For the finest in screencasting software on the market, I always sing the praises of TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio, as the software is simple to use and includes bells and whistles that now make it an extraordinary video-editing tool as well. However, if you simply can’t afford this fine software (it’s not cheap, though educators get a great discount) or have no need for many of its advanced features, other tools can probably meet your needs, including (but not limited to) Jing, Screenr, and Screencast-O-Matic. This blog post focuses on Screencast-O-Matic’s “Pro” option, which I recently purchased and have found to be much more than I had bargained for.
(Note: When I mention “SOM” below, I am referring to Screencast-O-Matic.)
I’ve been familiar with Screencast-O-Matic for some time now as a quality free screencasting application. Only recently did I consider upgrading to the “Pro” version for $15 per year, and I am so glad I did! The basic, free tool is excellent for what it offers: up to 15 minutes of recording time; the capability to publish the video file to your computer, keep it on the SOM server, or upload to YouTube; and inclusion of your webcam in your recordings, if desired. However, for less than a nickel a day, the upgrade offers features that are hard to believe. Here are just a few:
- With the upgrade, you can create videos longer than the free version’s 15-minute limit. (If you publish the videos on the SOM server, the 15-minute limit still exists, but if you publish them elsewhere, such as to your own computer, the videos may be significantly longer.)
- You can create webcam-only recordings. This is a great option, as sometimes you just want to record a quick talk, with no need to show anything on your desktop.
- You can access drawing and zooming tools while recording as well as editing tools before publishing a video—two extraordinary features missing from most free tools. These are not the most advanced tools on the market, but they are more than adequate for general purposes.
- When you download the software to your computer for offline use, the resulting system tray icon makes screen recording, as well as taking simple screenshots, super easy. I am especially impressed with the option to take screenshots via this icon and the capability to set a keyboard shortcut to do so.
Screencast-O-Matic provides other great features in its upgrade option, and you’ll be wise to go to the Screencast-O-Matic website to review them all. If you are looking for something not quite as advanced as Camtasia Studio but more deluxe than a 5-minute-maximum recorder like Screenr or Jing, then Screencast-O-Matic is possibly your best option. For just a bit more than 4 cents a day, how could you go wrong? As an instructional designer in higher education, and because of the affordability of the product, I plan to tout Screencast-O-Matic to my faculty member audience as much as I sing the praises of TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio.