How to screencast – screencasting made easy

Edited by Pat Bitton

June 4, 2021

Here are 3 easy steps to make a screencast:

Creating a screencast sounds pretty simple, right? It is! And, with the information in this article, you can do it in just a few steps. However, for a screencast to be successful – something that your audience wants to watch – you’ll need to address a few more details. That’s why we’ve put together this article: to help you understand the ins and outs of screencasting, so you can choose the best screencasting software and make a screencast that looks and sounds great.

Before we get into how to make a screencast, though, we need to cover what a screencast is and why you should care. A screencast is a recorded video that captures and displays what’s happening on a screen. So, at its simplest, a recording of a video conference could be considered a screencast. But screencasts can also include a lot of different details and objects. For example, a screencast can include text, video-in-video or image-in-video features, images, audio and voiceovers, and/or mouse movements.

Most people use screencasts to create video tutorials that give people a walkthrough and step-by-step process for a specific action or goal. That said, these tutorials can vary a great deal. And a lot of different people can benefit from creating and sharing screencasts – both professionally and recreationally. A few of the top purposes for screencasts include:

  • Gaming tutorials: Gamers often create screencasts when they’ve completed a particularly difficult challenge, when they want to show a trick for beating a hard boss, or when they find a cool easter egg in a game.
  • YouTube how-to videos: YouTubers have been creating and sharing helpful screencasts with step-by-step how-to instructions for years. You’ve probably watched a few of these when you used YouTube to search for things like “how to edit cool videos” or “how to make a green screen video.”
  • Teachers and trainers: Teachers, trainers, and other educators often create screencasts to introduce new topics and/or to give students and trainees an easy way to access step-by-step processes. By walking students through each step of the process with a clear voiceover or narration explaining each step, teachers can better engage students and save time while improving the effectiveness of their lessons.
  • Software companies: Companies that create the software we use every day are always putting out screencasts to help users understand their products and updates. These are usually tutorials and walkthroughs for new features that may change the user experience.

An effective screencast is a great tool for learning and entertainment. Gamers use them to share easter eggs and cool ways to beat difficult bosses and challenges. Streamers use them to show their audiences how to do all kinds of things. And corporations and organizations use them to create more effective training tutorials. There are really too many uses for screencasts to list them all here, but this should give you an idea of what you can do once you learn how to make a great screencast.

How to make a screencast

Now that you have a better idea of what a screencast is and why you might want to create one, let’s talk about how to screencast. To get started, you’ll need two basic tools:

  • Screen recording software
  • Microphone

Later in this article, we’ll go through a list of the top screen recording software for screencasting. For now, though, let’s discuss a few tips to make a really great screencast. You might think that the first step in making a screencast would be to capture a screen recording, but there are actually a few things to do before then. Let’s take this process step by step:

1. Choose the best screen recording software

The best screen recorder will depend on your needs and your goals for the screencast. If you’re screencasting casually for friends and family, you may be looking for free software, and you may not mind having a watermark on your videos. If you’re making screencasts for professional use, you probably want a premium version with no watermark. Likewise, you’ll want to look at the features and interfaces. You can find out more about that below in our reviews of the top screen recorder programs for screencasting.

2. Choose a microphone

Your audio matters for a good screencast. While you can use your computer or mobile device’s onboard microphone to record your audio, it’s not the best idea. Internal microphones pick up all kinds of extraneous noise, and it can be really difficult to produce a cool, professional-sounding screencast without an external microphone.

With that in mind, you don’t have to buy the latest, greatest, most expensive microphone on the market to do a screencast that really pops. There are several options available for USB microphones that won’t break the bank but will improve the audio quality of your screencast immensely.

3. Find a quiet place to record your audio

Even the best microphone in the industry will still pick up outside noise if you’re recording in a loud environment. So, it’s important to find a quiet place in your house or studio to record the audio for your screencast. You want to record in an environment that’s free of distractions for you while you record – and free of noise that your microphone can pick up while you’re recording.

