Screencasts are an effective method to convey know-how and illustrate processes. For their creation we need tools: Software solutions that record the screen. But which tool is suitable?
Screencasts take their viewers with them and depict processes exactly as they take place on the computer. Because screencasts are in video format, they are usually not sufficient on their own. They don’t provide a good overview and users have to jump in the video if they want to get a certain answer at a certain point.
However, in addition to other learning documents such as step-by-step instructions and manuals, screencasts can be a great enrichment. For example, the German firm Scopevisio uses screencasts very successfully in combination with FlowShare manuals. The users of the Bonn-based IT company can choose whether they want to learn about FlowShare’s step-by-step explanations or via videos. Depending on their needs, they can change the medium and thus adapt it to their individual learning needs. This way, users benefit from the advantages of both options. It is ensured that in the end, they will gain the knowledge.
If you now also want to start your first screen recording, for your customers, colleagues, followers – or be it for your grandma – you first have to make an important decision. The big question: With which tool?
Which software is the best for screen recording?
There are various different vendors and tools on the market, from the simplest recording tools to the most complex software with many editing options. From free downloads to monthly license fees to one-time purchases. Below we will present you some of these tools:
An Overview of Screencast Tools
3. Free Screen Recorder
4. OBS Studio
6. Quicktime Player
8. Adobe Captivate
Loom is a young company and its tool makes recording and sharing screen videos very easy. Loom is very intuitive and it’s suitable for recording fast video messages to colleagues as well as demo videos, onboarding and all other kinds of screen sharing. It is installed in Google Chrome via an extension, a desktop version is planned.
The recording is very fast and the content is uploaded automatically. This makes sharing very easy and adds a big factor of fun. Loom can be integrated into Gmail, Slack and Jira, among others.
Loom is completely free. On https://www.useloom.com/ you can install the extension quickly.
A widespread tool for video recording, editing and distribution: The manufacturer of Screen-O-Matic claims to have more than 9 million users and more than 55 million videos created with its tool. Screen-O-Matic is aimed specifically at educational institutions, companies and developers. It includes easy screen recording and the option to add webcam and audio recording.
The next step is to add numerous editing options: Animations, zoom functions, highlighting of details, music, color changes, descriptions, transitions, show or hide mouse and the import of pictures or videos from different devices.
The software then offers the option of sharing finished screencasts via Youtube, Screen-O-Matic or via a link. The videos can be integrated into programs such as Moodle, Canvas or the company’s own intranet.
The software is free with the Screen-O-Matic watermark and a recording time of up to 15 minutes. Purchase a single license for $1.65 or more per month. More information can be found here: https://screencast-o-matic.com/home.
3. Free Screen Recorder
A free tool for Windows computers is the Free Screen Recorder. It allows the recording of screen videos and individual screenshots. The files are given out as MP4 video and in BMP, TIF, PDF, JPG or PNG format. When recording, the screen section can be freely selected and sound and mouse pointer activities can be recorded.
For more information, see: https://www.dvdvideosoft.com/products/dvd/Free-Screen-Video-Recorder.htm.
4. OBS Studio
OBS Studio is an already very well developed, free open source software. The tool is well suited for video recording with sound and streaming videos.
OBS Studio allows numerous recording possibilities: Among others, switching between different scenes and/or different video sources, setting the screen resolution or picture-in-picture recordings. Afterwards you can edit the videos and enhance them with video effects and filters. The download also includes an audio mixer. This controls the noise reduction and the amplification of the sound.
Due to the open source format, OBS Studio is constantly evolving and is already used extensively for instructions and tutorials, or even Let’s play videos. It was still regularly updated in 2019.
Download for Windows, Mac and Linux at https://obsproject.com/.
Techsmith, the developers of Camtasia, are probably one of the largest providers in the screencast market. Camtasia is ideal for professional demo videos and tutorials. The tool has high performance and includes many more features than simple screen recording.
