A screencast is a video recording of your screen (or parts of it) whith accompanying verbal comment. Depending on the type of application you are using, sometimes mouse clicks get highlighted or big letters are showing what you are typing on your keyboard in the centre of the screen.

Tutorial videos are mostly advanced screencasts with some more editing and effects.

When to Use Screencasts

Recording and sharing screencasts 1 is most appropriate if one or more of the following is true:

  • You want to show others what’s happening on your screen. Rather than just capturing one moment with a screenshot, you can guide them through a process or sequence of events.
  • You want to show others how you do something and go through a process or sequence of steps.
  • You want the screencast to be available to one or more people at different times, independently. (Screencasts are asynchronous communication)
  • You want the recipients to be able to watch it and re-watch specific parts, rewind, etc. (scrubbing)

How to Record a Screencast

Depending on your operating system (Mac, Linux or maybe even still Windows), there are different options to record a screencast.

Recording a Screencast on Mac OS X (Apple)

Apple’s operating system comes with a native, built-in way to do screen recordings. Open QuickTime Player, then select File > New Screen Recording, keyboard shortcut: ⌃ ⌘ N.

You can then choose the audio source (or deactivate it), and also optionally activate Show Mouse Clicks in Recording (which I recommend).

These are the options in QuickTime Player for Screen Recordings

Keep It Short

Keep your screen recordings short. If necessary, split them into a mini series. It makes things easier. This follows the rule for email subjects:

One subject per recording.

Don’t Make It Perfect

In most cases, you just want to get the message across and avoid any editing as this can quickly become very time-consuming.

Especially screencasts that are used for internal communications don’t have to be pretty but functional first and foremost.

Editing Your Screencast

In case you have to create a longer screen recording, QuickTime Player allows you some very basic editing, like trimming or adding another clip at the end (which brings us back to the concept of splitting the recording into smaller chunks).

If you are using professional screencast software, like Camtasia or Screenflow, you can do more fancy editing. But beware, this is a whole new skill to aquire.

Convert Your Screencasts - Size Matters

Before you share your screencasts, you might want to consider converting them to reduce the file size. My favorite tool for that is Handbrake which is free and a fantastic piece of software.

Sharing Screencasts

Once recorded, you can share your recording(s). For sharing large files, I recommend:

  • Upload them to Dropbox (into a shared folder or to create link to be shared)
  • Upload them to Google Drive 2
  • Use a BitTorrent Sync 3 folder that is set up for / shared with for your team

With QuickTime Player, you have some built-in exporting options:

QuickTime Player Export Function

Or take a look at the sharing possibilities:

QuickTime Player Sharing

Here’s an example using screencasts to reduce the time spent in a meeting: Choose the Best Communication Channel

  1. Screencasts are recordings of your screen (with you commenting). Screencasts are the asynchronous variation of screen sharing, which is feeding live video of your screen (and, usually, your voice) to others. A screenshot is a still photo of your screen.  

  2. Google Drive gives you 15 GB of storage space for free. 

  3. BitTorrent Sync can sync files of any size. Data is transferred between devices directly without being uploaded to a server and re-downloaded.