A keylogger is a form of software which is used to track or log the all the keys that a user strikes on their keyboard, usually in secret so that the user doesn’t know that their actions are being monitored. Keylogger is short for keystroke logger and is otherwise known as a keyboard capturer. Keyloggers capture everything the user types — personal messages, passwords, credit card numbers etc. The data is then retrieved by the user operating said keylogger software. They are very difficult to detect as they run incognito like a background program on a computer, meaning that users aren’t aware of their presence.
Software-based keyloggers aren’t the only version available. Keyloggers also come in a hardware format, but these are less popular due to their visibility. They have to be physically connected to the computer, often through the USB port, meaning that they are easily detected and removed by users.
Are Keyloggers Legal?
Keyloggers are perfectly legal and useful. They can be installed by employers to oversee the use of their computers, meaning that the employees have to complete their tasks instead of procrastinating on social media. They are also used by parents who want to make sure that their children are staying safe on the internet, a legitimate concern since there are many predators online. Besides that, they can be used to study human-computer interaction.
If you are a parent who’s worried about their children’s safety online or an employer wanting to make sure that their employees are completing all their tasks and not leaking confidential information, then you’ve come to the right place. I have tested several free keyloggers available on the market today and figured out that Spyrix Free Keylogger and KidInspector are the top software in this category. Keep on reading for a comprehensive review of 10 of the best keyloggers available to download free of charge and, hopefully, you will find the right one that best fits your needs.
#10 Sourceforge Keylogger
Sourceforge is a simple keylogger written in python, a widely-used high-level programming language for general-purpose programming and with a design philosophy that emphasizes code readability. Originally designed for backup operations, Sourceforge has evolved over the years through numerous updates, the most important one being stealth mode. Because it can carry out numerous stealth operations without being noticed, it has become one of the popular choices for keylogging, although for an average user it is not easy to work with.
#9 DanuSoft Free Keylogger
DanuSoft has become a very popular keylogger thanks to its user-friendly simplicity. There is only one way to hide and unhide the keylogger, and that is by simply typing a chosen keyword. The default keyword for hiding the software is ‘’HIDEKEY’’, and the default keyword for showing it is ‘’SHOWKEY’’. DanuSoft can also run in stealth mode as soon as the system starts up. This can be achieved by clicking on ‘’Startup settings’’. Password protection, unfortunately, isn’t offered, and although it runs as invisible in Windows, it can be detected in the Task Manager as well as the Explorer. Even though it doesn’t boast as many extra features as its counterparts, its simplicity makes it popular those concerned parents who aren’t interested in or good at technology. It’s worth mentioning that it can no longer be found on DanuSoft’s official website, but can still be downloaded from CNET, so it may not suit people who prefer downloading programs from their official websites.
#8 BlackBox Express
BlackBox Express is a free security monitoring software, meaning that it can be used as a keylogger as well. It doesn’t work in the exact same way as other keyloggers as it monitors one local C and up to 200 remote computers on the same network. Certain users can be excluded from monitoring. Log files are created for keystrokes, instant messaging chat conversations, search and browser history, ran programs, webmails, and email client programs, as well as capturing screenshots. BlackBox Express also offers alert notification and remote monitoring via HTML, email, and printing. It is hidden by default and doesn’t show up in the Taskbar nor the notification area, but can still be found in the Task Manager. It can be launched by running the executable file from the unhidden program folder, and hotkey launching is another supported feature. Password protection is available as well. Although free download is available, BlackBox requires potential users to register for a free account before downloading the software, which may put some people off, especially if they’re trying to be as secretive as possible with their monitoring activities and don’t want anything traced back to them. However, BlackBox Express does not support Windows 10, so if that’s your operating system, this keylogger isn’t for you.
#7 Real Free Keylogger
After completing the installation, Real Free requires users to choose a password before running it for the first time, meaning that a password is always required to access all the log files and to change any settings. Stealth mode is available, during which the program is launched via hotkey (default hotkey Ctrl+Alt+X). It offers scheduled log recording, with the log files able to be exported as HTML files. The program folder is set as system attribute, and can only be made visible after opening Folder Options and unchecking ‘’Hide protected operating system files’’. These features make it quite a secure keylogger that isn’t all that easy to detect. However, this keylogger has its disadvantages — the free version doesn’t offer features such as email notifications and screenshots, which are considered basic features and many other free keyloggers offer them. Another feature missing is logging IP addresses.
