Your smartphone is already a camera, audio recorder and gaming device, but you can also use it to record whatever it is you’re doing onscreen.
This is a feature that has slowly become easier to do amidst the litany of tasks you can manage on your phone. Why would you want to record your screen? There are a number of reasons. One could be showing a friend or family member how to do something on their phone, be it tech support or something interesting on a new app.
Another might be to include clips as part of videos you post on social media or video-sharing sites, like YouTube. Whether you want to help demystify something for viewers, or add it as part of something you’re reviewing, it’s a nifty way to pass on information.
And it’s getting easier to do. Here’s how, for both iOS and Android.
Screen recording on your iPhone
Apple included a screen recording feature when it released iOS 11 last fall. You can find it by swiping down the Control Center, though you may need to add it as a button there first.
To do so, go to Settings>Control Center>Customize Controls. Here, you have the option to add shortcuts to the Control Center menu. Tap the + icon next to Screen Recording and it will fall under the “Include” list.
With that done, you will now see the Screen Recording icon on your Control Center menu, indicated by a circle with a dot in the middle. Tapping that kicks off a three-second countdown until the video recording actually starts. You will know it’s working by a red line at the top of the screen. Tap that whenever you want to end the recording.
The finished clip immediately saves to your Camera Roll. Note that videos will record in portrait or landscape, depending on how you’re holding the phone. The accelerometer just works naturally, so you don’t have to select an orientation ahead of time.
Bear in mind, also, that the red line at the top does appear in the recorded clip, and there’s no way to turn that off. If you want to get away from that, read on for the alternative method.
Screen recording on older iOS versions
If, for whatever reason, you’ve held off from upgrading to iOS 11, you can still record your screen. You just have to do it a different way. This process will also apply if you are running iOS 11 but want to keep that red strip at the top away from your clip.
To do this, you will need a Mac. Unfortunately, this method no longer works on Windows PCs because Apple no longer supports Quicktime on that operating system.
Plug in your iPhone and open Quicktime on your Mac (it’s pre-installed on your Mac). Go to File and select New Movie Recording. A window will pop up. Look for the arrow pointing down (next to the red record button), and click that for a drop-down menu where you will select your iPhone.
You should now see your phone’s screen appear. If you want, you can also switch the microphone settings. Click the same arrow for the menu and look for the microphone options. Here, you will have the choice to record sound from your iPhone, your computer’s microphone or an external mic plugged into your computer.
This is great for whatever you’re looking to do. If you’re recording footage of a game or multimedia app and need the phone’s sound, you will get that. If you want to do a voiceover, you have that option too.
You can even choose between High or Maximum image quality. Totally up to you on what you prefer. The accelerometer will determine what orientation the video appears in. Hold your phone upright for portrait or sideways for landscape. If you’re going to lock the orientation, you will have to do it on the phone first.
When you’re done, hit the stop button on Quicktime, and that’s it. Save the file on your computer. To move it to your phone, use AirDrop on your Mac for the quickest transfer.
One last thing: you may notice that the time is always 9:41 A.M. Why? Because Apple always uses that time in its ads. In the past, Apple tried to time its biggest product unveiling at 40 minutes after a keynote started. It’s changed since then, but alas, the timestamp remains.
Oh, and before I forget, these screen recording methods will also work with the iPad.
Screen recording on your Android phone
For Android, the options are more varied, but unfortunately, there isn’t one built-in to the operating system yet. Getting this to work isn’t especially difficult. It just depends on which route you want to take.
One option is to use a third-party app you can download from Google Play. Searching for a screen recording app will produce a laundry list of results. Which one is best? I personally have used Mobizen, AZ Screen Recorder and Vysor, but there are plenty of others.
What I like about Mobizen, in particular, is that it is free to use, and it presents you with options in how you want to record. They could include screen resolution, whether taps should be visible and if sound should be muted or not, among others. It also works on any Android device after version 5.0 Lollipop. So, whether you have a Samsung, LG, Motorola, Asus, or any other model, you should be fine.
Another alternative is to do it through a computer. This method applies to both Mac and PC.
You will need to download and install a program called AndroidTool, which is free. On your phone, go to Settings>About phone>Build number and tap it seven times. A pop-up message will show that “Developer Options” are now on. Go back out, tap Developer Options and slide USB Debugging to on.
After launching AndroidTool, plug in your phone to your computer and it should recognize it instantly. Note that devices running on Android 8.0 Oreo or later may not appear so easily. I’ll get to an alternative on that right after this.
With AndroidTool seeing your phone, you can go to AndroidTool>Preferences>Quality to move the sliders and do things like adjusting image quality. From there, you can just click the red recording button and start a video. When finished, click the stop button. Your finished clip will save to an AndroidTool folder on your computer.
Vysor will work with almost any version of Android, and is pretty robust. Not all features are free, mind you, but you can try it for free. You just have to pay to remove watermarks and get all the features.
An extra benefit in using Vysor is that you can also control your phone from your computer. It’s a cool way to type messages faster or just use apps on the phone while doing something else on a computer application.