How to Screen Record on a Laptop

Record a video of any activity on a laptop screen

What to Know

  • On a Windows laptop, select the Windows + G key to open the Xbox Game Bar and record activity in any open app.
  • On an Apple laptop, press Shift + Command + 5 to open the Screenshot Toolbar.
  • Or, on a Mac, open QuickTime Player from the Applications folder and select File > New Screen Recording.

This article will explain how to record the screen on a Windows-based laptop or any Mac notebook computer from the last several years.

How to Screen Record on a Windows Laptop

The steps below show you how to use the Game Bar for a quick screen recording on a Windows laptop. This feature is part of Windows 10 and applies to all popular laptop brands like Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.

Note:

The Xbox Game Bar can't record the desktop (without any open programs) or the File Explorer. The screen recording button is greyed out on these two interfaces. It will work on any other app on the desktop that has focus.

  1. Go to Settings > Gaming

  2. On the Xbox Game Bar screen, check if the toggle switch for recording game clips is enabled. 

    Xbox Game Bar screen in Windows Settings with recording toggle highlighted
  3. Exit Settings and open the app you want to screen record. 

  4. Press Windows key + G simultaneously to open the Game Bar overlap on top of the PC screen.

    Xbox Game Bar Overlay on Windows Screen
  5. Select the Capture icon to display the Capture widget on the side. 

    Xbox Game Bar open with Capture window and icon highlighted
  6. Select the microphone icon to allow the Game Bar to record sound or your narration. Keep it on mute for silent recordings.

    Mic icon on Xbox Game Bar highlighted
  7. Select the Start recording button (or press Win + Alt + R) to begin a screen recording.

    Start recording button highlighted on Xbox Game Bar
  8. A small Capture Status widget will open on the side to display the recording time elapsed and the Stop Recording button.

    Xbox Game Bar Recording Capture Status widget highlighted
  9. Select the Stop Recording button to stop the recording. Select the Game clip recorded notification if it appears to open the Gallery and view your capture. Alternatively, select Show all captures on the Capture window.

    Xbox Game Bar Captures Gallery with "Show all captures" highlighted
  10. The Gallery window displays the current recording and all the previously saved ones. Play the current recording or select an older saved one. Use the Pencil icon to rename your files if you want. To open the video file in the Captures folder within File Explorer, select the Open file location icon or Open in File Explorer icon. All video captures are saved as MP4 files. 

    Xbox Game Bar Gallery with sample videos, the pencil icon highlighted, and "Open file location" highlighted

Tip:

You can configure settings on the Xbox Game Bar and even take a screenshot. 

How to Screen Record on a Mac Laptop

Apple laptops don’t have the Xbox Game Bar, but they have two methods for recording screens that are convenient and better. 

  • The Screenshot toolbar
  • The QuickTime Player

The Screenshot toolbar is available in macOS Mojave or later. The QuickTime Player works with all macOS versions. 

Using the Screenshot Toolbar to Record Your Screen

Record the entire screen or a selected part of the screen with the Screenshot toolbar. 

  1. Press Shift + Command + 5 to open the Screenshot toolbar and a selection overlay on the screen. 

    Screenshot Toolbar
  2. Select Record Entire Screen to take a screen recording of the entire desktop or the Record Selected Portion button to record a smaller area. Before you press the Record Selected Portion button, drag the boundaries of the selection box to define an area of the screen to record. Alternatively, drag the selection box to anywhere else from within the four corners.

    Record Screen button on Screenshot Toolbar with "Record Selected Portion" highlighted
  3. Select Options to open a dropdown menu. Use the choices to set a different save location, record with the microphone turned on, and start the recording after a pre-defined interval. 

    Screenshot Toolbar Options with Options highlighted
  4. Select Record to begin the screen recording. Press the Esc key if you want to cancel the recording.

  5. Press the Stop button on the menu bar to stop the recording or use the Command + Control + Esc keyboard shortcut. 

    Mac Screenshot Toolbar Stop button
  6. A thumbnail of the video appears in the lower-right corner of the screen. The next actions depend on how you want to use the recording. 

    • Swipe the thumbnail to the right to save the recording. 
    • Click the thumbnail to open and play the recording. You can use the Trim button to trim the recording or select the Share button to share it.  
    • Drag the thumbnail to move the recording to any other document or location (like a chat window or the Trash).  
    • Control-click the thumbnail for more options from the right-click menu. 

Using the QuickTime Player to Record Your Screen

If you have macOS Mojave or earlier, use QuickTime Player to record your screen. In newer versions of macOS, selecting New Screen Recording from the QuickTime Player opens the Screenshot toolbar.

  1. Open QuickTime Player from the Applications folder. 

  2. Select File > New Screen Recording from the menu bar (or press Control + Command + N). 

    Quicktime Player on Mac with "New Screen Recording" highlighted
  3. The Screenshot Toolbar works exactly as described above. Record the entire screen or record a selected portion. Use the Options dropdown to change any setting before recording the screen. 

  4. Select the Stop button on the menu bar. QuickTime Player automatically opens the recording in the QuickTime Player and saves it as a MOV file in the default location (which you can change from Options). 

  5. Select Edit from the menu to perform simple edits. For example, select Trim to trim your screen recording.

    Quicktime Editing Menu with Trim highlighted
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