XDA Basics: How to record your screen in Windows 11

XDA Basics: How to record your screen in Windows 11

Screen recording has become fairly standard functionality on a lot of operating systems. Android and iOS both let you do it natively, but Windows still doesn’t make it as easy. With Windows 11 coming up and already available in preview, we hope for that to change. However, it hasn’t happened yet but thankfully, you can download a variety of apps to help you with this. In this guide, we’ll show you how to record your screen in Windows 11.

While Windows 11 doesn’t offer a way to record your entire screen, you can record specific apps individually out of the box. That’s thanks to the Xbox game bar, and we’re going to start there. If you do want to record your whole screen though, we’ll help with that, too.

Recording apps and games with Xbox game bar in Windows 11

If you just want to record a number of steps in a specific app or show off something you did in a game, that functionality is built right into the Xbox game bar. Despite its name, it’s a lot more than a bar, and you can bring it up at any time by pressing the Windows key + G. Here’s how to record your apps and games with this method.

  • Open the app or game you want to record. Full-screen games are supported, but the Windows desktop and File Explorer aren’t.
  • Press Windows key + G. The default Xbox game bar interface will look something like this. Capture tools are in the upper right corner. If the capture tools aren’t visible, you can click the Capture button in the top bar (it looks like a webcam).
  • You can take a simple screenshot or record a video. There’s also a button to enable microphone audio in the recording, if you want to speak during the video.

Xbox game bar overlay in Windows 11 with Capture window highlighted

  • Click the Start recording button (the circle inside a circle). The Xbox Game Bar interface will be dismissed, and the recording will start. You can stop recording or turn the microphone on or off with the small bar that shows up.

Xbox game bar recording an app and showing quick controls for stopping the recording

  • When you stop recording, a pop-up will notify you the video has been recorded and you can click it to view the video in the Xbox game bar. You can open the file’s location from here too, so you can send the video to anyone you want.
  • You can always press Windows + G to bring up the Xbox game bar again. To view your gallery, click the widgets button on the left edge of the bar at the top, then click Gallery. This will let you view all your recordings and screenshots.

Gallery in Xbox game bar in Windows 11

  • If you want to start a recording without opening the Xbox game bar every time, you can press Windows key + Alt + R. This will start a recording right away, and you can use the same combination to stop the recording.

Recording gameplay automatically

In some games, it’s hard to know when you’re going to pull off a cool move or run into a memorable moment. Because of that, the Xbox game bar also gives you the option to record gameplay automatically, so you can save the last 30 seconds at any time. You’ll have to enable this though, and here’s how.

  • Open the Xbox game bar.
  • Click the settings icon (the gear icon) in the bar at the top of your screen.
  • Choose the Capturing section of the settings window, and enable the option that reads Record in the background while I’m playing a game.

Enabling automatic gameplay recordings in Xbox game bar

  • Windows will automatically identify games and begin recording automatically for them. If you want to enable this feature for other apps, enable the checkbox that reads Remember this is a game in the General section of the Xbox game bar settings. This is done on an app-by-app basis.
  • Whenever you want to save a moment that just happened, bring up the game bar and click the Record last 30 seconds button. You can also press Windows key + Alt + G to do this more quickly.

Button to record last 30 seconds in Xbox game bar

Change your recording settings

If you want to tweak some of the recording settings for the Xbox game bar, you can do it in the Windows 11 Settings app. These settings include the video recording quality, duration, and more. Here’s how it works:

  • Open the Settings app, then head into the Gaming section and click Captures.
  • You’ll see this page with a variety of options. Here’s what these settings do.

Windows 11 game capture settings

  • Record what happened – This disables the automatic recording of gameplay. However, you can click this option (except the toggle itself) to see a few more options. You can set how long automatic recordings should be (up to 10 minutes), and configure some settings based on whether your laptop is plugged in or if you’re using wireless displays.

Recording settings for automatic video recordings in Windows 11

  • Max recording length – Changes the maximum duration for recordings you start manually (up to 4 hours).
  • Capture audio when recording a game – This is fairly straightforward, but if you click this area, you can see more settings. You can choose whether to mute the background system and app sounds while recording, adjust the audio recording quality, and change the volume of your microphone audio and system audio individually.