And, on that note, do a test run of your audio before you get too far into editing your screencast. You may find that the room you’re recording in has a lot of echoes or that the acoustics in the room create a sharp, tinny sound to your voice. You may not be able to soundproof your screencasting studio, but you can improve sound quality by recording in a smaller, carpeted space. Some screencasters even record their audio in a closet, as the enclosed space provides a more neutral soundscape.

4. Write a detailed script with every step of the process you’ll be screencasting

To avoid peppering your voiceover with long pauses, “umms”, and awkward wording, write your script before you start recording. This will not only help you say exactly what you want to relate, but it will also help you create the right structure for your tutorial. A good script gives you a roadmap for your screencast. Read and reread your script several times, and rehearse reading it for your screencast recording. Then, when you’re ready to record, the whole process will be easier and more straightforward.

5. Collect and organize everything you need to include in your screencast

Screencasting includes more than just a screen recording and a voiceover. Will you be adding your logo to your screencast? Do you have intro and/or outro clips? What about graphics and other features? Make sure you have access to everything you’ll need to edit your screencast before you get started.

6. Record a professional-sounding voiceover

While your video shows your audience what you’re doing, your audio tells them how to do it. Your voiceover is arguably the most important part of your screencast – so make sure that you record it in a quiet place with good acoustics. Get set up in the quiet environment we discussed in step 3 and take your time recording your screencast audio track. If you mess up, just do another take. You can record as many voiceovers as you need to get the final product right, and you’ll be glad you took the time to create a voiceover that perfectly fits your tutorial.

7. Exit out of all unrelated apps and processes when recording your screencast video

To avoid long load times and other potential delays when screencasting, close out of all other apps and shut down all unnecessary processes on your device(s). When recording, you only want to show relevant information, and you don’t want your tutorial to be slowed down by extraneous apps taking up your device’s processing power.

With this in mind, if you’re mirroring a mobile device, you may want to put that device in “Do Not Disturb” or airplane mode. You don’t want your screencast recording to be interrupted by incoming calls and texts!

8. Capture a screen recording

Obviously, to make a successful screencast, you’ll need to record part or all of what’s happening on your screen. Set up your screen recorder program to record only the part of your screen that you want your audience to see. If your screen recorder doesn’t give you the option to record only a single window or section of your screen, we recommend using the full-screen option in your browser, game, or whichever app you’re screencasting. If it doesn’t have a full-screen mode, you can maximize its window and get a similar effect.

Depending on which software you choose and your preferences, you can record the audio for your screencast at the same time as your video – or you can record your audio separately and edit it into your screencast later.

As we’ve discussed in these steps, it’s usually best to record your audio separately, but this will depend on you, your equipment, and the purpose of your screencast. If you’re creating a quick screencast to show a coworker how to use a new network device, for example, you might just want to plug in your microphone and record everything at once.

9. Play back your audio while recording your on-screen steps

Playing your audio track as you record your screencast is a great way to make sure that your audio and video sync up and work well together. It’s also a great way to make sure that you don’t unconsciously take a shortcut while performing a process that you’re teaching your audience about. For example, you might know a few keyboard shortcuts that you use all the time in a piece of software, but if someone is just learning to use that software, they won’t know what you just did! Doing this also helps you see if there’s anything that doesn’t quite work for the process in your audio track.

10. (Optional) Add intros/outros, music, and other final details

Branded intros and outros are good ideas for a lot of screencasters. If you’re a streamer, or if you’re teaching a tutorial for your company, you may want to include a quick introductory slide or video clip to show your audience who you are and what they can expect from the screencast. You can also edit in music in the background or between clips, and you can add other details like highlighting to draw the audience’s attention to important details.

11. Edit your screencast and share it with the world!

Finally, use your favorite video editing software to put the finishing touches on your screencast. You may want to add filters or other effects to give it a more professional look. If your screencast includes multiple parts or steps, you might want to add transitions between clips, and it’s always a good idea to include captions of your voiceover. You’ll also want to make sure that your screencast video is set to the correct aspect ratios and size for your intended platforms (e.g., YouTube, Instagram, or Twitch).

