Capture and publish screen and Webcam video with Screencast-O-Matic

Capture video and save or share it easily with this freeware video screengrabber.

Free screenshot tools are fun to try because they come in so many varieties, and because they're free, you can try as many as you want. Screencast-O-Matic captures screen and Webcam video and saves it or posts it online on YouTube or the program's Web site. With a well-designed interface and simple operation, it's a contender. The freeware version uses a nag screen (it's really more of a nag box) and places an output watermark, and it limits recording to 15 minutes.

Screencast-O-Matic's user interface is quite unique, and pretty cool, too. It's a dotted-line selection frame you can drag to resize and reshape. The media player-style toolbar is simple yet superbly executed, with clear icons and displays that need no labels. SOM is totally easy to use, too. You can use the manual controls, but the message box in the center of the selection area had a better idea: one hot-key combo, Alt+P, starts recording video after a 3-second onscreen countdown, and pauses it again when you want to stop recording temporarily. If you click Done, you're taken to SOM's Preview page, where you can preview your recording in quite a large window and select one of three easy options: Publish to Screencast-O-Matic, Publish to YouTube, and Publish to Video File (save). SOM saves clips in QuickTime (MP4), Windows Media File (AVI), Flash (FLV), and Animated Image (GIF) formats. The animated GIF option is great for blogs, smartphone apps, and other size-intensive animation needs. You can also choose an output size in pixels, including a Rescale option, and add Notes and Captions. Advanced options include Mouse effects and the ability to remove audio or Webcam data.

We created a quick desktop demo-style video with both mousing and typing and clicked the Video File option. We selected FLV since we wanted to try the YouTube feature and compare it with normal uploads. The free version's watermark isn't annoying, and our video turned out well. The upload options worked fine, too. And if you like Screencast-O-Matic as much as we do but don't like the watermark, it's cheap to go Pro.

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