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How to Record Your Screen for Free With Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)

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Read Time: 5 min
This post is part of a series called How to Record Screencasts with Open Broadcaster Software.
How to Get Best-Quality Screen Recording Video in OBS Studio

Open Broadcaster Software Studio, more commonly known as OBS, is a video streaming and recording program. It's free, open source, and fully cross-platform—Mac, Windows, and Linux. When combined with solid audio and video editing software, it is a powerful and flexible screencast video production tool.

In this OBS screen recording tutorial, we'll install OBS and go through an abridged, quick-start method to begin screen recording. We go into greater depth with the next tutorials in this series.

OBS vs. Screen-Recording Alternatives

For screen capture for tutorials and recording other types of video presentations, two popular paid applications are Camtasia and Screenflow. These are all-in-one solutions that provide tools for both recording and editing (though not live streaming, which OBS does). There are plenty of options, and we have a couple of articles to help you choose:

Another excellent option is to separate the screen recording stage from audio recording and video editing, using dedicated software for each stage. If you already have a video editing program, why buy another? Use OBS for the recording, and you're good to roll. This is the approach we're following here.

How to Record Your Screen With OBS

In this series of short tutorials, I'll teach you how to record with OBS, from the setup to screen recording, and take advantage of some of the key features. There are many ways you can use OBS, but for the purposes of this series I'll be taking you through the best method to learn how to record your screen with OBS.

These are the things you'll learn in this OBS screen recording tutorial:

  • Download and Install OBS to start our OBS screen recording tutorial
  • How to record with OBS quick setup
  • How to record your screen with OBS

1. Download and Install OBS

Download OBS from the OBS website and install it according to the instructions for your OS.

When you launch OBS, you should see something like this (with a different look depending on your operating system):

Open Broadcaster 18 interfaceOpen Broadcaster 18 interfaceOpen Broadcaster 18 interface
The interface we'll use for our OBS screen recording tutorial.

2. Screen Recording Quick Setup

OBS uses a system of Scenes and Sources, which we'll explain in more detail in a subsequent tutorial. These two features work together to neatly manage your video, audio, and other production assets. When you first launch OBS, you'll see there is already a scene added in by default, which you can find in the bottom left corner of the interface.

Scenes and sources in Open BroadcasterScenes and sources in Open BroadcasterScenes and sources in Open Broadcaster
Scenes and sources in Open Broadcaster: currently on the default Scene.

Before we get into how to record with OBS, you'll also need to add a source inside this scene. With the default Scene selected (it will be highlighted) click the + button at the bottom of the panel labelled Sources, and then select Screen Capture on Linux or Display Capture on Mac and Windows.

Source selectionSource selectionSource selection
Select Screen Capture (Linux) or Display Capture.

Click OK in the box that pops up.

Confirm your choiceConfirm your choiceConfirm your choice
Looking good

Click OK in the next popup as well.

Set the screen dimensionsSet the screen dimensionsSet the screen dimensions
Still good. Note the inception going on, that's totally normal!

Now click the Settings button at the bottom right of the interface. 

Choose the Output tab and take note of the Recording Path field. This is the destination of your computer where your recorded video will be saved.

Set the destination for your recordingSet the destination for your recordingSet the destination for your recording
Choose the destination for your video

3. How to Record Screen With OBS

When you're ready to start recording, click the Start Recording button at the bottom right.

Click Start Recording to beginClick Start Recording to beginClick Start Recording to begin
Now you know how to record with OBS. We're good to go!

When you're done, click Stop Recording, and a video will be written to the folder specified in your settings.

All done! We've finished with our OBS screen recording tutorial.

That's It! Now You Know How to Record Your Screen With OBS

I hope you've enjoyed this OBS screen recording tutorial. As you can see, it's not a difficult thing to do, but setting up the software to learn how to record with OBS from scratch can be a challenge. 

Coming Up Next: Customize Your OBS

So now you've learned how to record your screen with OBS. That's the basic method of screen recording, but there's still more to do to get the most out of OBS. Now that you're up and running, in the next tutorial we'll change the Video and Output settings for better recordings in OBS. See you there!

More OBS and Screencasting Tutorials

If you also want to present live on camera along with recording your screen, try our course on video conferencing to discover the right camera, lighting and other equipment to use—and how to set it all up.

About the Authors

Kezz Bracey wrote this. Gonzalo Angulo updated the tutorial on August 29, 2022. Jackson Couse edited and published this.

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