Create exciting desktop movies with recordMyDesktop

Updated: May 5, 2009

recordMyDesktop is a simple, friendly movie recording software, which allows you to easily create high-quality, impressive animations of your desktop. It is rather similar to Xvidcap, which I used to create my Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon Compiz demo movies, approx. a year and a half ago, and Wink, a desktop presentation software that you can use to create Flash, PDF or even executable tutorials.

I've came across recordMyDesktop when I reviewed the superb Gnome edition of the recently released PCLinuxOS 2009.1 edition, which was included in the massive array of excellent multimedia programs. Seeing the great potential this extremely simple application offers, I decided to write a dedicated tutorial.


P.S. For those interested, we'll talk more about Xvidcap in a separate article.

Working with recordMyDesktop

Like most great programs, it is included in the repositories of most popular distros - I mean most, popular distros rather than most popular, distros. Anyhow ... When you launch the application, you have a single window to work in.


You can set the video and sound quality you want for your output files. Sound is optional, but you can also add audio casts to your movies, which allows you to create really rich tutorials, including a narrator's voice - or maybe add a music tune to accompany your demonstrations.


Select Window allows you to focus the software onto a single window rather than the entire desktop. You can also click Advanced to set the recording options. For example, you can choose whether to include windows decorations, how many frames per second the output movies should have, which display to use (if you have several), etc.


Basically that's it! Click on Record to start recording the video. The utility will keep a small icon in the system tray. When you're done, click on it to end the recording. Save the file. Depending on how you setup the application, the file will be saved somewhere on the local disk. The default location is the home folder.

Video folder

And here's the movie, playing in Totem:


If you're really interested in seeing what output files look like, you can download my sample recording and see for yourself. As always, do exercise caution and discretion when downloading files, including my innocent multimedia masterpieces.

recordmydesktop-out.ogv, 469KB


recordMyDesktop creates files only in non-proprietary formats, in this case .ogv. Windows users might be frightened by this alien extension, but the file will play most nicely in the superb VLC player. If you need to know more about popular multimedia players, please check the Audio tutorial in my Multimedia section.

VideoLAN (VLC) player:

VLC Linux

VLC Windows


recordMyDesktop is an excellent addition to your multimedia toolkit, even if you're a hobbyist multimedia user. But it does not have to be just a hobby. recordMyDesktop, alongside Wink and other, similar software can be powerful tools in the hands of a serious computer user.

Think about it: Your colleagues sweat hours creating mediocre PowerPoint presentations, while you knock everyone's socks off with stunning videos presenting the same idea in 1/10th the time and 1/100the the effort, with an infinitely greater appeal.

recordMyDesktop is ideally suited for demonstrations, especially of cool technologies like Compiz Fusion, video tutorials and class presentations. Best of all, it's as simple as it can get.

Have fun!