Then, once you’re finished, export your video to your preferred video file format and share it with your audience. You can upload it to social media, share it with friends, put it on YouTube, and/or publish it within your company to help new employees understand important tasks.

Best software to do a screencast

Now that you know how to make a great screencast, let’s discuss your options for screen recording software. There are numerous options to download or use online, and there are free and paid versions, depending on your goals and how you’ll use your screencast videos. Check out the top screen recorders below:

Best for: recording streaming videos, online calls, webinars, and other videos

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 41 positive reviews out of 44

Movavi Screen Recorder is a desktop application that allows users to capture and record video and audio (together or separately) from their screen or webcam. With a fully functional free version and a premium version available, Movavi Screen Recorder offers a fast and easy way for screencasters to capture their video and audio footage, and edit them together to make cool screencasts that audiences want to watch. And Movavi’s premium version lets users create videos without watermarks for professional use.

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • High-quality video and audio output
  • Multiple file formats, including HD options
  • Multifunctional
  • Fast and easy to learn and use
  • Free version available

Cons

  • Videos created with the free version have a watermark

Best for: recording gameplay without leaving the game

PCWorld rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Windows 10’s Game Bar is a native gameplay recording app that allows gamers to record their gameplay without leaving the game. Users can record screencasts of their games either on their Xbox or on a PC. While some users have reported flaky performance, when Game Bar works, it offers a screen recording solution for Xbox that doesn’t involve a lot of extra steps or screen mirroring.

Pros

  • Included with Windows 10, no need to download an external app
  • User-friendly

Cons

  • It doesn’t always capture video and audio the way it’s supposed to
  • Flaky performance
  • Difficulty locating the Game Bar interface in play

Best for: recording and livestreaming for gamers

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 40 positive reviews out of 45

OBS Studio is open-source software designed to let users record video on their computers. This desktop software is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can use OBS Studio to capture from your webcam or screen, and it can be used to record video calls and other screen activity. Because it’s freeware, though, there’s not a lot of support for OBS Studio. Some users have reported difficulties learning the interface and some issues running it on Windows machines.

Pros

  • Custom background capabilities
  • Easy slide duplication

Cons

  • Difficulty moving individually highlighted screens
  • Limited compatibility for PC users
  • Steep, difficult learning curve

Best for: capturing screencasts without downloading screen recording software

Trustpilot rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

ScreenCapture.com is a free online screen recording application. It gives users the option to record screencasts and capture videos of what’s happening on their screens without downloading software to their computers. If you are using a shared device and cannot download software, this may be a good option for you. Users have reported that this screen recorder doesn’t always capture video, and sometimes the output is just a blank screen with audio. So, while it’s convenient and doesn’t require a download, it may not be the right solution for screencasters recording on the fly or recording processes that cannot easily be repeated (e.g., gaming sequences, capturing a software error, etc.).

Pros

  • Free version available
  • Quick save times for HD videos
  • Privacy measures for screen recording

Cons

  • The free version includes a watermark
  • Inconsistent recording quality
  • Users report that it sometimes does not capture video, only audio
  • Some lag, depending on connectivity

Best for: capturing a screencast of a specific browser window

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Screencastify is screen recording software designed to work with Google Chrome. It does allow users to capture and edit full- or partial-screen recordings on your desktop or from your webcam, but it is most often used for recording in-browser activity. Because it is specific to Chrome, users recording from a different browser or application may have some challenges with their video recordings. And, while the software is free, all videos made with ScreenCapture will have watermarks.