#6 Ardamax Keylogger
Ardamax is a small and user-friendly keylogger which saves all captured activity to a log file which can then be viewed as a text or as a web page. The official website boasts that it is the #1 Monitoring software available on the Internet, but of course, every official website is going to claim that about its own software, and not all of them can be right! Its keystroke logging records all typed keystrokes, hidden characters, and passwords. Log files are created for websites visited on multiple browsers. Chat monitoring is another offered feature, meaning that all messages sent and received via various chat programs are monitored and recorded. Screenshots are periodically taken and then stored in a compressed format to the log files. Compression is also available for microphone recording, as well as Webcam activity. In addition to all of this, Ardamax offers remote monitoring via email, meaning that recorded logs are periodically sent to the designated email address. It is compatible with all available versions of Windows, meaning that it is always up-to-date. There is a downside, though — the logs aren’t all that easy to read. So although it may not be the #1 Monitoring software available online as its official website claims, it’s still a pretty good keylogger worth downloading.
#5 Revealer Keylogger Free
Revealer Keylogger may not have remarkable features, but it’s a quite good and user-friendly software that offers enough to satisfy many parents’ and employers’ monitoring needs. Its keystroke features record text, passwords, and conversations. It can monitor conversations over Facebook and various applications such as Skype and MSN. Password protection is offered to prevent others from opening it, and it doesn’t show up in either the Add/Remove Programs or the Taskbar. Extra security is provided through automatic log clean-ups. It also doesn’t slow down the computer which is often a tell-tale sign that someone has installed a keylogger on your computer. Since it’s the second-most popular keylogging software on CNET, it proves that many users are perfectly satisfied with what it has to offer, but the fact that it’s easy to use is probably why it’s more popular than other keyloggers with better features, but less user-friendly interfaces.
REFOG’s free version can only offer the most basic features, but it does have a user-friendly interface. Even its installation process is quite easy. It records everything typed in every single window, passwords included. It takes regular screenshots of what’s on the screen, in addition to creating logs of chat messages, browser history, launched programs and games, voice conversations, and logon and logoff events. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer remote reporting via email and isn’t completely invisible on the computer, as a noticeable tray icon can be found in the notification area. However, it at least offers password protection, which is something that many other free keyloggers don’t offer, and its decent amount of features and simplicity still make it a good keylogging software.
Actual Keylogger is one of the oldest keyloggers but still remains popular due to its good reputation that it has enjoyed over the years. It cannot be found in the Add/Remove Programs, Explorer or Task Manager, making it virtually undetectable, which is probably the most important feature for a good keylogging software. It shows which programs are run or closed, which websites have been visited, and also records all print, clipboard and screenshot activity. All log files can be password protected. It can be accessed by hotkey (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+F7) and run command (akstart). The only downside is that its later versions are actually shareware with the program itself renamed to Actual Spy. However, the last freeware version (2.4), which was released in 2006, is still available for download on CNET and works perfectly on all newer versions of Windows.
Kidinspector is, as the name suggests, designed for parental monitoring of children’s activity on smart devices and computers, but it can be used by anyone wanting to monitor someone’s online activity. KidInspector is a young brand starting out as a classic keylogger and acquiring quite a number of amazing features, such as making screenshots of active windows, capturing visited websites and search queries, saving chats in most popular social networks and messengers, live broadcast of the screen and webcam, voice and video recording and a lot more. KidInspector also offers several features to help control the Internet usage. You can block unwanted websites by category, a keyword or a URL. All log files are uploaded to your KidInspector online account and can be viewed anytime from anywhere. KidInspector is available for Android/iOS and MacOS/Windows thus tackling all the main issues concerning the child’s activity on any smart device or a computer.
Spyrix allows the recording and monitoring of every single keystroke. Though there is a premium version available, the free version offers so many features that it has proven itself very useful. It is the only software on this list that includes full remote cloud monitoring for free. This feature allows you to monitor the activity remotely from anywhere in the world, there is no need to download the files to your PC, you just have to log into your account, it’s that simple! Besides recording every single keystroke, it captures screenshots of all active windows. This means that whenever you change a window, e.g. from your browser to any other program, a screenshot is taken; this way no activity ever goes unrecorded or unnoticed, and you can see all visited websites, all chats, and all social media activity. These screenshots can then be viewed on a secure web account that is part of the cloud monitoring. It can also make and send reports of programs that are running. These features make it clear that its recording capabilities are the best ones among free keylogging software. Spyrix offers password protection. In fact, it is so well hidden that it is undetectable to virus software. This makes it perfect for not only parental control but also employee monitoring. It has a user-friendly interface and installation is quick and easy, so you don’t need to be tech-savvy to use this software. If you have never used a keylogger before, Spyrix is an excellent one to start out with, especially if you need simple parental monitoring or are just looking to try out such monitoring software.