of text descriptions or static images.

You can also repurpose these recordings across multiple channels. For example, you can embed a screen recording made for a YouTube tutorial in a blog post, share it on social media, or send it out as an email. 

Who needs a screen recorder?

HR professionals

Screen recorders can help HR professionals improve communication and collaboration with virtual teams. Especially with more people working remotely, screen recorders make sure employees have the resources and guidance they need. 

Everyday use cases include:

  • Recording online interviews for review.
  • Creating training and onboarding videos.
  • Documenting HR processes for compliance.
  • Capturing team meetings for absent members.
  • Monitoring and supporting remote work tasks.

Marketers

Screen recordings create better marketing videos and product demonstrations. If your company just released a killer app, added a time-saving new feature, or overhauled a workflow, it’s much more effective to show your audience how it works with a screen recording than simply telling them about it.

Top uses cases for marketers include: 

  • Creating product demonstrations and tutorials.
  • Developing marketing strategy presentations.
  • Enhancing email marketing campaigns with video content.
  • Collaborating on projects with remote teams or partners.
  • Capturing user experience and feedback for market research.

Teachers

Teachers can give visually engaging and interactive lessons with screen recorders. They can also provide personalized feedback on student assignments or explain corrections. Students can also access these recordings at any time, so if they need more help or are absent, they can review the materials. 

The top use cases for teachers include:

  • Recording lectures and presentations for asynchronous learning.
  • Creating tutorial videos for complex subjects or software use.
  • Providing video feedback on student assignments.
  • Sharing educational resources with colleagues.
  • Developing content for eLearning platforms.

Content creators

Content creators have many great reasons to use screen recorders: from tutorials and reviews to commentary and reaction videos, showing the audience what’s on your screen really adds to your content. For gamers and live streamers, screen recording effectively captures live events and reactions in real time, which is essential for an engaging channel.

Some ways video content creators can use screen capture are:

  • Recording gameplay for gaming channels.
  • Producing reaction videos and reviews.
  • Developing online courses or educational content.
  • Creating walkthroughs for websites or digital products.
  • Compiling highlight reels or compilations.
  • Livestreaming with on-screen commentary.

Managers and employees

Screen recorders are great tools for teams looking to become more productive and improve communication. They can use screen recorders to communicate complex ideas or document tasks, all without needing to jump into a time-consuming meeting.

Some common use cases include: 

  • Creating training and instructional videos.
  • Providing visual feedback on projects.
  • Preparing presentations for upper management or stakeholders.
  • Recording steps of complex tasks for future reference or training.
  • Documenting technical issues or bugs to share with IT support.
  • Keeping a record of virtual meetings and discussions for reference.

What can a screen recorder do?

Besides recording what’s happening on your computer screen in real time, Descript’s screen recorder allows you to record audio from a built-in or external microphone and video from a webcam or laptop camera, so you can narrate your screen recording with audio, video, or both. You can also record computer audio, so you can capture sound from whatever you’re recording on your screen.

After you finish your screen recording, Descript automatically uploads it to the cloud. You can share the link with your recipient as soon as you’re finished recording or load it into Descript to edit it like any other video — just by editing the transcript.

Benefits and drawbacks of screen recording 

Pros of screen recording

  • Improved remote collaboration. Having clear visual references and demonstrations makes remote teams work better together.
  • Enhanced visual communication and demonstration. Visual aids make complex ideas easier to understand, so you can communicate more effectively.
  • Increased training and education resources. Educators and trainers can create detailed instructional videos, which help people better understand the material.
  • Improved communication. You can capture detailed, step-by-step processes in a recorded video, so you don't need to explain things over and over again.

Cons of screen recording

  • File size and storage. A one-minute screen recording at 1080p resolution can be around 100MB in size. The longer your recording, the more storage space it’ll take up on your computer.
  • Resource intensive.  A screen recording is demanding on your system's resources. It could slow down other applications and temporarily affect your device's performance. 
  • Requires editing and post-production. Screen captures aren’t finished after you stop recording. You’ll have to edit your footage, which requires additional skills. Fortunately, video editing tools like Descript make this incredibly simple.
  • Less interactivity. For certain topics where active participation and interaction is necessary, screen recordings might be less effective than an in-person or virtual meeting in real time.

How to choose a great screen recording software

Functionality

Screen recording software should be judged first on doing one job correctly — recording your screen. It doesn’t matter whether you’re screen recording on Windows or iPad, your tool should do it reliably.  

Good software will give you various recording options, like full screen, a specific window, or a selected area. You may also want to record audio from different sources, like your system audio or a microphone. 

Depending on what you’re recording, you might want to record in higher resolution. Software like Descript lets you screen record in 4K, which is great for creating professional tutorials or video game walkthroughs. 

Advanced features

Odds are, you’ll need a little more from your tool than screen recording. Advanced features can include instant transcripts, custom webcam or screen sizes, embeddable videos, and multitrack recording. 

Descript is known for its built-in video editing tools, which let creators improve recordings without needing separate software. This is helpful if you want to add overlays, text, or special effects directly into your recording. 

Sharing capabilities

Look for easy sharing options without a watermark. 

A good screen recording tool integrates seamlessly with platforms such as YouTube or cloud storage services, and lets you export the file with your brand front and center. It should also give you a link to share or embed your video. 

Image of Descript’s screen recording share screen
Descript lets you copy and share a link to your screen recording. 

Customer support

When you have issues or questions about the software, you want to get help from reliable customer support. This includes having accessible user guides, responsive technical support, and regular software updates.

Descript, for example, has in-app help and a contact form with a team available from Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM Pacific Time. You can also find answers to your questions in our Help Center or join a scheduled live event.

How to screen record in Descript

Descript is the best screen recorder for its approach to content creation. The tool automatically transcribes audio from your screen recordings into a full transcript that you can edit like a text document in order to edit the footage.

With features like Filler Word Removal and Studio Sound, you can clean up your audio and make it sound like it was recorded in a professional studio, even if it was recorded on your couch on a Monday at 3 PM.

Sounds interesting? Here’s how to screen record with Descript using the app. Note: This process is the same if you’re using Descript for web on Chrome or Edge.

Step 1: Open the Descript app and click Video project. Click and open the Record panel at the top of the screen.

User opening up the Record panel in Descript.

Step 2: Select the Screen option. Then click the settings gear to adjust your recording settings. You can change settings like:

  • Transcription language. Choose from one of 23 transcription languages for your recording.
  • Countdown. Turn on a timer and give yourself a three-second delay before the recording starts.
  • Highlight mouse click when recording. Add a circle around your cursor whenever you click during a recording.
  • Show region recording confirmation. Adjust the region of your screen to record before you start.
  • Minimize recording dock. This disables the floating dock during your recording.
  • Video resolution. Choose between 480p, 720p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K (beta) recordings. 

Step 3: Click the computer audio icon or microphone icon to choose your input. If both are enabled, the inputs will be recorded separately.

Step 4: Click the Input settings icon and choose if you want to enable Studio Sound or transcription

Selecting input settings in Descript

Step 5: Click Record into script. Then select the area you want to record and hit Start recording. When you’re finished, your screen capture and transcript will show up in the video editor where you can trim, cut, add background music, annotate, and so much more. 

Thousands of video creators already rely on Descript for high quality screen capture and video editing. If you’re ready to join them, take a tour of Descript today.

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