How To Record the Screen on an Android Device
Have you ever wanted to demo an app for someone without showing them the entire contents of your phone? Or record your gameplay in Hearthstone on your tablet to show a friend or post on YouTube? Maybe you want to save a video Snap someone sent to you, but your phone can only take screenshots with the standard shortcut on Android. Whatever the reason, you’ve come to the realization that you’ll need to record your screen on your phone, and you aren’t sure how.
You’ve come to the right place. Recording your screen is quick and easy, with a multitude of apps able to do so without the need for root access. You can take the recordings and export them from your phone, sharing them with a friend or the internet with a quick YouTube upload, or you can play them back on your own device. There are a ton of apps out there promising to record video on your Android smartphone or tablet, but only one comes recommended by users and reviewers alike. We cover all of this and more below, in our guide to recording your screen on Android.
Choosing a Recording App
If you search the Play Store for apps that can record your screen, you’re bound to find a multitude of apps that can do what you need. Having multiple options is great, but the abundance of choice here can make it challenging to choose an app to download. To make matters worse, most of these apps are pretty highly rated—which raises the question, which one should you download? Let’s quickly run down the list of some top recommendations.
- AZ Screen Recorder is one of the oldest, most trusted recording apps on the Play Store, with a 4.5 rating and over 10 million downloads to date. The software is easy to use, with a dark material theme that looks great, and plenty of settings to change and use.
- Mobizen Screen Recorder is another excellent choice, clocking in at 10 million downloads and a 4.2 rating on Google Play, but some users have reported watermarks and poor recording quality from this one.
- Genius Recorder offers the addition of a face cam recorder, which makes it ideal for budding YouTubers looking to record their faces while streaming mobile games to YouTube Gaming or Twitch, and with a 4.7 rating from users, it’s a must-have from the Play Store.
As for our choice, we recommend XRecorder for most devices. It’s well-made, features a fantastic interface, over 10 million downloads, and an outstanding Google Play rating of 4.8. There’s a couple of benefits XRecorder supports over other recorders. Though it features ads and in-app purchases, It can record at a solid 60 frames per second at 1080p, and with bitrate options up to 12Mbps, your video will always look good. Plus, the app size clocks in at a low 5MB, leaving more room on your device for additional video recordings.
So if you want the best of the best, head over to Google Play and grab XRecorder for free. Once you’ve done that, let’s take a look at how the app works.
How to Use XRecorder to Record Your Screen
Once XRecorder has installed on your device, head into your app drawer to launch the app. Upon your first launch of the app, you’ll receive a two-page tutorial showing how to use the app, which you can view below. The app gives you two shortcuts to control your recording: a small control wheel to the right of your display and a taskbar inside your notification panel. We’ll cover both in more detail below, so for now, let’s take a look at the layout of the app, and how to navigate XRecorder.
The main display of the app will show you your recorded videos, but if you don’t have any yet, this section of the app will remain blank for the time being. The app doesn’t use a material layout; instead, you’ll find everything you need within the five individual tabs at the top of the screen. You’re already sitting on the first tab, recorded videos, so move onto the second tab. This one’s also blank for now, and will display any screenshots you’ve taken with XRecorder. The third tab is the newest addition to the app, offering the ability to watch and stream live gameplay videos through the app. We’ll talk a bit more about this below, but this guide will mainly focus on how to record your screen for playback, not streaming.
The fourth tab lets you edit and modify your already-existing screen recordings, all within one app. You can edit or merge videos, convert a video selection into a GIF, edit and stitch images, and transfer your content over WiFi. We’ll come back to this tab later on in the guide. The final tab is your settings and video preferences, and it’s here where you can change everything about your recordings. We’ll come back to this one in a moment, too.
For now, exit the app. You’ll notice a small, orange, semi-translucent icon is sitting on the right side of your display. If you tap this icon, you’ll see the display recording settings you’ve come here for. Going counter-clockwise from top to bottom, the first icon—a red dot—will begin recording your screen immediately, with the settings already set up within the app itself. The second icon, a highlighted series of four squares, will launch the XRecorder app we previously explored above. The third icon will open your recording toolbox, which will allow you to set up a camera, a brush, a GIF recorder, an option to highlight where your finger is touching on the display, and a toggle for displaying a watermark. The watermark is on by default, so go ahead and disable this now, unless you’d rather XRecorder watermark your videos. The last icon—a red camera—will take a screenshot of your display.
To start recording, hit the red recording symbol mentioned above. If it’s your first time launching the recorder, you’ll receive a prompt to allow XRecorder permission to record your screen and to check the “Don’t show again” box, which you can do if you wish. Hit “Start Now” to begin recording your display. A countdown will start, and the side icon along your screen will turn orange.
