Comparing 12 Free Screencasting Tools

by Kelly Walsh on January 10, 2010

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Combing through the basic functions and features of a list of tools I’ve become aware of, to select some for further testing.

ScreencastingLogosOver the course of the week, the list of Screencasting tools that have been recommended to me, or that I’ve otherwise learned of, has grown to a dozen.

I have a goal of trying identify a free tool or set of tools to use to create stand alone tutorials by combining screen images and screen motion with audio. I would also like to have some editing capabilities, so I could combine multiple captures and rearrange the order of these pieces if needed, and to be able to re-record audio annotation if possible. I would also like to have screen annotation capabilities, at least for the screen captures.

Given this set of desired functions and features, and the long list of tools, it’s only logical that I briefly review each application to see what they can do. Based on these initial fundings, I’ll select a number of tools to take for a trial run, much as I did with Jing last week.

I realize that in a quick overview like this, I may miss something important about how one or more of these apps work, so if anyone notices any errors or important omissions in my summary table, please comment and let us know about them. I wish I had the time to actually try all of these tools out, but I don’t, so I am sticking with this broader approach of learning a little about each app and using that info to inform my decision about which to spend more time with.

[ED NOTE: As of late January 2012, 3 of the original apps in this listing are no longer available, so they have been removed, leaving 9 apps, not 12. - KW]

Feature/Function Summary Table

Application File Format(s) Sharing Files Editing Capabilities
Jing.com  Videos are saved as SWF (Shockwave Flash) files, images as PNG files Files are created on the local PC (the app runs locally, not on the Internet). SWF files are stand alone and can be shared like any other file (and viewed with any SWF compatible viewer), or via Screencast.com. Limited
Other Jing Notes: Presentations are limited to 5 min. in length. Inexpensive Pro version ($14.95/yr.) provides add’l capabilities (such as MP4 file format).
Screenpresso.com  PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP Captured image files can be easily be shared. Many editing tools for manipulating and annotating the captured images.
Other Screenpresso Notes: Screenpresso is just for image capture, not for screen motion capture (it really doesn’t belong in this list!).
Screenr.com  Unknown Presentations (stored on the site) can easily be shared via email links, and can also be embedded on websites. [I have since learned that files can also be downloaded as .mp4 files. KW 1/24/10] None
Notes: Screenr’s main focus is sharing screencasts via Twitter.
Screencast-O-matic.com  .MOV Files can be exported, and therefore easily shared or uploaded to sites like YouTube. Presentations can also be stored on the Screencast-O-matic site and accessed by URL or embed code. None (in free version)
Other Screencast-O-matic Notes: Videos can be up to 15 minutes long. There is a Pro version that allows files up to 1 hr. on length and provides more functionality.
Screencastle.com  Unknown Presentations (stored on the site) can be shared via email links, and can also be embedded on websites. None
Other Screencastle Notes: Screencastle does not use log ins, so all casts are instantly available to everyone, and are not linked to individual accounts. One interesting feature of the site is the availability of widgets for automated screencasting from within WordPress and some other tools.
Webinaria.com  AVI, FLV Files are stored on the site, and can easily be shared via email links, and can also be embedded on websites. Files can also be downloaded in .FLV format, for viewing with any Flash compatible viewer. None
CamStudio.org  AVI, SWF Files are created on the local PC (the app runs locally, not on the Internet), and can therefore easily be distributed. These formats can be uploaded to YouTube and other video sharing sites for web based sharing. None
Faculte.com  Unknown Presentations (stored on the site) can be shared via email links, and can also be embedded on websites. There are a number of editing capabilities, including the ability to add captions to video.
Other Faculte Notes: Faculte is really intended to be a paid tool. The free option limits presentation creators to just 200 views of their presentation.
Debut from NCHsoftware AVI, WMV, FLV, ASF, MPG, 3GP, MP4, MOV, and more Files are created on the local PC (the app runs locally, not on the Internet), and can therefore easily be distributed. These formats can be uploaded to YouTube and other video sharing sites for web based sharing. There are a number of editing capabilities, including the ability to add captions to video.
Other Debut Notes: There is a paid “Plus” version of Debut available, with various add-on applets available as well to provide additional functionality.

