A keylogger can be either a piece of software or a hardware device that can capture the keystrokes typed on the computer’s keyboard. A software keylogger can be run in the background and not get noticed by average users. They’ll have to depend on security software like anti-keyloggers or antivirus packages to tell them that a keylogger is present on the system, or else they will have no idea that things they do on the computer are being monitored.
There are many legitimate uses for a keylogger such as monitoring your children, making sure that they stay safe on the Internet especially when chatting and making friends with strangers. Or maybe even monitoring an employee making sure that they do not copy or leak out any confidential files. However, it can also be used for illegal or unethical purposes such as stealing passwords, reading private data and etc.
There are many software keyloggers around, some are freeware while others require a paid license to use. Free keyloggers are often more limited in functionality and stealthiness. After testing several free keyloggers, we’ve picked what we thought were the best and sorted them into a top 10. In addition to keylogging and features, we’ve also taken into account the ability of the keylogger to hide itself from the average user to prevent detection or tampering. All programs were tested in Windows 10 64-bit.
10. Spyrix Free Keylogger
Spyrix Free Keylogger is the free version of the paid Spyrix Personal Monitor. It is able to capture keystrokes, clipboard text and take screenshots but advanced features like social network & IM capture, visited webpage logging, webcam snapshots, sound recording, and alerts are not available. Spyrix can be launched with either a hotkey (Ctrl+Alt+A) or run command (runkey) and can be protected with a password.
We used to think Spyrix had potential if its stealth capabilities could be improved. Sadly, it went in the other direction and stealthiness is now non existent. Desktop shortcut, Start menu entry, installed program entry, and a tray icon are all shown in the free version. The process is visible in Task Manager and the install folder is not hidden. A good free keylogger has been spoiled by the fact it’s so easy to identify and kill by average users. This is a useful option only if the abilities to conceal the keylogger are not important to you.
9. BlackBox Express
BlackBox Express is a security monitoring tool that can be used as a keylogger. The free version is from back in 2011 and is not for download on the official website but does work on the latest Windows 10. It works slightly different from the other tools because it can monitor 1 local PC and up to 200 remote PCs on the network. BlackBox Express can log keystrokes, web searches, ran programs, visited websites, email client programs, webmails, instant messaging chat programs, and capture screenshots.
You can exclude specific users from monitoring as well as adding alerts for keywords, websites and programs. BlackBox Express runs as a service and shows in Task Manager, on the desktop with a shortcut, in the Start Menu, in the installed programs list, and in Program Files. There’s no key combination shortcut so the only way to launch the program is from the shortcut or its executable in the program folder. Password protection is supported so at least other users can’t see the gathered logs.
KidLogger is an open source user activity monitoring tool. Other than just logging keystrokes and the clipboard, it can also record USB drive insertions, file/folder activity, microphone audio, browser history and take screenshots including from Skype videos. You’re also able to set keywords as an alert during capture. The log files can be viewed locally or from your KidLogger online account (not required). KidLogger can be installed on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Android, BlackBerry, and iOS.
It’s unfortunate that KidLogger is visible in Task Manager, the Start menu, the Program Files folder, and the installed programs list, a shortcut is optional on install. There’s no hotkey or run command to launch the program so you’ll need to start it from one of those options. KidLogger can be password protected but that’s not a great comfort as it’s quite easy for savvy users to find and kill the program. Like Spyrix Free Keylogger and BlackBox Express, KidLogger is a viable option if stealth is not a priority.
7. Real Free Keylogger
Real Free Keylogger is a simple no frills keylogger and was abandoned by its developer several years ago, the last update was to version 2.5 in 2014. After installation and during the initial launch, it will prompt you to set a password to protect the program so only you can access the settings and view the logs. You can set a different hotkey (default Ctrl+Alt+X) to launch the program when it is running in stealth mode.
The “Stealth Mode” button in the main window is a paid feature only although some measures are still taken to conceal the program. The program folder is set as system, there is no Start Menu entry, no installed programs entry, and no tray or desktop icons. A couple of processes do appear in Task Manager but they might blend in enough to possibly stop them being killed. Real Free Keylogger comes with a scheduler to automatically start logging and the log files can be exported as an HTML file.
6. Revealer Keylogger Free
Revealer Keylogger Free can record keystrokes, has multiple language support, has all/selected user startup settings, the ability to run with elevated privileges, hotkey support (default is Ctrl+Alt+F9), password protection and automatic log cleanup. Screenshot capture and automated delivery options are paid features only and disabled in this free version.
Although the options to hide the process, program files and startup entry are not available in the free version, Revealer Keylogger Free is not visible in the system tray, the Start Menu or the installed programs list. To uninstall, run the program, click on the Help icon at the top right, go to “Program end” and select Uninstall.