Sometimes, you might need to record what’s happening on your smartphone, whether you’re teaching your friends how to navigate a new app, sharing a bug with the folks at IT, or something completely different.
Fortunately, recording your screen on Android phones is really easy. We’re here to show you how.
Screen recording with Android’s screen recorder
That’s not just a reflexive subheader title; that’s actually what you’ll find this feature named on your Android device. Google built this ability into Android 11 back in 2020, and it’s been with the operating system since then, obviating the need to download and use a third-party app.
The specifics of the process will vary between devices and brands, but here’s what you need to look out for if you want to record a clip of your screen.
The quick setting tile
Android’s screen recorder feature exists as its own tile in the quick settings panel of the notification shade. If you don’t already have it in your active drawer, you may need to tap on the edit button, the pencil icon, or long-press the gear icon to pull up the full tiles listing. Look for the Screen recorder tile, then long-press and drag it up into your active drawer so that you can use the feature.
Once again, pull down your notification shade and tap on the Screen recorder quick settings tile. You may see a pop-up or caution prompt that you’ll need to confirm.
By default, you’ll see a three-second countdown timer run down before the recording begins. You may see an on-screen recording indicator showing you the time elapsed. Tapping on it may expand the interface into a toolbar with settings that you can change on the fly. It may also allow you to pause or stop the recording altogether. The indicator is usually not seen in the final recorded clip.
Regardless of whether your device has a recording indicator, it will most certainly have a persistent notification letting you know that the system is recording your screen. You can pause and/or stop the record from there.
Once the video has processed, another notification will appear. You may have the option to delete the clip immediately (in case you made a flub), edit the clip with another app, or share it on a platform you choose.
You can change how your screen recorder behaves from within the system settings. The easiest way to access feature-specific toggles is by querying “Screen recorder” with the search bar at the top of the settings menu. Once again, different manufacturers will offer different levels of customizability. Still, the most common parameters you’ll be able to adjust are resolution, frame rate, quality or bit rate, storage location, audio sourcing (you’re able to use system audio, the on-device microphones, or a connected audio accessory), and pre-record countdown length (if you even choose to keep it on in the first place). You may also be able to prevent notifications from appearing while you’re recording.
A note on what you can (and should) record
Android has a set of restrictions that your system or an application can utilize to prevent content from being captured in a screen recording. This can include DRM-protected video, passwords or authentication codes in a manager app, and other personally identifiable or protected data. Your screen recorder won’t stop recording when it comes across these situations – the screen will just be blacked out. You should, however, be mindful of any sensitive information you may have on recordable surfaces, including your communication apps and places like your calendar.
How to record your gameplay on your Android phone
If you’re an avid mobile gamer, you might also want to record footage of your gameplay while using your phone. Google Play Games allows you to record what you do in some games. This feature won’t work with everything, but if Google Play Games pops up your player rank upon booting up a game, you should be able to use the feature.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Launch the downloaded game.
- Swipe down from the top of the screen, and you should see a controller icon
- Tap that icon, and you’ll be taken to a settings menu specific to Google Play Games.
- From there, press the record icon to start capturing. You also have the option to livestream straight to your YouTube channel.
Once you’re done, you can then save and share the recording or edit it and upload it to your favorite social media platform.
Screen record with a third-party app instead
If you have an older Android device without screen recording baked in, you can still rely on third-party apps from the Google Play Store, as we’ve mentioned above. These include apps like AZ Recorder, Mobizen Screen Recorder, and Super Screen Recorder. They offer much of the same settings as Android’s screen recorder, but you may need to deal with ads or a paywall to access more advanced features.
Screen record from your computer with SCRCPY
Short for “screen copy,” SCRCPY is an open-source tool for Linux, macOS, and Windows that not only mirrors the contents of your Android device’s screen to your computer but also lets you interact with the device, too. And, of course, you can record the screen and save a clip right on your desktop or laptop machine. It does take a little bit of geeky know-how to set things up, but it shouldn’t be much hassle to use on an ongoing basis, and you’ll be able to take advantage of a more versatile tool in SCRCPY.
If you don’t have ADB set up and ready to go, we recommend following some helpful guides from our sister sites, Android Police and XDA-Developers. Once that’s up and running and you’ve got your Android and desktop devices connected, download SCRCPY for your OS from GitHub. You should see your Android device’s screen on your monitor when you run the program. Your mouse and keyboard should be able to interact with it, too. All you need to do is issue record commands as detailed in SCRCPY’s documentation. With this method, You can record MP4 and MKV files right on your computer.