Audio recording settings in Windows 11

  • Video frame rate – You can choose between recording videos at 30fps or 60fps. A higher frame rate requires more resources, so it can affect performance.
  • Video quality  – Choose whether to record video with standard quality or high quality. This may affect overall performance while recording.

Record any part of your screen in Windows 11

If you don’t want to record a specific app or game, but instead you want to record the whole screen in Windows 11, you’re going to need a third-party app. There are lots of options out there for this kind of thing, so choosing one can be difficult.

A personal favorite of mine is Screenbits, but that’s a paid app unless you find it on sale. We’re going with ShareX, which is a popular free tool for screen captures and recording. This is a very advanced program with a lot of options, so we’re going to stick to the very basics to record your screen.

  • First off, you’ll want to download and install ShareX from the official website.
  • When it’s installed, run the app. You’ll see a list of hotkey shortcuts to start recording in Share, along with a lot of menu options. Take note that screen recording can be started by pressing Shift + Print Screen (it should be PrtSc on your keyboard).

ShareX landing page

  • You might get a warning because some of the default hotkeys for the app overlap with system shortcuts. If you want to change your hotkey shortcuts, you can click Hotkey settings… in the side menu. Hotkeys that conflict with system shortcuts will have a red square next to them. Screen recording shouldn’t be affected, so you don’t need to worry about this unless you want to.
  • You can close the ShareX window and it’ll be minimized to the notification area in the bottom right corner of the taskbar.
  • You can press the hotkey for screen recording (Shift + Print Screen by default) to start recording at any time.
  • ShareX will ask you to choose a recording area. You can click any window to record that window, or if you’re on your desktop, you can click the background to record the entire screen. You can also draw a custom area to record a specific part of the screen. If you want to record the entire screen while an app is open, you’ll also need to manually select the entire area.

Screen region selector in ShareX

  • You can finish a recording by clicking the red circle that shows up in your taskbar, or pressing your recording hotkey again.
  • A pop-up will appear so you can view your recorded video in your default video player. Videos are automatically saved in a dedicated ShareX folder in your Documents library by default. They save with randomly generated names, so you’ll want to sort by date to make things easier to find.

Change ShareX screen recording settings (and add audio recording)

If you want to change settings like the frame rate of the video recording or if you want to record audio along with the video, you’ll need to head into the app’s settings. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Open ShareX from the Start menu or desktop icon. You can also right-click the notification area icon and choose Open main window.
  • Click Task settings…in the side menu, then choose Screen recorder in the menu of the new window that shows up.
  • Here, you can customize the framerate of your video, set a delay for when recording starts, or a fixed duration for screen recordings. To enable audio recording, click Screen recording options at the top.

ShareX screen recorder task settings

  • In the Sources section, you can choose what sources to record video and audio from. By default, the only audio source available is your microphone, if you have one. To record system audio from your PC, you’ll need to click Install recorder devices. This option won’t be available if you installed ShareX from the Microsoft Store.

ShareX scren recording options with Install recorder devices highlighted

  • Follow the installation process as normal, and you’ll see your sources change for both video and audio. The video source will be screen-capture-recorder and the audio source will be virtual-audio-capturer. This will enable recording system sounds, and you’ll need to change it back to your microphone if you want to record microphone audio instead. You can’t do both at the same time, unfortunately.

ShareX default video and audio sources after isntalling recorder devices

  • Close all the open windows, and you can now record your screen with system audio included.

These are the essential steps for recording your screen in Windows 11. With tools like ShareX, there’s a lot more you can do, but we’ll leave that up to you if you want to dive deeper into all the capabilities it offers. We mostly chose it for this guide because it’s a free tool that isn’t loaded with advertisements and restrictions forcing you to pay up. It’s surprisingly hard to find a fully-featured screen recorder that fits that bill. Hopefully, Microsoft will eventually add a proper screen recording tool to the OS itself.

Windows 11 will start showing up on laptops this holiday season, so there’s still time for Microsoft to add features like that. If you’re looking for a laptop to upgrade to in order to prepare, we have a roundup of the best 15-inch laptops you can buy right now. Those will also support Windows 11.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Writer at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.