David Papp Blog

Top three free screencasting software for Windows

Have you ever turned to YouTube to look for video tutorials about how to fix a bug on your computer or figure out how a particular application works? Chances are that how-to video you watched was made using screencasting software.

Popular uses for screencasting software

This type of program enables users to capture a clear video file of what’s happening on their computer screen – something that would be difficult to achieve if you were to use a handheld camera device.

Screencasting software is especially helpful for people who want to create online lectures or demonstrate how to use specific computer applications. It’s also a great tool for digital artists who want to share how they create digital art from start to finish by creating a time-lapse sequence of their process.

Here’s a roundup of the top 3 free screencasting software for Windows users that you can use today:

1. Camstudio

Camstudio is an open-source software that you can download for free. Here are just some of its special features:

  • Produces high-quality video in a smaller file size, making it easier for you to upload and share your videos.
  • Simultaneously record your screen while recording footage from your laptop or desktop’s webcam using the “picture in picture” feature.
  • Add screen captions to your video using the Video Annotation feature.

2. ScreenToaster

ScreenToaster is a web-based screen recorder that you can use for free without having to download any software. What makes Screen Toaster stand out among the rest is the fact that you can use it on any computer regardless of its OS. You don’t have to worry about pesky watermarks either. Simply click the “Start Recording” button and download, embed, or email your video to yourself when you’re done. (Note: it appears this website may no longer be available).

3. Jing

Usable on both Windows and Macintosh computers, you can use Jing’s basic version for free to record videos that are less than five minutes in length. Jing features a simpler interface, which makes it easier to use compared to Camstudio.

Do you use screencasting software? Share your thoughts.

42 thoughts on “Top three free screencasting software for Windows”

  1. I love Camstudio, been using it to create tutorial videos in the past. It’s a very decent software, it comes with some really nice features, but you need to explore it a bit more to find them. It’s one of the best screen-casting software out there ,at least of the free ones. I also have Snag it (gift from my tech savvy friend), but it’s too bulky and comes with so many features.

    Camstudio in the other hand is lighter, comes with less features, but it’s so easy to use it’s a delight. Plus if you just want to make a video tutorial you don’t need that many features anyway.

  2. I use screencasting software a lot, I make gaming videos and recently started making tutorials on making music with software. I’m on a Mac though, of course, so I can’t comment on Camstudio, but I have tried Jing in the past and, unfortunately, I was not impressed. It was too slow and the quality was too low.

    The link to ScreenToaster is either wrong or the website no longer exists, I get a squatter page when I click it, so I can’t comment on that either.

    Nowadays, I use Screenflow. It is not free, that’s a shame, but it is the best software out there, even with its flaws. Of course, there are ways to work around the unregistered limitations, but I do intend to buy a license if my tutorial videos start generating a profit.

    As much as I love free software, in my screen recording pursuits, I have found that the free ones aren’t worth it. The speed and quality just never compares to that of the commercial programs. I can’t say anything about Windows or Linux software, but I did found this to be the case for Mac.

  3. This is a pretty good list of free alternatives to Camtaisa, Fraps, and the others. But honestly, I prefer to pay for screen recording software because the paid ones are much more lighter, faster, and have a lot of features. But if I’m ever in need of a good alternative, I’ll be sure to turn to here.

    • I agree. The free ones are pretty much just that, you get what you pay for. Some of the free ones also have a lot of adware and all that stealthy third party softwares that they kept on installing in your PC together with the software.

      • Yeah, also, ever since CNET basically became an adware distribution site, trying to force their “secure” installer onto program installations, it’s probably going to be horrible for people looking for free screen recorders. That, and also just most free screen recorders probably have some adware bundled in the installer. I wish that there was an application that could identify if adware was bundled in an installer.

    • Sorry to tell you this, but Fraps is one of a kind! No free software can ever Fraps, at least not if you want to create good game walkthroughs! I love it shows how many frames per second you are getting right in the corner of your screen, plus it couldn’t be any easier to use. It offers the best video quality ever, the resulting game walkthroughs look so professional!

    • Exactly, the free ones aren’t meant to be that good because since they are free they don’t have a high-scale development team to make them. I will always stick to paid for software because free ones aren’t that good or they want to entice you to buy the full version of the software.

  4. Actually I was already intrigued how people record things while doing their powerpoint presentation (e.g. Youtibe lectures). The only thing I know to do this was screen capture but that would be just poctures and not a film or clip. Did’nt know the term for it was screencasting. 🙂

    Anyway, i’ll check this softwares and get back to you for my review. Thanks.