Pros

  • In-browser recording for Chrome
  • User-friendly interface

Cons

  • Videos made with Screencastify are watermarked
  • Inconsistent output quality

Tips on how to record a screencast that people want to watch

So, how can you record a screencast that looks and sounds professional and sleek? Here are a few tips for recording screencasts that help your audience understand the process you’re walking them through in an effective and entertaining way. Remember, screencasting is more than just recording what’s happening on your screen. To make a really great screencast, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. Follow these tips to get started:

1. Keep it short and sweet.

Screencasts shouldn’t be hours-long recordings. In fact, the most successful screencasts are typically less than five minutes. If you’re creating an in-depth training course or a longer tutorial, consider breaking it up into smaller, more manageable chunks. For example, instead of capturing the twenty-minute run-up to a big boss fight, gamers will capture the fight itself. Think of the most interesting and/or useful thing about your subject and cut your screencast down to only the most important part(s).

2. Use an external microphone.

A lot of screen recording programs have the ability to capture audio through your computer’s internal microphone, but the resulting audio won’t be ideal. Instead, try using an external USB microphone. You can then decide whether to record your audio separately and add it to your screencast when you edit your video or do video and audio together for quick screencasting projects.

3. Don’t hesitate to make edits.

When creating a tutorial or walkthrough of a game or process, don’t feel like you have to include every moment of the process. There will inevitably be times when you’re waiting for a download, or when an image is rendering. When things like this happen, or when you have an unrelated task that has to take place to get through to the next step, you don’t have to make your audience sit through it all. Instead, help them stay engaged with a little video editing magic. Increase the speed on unrelated or tedious parts of the process. This will make it look like you’re fast-forwarding through these parts, showing the audience that these steps occur, but saving them from several minutes of waiting. Likewise, don’t hesitate to edit out any part of the process that doesn’t add value to your audience.

4. Create a clear structure for your screencast video.

Remember, you’re teaching your audience something. Whether you’re a gamer showing how you beat a big boss or you’re sharing a Photoshop tutorial, your screencast needs to be logically laid out and organized. Break it down into simple, easy-to-follow steps. Write a script with clear steps for each part of the process. Record a voiceover track that walks your audience through what they need to learn. And do all of this before you start recording. The more organized you are as you create a screencast, the better the result will be.

5. Only include relevant visuals and info.

If you’re making a screencast of a game, your audience should only see the game. If you’re screencasting a software tutorial, they should only see the window in which you’re working. Keep your audience focused on your screencast and the task at hand by eliminating distractions. Don’t record your entire desktop when you only need one window. And, if there are distracting sounds that aren’t related to your tutorial, edit those out too.

Frequently asked questions

How do I screencast for free?

You can use a free screen recorder – either online or with a free download – to make a screencast for free. Some of the software options for screen recorders include:

  • Movavi Screen Recorder
  • Windows 10 Game Bar
  • OBS Studio
  • ScreenCapture.com
  • Screencastify

How do I screencast on Windows?

You can do a screencast in Windows 10 with Windows 10 Game Bar. This software is native to Windows 10 machines, so you don’t have to download anything to create your screencast.

  1. Open the app, game, or window that you want to record.
  2. Hit Win + G on your keyboard.
  3. If a window pops up that says “Do you want to open Game bar?” select Yes, this is a game.
  4. A red dot icon should appear. To record a screencast, you can either hit this button or hold Win + Alt + R to begin recording.
  5. A timer window will appear while you’re recording.
  6. When you’re ready to stop, hit the square in the timer box or hold Win + Alt + R again.

How do you use screen mirroring?

A lot of screencasters use screen mirroring to make their screencasts on their computers while demonstrating processes on their mobile devices. For Android users, this process is simple.

Here’s how to do it on an Android device:

  1. Swipe down from the top of your Android device to reveal the Quick Settings panel.
  2. Find and select the Screencast button.
  3. A list of Chromecast devices on your network will show up, and you can choose the one you want to mirror.
  4. Stop screencasting by following the same steps and hit Disconnect when prompted.

Here’s how to do it on an Apple device:

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to open Control Center.
  2. Tap Screen Mirroring or AirPlay.
  3. Select your computer or another device, and your iPhone screen will mirror on that device.
  4. Use your screen recording software to make a screencast with the display on your mirrored device.