Screen Recording on Android devices

Screen recording on devices have never been an easy feat to accomplish. You’d think screen recording on an Android device would be incredibly easy, but unfortunately it’s something that requires a lot of permissions or steps. Like iOS you will also need to jailbreak your device, but the limitations are not as heavy on it, as opposed to Android.

With Root access you can accomplish this fairly quickly and easily, but without Root Access, I’m afraid you’re going to have to resort to using an ADB Command Line to access screen recording capabilities. We’ll cover both methods of capturing screen footage with Root access and without Root access. The rooted method is incredibly simple, so we’ll get that out of the way first.

Root MethodWith Rec. you acn record what happens on your phones screen

Assuming your device is rooted, head over to the Google Play Store or go here to download a third party app called Rec. (Screen Recorder). There are a lot of other third party root apps that perform screen recordings like Rec. but Rec just looks nicer, with a material design update as well, very user friendly. This app does require root permissions, so make sure your device is rooted, if it’s not, then skip this method and refer to the next method. If you are running Android 4.4 KitKat, Rec. requires you to have Root permissions, but a word of good news to Android 5.0 Lollipop users, Rec. will work perfectly on Android 5.0 without the need for Root access.

Video duration settings on Rec.

The app is free to download, but there is a pro version that offers a lot more features like untethered recording. You can also configure recording settings, like bitrate, screen resolution, file directories, and start/stop recording gestures. The app can mix audio captured with the microphone, but does not capture internal audio from the device itself. Official support for many other custom Roms or android versions isn’t confirmed, but it’s reported that Rec. works perfectly on some Custom Roms (probably popular custom Roms with stock Google look like Cyanogenmod, Paranoid Android). If Rec. is used on other unofficially supported Roms and unsupported Android versions, there may be some bugs, so report bugs to the developer to further the development of the app.

Method #2: No Root Required

This method does not require Root Access, so those Root beginner users who are afraid of messing up their device will not have to fear. This method requires you to have your computer and device configured properly with proper drivers installed for ADB (Android Debugging Interface) in order for this to work. I have covered how to properly enable ADB Debugging in the last article, “How to Downgrade Android Firmware or Version,” so go check that out and enable ADB and have it all set up, I will not be covering the how to in this part. Plug in your device to your computer through the standard micro USB cable.

Once you have ADB Debugging working for you, head over to the platform-tools folder from the Android SDK, for your device respectively. Press Shift+Right Click, and select open command window here. Type in the command “adb devices” without the quotation marks, just to confirm if your device is being properly detected by ADB or not. If it isn’t you may have to reinstall Google USB drivers, or allow access to your computer’s RSA key through the notification prompt. If your device’s serial number appears, and the word device appears beside it, that means your device is being properly recognized by the ADB Interface. Next, enter the command “adb shell screenrecord /sdcard(name of video file)” and hit enter. Pretty much just enter the command “adb shell screenrecord” and add the directory of your device’s storage you want.

Image source :

Image source :

Once you have typed in the command, it should look something like this example (adb shell screenrecord /sdcard/test_recording.mp4). The moment you hit enter, your device will automatically start recording your screen. There is a 3 minute limit with adb recording, but you could resort to using a camera and physically record your device with an external camera if you find that you have no other choice.

If you want to stop the recording, you will have to press ctrl+C inside the adb console window. The recording will be the device’s default resolution, and you will not have audio recorded, like the Root method. You could go into your device and play around with developer options to further enhance your recording experience, like show pointer touches, or window transition animation speeds, etc.

To find the video you just recorded. Head over to your computer, and open the device’s internal memory, and navigate to the directory you entered in the ADB Console. If you need help, or just want to explore the command options inside the ADB Console, enter this command “adb shell screenrecord –help”, and the console will display a list of options and rules within the command window.

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About Kenny Leung
Kenny currently lives in Buffalo, NY. Where he studies computer networking & programming. He has owned a number of Android phones including the Galaxy s3, Galaxy 3 mini, Galaxy s4 mini, LG optimus 3D, and the Oneplus one which he is currently using. Kenny will likely get the Oneplus two once it is released.

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