How to use the Windows 10 Xbox Game Bar: Game capture, screenshots, widgets, and more

The Windows 10 Game Bar is an underrated feature which allows you to easily screenshot, record, and stream directly from a game (or app) without the need for external software. Recently, the Game Bar got a fresh coat of paint, along with speed improvements and other new features. Here's what you need to know.

How to enable the Windows 10 Game Bar

First, make sure the Game Bar is actually enabled. It should be turned on by default, but here's how to find it.

  1. Open the Settings menu by clicking the cogwheel in the Start Menu.
  2. Select Gaming in the Settings Menu.
  3. Select Game Bar.

  1. Make sure it's set to On as pictured above.

In this menu, you can also customize and review the hotkeys available for the Game Bar. It's worth knowing where they are for future reference.

How to use the Windows 10 Xbox Game Bar in games (and apps)

The Game Bar in Windows 10 is enabled by pressing Windows Key + G or by pressing the Xbox button on a connected Xbox controller. Windows Key + G opens an overlay bar which gives you access to numerous functions and features. There are a few nuances to its use you need to be aware of.

  • It seems to work best while using games from the Windows 10 Microsoft Store. This is because these games are enabled to use the Game Bar by default.
  • It seems to work with all Win32 games as of the May 2019 update. If you find that you can't see the overlay, you can try running your game in windowed mode, or by using the Game Bar hotkeys (they should still work, you just won't be able to see the overlay).
  • You can actually use the Game Bar with any app from the Windows 10 Microsoft Store, as well as any Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, even if it's not a game. This can be handy for recording apps like Microsoft Edge, but it may not work with some older programs.
  • Enabling Game Bar (and Game DVR, which is the recording service) might impact the performance of your game or app.

What the Windows 10 Game Bar buttons actually do

Turning on the Game Bar should release your mouse cursor from the game. You can mouse over the individual controls to see what they do and see their hotkeys, but here's an overview from left to right.

  • The main Game Bar overlay in the top center lets you enable or disable different Game Bar modules.
  • The cogwheel at the top on the right grants access to additional settings.
  • The Broadcast & Capture module (on the left by default) gives quick access to capture controls.
  • The camera icon depicts the screenshot button.
  • The recording symbol with an arrow depicts clip capture. Hit this to record the previous thirty seconds of footage from your DVR buffer (or longer, configurable via the settings menu).
  • Hit the recording symbol to start a recording.
  • The mic symbol allows you to mute or enable your microphone while capturing.
  • The broadcast symbol lets you stream to a connected Mixer account.
  • The Show all captures button opens up the folder where your captures are stored.
  • Below these, the Audio section allows you to control the sound mix of various sound devices and apps active on your setup.
  • You also have Windows 10 performance modules, Xbox social and chat tabs, as well as Spotify controls.

Configuring Game DVR

When it comes to recording footage and taking screenshots with the Game Bar, there are a number of settings you can tweak to improve your experience. Here's a rundown of where to find them, and what you can fix.

  1. Open the Settings menu by clicking the cogwheel in the Start Menu.
  2. Select Gaming in the Settings Menu.
  3. Select Game DVR, as shown above.

Using the Game DVR settings menu, you can configure the following things:

  • You can change the location of stored captures.
  • Set the DVR to maintain background recording for capturing recent moments.
  • Change settings for when background recording should be maintained (on battery, off battery, etc.).
  • Change audio recording settings, such as mic levels.
  • Change video capture quality, including resolution and frame rate (set lower for better performance).
  • Enable or disable cursor capture in videos.

Settings via the Game Bar

When you're inside the Game Bar itself, you can access most of the settings from the overlays itself. To do this, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Game Bar inside a game by pressing Windows Key + G.
  2. Click on the Settings cogwheel.

From here, you can change most of the same settings that you can via the Windows 10 main settings menu, such as notifications, whether background recording is enabled or not, and whether to include microphone audio or not in the recordings, and so on.

More Game Bar features

If you want to disable the Game Bar to save resources, broadcast to Mixer, or use Game Mode, we have a bunch of resources tailored to that end below.

Additional resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!