CamStudio: An Easy, Lightweight App for Recording Screencasts

Last year, in a post called “6 Free Apps and Utilities for Working with Video,” I discussed how many more web workers are dealing with video on a daily basis. Video content is good for everything from promotional materials to embedding on sites and blogs. Screencasts, for which you can use easy tools to record the goings-on on your screen, then share the results with others as streaming video files, are also on the rise. One of my favorite, quick-in, quick-out Windows applications for this purpose is CamStudio.


Here’s a look at how easy it is to get started using it.


CamStudio is a very lightweight (under 2 megabytes) application that records all screen and audio activity on your computer and creates AVI video files out of them. Using its built-in SWF Producer module, you can turn the AVIs into Streaming Flash videos (SWFs). The application is easy to use, and light enough to carry around on any USB thumb drive; you can then save your creations right to the thumb drive at file sizes that you control.

In CamStudio, you can record the actions you’re performing using the red circle control at the left of the toolbar, as seen below. The Pause Recording button is just to the right of that, and the blue square is the Stop Recording button. CamStudio records audio in real-time, so you can voice-annotate what you’re doing. If you click on the second tool from the right on the toolbar, a dialog box pops up through which you can type annotations that you want to show up as your video plays (useful if you’d prefer no audio in your screencast).

CamStudio also has a Movie Player module, where you can playback your recordings, and the Zoom menu option will let you look at what you’ve recorded in either larger or smaller formats. The Movie Player is seen below, and its as easy to use as a DVD player.

One of the best applications for CamStudio is recording a tutorial on any software application, or showing another user how a particular web site works. You also have a lot of control over how you want to customize the look of your videos. You can use custom cursors, specify portions of larger screens that you want to record on their own, and you can also ratchet the quality of your videos up or down, according to the file sizes you prefer.

CamStudio is completely free, and it’s a lot easier to learn how to use than higher-end applications such as Camtasia. Try it out for tasks such as showing on-screen tasks and applications to others.

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