How to Make Better Screencast Videos – Part 1: Software

With more than 350 commercial releases under our belt, totaling more than 2500 hours of professional quality video, we know a thing or two about making screencasts. In this new blog post series, we’ll be sharing some tips to help you make your own videos.

Video-based teaching is something we believe in very strongly. Whether you are wanting to learn a new piece of software from one of our courses, or needing to communicate a very specific workflow among members of your team, having a high quality, step by step onscreen guide is indispensable.

Subscribing to our unlimited Learning Library (which features ALL of our courses) should cover a lot of your bases when it comes to picking up new skills, but when it’s time for you to teach what you already know, following these guidelines will help you get your message across.

Choosing the Right Software

First, we’ll look at some of the programs you will need.

Screen Recording
If you’ve done any looking into screencasting, you’ve no doubt come across the overwhelming number of options there are for actually recording your footage. We’ve gone through a lot of them, and we have our favorites for Mac and Windows machines respectively.

First, a budget option: Screencast-O-Matic. This screencasting tool has Mac and Windows versions and costs $15 a year for the premium option, with a free option that caps out at 15 minutes per video. If you’ve not done any screen recording before, this may be a good place to start.

For a higher end option on the Mac side, we recommend iShowU HD. At $30 for the standard version and $60 for the Pro edition, it won’t break the bank, but its consistent performance and range of export options makes it a great option.


For a higher end Windows option, it’s hard to beat the Camtasia tools from TechSmith. Their basic Snagit product is $50, while the full Camtasia Studio which includes editing tools is $300. Education buyers can get discounts. This is a pricier option, but a proven product line. While there is a Mac edition of Camtasia, we still prefer iShowU HD.

Audio Editing
The first thing you’ll want to do after making a recording is clean up your audio. Remove heavy breathing, clicking noises, or background interruptions. You’ll also want to remove mistakes. We’ll cover these tips further in a later post on recording techniques; for now, we’ve got some tools to recommend.

Adobe Audition is a heavy hitter, more than capabale of this job, but you’ll need to learn to use it. Our Audition training video series covers editing and restorative techniques. Adobe’s Soundbooth product line (now discontinued) also offers a great toolset for cleaning up audio.


Audacity is a free open source tool that lacks many of the features of Audition and Soundbooth, but could get you through basic editing if you are on a tight budget.

Video Editing
This is where it gets personal. Video editing screencasts is not especially demanding, since your recording is already in linear order. You won’t need to splice together separate clips or work with fancy overlays or effects (which can easily distract more than help).

Basic packages such as Apple’s iMovie ($15) or Windows MovieMaker will actually get the job done with some patience, and Adobe’s Premiere Elements, at $60, offers a good price to performance value. Another benefit is our excellent Premiere Elements tutorial to help you get started.


More advanced editors such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro have more than enough firepower for the job, and cutting screencasts on these suites can be a good way to get started with these professional grade tools. Our Premiere Pro CC training and Final Cut X tutorials are also available to help you tackle these feature-rich programs.

With the number of options for web distribution, and the improvement in export options on both high and low-end editing programs, the compression and conversion stage is not something you’ll need to worry about. YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook are all great options for uploading your videos and getting them in front of the right people.

Coming Up…

In our next Screencasting Tips posts, we’ll give you tips on hardware and recording setups, editing techniques, and more.



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