After screen recording, Camtasia offers comprehensive editing: visual commentary, highlighting, and subtitles and many more options are available. You can add effects and transitions, as well as image, audio, and video files in Camtasia’s own editing program. In addition, you can record from a microphone and Webcam before exporting the finished videos in a variety of formats and file sizes.
Camtasia costs €269.05 for Mac or Windows when purchased once. A very convenient feature is the free trial version of the software, which allows you to try Camtasia for 30 days. Available at https://www.techsmith.com/.
6. (Mac) Quicktime Player
Most Mac users already have it installed on their computers: the Quicktime Player is not only a media player for playing videos, but also allows the recording of the screen. Users can select the image section and audio sources. There is also the possibility to visualize mouse clicks. In Quicktime itself no post-processing of the videos is possible. For this purpose, you need an extra tool, such as iMovie.
If not already installed, the download is free of charge. More information can be found at https://support.apple.com/quicktime.
7. (Mac) Screenium
A Screencast tool for Mac users: Screenium also offers numerous functions for recording and editing screen recordings. For example, the desktop background can be hidden or a second video can be recorded with a camera and integrated during the screencast – thereby video-in-video screencasts are created, e.g. with a webcam.
Screenium offers tools for cutting, marking and highlighting details. Finished videos can be exported or published directly to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and Flickr. Alternatively, Screenium allows you to send your videos via message app on the Mac or via email.
Screenium costs €29.99 in the AppStore. A demo version with all functions except export is available at https://www.syniumsoftware.com/screenium.
8. Adobe Captivate
The software from Adobe focuses on the area of e-learning. Captivate is probably one of the most comprehensive screencast tools. It helps to create e-learnings, software demos or screen recordings.
The software offers a wide range of editing options with different templates, design functions and labeling options. In addition, Captivate offers another special advantage: it allows responsive formatting of the files. Videos adapt to mobile formats and can be supplemented with additional features such as GPS recognition, interactive elements or a quiz option.
The tool can be used on Windows computers, on the Mac and on the Ipad and can also convert older content into mobile formats. In the final step, Captivate offers various output formats of the finished screencasts for further processing, use and distribution. Captivate is particularly worthwhile for extensive e-learning and costs €33.99 € per month. Read more at https://www.adobe.com/products/captivate.html.
The open source software CamStudio is one of the basic tools to record the screen. It offers rather few additional functions, but is very easy to use: After screen recording users can apply subsequent improvements of the audio track and then export the screencasts as AVI or SWF files. These files can be converted into other video formats using third-party tools. Further features of CamStudio are a separate video player and the insertion of arrows and text fields.
CamStudio is available free of charge for Windows at http://camstudio.org/.
We received this tip from a flowshare user: quite simply, PowerPoint can also be used for screen recording. Under the menu item “Insert”, select the option “Screenshot”. Subsequently, Powerpoint allows to select different parts of the screen and to record voice and mouse pointer. Although it takes a little while to get used to controlling the tool via different key combinations, you can create screen records quickly and easily afterwards.
The screen video is then automatically embedded in the PowerPoint presentation, but can also be saved separately. You can find more information about this at Office Support.
The selected screencast tools are just a few of a huge number of different software solutions on the market. At the end of the day, many of the programs are similar and only differ in individual functions or unequal ease of use.
For occasional use, free solutions are usually already suitable, but the more expensive alternatives offer numerous additional features and convenient all-in-one solutions for professional use.
At the same time, the market is growing daily. Some tools achieve strong quality improvements through updates, others are no longer developed and become obsolete over time. Feel free to write us in the comments which screencast tool you use and what experiences you have made with it!
If you, as Scopevisio, want to offer your users the combination of screencasts with step-by-step instructions, try FlowShare! The documentation software automatically creates clear instructions with pictures and instructions for action in no time at all. This gives users a perfect overview of the steps to be taken – and documentation creators save a lot of time and work. You can try FlowShare for free and create an unlimited number of guides, free for 14 days.