Also, you’ll have two separate notifications in your panel above. First, a Cast icon will appear in your taskbar where the battery and time icons display. Second, you’ll be able to access notifications from your notification tray that has several controls you can use for recording, including a pause and stop icon, a screenshot icon, and the ability to open the recording mentioned above in your toolbox. You can press anywhere on the notification to end your recording, and you’ll receive a prompt to save or delete your new recording. You can also use the popup to share to any app or contact, or edit the video automatically.
Explaining and Modifying Your Settings
We should cover how the settings for your recordings work, to make sure your videos meet your desired quality and resolution. Head on over to your app drawer and open the XRecorder app, then tap the Settings tab in the upper panel of your display. Right off the bat, new users will see two prompts work modifying at the top of the device. First, XRecorder recommends giving the app notification access, which will help improve recording stability and keep the app from crashing while in the middle of a session.
Tapping “Enable” will take you to your device’s settings menu, where you can enable notification access for the app. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be returned to the standard settings menu once more. The second notification at the top asks the user to enable user access, to allow XRecorder to give you tips on “appropriate occasions.” Regardless, if you’d like XRecorder to make suggestions, go on ahead and enable user access for the app.
With those two actions out of the way, let’s go down the list of settings proper. First up, we have the all-important video resolution setting. If you’re new to video, resolution refers to the size of an image or video. The measurement is pixels wide by pixels tall and is also used to define screen resolutions. By default, XRecorder records videos in 720p or 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall. Most current devices on the marker use 1080p displays or higher, so if you’re using a 1080p display, you might choose to record in native resolution. Devices with higher resolutions, like the 1440p displays on phones like the Galaxy Note 10+ or Pixel 4 XL, will also allow you to access those native resolutions.
Files recorded in 1080p or 1440p will take up more of your device’s storage than files recorded in 720p or lower, so keep that in mind if you’re using a tool with limited internal or external storage. Just as crucial as video resolution is video quality. Just as with resolution, better quality means larger video files, so keep that in mind. You can choose any quality from 1Mbps all the way to 12Mbps. The higher your bitrate, the better your video looks. If you’re recording in 720p, you should be good to record at 5 or 8Mbps; if you’re looking to record 1080p video, you might want to consider moving to 8 or 12Mbps.
Next up on our settings: frames per second, or FPS for short. Because video is essentially a reel of images put together and played back at high speeds emulating the appearance of movement, FPS is what controls how smooth or choppy your video is. The film is typically shot at 24FPS, whereas television and digital content shoot at 29.97FPS. Gamers, meanwhile, usually aim to get the highest FPS count possible, to make gameplay smooth and fluid. You’ll often hear about gamers seeking to hit 60FPS as a minimum, and that happens to be the max amount you can record in DU Recorder. Just like with quality, FPS is set to automatic mode by default, but you can modify this as you wish.
Most users will be satisfied with 30FPS, but if you’re looking to record gameplay on your phone or tablet, you might want to boost this up to 60FPS. Just remember the more frames per second, the more your processor will be taxed. You might see a drop in quality in gameplay when recording.
From here, settings are a bit easier to explain and understand. While you can’t internally record audio in Android like you can on a proper Windows PC, you can record audio using your microphone. The quality of this recording depends on both your device’s speakers and microphone, but it’s better than nothing. This setting is off by default but can be turned on with a simple toggle. Save your videos in a spoke called “Video” location. Our testing device uses a microSD card, and by default, recordings save on the SD card, not the internal storage. You can change the location at any time, and you’ll also see a time code of how much recording space is remaining. This time may vary depending on the recording settings you have enabled.
A quick rundown of the control settings: you can hide the record window when recording, which will eliminate the side-circle menu from your view to not get in the way of your video. You can cease recording by shaking your device, disable recommendations after recording, disable the pop-up notification after a screenshot, change the length of the countdown before recording begins (with choices including no-countdown, the default 3 second, as well as 5 or 10 seconds), and finally, you can choose not to close the app when you exit the floating window. All of these can be toggled on and off as you see fit.
The final two sections in settings are Recording Tools preferences and “Other” settings. Your recording tool preferences are the same ones we covered above when discussing the side-circle menu of options, including selections for cameras, brushes, and GIF recording. These can all be toggled on or off in this settings panel, as well. Finally, within “Others,” you can modify your language support, view your version number, read XRecorder’s FAQ, and give feedback to the developers.
Editing and Modifying Your Video
Now that we have our preferences set and ready to go, and we’ve learned how actually to record a video, it’s time to take a look at DU Recorder’s own editing software, which allows you to do several things we outlined above in the early section of this guide. XRecorder’s editing is good enough for quick cuts and tags, so if you aren’t a professionally-trained video editor, you’ll still be able to make edits to your screen recordings to remove any of the early or ending segments where you’re beginning or ending a recording.
