Screencasting on Mac OS X: What you need to get the job done

Your choices for screen capture on Mac OS X are increasing, both in quantity and quality. Screen capture and screen casting is cake using these low-cost (and sometimes free) applications:

Mac OS X veterans Ambrosia Software produce SnapzProX. They’ve recently updated it to overcome a nasty bug that wreaked havoc with displaying the mouse cursor due to the x86 architecture. It’s slow and pricey. http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/.

Copernicus from Danicsoft provides a free capture utility that it claims will allow you to easily

  • manage your screenshots. Check it out at http://danicsoft.com/projects/copernicus/.ShinyWhiteBox’s iShowU is a solid tool for capturing screen output. It’s reasonably priced at $20. It’s the tool I currently use (after ditching SnapzProX. Check it out at http://www.shinywhitebox.com/home/home.html.

    ScreenMimic allows screen capture to Flash video, SWF, or QuickTime, supports visual clicking, and has other nice features. It’s a bit pricey compared to the competition, though. http://www.polarian.com/products/ScreenMimic.php.

    ScreenCasting/Screen Capture on a Severe Budget

    I built my Mac OS X screen capture/screencasting tool set on 20 bucks. It has visual mouse clicks, captures webcam video and screen shots, and outputs keyboard entries to the screen as well. Pretty slick for 20 bones.

    You can add visual clicking (whereby mouse clicks are visually highlighted) to those screen capture utilities that don’t natively support it by downloading and installing 2Points5Fish.com has a great preference panel that allows you to turn on visual clicking, called MouseLocator. It’s free! Get it at http://www.2point5fish.com/download.html.

    If you need to display what keys are being depressed on your keyboard, try:

    • Apple’s Keyboard Viewer, formerly called KeyCaps. To activate it, open the System Preferences, then select International and click on the Input Menu tab. Check the “Show Input Menu” box at the bottom of the dialog, and check the Keyboard Viewer option box in the list. Keyboard Viewer is now available on the flag menu.
    • If you want a bit more functionality (like a scrolling transcript of what is being typed), check out KeyCastr: http://stephendeken.net/wiki/software/keycastr/.

    A common request is the ability to record desktop and video from a web cam. No problem. Simply use iChat AV and preview your webcam output. Put the video window in your screen capture location and you’ve got instant desktop capture and video.

    Here’s an example of my screencasting setup for Mac OS X:

  • 7 thoughts on “Screencasting on Mac OS X: What you need to get the job done

    1. Pretty good setup – I especially like the PIP using the iChat preview. Couple of other options – I just found a piece of software called Screencast (how original!) that looks like it’ll give iShowU a good run – http://www.araelium.com/screencast/ And if you don’t need to include the PIP and can keep it under 5 minutes you could use Jing (http://jingproject.com). Actually it’ll record the PIP too, but at a slower frame rate so it looks kinda jerky. Thanks also for the display keyboard tips.

    2. Thanks Paul. Wow, Screencast looks fantastic. I especially like how it integrates visual mouse clicks and keyboard shortcuts, and keeps a list of screen captures that can then be exported in the future at any variety of settings. Thanks for the tip. Move over, iShowU!

      I’ve invited Araelium to comment on this post as well as to consider the addition of Picture in Picture video like that which I’ve demonstrated in my video. Here’s my email to them:

      I was turned on to your Screencast app by a reader of my blog. I recently posted a how-to about assembling a low-cost, flexible screen casting/screen capture set up. In the post, I listed various software vendors. I’d like to invite you to check out this post ( http://www.gigoblog.com/2007/11/13/screencasting-on-mac-os-x-what-you-need-to-get-the-job-done/) which might give you an idea for a cool feature to add to screencast that would make it the no-holds-barred champ of the screen casting software segment for Mac OS X.

    3. Great video! I’m new to iShowU and trying to use the same set up that you are, but the recording is very choppy. The recording of my iChat video seems to have a very small framerate.

      How did you get yours so smooth?

      I’m recording at my 1280×800 screen with the YouTube setting and the quality just one notch below the max. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks.

    4. @rik: What’s causing your system to lag is that it is having to compress a large screen size in real time. If you capture using Apple Animation as the codec, you’ll get a smooth capture, but very large file size. After capture, you can open in QuickTime (tip: Purchase QT Pro — it’s worth the price of admission) and compress using h264. Basically, the idea is capture in best quality, then compress afterward. It’s just too hard on the average system to capture and compress in real time. Stay tuned as I’m going to do a feature on a new(er) screen capture utility that puts iShowU to shame…

    5. @Gabe, thanks for sharing that resource. Looks great, and you can’t beat the price! FWIW, I’m now a full convert over to Screencast. It’s a top-notch app that offers great editing capabilities.

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