 

Summary of Findings
A couple sites don’t meet my criteria and therefore won’t be further considered (Screenpresso is just for images, and Faculte’s free version limits the no. of users who can view presentations). Screencastle seems to be provide just screen motion and audio capture with no editing capability and the resulting captures can only be published right on their site (I much prefer a tool that allows files to be downloaded, providing more flexibility for distribution, and the potential for combining clips with a tool like Windows Movie Maker to create a desired end result). This leaves Jing, Screencast-O-matic, Freescreencast, CamStudio, Webinaria, and Debut to consider for further review. I’ve already test Jing a bit (see last week’s post for more on this).  Debut looks like it has great potential, with it’s editing capabilities and available paid upgrade. It also allows for screen image capture or screen motion capture, like Jing. Of the rest, based on a review of the information on their websites, I would rank my interest (most to least), as follows: Screencast-O-matic, Webinaria, then CamStudio. [Ed Note - After writing this article, I learned that Screenr.com allows files to be downloaded, and after trying this tool, I really liked it - KW 1/31/10]

Of course, you may have different goals than I, and some of these tools may meet your needs even though they are not necessarily what I was looking for, so you might wish to check ‘em out further.

Next Week
Based on my findings, I’m going to take the free version of Debut for a spin next week, with a few others to follow. In the meanwhile, I’m sure some readers will have some feedback on some of these products, and I look forward to reading some informative comments, so please weigh in if you have anything to add.

Related post(s) (if the above topic is of interest, you might wish to check out …):
Creating brief instructional videos (and more) with Jing
Free screencasting – easy; free video editing – not so much
Using Internet story telling tools in education

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About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

William Henry April 4, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I now use Screenpresso in my day to day work. I can take screen capture and video capture. Then I can add annotations to the images and send them to Dropbox quickly, thanks to the built-in Dropbox feature.

Don R. January 29, 2014 at 9:31 pm

@pierre
This post was about FREE tools. Camtasia is $299 last time I checked.
As for creating videos for Youtube only – they have free online video creator/editor on their website.

Maxine January 27, 2013 at 7:23 am

Just what I was looking for. I tried Camstudio but had compatibility problems with the labtop – it loaded the first time I ran it and then nothing. So, I tried Screenr – E.A.S.Y! Thank you.

Dominique February 24, 2012 at 12:38 am

Hi. I use Wink http://www.debugmode.com/wink/ to create tutorials for my students. I chose it initially because there is also a version for Linux. But there are a lot of good features and it is easy to use.

Tu Michael January 12, 2012 at 12:03 am

have u tried capture fox? it’s also an add on of firefox :)

Tu Michael January 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm

sadly, screentoaster is dead.. u should edit the list.thanks for the info

Free Screen Recording Software January 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I have been surfing on-line more than three hours today, yet I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.

Jessica Pilgreen October 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I absolutely love Screenr because it has such a simple interface, making it so easy to use. I also like being able to download files as an mp4 for editing in another program (if desired). Also, it comes with embed codes so I can embed my screencasts directly into my website/blog. And it saves all of my screencasts to my online screenr account, so I can access my screencasts from any computer.

Jeff Bradbury September 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm

If you are into screen casting, check out the great screencasts on TeacherCast.net

We use several of these amazing screen casting tools.

K. Walsh August 11, 2011 at 8:13 am

Thanks Judy. I’m not sure what, specifically, in the Jing info was incorrect – I did notice that I had not included the PNG files for screen image captures, so I added that.

Judy O'Connell August 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I love using Jing..and your information in the table about what it does, file created etc is incorrect and out of date :-(

webbrewers April 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Sceenr stopped working after about 4 screencasts. The record button just kept looping back to the last screen cast. Updating java made no difference.
Can’t recommend it.
Screencastle never finishes the uploading process.
Can’t recommend it.
Any tips for an app that actually works properly?

Jonathan December 17, 2010 at 3:06 am

You should check out community clips as well – super simple to use (sits in your taskbar, click on it and select record and which application, or the whole screen). Files saved to your desktop or uploaded. Originally designed as a way to share tips and techniques for microsoft office products (no longer a project of theirs) the screencast tool continues to be available for free.

http://www.officelabs.com/projects/communityclips is where you can get it.

