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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Create simple screencasts with free tools

There are many tools available that will allow you to create wonderful wiz-bang tutorials with all sorts of animations and effects. But in the end, the most effective tutorial is one that is carefully planned and thought out.

For many people, grabbing a screenshot and record your voice with some while highlighting elements is more than enough to get your point across. Teachers often use these elements to evaluate student projects - the need for the flashy effects is not as necessary.

Two simple apps that can help you do this are Screencast-o-matic (SOM) and Skitch. Available as a downloadable file or as a java app that runs in your browser (I prefer the file), Screencast-o-matic (screencast-o-matic.com) is a free tool that allows you to define a capture area and records it. Simple animations are automatic that show your mouse’s movements and clicks. When you’re done, you can download a file or upload a file to SOM’s servers (free for videos under 15 minutes) or to your Youtube account.

Skitch (skitch.com) does a capture of your window (full screen or a pre-defined area) and then provides tools to highlight the content. When done, you can upload the finished graphic to their servers or download a file to your computer.

To use the tools together, just follow these steps:


  1. Create your screen captures first (if you’re looking at a web page, use numerous captures to get the whole page)
  2. Launch Screencast-o-matic and select the Skitch window.
  3. Start recording
  4. While recording the audio, use the Skitch tools to highlight elements on the screen.
  5. If you need to move to the next capture, pause SOM and get yourself setup. 
  6. When done, choose how you want to save your file and share it!
Here’s a sample below: