How to Screen Record on Android

Use a screen recorder for Android to share your smartphone display.

A Huawei Android phone

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images 

Recording your screen is a useful tool that's commonplace on most platforms you use. While Android users don't have a direct way to record exactly what's happening as it unfolds, there's a simple method they have access to; Google just doesn't make it obvious. Here's how to screen record on Android.

While this article only covers Android devices, you can also record your screen on other devices.

Why Should I Record My Android's Screen?

Screen recording is most popular among gamers; to show off their skills in different games, to create content for video reviews, to record how-to and walkthroughs, or to find jokes, gags, or glitches.

However, it has other uses as well. For example, if an app keeps causing an error, you can document the steps you take that trigger that problem. This is especially useful for unlikely or difficult glitches in apps, and can help repair staff fix your phones.

You can also use it to instruct others on using an app, or to show someone a new app and why it's helpful. It's a useful all-around tool, even if you use it only occasionally.

Before You Use Screen Capture on Android

Even a casual recording for a friend can be improved with some basic techniques and thinking ahead.

  • Find a quiet area: Record in a quiet area where you're unlikely to be interrupted. This will make your videos clearer and more interesting, and make them easier to hear.
  • Use Do Not Disturb: Set your phone to Do Not Disturb for the duration of your recording, to limit interruptions from notifications, texts, and calls.
  • Remember everything is recorded: Remember that if you're recording your screen, it will document all your actions and everything you say. Don't enter any undisguised passwords (or say your password out loud when typing it in).
  • Keep privacy in mind: When recording your screen, respect the privacy of others. Never access social media or other content that may violate other people's privacy. Never show somebody else's social media interactions, even if they are public, without their explicit consent.
  • Use a mount and good lighting: If you're going to record your reactions through your phone as well, possibly in a separate window, mount your phone so you don't shake it. You should also try to keep your face well-lit so your reactions are visible.
  • Articulation: For tutorials or instructions, write them out beforehand and clearly articulate everything you're doing as you're doing it. Remember, they can't see your fingers!
  • Considering editing: Edit your video so it's more concise and free of unnecessary details. Even trimming the unimportant parts at the beginning or ending will make for a better viewing experience.

How to Screen Record on Android With Google Play Games

As of this writing, Google only has one official screen recording app, and it's a function in the Google Play Games app available in Android 5.0 and higher. Despite the name, it's not limited to video games or gameplay; you can use it to record your screen regardless of what you're doing, but you have to start a video game to use the function.

  1. Download both Google Play Games and the YouTube app. If you don't have a video game, you should also download one.

    This function will not work with games marked Built-In Google Game.

  2. Choose the game you want to record. Be sure to tap the app's icon, instead of Play.

  3. At the top of the screen, tap the camera icon.

  4. Choose your video settings, then tap Next.

    App icon, camera icon, Next button in Android

    Note the allotted time available to record video. Just like a tape in a camera, it'll stop recording once you run out.

  5. You'll see a video menu open in the corner, with your face in a little bubble. The video will include your face in the corner to document reactions, and will also include any audio. To shut off the microphone or front-facing camera, tap either the Microphone or Camera icon to disable them.

  6. Tap the Record icon to record video, and a three-second countdown will start. A small red circle will be next to your face to tell you you're recording.

  7. Once the countdown finishes, record your content. You can exit the game normally and the screen will keep recording. When you're done, press the bubble in the corner to open the menu and press Stop.

  8. The video will be stored in your gallery. You can edit it either with a third-party video editing app, or in YouTube.

    Record button, Viewing options for recorded video on Android

Should I Use A Third-Party Screen Recording App?

Google Play Games will meet your basic needs, but as you keep recording, you may want higher resolution, live-streaming functionality, or other features. Third-party apps can add these features, but before you download, be sure to check the following:

  • Look at the app's permissions and what it wants to access. Ideally, the app is verified by Google Play Protect, and won't request access to features like your contacts.
  • Make sure the features you need are not behind a paywall. Some apps limit features until you buy them.
  • Ensure the apps don't require other apps to function. If they do, check to see if those apps are freely available.