Jeri Hurd May 26, 2010 at 12:16 pm

The biggest drawback with Jing is that it saves the file as an .flv, which basically makes it uneditable. Ditto with some of the others. Sometimes, it’s good to pay for things, and Camtasia Studio (which I love) gives good educator discounts. $99 for the Mac version is a bargain!

George May 12, 2010 at 7:31 am

I’ve using techsmith products (snagit, camstasia) and I really like it… sure Jing will also be good! :)

thanks for sharing

Mark March 4, 2010 at 4:52 am

I agree. Selecting a good eLearing tool can be such a challenge at times. I recently read this white paper that lists important keep in mind points while selecting an eLearning tool that supports multimedia. Might help. http://go2see.it/acc

Marc Achtelig January 27, 2010 at 6:57 am

Maybe some interesting additions to this list are the checklist of criteria for selecting a screencasting tool at http://www.indoition.com/screencasting-tool-choosing.htm, as well as the list of screencasting tools at http://www.indoition.com/screencasting-tools-survey.htm.

Mike January 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm

You might also look at Gadwin. It is free. I use it.

Steve Anderson January 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I work for Ontier, and we make Pixetell. We have a great screencast tool. There’s a 21-day free trial with no credit card required. After that’s it’s only $9/month.

Please let us know how you like it.

kinderstuth January 21, 2010 at 2:58 am

Hello,
I use ScreenHunter and Screencam ( Wisdom-Soft ). These 2 products are very usefull in their free versions.
Thierry

Ciseur January 21, 2010 at 2:52 am

With Webinaria, your video stop recording when the file become eavier than 10GB. I used it and come back to camstudio.

Ben Wilkoff January 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Screenr.com also allows for download as .m4v files (Ipod/Iphone friendly formats) that can be edited in any video editing software (this feature only becomes available on your screencasts, not others’). It also integrates with twitter and allows for iPhone/iPod touch viewing off of the site directly which is something that no other screencasting suite can do currently (other than ones that allow you to upload to youtube).

Dave Mozealous January 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm

My name is Dave and I work for Screenr. Saw this and just thought I would comment that Screenr’s videos are recorded in lossless MP4 format, and can be downloaded as well.

Anyway, thought I would give a heads up.

Wendy January 20, 2010 at 10:09 am

I use Camtasia to explain my computer app lessons and love it. See my website http://www.sanjuan.edu/webpages/wcarlson/index.cfm?subpage=63852 for examples.
I like the idea of free apps for students.Looking forward to hearing more from you.

Myra Deister January 14, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I tried Jing a few days ago. I was able to record video, but I was unable to record audio. I was able to record both with CamStudio. I will be interested to read the remainder of your reviews.

K. Walsh January 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Thanks Brian, for the clarification of screentoaster’s ability to download files as .mov files. I’ll update the post to reflect that shortly.

K. Walsh January 11, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Thanks for the comment Pierre – I’m sticking with the free apps for my initial look into screencasting tools – there’s so many to choose from, and a lot of my readers appreciate knowing what’s out there for no cost. Of course, Camtasia is a major player in screencasting, and I am curious to know more about it, so I’m sure one of these days I’ll be checking it out and blogging about it, especially now that you’ve pointed out the availability of the 30 day trial!

Brian January 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm

You *can* download a screentoaster.com recording as a .mov file before uploading it to their site. Choose the option on the right side before the upload step.

Adward January 11, 2010 at 1:46 am

Great collection yet what a pity since majority of freeware don’t support video editing features. I hope there are more screen recording programs providing more features soon.

Pierre January 11, 2010 at 12:56 am

You’re not looking at Camtasia Studio? This is the Techsmith flagship (Jings big sister) and something different than the free CamStudio.
It isn’t cheap (educational offer is good though) but they offer a fully functional 30 day trial (no limits in functionality, no water marks in output etc) which should give you plenty of time to evaluate it.

Note: I’m in no way affiliated to Techsmith although I do use their product and like it.

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