Start by selecting the “Edit” tab inside the XRecorder app, and hit “Edit Video.” Then select from your list of recordings the one you wish to edit. From here, you’ll be able to begin creating a newly-editing video, with a bunch of included tools. Let’s break each tool down, in case you’re unsure what does what:
- Trim: Trimming a video allows you to drag a slider around the part of the video you wish to save, so if the beginning and end of your video are unusable, you can remove those parts from your video entirely and leave only the good parts. You can preview your video before you decide to save the edit, so take your time to make your selections.
- Remove Middle: This is the opposite of trim—you can use this to only keep the beginning and ending parts of your video, so if an app takes a long time to load, you can remove that from your selection. Just like with trim, you can preview your edits before you save.
- Add Music: This allows you to take any music file off of your device and insert it into your video recording. You can then preview your new video with music intact.
- Add Subtitle: If you’re recording a voiceover for your video file, you can transcribe your words along the bottom of the screen with subtitles. You pick a start and end time and enter the caption you want to add to your video. Once that’s complete, your subtitle will appear in the center of your video, and you can move, resize, or change the color of your subtitle as you wish.
- Background Image: This tool is handy if you recorded your video in portrait mode. Instead of having a whole bunch of black space on both the left and right sides of your video display, you can use this to create a colored background for your video automatically, thus making the video a lot more enjoyable to look at. You have a bunch of options to choose from, with included backdrops available, as well as being able to choose any image currently on your device.
- Crop: A pretty standard image or video tool, crop allows you to remove part of your video capture to only leave one area of the screen in your recording.
- Rotate: Another simple editing tool, rotate, can rotate the display recording of your device by intervals of 90 degrees.
As you add each or all of these effects, you’ll be prompted to save as you finish each editing task. You can also discard your edits by hitting the back button and choosing not to save from the available prompt, and you can discard all changes to your video by hitting the back button from the main editing page. You can save your final video by hitting the floppy-disk icon in the top-right corner.
We mentioned earlier there are other modes of editing, and we want to cover those quickly as well.
- Merge Videos: This one is pretty self-explanatory. You select the videos you want to merge into one recording, hit the “Merge” button, and your video will combine. Make sure you edit your videos before you merge them because you can’t control anything beyond the order of merged videos when exploring this option. Your new combined video will save as its own selection, and it won’t overwrite any of your other content.
- Video to GIF: Another handy tool included inside XRecorder, Video to GIF, will let you create animated GIFs of your recordings up to 20 seconds in length. You can select the 20 seconds you wish to use of the video using a timeline scrubbing tool, but that’s it—once you’ve chosen your GIF, it’ll be saved and exported, so just like with Merge Videos, make sure you do all your editing before using this option.
- WiFi Transfer: This allows you to open a direct link between your phone or tablet and your desktop PC by browsing to an included address supplied by XRecorder. You can then trade videos from your phone or tablet to your PC.
- Edit Image: This allows you to modify images similar to how you can edit video, but with fewer options. You can use a mosaic effect, crop your image, apply a brush to write on your image, and reset your edits.
- Stitch Images: This is quite similar to merging videos; you select up to 10 images to merge into one long horizontal image.
All in all, we were quite impressed with what XRecorder offers in terms of editing effects for videos, but if you want to change how your images look, you’ll want to browse for a more in-depth image editor from the Play Store.
Live Streaming in XRecorder
As mentioned above, a recent update to XRecorder added the ability to live stream video from your device to viewers around the world. We’ve been testing the feature, and from what we can tell, it’s a great addition to the ability to record your device’s display—especially if you’re looking to use XRecorder mainly for gaming videos. Streaming is the evolution of Let’s Plays, and if you’re interested in building an audience in gaming, streaming has become a requirement. Luckily, for those of us looking to stream from our phones, XRecorder does it right.
Opening the Live tab in XRecorder immediately displays a few options for watching content through the app. The majority of the display is taken up by content currently streaming online through one of the three supported Live platforms in XRecorder: Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook. The videos streaming here are always through one of these three platforms (the top result in our screenshot, NettyPlays, was streaming on YouTube; searching the desktop version of YouTube made it easy to find her content online).
Nevertheless, let’s focus on how to actually live stream from your device, instead of watching suggested content. In the lower-right corner of the display, you’ll find the Live icon, which allows you to select a live platform to begin using. XRecorder gives you a brief tutorial on what live streaming you can use within the app, suggestion actions like demoing an app, or displaying the creation of an illustration on your phone live. Gaming is also unsurprisingly suggested by the platform, and considering the massive popularity that comes with streaming video games online, we can’t say we’re all that surprised.