  5. To my pleasant surprise, as soon as you install the CamStudio software, you get a 43 minutes video tutorial. I heard about CamStudio a year ago. Now that I’ve started making tutorials on my own this post of yours is perfect timing. Keep up the good work with your suggestions. – Kind regards

  6. I’ve tried Camstudio before and it was pretty cool. The only problem that I have with these screen recorders is that they don’t produce videos that are really good.

    Some of them are really jumpy and the frame rate suffers. You can make them look smooth but you have to adjust some of the settings which will tamper with the quality of the video.

    • I agree but if you really want to have the quality better I suggest you go and purchase one of the paid screen recording software. Some of the free stuff tend to be a bit crappy when it comes to this kind of thing.

      I also notice that if you lower you resolution it helps a bit with the smoothness but other than that you can’t really expect much from a free software.

      • I completely agree. There’s a major difference between one to purchase and made professionally, or just one to advertise a product till you buy. They basically limit the quality so that you would have to end up buying, but there are great ones out there for a good price.

  7. I have to say Camstudio is probably the best. I love how you they added a video annotation feature, it’s really helpful if you want to create tutorials and you don’t have to take all of the mess to a different software just to put some text on it.

    • Yes, I love that about Camstudio! That one feature makes it one of my fav free screen-casting softwares. I have used free screen-casting softwares that don’t offer that feature and let me tell you it was so tedious and frustrating! All screen-casting softwares should have that feature! It’s a no-brainer in my opinion.

  8. screen toaster sounds like a good choice. I would try that out.. thanks for the info.

  9. I watch videos like these all the time. I didn’t know you had to use a special kind of software to record them; I suppose I never gave it much thought before. They can be really helpful because sometimes you can’t understand just by hearing someone explain it. It’s much easier to watch the screen and follow along.

  10. Thanks, I have recently been giving thought to software like this and I would prefer not to spend much on it. I have several ideas on tutorials that I would like to make and this has certainly done the job. Thanks for this good post.

  11. Good timing releasing this post – it is on my to-do list to learn the screencasting basics. I will get back and leave a comment after I have tried these out and see how I get on.

  12. Among these three, I would say that CamStudio is the best. However, if you are really serious about making long, high quality screen capture videos, I would definitely recommend spending some money on Fraps. It records at source quality, making your video look as amazing as your system can handle. 120 fps and 7680×4800 is even possible if you have a top tier gaming rig!

  13. I use Jing, primarily for its desktop screenshot feature which lets you crop right on the spot and upload to the internet or save to desktop. That said, I’ve always felt it left a little more to be desired when it comes to video recording, but maybe I just haven’t given it much of a real chance.

    In any case, thanks for the list, I intend to try out CamStudio and see how that goes.

  14. Interesting and helpful writeup. I’m going to have to grab one of the mac-compatible ones, but they seem just as competent as any of the others. Thanks!

  15. I have been using CamStudio to do my videos on YouTube. I find it easier to use if you are trying to explain something to your viewers. It’s just like showing them hands on.

  16. It’s good to have this option. It’s hard to find free software like this. If only I could find some free writing software that wont add spyware. I guess that is why office is available online.

  17. Cam studio would never work for me, so I started using Camtasia studio. I’m really happy with it, although I’m still trying to figure everything out. Once I tried to make a tutorial of me working in Pro Tools but the audio input wasn’t configured properly. I’ll give these a shot tonight. I love this blog, your articles have helped me understand tech a lot more than I thought I did.

  18. I’ve been looking for a screen recorder so I can make scenery gifs of Skyrim…Fraps videos just take up too much space!!! I saw this list and decided that Jing looked like the best option for me because my videos will all be under 5 minutes (usually actually no longer than 10 seconds). I am absolutely in love with it so far. It’s easy to use and I’ve been able to make so many quality gifs from the video clips! Thank you for introducing me!

  19. Since I make gameplay videos on youtube I need a screencaster that can record high quality, yet still be cpu efficient. These 3 screencasting programs are good but their are better free programs out there. Such a open broadcast Recorder, it is complicated at first but after you understand how to use it, it could be the best free recorder. I’ve tried fraps and it has very good quality, but it is cpu hungry. Camstudio is better than the other two, because it has the most features and the best quality. But it all comes down to which one fits your needs.

  20. I have been wanting to be proficient in using one of these screencasting softwares but I am not as skilled in that area. I am now a bit more familiar with what is out there, and I cannot tell the difference. Microsoft has one that is the Microsoft Expression and there is the Movie Maker for Windows, which are also an option. These three are nice options with their own specialty.

