[Tutorial] Use VLC to record your desktop

VLC Record Desktop

If there is one thing VLC is known for, it is the ability to play almost any multimedia file type right out of the box. The versatility of the media player may well be famous but VLC also has a ton of other features that you might not expect. And while it is unlikely that a media player will be your first choice for a screen recording application, VLC can do that too.

Record your desktop with VLC

An important thing to note before we go any further is that VLC is not exactly built for this purpose. If you attempt to record intensive tasks, there is a pretty good chance that the app will not be able to handle it. Furthermore, visual glitches are likely to make an appearance with the wrong settings so you might have to tinker a bit before finding the right configuration for your PC.

  1. Before you do anything else, resize VLC to a small window, click on the “View” tab and enable the Advanced Controls. This will help us further on but you can skip this step if you want.
  2. Go to Media > Open Capture Device.
  3. In the window that opens, select “Desktop” from the dropdown menu at the top.
    VLC Capture Device Desktop
  4. Set the “Desired frame rate for the capture” to at least 10. More frames per second means a more powerful PC so feel free to experiment with the option later.
  5. While VLC cannot record any audio with this method, it does allow you to add an external audio file that you can sync with your video. To do that, check the “Show more options” box and then check the “Play another media synchronously” box. Finally, select the audio file via the Browse” button and it will be added to the capture.
    VLC Open External Media
  6. Once you are done with all that, open the dropdown menu at the bottom of the window and select the “Convert” option instead of the “Play” one.
  7. Another window will automatically open. Look for the “Profile” section and click on the rightmost button in order to “Create a new profile”.
    VLC Convert Window
  8. In the second window that opens, choose a name for your profile and select one of the options below. I would recommend the “MP4/MOV” option but you are free to choose something else.
    VLC Profile Edition
  9. Before closing this window, head to the “Video codec” tab. Choose “H-264” from the Codec dropdown menu and make sure that the “Video” box at the top is checked. After configuring these settings, click on the Create button to go back to the Convert window.
    VLC Profile Edition Video Codec
  10. Click on the “Browse” button and choose a location to save the recording. You will have to enter a file name at this point before you can continue.
  11. Now that you have configured the final option, click on the “Start” button and VLC will start recording your desktop. You can easily check the recording status by opening the VLC window as the advanced controls we enabled in Step 1 include a record button.
  12. To pause the recording, click on the “Play/Pause” button. To finish it, click on the “Stop” button instead. This works exactly like it would for any other multimedia file.
  13. After you finish the recording, head over to the folder you specified before and you will find an MP4 file with your desktop in it.

More VLC tricks

If you are interested in learning about more things you can do with VLC, take a look at our guides below:

  • Getting the most out of VLC Media Player
  • Set a video as wallpaper
  • Convert your videos
  • Play YouTube videos and playlists