The weirdest suggestion, however, is watching movies and TV live with others over the web; this would probably violate the copyright restrictions put into place on all three platforms XRecorder can stream to, which makes it an odd choice overall. As far as we’re aware, YouTube and Twitch automatically take down streams with copyrighted movies and television shows in them. Facebook had a problem with copyrighted streams throughout 2016 and 2017, but even that platform has also improved taking down these pirated streams. Also, most major media apps, like Netflix or Amazon Prime, won’t even allow you to screenshot the video playback on your device, let alone allow for a screen capture application to record actual video.
Regardless, once you’ve selected your choice in the live streaming platform (be it through YouTube, Twitch, or Facebook), you’ll be prompted to log into the platform of your choice. After logging in with your account,
XRecorder prompts you with the options for your live stream. You’ll need to select a title, a description for the video, and choose between public, private, and unlisted (these choices may be different depending on the platform you’re using; we tested live streaming with YouTube, which does allow for unlisted and private streams). Assuming you’ve already set your stream preferences, hitting the start button will allow you to begin streaming to your audience. However, there are some preferences we should cover, as they’re different than what you’ll find in the standard recording options.
In the upper-left-hand corner, you’ll see three icons. We’ll cover all three in a moment, but for now, let’s focus entirely on the settings and stream options within XRecorder. These settings do not match the options you set for your recordings, so if this is your first stream, you’ll want to make sure you dive into the app. Unlike the recording settings, there are only a few settings to cover here, so we’ll quickly run down the list.
- Live resolution: Just as we set our recording resolution above, the live streaming resolution must also be changed in the app before you start recording. The default streaming resolution sets to 720p; if you wish, you can update this to 1080p or, if your device allows for this, 1440p. Just remember that the higher your live resolution, the faster your internet speeds will have to be to support that bump in quality.
- YouTube Channel: If you’re using Facebook or Twitch, this option will be different. You can change the account you have plugged into your device here, so instead of using one platform or account, you can choose to use another.
- Share live stream: This generates a link for your live stream to share with the platform of your choice. You can even copy the link to your clipboard for sending to friends and family through any application.
- News notification: This option gives you a notification while streaming online to display any new donations or subscriptions. Since you’re streaming live your phone’s display, your viewers will also be able to see these notifications. Any longtime Twitch users will know that showing new donations or subs is a big part of live streaming online. The two options below this, portrait and landscape, allow you to adjust where these notifications appear on your device.
- Subscription goal: This allows you to display the number of subscribers you aim to get within the app to your viewers. Another streaming mainstay, this allows your viewers to feel like they’re helping you meet a goal. Sub goals won’t show by default, but you can dive into your settings to enable and control where the sub-goal appears on your display, and what your sub-goal equals.
- Account: Your YouTube, Twitch, or Facebook email will appear here, along with the option to logout of XRecorder.
Once you have everything on your device setup and ready to stream, you can hit the “Start Streaming” button at the bottom of your display. If you haven’t already activated your account for live streaming (YouTube only), you’ll need to do so by logging into your account. After that, you can go live at any moment, broadcasting to the platform of your choice. Like we saw from the app’s video recordings, using XRecorder to stream your display to YouTube didn’t result in any watermarks on our video. In our test, things were smooth and easy to use, and our resulting video featured a solid if imperfect framerate. Video recording will produce better results than streaming, but both choices have their uses.
The $ icon allows you to enable live donations on your stream. XRecorder uses PayPal to pay out any donations made during mobile streams; you’ll have to enter your PayPal address before enabling this option. The good news, of course, is that XRecorder doesn’t charge any fees on top of these donations. PayPal will charge you the standard percentage fee for using their platform, but otherwise, every penny a viewer donates to you goes directly to your PayPal address.
The other icon, a red circle with V in the center, allows you to apply to be a partnered streamer. To become a partnered streamer with XRecorder, you’ll need to start streaming with XRecorder a lot (typically with gameplay) to build a fanbase and a reputation on the platform. Also, you’ll need to make sure your videos have a fixed frame rate and don’t experience network drop out, which means you’ll need a powerful device and a reliable internet connection. Finally, it’s worth noting that XRecorder will revoke partner privileges if your stream quality decreases, or you have harassment issues. Those privileges include a special icon on your streams in XRecorder, higher recommendation priority, and better placements within the app.
Recording video is simple on Android, but what makes XRecorder so good is the breadth of options, settings, and editing tools at your disposal to modify your videos after the fact. For most users, the tools we described above will be both easy enough for nearly anyone to use, while producing professional-looking content they can be proud to host online or show a friend. So, if you’re looking to get involved in the Let’s Play scene by playing some cool games on your phone or tablet, or you’re looking to record the funny Snap your friend just sent you to save forever, XRecorder is your best bet. It’s fast, completely free, and does a great job of recording your device’s display. The fantastic suite of editing software—and a brand-new live streaming tool—is just icing on an already delicious cake.