os-utilities in OS & Utilities Channel,
Written by: Miguel Esquirol on Apr 29 2011, 8:00am

Screencast: recording your screen

A while ago we talk about several Screen Capture programs that let you capture any portion of your screen and easily share it online. But what about a software to capture what you are doing on the computer, not just a single image, but a video. This is called Screencasting and it’s really useful to create tutorials, report errors, and make animations and other kind of projects.



We talked before about Jing, a smart application to capture your screen and share it online, although this program is really useful to easily create snapshots, it also lets you create videos of sections of your screen. You just need to select what part of your screen you want to record and hit capture. The free version only let's you record 5 minutes and won't let you download the video, but you can share it using their own system. The paid version is better with direct upload to youtube and other sites, and a MPEG-4 AVC video format for better resolution.


If you want to record scenes from a video game, you better use Fraps. This technology can record from games that use DirectX or OpenGL graphic technology. The free version only let's you record up to 30 seconds, but the paid one is really powerful and it can capture audio and video up to 2560x1600 with custom frame rates from 1 to 120 frames per second. The program is just for Windows.


Camstudio is an open source project for Windows. Camstudio lets you record all screen and audio activity on your computer and creates AVI files. The program can also turn the videos into Flash for streaming. CamStudio and the Codec are released under the GPL.


If what you need is something faster and simpler, you can use Screen-o-Matic. This is an online service to record your screen. You don't need to install anything and it works directly from the browser, you just need Java to use it. The service let's you upload directly to many places like Youtube or download to your computer in several different formats. It’s free and you don't even need to sign in. If you want to get rid of the watermark you need to pay, besides that everything else is free.


But even if there are interesting programs to do this, there's a big chance that you already have the right program on your computer. Did you know you can make recordings of your screen using VLC?

  • Go to VLC and click on View > Advanced Controls to get the recording button. In Mac this controls are absent but the system works, you just need to hit Cmd + shift + R.
  • Go to Media > Open Capture Device
  • In this window you can chose among different sources, choose Desktop or Screen, set the frame rate (bigger numbers will create bigger files).
  • Select Streaming/Saving and in settings set the file name, source and format for your recording.
  • Click the Play Button and the program will show you your desktop. Don't use VLC maximized because it will repeat the screen endlessly inside VLC with another VLC inside.
  • Click on Record, (or Press Cmnd + shift + R).When you finish you can press stop, the program will automatically save the file.

Remember that this program is not designed specifically for this, so you'll find a couple of drawbacks. You can't record your voice at the same time as your recording, and you can't choose a section to record, only the whole screen. You can crop the image and add the sound later.


Byzanz is a free open source GNOME based Command-Line utility to capture desktop recording software for linux. This means that you only need to type.

byzanz-record desk.gif

The program creates a gif animation of your screen, so the size will be really small. You can record your entire screen, a single window, an arbitrary region or even follow the cursor.


Istanbul is another Linux recording that creates a red button in the system try. By clicking the icon the program starts recording everything in view, and another click ends it. The video is encoded in the Ogg Theora format and you can capture the full screen, a selected window, or a portion of the desktop. It also lets you record sound.


XvidCap is similar to the previous program, again for linux. You record portions of the screen, and it lets you save in a wide variety of formats including: MPEG, AVI, Flash, and QuickTime.


ScreenFlow is a Mac Only capturing software. The capturing is pretty similar to the other programs we've seen here, but it has unique post-production tools. During recording, ScreenFlow keeps track of things your mouse does, so in the editing you can highlight the areas were your mouse click, or zoom in that region, you can crop the area and add some effects. Is not a cheap software, but it let's you do amazing things.

Citizens Comments

Eileen Brown says:

A lot of choices in this article.  I don't make videos as a regular course in my work.  But it is nice to know that there are plenty of software packages that would facilitate the effort, should it arise.

I do really like the "recording your screen" stuff.  Might have to give that a try just as a matter of course.  

I look for video online to take somewhat of a hit when we have to start paying for bandwidth usage when we access the web and view video "how to's", speeches we missed, and like that.   Once web access starts to run up a bill, viewing video for fun, may be a thing of the past.

Only time will tell.



Apr 29 2011, 2:32pm | Report

victor zeng says:

What about hypercam? It's a fairly big player, but isn't in this article.



Jul 2 2011, 10:02pm | Report

Miguel Esquirol says:

According to whay I read, Hypercam is now free but it brigns many spyware with it.... so be careful



Jul 4 2011, 9:30am | Report

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