Roundup: Our Top 7 Screencasting Tools

As interest has expanded and its accessibility improves, more teachers are opting for screencasting in their classrooms. But with the increased popularity comes a flooded market — just so many options.

Here’s a roundup, then, of seven of the more widely used screencast/video creation tools. We’ve ranked them, taking into consideration a variety of factors. This list is laid out in reverse order of our preference. Use this as an aid in determining which type of tool might best fit your needs!

SnagIt, by Techsmith

7. SnagIt, by Techsmith

Along with Techsmith’s other signature program, Jing, SnagIt is one of the more popular screen-capture tools out there. It is very simple to use, but lacks any true editing capabilities (the latest version does allow limited “trimming”). The only real advantage we see over the free Jing software is that your recordings can be of unlimited duration.

Pros: Ease of use; Windows and mac compatibility; Mobile integration; Voice-over/narration capabilities; mp4 output.

Cons: Questionable value; Limited post-capture capabilities; Limited file-type output capabilities.

Verdict: C-

QuickTime Player

6. QuickTime Player, by Apple.

One of the built-in programs on a mac and a popular tool for watching video, few people seem to know it can be used for screen recording. For basic screencasts, there are QuickTime proponents out there who swear it performs as well (with simpler controls) as some of the options that require a purchased license.

Pros: Very easy to use in mac environment; Simple controls; Free (for mac owners); Voice-over/narration capabilites.

Cons: Only output format is QuickTime Movie; Essentially no post-capture capabilities.

Verdict: C

Jing, by Techsmith

5. Jing, by Techsmith

Essentially the bare minimum, but sometimes it’s all you need. When you’re in a time crunch and have to churn out a super-quick (up to 5 minutes in length) screen-share video, Jing is a good (free) tool to have at your disposal. It’s a good option for students, too.

Pros: Entirely simple to use; Convenient; Free; Voice-over/narration capabilities; Easy sharing on

Cons: No editing capabilities; Only allows recordings/captures of up to 5 minutes in length; Can’t upload to another site like YouTube.

Verdict: B-

Adobe Captivate

4. Captivate, by Adobe.

Captivate remains the Cadillac (Rolls Royce?) of instructional video software — both in specs and price. In reality, screencasting is only a small part of what the software does — and is thus often sorely underutilized by people who acquire it.

Pros: Incredibly robust; Full array of recording and capture options; Extensive editing capabilities; Multiple narration/voice-over options; Full array of interactive evaluation options to integrate with recordings; Multiple output format capabilities.

Cons: Steep learning curve; Designed primarily for professional designers and technologists; Expensive.

Verdict: B


3. Screencast-O-Matic.

Relatively new to the game, and relatively basic, Screencast-O-Matic has been attracting a sizable following with the bang it offers for the buck. The base version is free and open-source, and seemingly performs as well as some of the pay-to-play options (if you can get past the watermark it stamps on recordings).

Pros: Ease of use; Voice-over/narration capabilities; Free (base version); Multiple output format capabilities.

Cons: Company watermark goes on recordings with free/base version; No editing capabilities with free/base version. Homely interface.

Verdict: B


2. Camtasia, by Techsmith

The Camtasia package comes very close to Captivate in terms of bells and whistles, but sells for about half the price. And like Captivate, there are more options than you’ll probably know what to do with—though somewhat easier to use.

Pros: Very robust; Full array of recording and capture options; Extensive editing capabilities; Multiple narration/voice-over options; Evaluation options to integrate with recordings; Multiple output format capabilities; Slightly less expensive than Adobe Captivate.

Cons: Relatively steep learning curve; Designed primarily for professional designers and technologists.

Verdict: B+


1. ScreenFlow, by Telestream.

If you’re looking for a robust screencasting and video-production program that’s easy to use, ScreenFlow’s the one. It’s nicely served a dual function for us here at MCAD — allowing us to produce highly polished videos, as well as giving our faculty a solid screencasting tool that doesn’t require a lot of hand-holding.

Pros: Ease of use; Robust but not too complex; Voice-over/narration capabilities; Multiple output format capabilities; Full array of post-capture editing capabilities.

Cons: Can be used only on macs.

Verdict: A-

Did we miss one that you like? Let us know!