Tools we use: Easy and Free Screen recording tools

Tools we use: Easy and Free Screen recording tools

Today we look at automation from a different angle. It is the start of a new series that covers the “tools we use”. This post is about our favorite screen recording (“screencasting”) tools. The term screencast compares with the related term screenshot; whereas screenshot generates a single picture of a computer screen, a screencast is essentially a movie of the changes over time that a user sees on a computer screen, often enhanced with audio narration.

Screen recorders are handy tools used to record the computer’s screen, i.e. record the ongoing activities on the screen. The more advanced tools do provide live-capture enhancements, post-capture video editing options and more.

Here are the tool we use:

Loom (Chrome extension)

Loom calls itself “The ultra-flexible communication tool with endless use cases” and indeed, we learned about it when we received more and more links to Loom-recorded screencasts in our inbox. Then we tried it ourselves. And now it is our recommendation for casual screen recording.

You can install it as Chrome extension from the Chrome store

We like it because it is easy to learn and free to use. And the easy, built-in uploading makes it easy to share links to the created videos (hosted by Loom).

How can such a great tool be free? After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch (see our report last year about the WOT browser extension). Here is our guess: Loom received two rounds of funding, and seems to focus on increasing its user base by providing a useful service for free. So let’s enjoy the party while it lasts, shall we? If easy and free are the main criteria, this is the best screen recording tool in 2017.

ShareX (Windows app, open-source)

If you prefer using open-source tools and use Windows, then ShareX is recommended. It is a swiss-army knife for taking screenshots and recording screen videos screencasting. It is also a more advanced alternative to Loom, but not cross-platform.

ShareX also includes many other useful features, for example a Copyfish-style image/video to text conversion, powered by the OCR.space online ocr api service.

Camtasia and Snagit

Camtasia is the Adobe Photoshop of the screencasting world, the de-facto standard. It is good, solid professional screen recording and video editing software - but with a steep learning curve and a 3-digit price.

Camtasia has a little brother, Snagit. Initially it was only a screenshot and annotation tool, with since the latest versions it includes a limited but very easy to use screen recorder. It lacks the bells and whistles of a professional video editing tool like Camtasia, but this is exactly what makes it so easy (and actually fun) to use. You can download a 30-day trial version for Windows and Mac. The full version costs around $40. A bit expensive, but again, very easy to use. Camtasia and Snagit recorded videos can easily be shared. You can upload them to their own video platform (aptly called screencast.com) for free.

There are many other screencasting apps - but do you know of any that are better than the three tools we use? If so, please let us know in the comments below.

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