Firstly, it’s a great way to create software tutorials that you can share with others. There are thousands of them on Youtube to date already, and companies use them to display clear instructions for their own products, as well as putting them to use for marketing purposes.
Screencasting is also useful if you’re having PC issues and need tech support – by recording your screen as you step through a problem, you can show the techie exactly what goes wrong where, and you’ll give them the best chance of helping you resolve the issue.
Here are some of the best tools currently available for recording your desktop. Some of them are OpenSource.
It’s an expensive piece of software, coming in at $300 on Windows and $100 on Mac (and we’re not sure the difference is entirely fair!).
Pricing aside, it’s fully loaded with features. You can record your entire screen, select a single application to video, or even just record a section of your display.
Audio editing allows you to add in commentary and instructions in a separate track, which can then be combined into a final video track once you’re happy with what you’ve created.
It doesn’t have extensive functionality – in fact, it doesn’t actually let you export the video you’ve recorded outside of its own player. It does however let you upload it directly to YouTube, which means that you can easily post tutorials online.
So what else stands out about it?
Well, the built-in video editor allows you to split recordings and add frames of text in between, which can be useful if you want your final piece to have an extra level of description.
It’s also the screen recording tool of choice for gamers. ‘Gaming Mode’ will effortlessly record all the action from your recorded game, useful if you want evidence of your latest Call of Duty high score.
It’s a lean piece of software with a minimal feature set, but it definitely does the job if you’re just looking to quickly record your desktop activity and export it.
It has options for screen captions, and also a fun little “picture-in-picture” feature which allows you to include video from your webcam in your desktop video, so viewers can see you explaining what you’re doing.
Currently, Camstudio is only available on Windows.
Paying the small yearly fee of $15 unlocks most of Jing’s functionality, allowing you to save in Mpeg format and upload directly to Youtube.
It’s a free browser-based Java program available through Screenr.com.
It’s a great tool for producing usable screencasts on the fly, and there’s virtually no learning curve involved - it’s a one button click to record your desktop and vocal input, and Screenr will automatically generate a link to your content.
It offers full and partial screen capture, extensive tile, text and cursor customisation, and the option to incorporate the video streams from your webcam and video camera.
Screenflow is only available on the Mac, and it costs a fairly hefty $99 – but if you’re planning to produce high quality screencasts that need some heavyweight production values, then Screenflow is the tool for you.
It records your desktop and uploads it to the web, enabling you to share recordings via the link generated. You can then upload the video to Youtube, and also save it as a file on your PC.
The Pro account lets you download the app for offline use, and also comes with some simple editing tools.
That about does it for our roundup of the top tools that let you record your desktop. Screencasts are a fantastic way to show others what you’re doing on your PC, and one of the best way to teach IT skills visually. Choose a tool from the selection roundup above or from another article, and get to work creating your own high-quality desktop recordings.
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Amanda Johnson is a Newcastle based writer and mother to a busy toddler. When she is not writing for Newcastle video production company, Rolling Ball, she writes for a wedding publications in Australia and abroad.