5 Free Screencasting Apps for Creating Video Tutorials

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With all the screencasting going on in the blogosphere lately, what with tutorials running rampant across all different video sharing websites…I thought I’d share a few screencasting tools for those of you looking for a free alternative to some of those higher priced utilities. This review covers both PC and Mac utilities, and not wanting to leave anyone out…one for those running Java.

AviScreen

Screencasting - AviScreen

AviScreen captures screen activities and converts the output into an .avi file or alternatively into several images. It does include that very nifty feature often referred to as “follow the cursor” which means you can create a smaller dimension video and the software will automatically follow the curser to the location so that the user watching doesn’t miss anything.

AviScreen is very easy to use and I really like its “follow the cursor” feature. There is also a ton of help information.

The one thing I don’t like is that it does not support audio and the GUI seems clunky sometimes. Other than that, its a good program.

OS: Windows only

CamStudio

image

CamStudio is a nice capture program that records all screen and audio activity and creates standard .avi files. CamStudio has its own built-in SWF Producer and can turn those .avi files you converted into stream-friendly Flash video .swf files. CamStudio uses their own lossless codec that produces nice, clear results all the while at a smaller file size than most other popular codecs (so we’re told).

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OS: Windows only

Copernicus

Copernicus is for you Mac people out there. It prides itself on being very fast allowing the program to record directly to your RAM for super fast access. Use it to easily create screenshots  or simple how-to movies.

OS: Mac only

Screencast-o-Matic

Screencast-o-Matic is a neat online application that creates videos. This one actually allows you to create video recordings all from your browser. Like all other great web apps, this is in beta, but it’s got potential that’s for sure.

Screencast-o-Matic

The simple fact that it integrates so nicely using Java will be enough for many to catch on. Creating a screencast is as simple as anything ending in “o-matic” usually is. Just click Create on the website and you’re in business. Screencast-o-Matic starts recording video and audio as soon as you hit the red record icon and gives you a nice 15 minute window of time. That should be enough time to explain something…not all things, but some things nonetheless.

This really is a simple tool to use with options of creating titles, descriptions, notes at certain times in the video, and even allowing comments and making the screencast searchable. Or, if you’re not feeling like sharing just yet, export it to a .mov file for viewing later. There’s even a Screencast to show you how to screencast.

Caveat: Java Required
OS: Who cares, its Java!

Jing

Jing

Jing isn’t just another great screencasting application. Jing is an interesting “project”. At first glance, I wasn’t sure I knew exactly what Jing was all about. It seems to rely heavily on TechSmith’s (Jing’s Creator) Screencast.com service and provide an interesting “social” sort of feel about it.

A quick look at the Getting Started page explained a few things as well as the little video tour.

Basically, it goes like this:

  • Download and Install Jing
  • Run Jing and click the Capture button and select something
  • Grab an image or even record a video
  • Edit the image or preview your directorial masterpiece
  • Share your creation when your file is uploaded to Screencast.com, Flickr, or your own FTP server and the URI is copied to your clipboard
  • Use that URI anywhere you want to share your screencast.

It should be noted that after setup, Jing requires you signup for a Screencast.com account. Even if you plan on using your own FTP server for your Jings, if skipped, this step will close down Jing.

After signing up, I was able to start my Jing experience. My first Jing was created simply and after supplying my FTP info into the Preferences, I was uploading small .swf files to my server for viewing. It was tremendously painless and easy. I think Jing has the most potential of becoming a great application.

OS: Windows & Mac

Any great screencasting tools out there not on this list? Let us know in the comments.

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24 Comments - Write a Comment

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Mark Murphy

Wink (http://www.debugmode.com/wink/) trumps CamStudio, is available for Windows and Linux, and (like the others) is free.

Travis Quinnelly

Duly noted. I did not try Wink…we’ll have to add that to our Directory.

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Jonathan Bennett

Nice list. Wink is a good one too.

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Matthew J

I just got done doing some recordings today using Jing and CamStudio. I really like the CamStudio much better. I was able to set an option that would place a yellow circle around the mouse. This helps customers find the mouse much easier.

The downside is that I had to transcode the video into WMV for what I was doing with it.

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Justin Shattuck

@Travis:

Good find mate! Good find! This is extremely useful information; too bad I already paid for Fraps… but I’ll forgive you.

Travis Quinnelly

Glad to help you out there buddy.

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Aibek

I got two more

FreeScreencast and uTipu.

Both of them seem to be pretty good.

Sarah

I got one more: ScreenToaster.

free, online, very easy to use and multiplatform.

Dawn

Very nice – I’d been researching for hours here and there over the last weeks to figure out what to buy and do for screencasts – and within 15 minutes I made my first screencast with audio and even a webcam insert. Not perfect as it doesn’t support SWF or YouTube with audio or webcam – but don’t need that. And you can’t string together or edit pieces together. Again, we don’t need that, but for something more complex seems you’d need that. But for our purposes, being free especially – it makes it purrrrfect.

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Travis Quinnelly

Great, thanks for the additions guys…keep them coming.

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Mark O’Neill

SnagIt has a screen capture facility which I have often found helpful. It doesn’t support audio though but it can capture screen activity.

The only other downside is that Snagit isn’t a free app.

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JC Riveros

Actually you can grab a copy of Snagit 7.25 for free from the TechSmith website.
Check the details here:
http://www.downloadsquad.com/2007/11/26/get-snagit-7-25-from-techsmith-for-free/
I still prefer Wink over the other products but it is good to have some other choices available,

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Will Speak

Yeah, Jing is my chosen screencasting app. Works great on both Mac and PC (tried it on both) and integrates well with Flickr and your own FTP server. Haven’t got my head around the whole screencast.org thing yet but I’m sure it’s all good.

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Bell008

Thanks for sharing. Those are wonderful tutorial making tools. I am using some screen recorder call . It is not free, but it is really easy to use, and powerful for its reasonable price.

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Tim07

Nice. Something called DemoCreator is quite similar to Captive. And the function is not bad.

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Sarah

I got one more: ScreenToaster

free online and very easy to use

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Brand

I checked the 5 screencasting apps. They are easy to use, but all of them need to improve their editing feature. For example, I want to put bubbles with text to explain things in my movie, and I can not do that with the above 5. DemoCreator is a screencasting tool with powerful editing function, but it is a commercial one.

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MalaysiaEconomic

Good sharing, a good software that can help me create video for my training.

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Jeff Newman

I just tried Jing and it works great. The resolution is awesome when I uploaded it to screencasting.com.

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Steven Anderson

Good review. You may also want to include Pixetell for creating video / audio tutorials. It’s not completely free but we do have a 21 day Free Trial.

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Best Antivirus Software

Awesome list. I’ve been looking for some free tools for a bit now. Thanks!

I haven’t tried any of these as of yet as I noticed a comment above that mentioned one of them (ScreenToaster) wasn’t YouTube compatible. Are any of the above free tools also not compatible with YouTube?

Steven Anderson

You can export your Pixetell file to an FLV file, which is YouTube compatible.

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