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Record Your Screen for Free on Mac or PC

Updated on May 21, 2017
Jonathan Wylie profile image

Jonathan is a certified teacher who taught in the UK & the US. He now works as a Digital Learning consultant for Grant Wood AEA.

Record your desktop, and more, with free screen recording tools
Record your desktop, and more, with free screen recording tools

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. Today, it is easier than ever to create great looking instructional videos, so let's take a look at what's on offer.

Screencast-o-matic (Mac or PC)

Screencast-o-matic is a web-based screencasting tool that includes the option to download an offline version to your computer. It lets you record videos of up to 15 minutes for free. It even 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 standard options like 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 the Screencast-o-matic website.

Get started by visiting http://screencast-o-matic.com.

The Screencast-o-matic recording window
The Screencast-o-matic recording window

Quicktime (Mac)

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 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 simple screencasting tool that is easy to access, 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, 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.

Download Jing for Mac or PC by visiting https://www.techsmith.com/jing.

Capture screenshots and screencasts with Jing by TechSmith
Capture screenshots and screencasts with Jing by TechSmith | Source

Screencastify for Chrome (Mac or PC)

Screencastify is a browser extension for Google Chrome. Once installed, it sits in the toolbar of your browser waiting to be called upon. Clicking the Screencastify option will let you choose whether you want to record the browser tab you are working in, or your entire desktop. While both options are useful, the ability to click and drag over a specific area is not included with this tool. You can, however, turn on your webcam and choose which corner of the screen you want it to appear in, and make up to 50 recordings a month with each one up to 10 minutes in length.

While recording, there are a number of tools available to use like inking tools to annotate over your screen (great for touchscreen devices) and a spotlight tool to focus attention on your cursor. Mouse clicks are visible through a red halo animation, but you can also make the cursor invisible if you don't need it.

Once your screen recording is finished, it is automatically saved to your Google Drive account. However, you can also save it to your computer or send it direct to YouTube with the privacy settings you need. More export and sharing options are available in the paid version of this tool but there is a lot you can do for free.

To get started, visit www.screencastify.com or search for Screencastify on the Chrome Web Store.

Source

Recordit: Fast Screencasts & Animated GIFs (Mac or PC)

The last free option I have is a tool called Recordit. It's a free download for Mac and PC computers and will have you recording screencasts in no time at all. Once installed, you simply click the record button to get started and then click and drag to create the area you want to record. Click the record button again to stop your screen recording. Your screencast can be up to five minutes in the free version of Recordit.

Your video is automatically uploaded to the Recordit website as an unlisted link. People will be able to access it with the link, but your screen recording will not appear in Google search results. You can share it on social media or use the GIF button on the player to create an animated GIF that you can download and use wherever you want.

Download a copy for your computer by visiting http://recordit.co.

Recordit gives you a shareable link for your videos and lets you create animated GIFs to share with others.
Recordit gives you a shareable link for your videos and lets you create animated GIFs to share with others.

Need the Best? TechSmith's Camtasia is the Industry Standard

It's not free, but if you have tried the free options and find yourself 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 on-screen 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.

Techsmith's Camtasia is available for Mac or PC

Summary

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

Quick Poll

What is Your Favorite Free Screencasting Tool?

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© 2014 Jonathan Wylie

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    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 2 months ago from Iowa, USA

      Denise, you are absolutely right. You can speed up parts of your screencast in Premiere a Pro or iMovie or whatever video editor you have access to! :)

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 2 months ago from Fresno CA

      This is great information. Exactly what I needed. I do some art in Photoshop and Illustrator and wondered how those awesome screencasts of photoshop artists was made. I think I'll get started right away. By the way, if I want to speed up some slow parts of the drawing process, I can do that in Premier Pro or iMovie, can't I? Just asking?

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • ptosis profile image

      ptosis 3 years ago from Arizona

      On Ubuntu OS I use RecordMyDesktop

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Glad it was helpful Nasir!

    • Nasir Syaran profile image

      Nasir Syar'an 3 years ago from Jepara

      Thank you very much @Jonathan Wylie for information

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Screenr does mp4 files that are smaller. So does screencast-o-matic and Snagit for Chrome. Try those and see how you get on.

    • Nasir Syaran profile image

      Nasir Syar'an 3 years ago from Jepara

      I try Camstudio. For 15 minute screen recording, it create 1,8 gigabytes file avi. It is too much size, so I need program that create small bytes size. What is your experience?

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Thanks, I appreciate that. I think you will find that if you try some of these, they are really not as hard as you might think. Feel free to ask any questions if you get stuck! :)

    • choosetolive profile image

      Ravi and Swastha 3 years ago from London, Canada

      Very good hub. I have not used screen recording tools much. However, this gives me options that i can go for. Thanks & voted up . I have tweeted your hub as well.

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Glad you found it useful sparkleyfinger! :)

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Harte 3 years ago from Glasgow

      Great hub, will be pinning it for future use! Want to do a few tutorial vids on the mac, and this will deffo come in handy! Thanks!

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Indeed, the premium version of screencast-o-matic is very affordable and has some nice additional features like the editor to go back and fix mistakes. All for $15 a year no less!

    • csilano profile image

      csilano 3 years ago

      I've used Screencastomatic before...it's a great program and a bargain even if you purchase the premium version.

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Thanks for reading! ;)

    • abbaelijah profile image

      Abba Elijah aka elijagod 3 years ago from Nigeria

      Thanks for sharing !