  21. I’ve always thought about making video tutorials for YouTube. It’s nice to have a review of a few free screencasting tools I could use. I also didn’t know that CamStudio was free and open source. That is very cool. I’ll have to download it and mess around with it a bit and see if I like it. Thanks for the info David!

  22. I have been looking for free screen capture software for a while. I will look into the three items here. I have a demo version of Fraps on board, but it will set me back if I decide to get the full version. I will now weigh in between Fraps and the software you mentioned. Thanks!

  23. I’ve heard of Jing but not the other two. Time for a bit of experimentation I think, though it makes sense for me to simply plump for one and then master that one. But getting bang for my buck (i.e. seeing what I actually get for “free”) is one of my biggest considerations here.

  24. I’m one of those people… I watch videos online all the time about photoshopping techniques. And they always use this type of stuff to demonstrate their methods. But I never knew what it was called, let alone what program they used. Interesting. Thanks for the info.

  25. I love using FRAPS. Even though you’ll normally just see me recording games, it does just about anything. The best part is that it doesn’t do too much to your framerate, and it keeps it relatively steady the whole time.

  26. Camstudio is a great, intuitive software that pretty much does exactly as advertised. I haven’t had many issues trying to use it aside from trying to squeeze out some better compression on it, but for basic screen recording it fits the bill perfectly.

    If you’re looking to live-stream though, OBS https://obsproject.com/ works well and is very straightforward as well. I like it mostly because it’s very lightweight compared to some of the other solutions out there, and hooks up to a fair amount of services.

  27. I have always been wondering what software programs were mainly used to effectively capture videos on people’s computer screens and it looks like I finally got my answer. ScreenToaster sounds good for the fact that you don’t have to install anything, because you have to wonder to begin with if this gives spying abilities to the developers of these programs. Too bad that these types of programs don’t come pre-installed on operating systems, so that you don’t have to download it from third parties.

  28. Camstudio has been my main screen recording software for quite some time. The easy of use, and it’s popularity make it the first one to come across, so I imagine most people use it. Mainly, it’s free, and that’s the best offer you can get. I would however, not mind spending a few bucks on a paid screen recording software that offers more features; and doesn’t Camstudio have a watermark in the top right corner? I would also pay to have that removed.

  29. I always was into screencapturing and for some reason always thought is fascinating and cool to record your desktop or video games. So I’ve gone through my fair share of desktop recording software.

    The ones listed in this post are okay but honestly, I’ve used OBS (Open broadcaster software) and I don’t want to go back. You can save video to your hard-drive or stream it to various streaming sites. And you can even do a little bit of editing in the app, like add a watermark or a webcam as you record your video. It’s a great piece of software, something to check out. 🙂

  30. Hmm, when I do streaming or video capture I don’t look any further than ‘Fraps’ or ‘Open Broadcast Software’. ‘Fraps’ does an amazing job of recording raw footage that I can later edit or compress as needed. OBS is wonderful for streaming and has pretty much replaced the previous Kingpin, X-Split. I never really liked Camstudio and haven’t heard of the other two. I guess I just don’t see any point in trying another piece of software when what I have been using works for me.

  31. VidShot Capturer from geovid.com is a valid alternative for machines running old windows.

    I tried it on an old Windows XP machine with good results. Other free video capture software complained, but VidShot Capturer worked. It is pretty simple to use. You click “start” on the program, then press “F9” to save your captured video.

    Recommended for people with legacy systems.

  32. I rarely use another screen casting software other than camstudio. It works and it’s free, what’s not to like about that? It’s easy to use and it doesn’t use up an exorbitant amount of resources when it’s rendering, at least not to the extent that others do.

  33. Camstudio is definitely a very reliable program to use. I find it to be a pretty simple tool to use, but not everyone may think that way. I haven’t really even heard of the other two programs, but I might give them a try next time I need to record something on my screen.

  34. I’ve never really thought I needed a screencasting software until I started making how-to’s on YouTube. My channel is slowly growing and I’m always seeking feedback on how it’s going and so far, the comments are mostly positive about the quality of my video which pretty much consists of screen recordings. The software I’m actually using is CamStudio at the moment. It works like a charm and it’s easy to use all while providing the quality recordings I need.

  35. Well, I haven’t used any sreencasting program before but I’m definetly the type of guy who always go directly to YouTube when it comes to have certain doubts/problems about anything that includes a technological device.
    It’s actually pretty interesting to get to know how those videos are actually made, and who knows, maybe I would be able to use this feature sooner or later, so it’s always good to know this kind of stuff.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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