Desktop video capture

Capture desktop video and audio for easy demonstrations with this free recorder.

SMRecorder is a simple desktop audio/video recorder that not only captures desktop video and audio but also camera and microphone inputs. You can add onscreen annotation and narration to create clips for presentations, tutorials, and embedded media. It's freeware, too.

During the installation process, we were given the choice between standard and custom installation options. We chose the custom option, which let us deselect some extras like toolbars that we didn't want. SMRecorder's main interface is more or less a minimized media player, with six buttons and a counter. Three buttons access recording tasks, and start, pause, or stop the recording process; another two access the Screen Image Annotation tool and the save function. The last button opened a Web-based manual with plenty of screenshots. We could access the same documentation directly at the program's Web site. SMRecorder keeps its interface small and neat by using dialogs for the heavy lifting, such as the Screen Image Annotation tool and the program's main settings page, the New Recording Task box. We opened this box and started by selecting Capture Type on the General tab. Our choices were Desktop Video, Camera Video, or Desktop/Microphone Sound. We chose desktop video capture, full desktop, and normal resolution, and then set the duration (5 minutes to unlimited) and the Save Path. On the Video Settings tab, we could set the video compression quality, capture frame rate, synchronization interval, and other choices. The Audio tab let us set the recording volume level, channels, delay, and the digital audio sample frequency and bit rate. We could also deselect the Record Audio check box to force the program to record video without sound.

SMRecorder minimized to the system tray while recording video. We dragged the cursor around the desktop, highlighting a few items. When we stopped recording, the program saved it in our destination as an AVI. We opened it in our favorite media player, and it played normally, showing our cursor motion and other desktop activity. This is a handy tool to keep on the desktop, and great for making demonstration videos.

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