Record Your Screen for Free on Mac or PC
Free Screen Recording Tools
Screencasting needn't cost the earth. In fact, it needn't cost anything at all. There are plenty of free screen recording tools for both Mac and Windows computers that can be used to create professional looking videos with very little time or effort. So, let's take a look at what's on offer.
Screenr (Mac or PC)
If you want to record your screen, you will be hard pressed to find anything simpler to use than Screenr. Head over to Screenr.com and click the big yellow button to launch their online screen recorder. Once it appears, drag it over the content you want to record (a website, your desktop, a PowerPoint, etc) and resize it by clicking and dragging a corner of the frame.
Select your audio input by clicking on the microphone icon and choosing the device you want to use. The red record button will will give you a 3-2-1 countdown and after that your recording will be live. The pause button can be used at any time to gather your thoughts or change the recording area. Screenr is free, but does limit your videos to 5 minutes or less. Finished videos are saved to the Screenr website but can be downloaded or sent to YouTube.
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Screencast-o-matic (Mac or PC)
Screencast-o-matic works in a very similar way to Screenr, but with a few important, additional features. For instance, Screencast-o-matic lets you record videos of up to 15 minutes for free. It also lets you turn on your webcam so that you can add a video of yourself talking as you record your screen. You can adjust the placement of the webcam video after you have finished your screencast.
Other nice features that are available after your recording include the ability to highlight your mouse with a halo to make it easier to see on the screen. You can also show mouse clicks, or just hide the cursor altogether. Finished videos can be downloaded to your computer, published to YouTube, or uploaded to Screencast-o-matic servers.
Not everyone knows it's there, but Quicktime for Mac comes with a built-in screen recording tool, and it's very easy to use. Simply launch Quicktime, then go to File > New Screen Recording to get started. Click the drop down arrow to select the settings you want, and then hit the red record button when you are ready to begin your screencast.
You now have the option to click once more to start a full screen recording, or click and drag to select an area of the screen that you want to capture. Just be aware that there is no pause button. You either need to get it right the first time, or import it into iMovie when you are done and edit out your mistakes later. To save your screencast go to File > Export... and choose where you would like to save your video.
How to Record Your Screen With Quicktime
Jing (Mac or PC)
If you are looking for a quick, easy to access screencasting tool, try Jing. When not in use, it hides conveniently on the top or side of your screen but it's always ready to go when you are. To begin a screencast, simply hover over the Jing icon, and select the cross-hairs. Next, click and drag an area of the screen that you want to record, and click the video icon in the capture window to get started.
You can pause your screencast at any time, and even mute the audio if you don't plan on narrating your recording. The maximum recording time for Jing screencasts is 5 minutes, just like Screenr, and the finished product can be downloaded to your computer, uploaded to screencast.com or shared on Twitter and Facebook. Jing is a very versatile tool, but it is worth noting that the free version only creates SWF files, not an MP4 like some other services.
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Snagit for Chrome (Mac or PC)
If you use a Chromebook, or the Chrome web browser, Snagit for Chrome is a great option for recording your screen. It is available from the Chrome Web Store as an app or an extension, but you will want to install both. The Snagit extension lets you take screenshots, while the app lets you take screencasts and stores your images and videos.
To begin a screencast with Snagit for Chrome, launch the app and click the "+" sign in the top left-hand corner of the screen. You will then be prompted to choose the window you want to record. After that, your screencast will begin automatically. There are no recording limits, per se, but you don't have a pause button or the ability to select a portion of your screen to record. That said, it works very well and finished screencasts can be uploaded to YouTube.
How to Record Your Screen with Snagit for Chrome
Need the Best? TechSmith's Camtasia is the Industry Standard
It's not free, but if you have tried all the free options and find yourself still yearning for more then Camtasia is the obvious choice. It has infinitely more options than alternative screencasting tools, and comes with a powerful video editor to edit your final video.
With Camtasia you can zoom in and out of your recording to highlight a specific part for the viewer, or add text, arrows and other annotations. You can blur usernames and passwords with ease, add audio tracks, and even put yourself in the video with green screen capabilities. Other features include spotlights, cursor effects, and keystrokes that can be overlaid on top of your video.
Camtasia is a paid option, but if you want the greatest control over your finished product, and want to work without some of the limitations that come with the free screencasting tools, then you won't regret the added flexibility it gives you.
Camtasia is available for Mac or PC
Screencasting needn't be an expensive or complicated endeavor if you have the right tools at your disposal. Using free screen recording tools like these aren't always the compromise that you might think that they are, especially when they are combined with good screencasting habits. Speaking of which, check out the video below for some great recording tips, and have fun with your next project!
Top 5-ish Tips for Better Screencasts
What is Your Favorite Free Screencasting Tool?
© 2014 Jonathan Wylie