Do you remember Ctrl+Prt Scr? Or, Alt+Prt Scr? Those were the only options to capture still images of computer screen views in the “early” days. [Note: the early days are probably more like the middle days, since if you wanted a screen shot for the early early days, then you’d have to use a camera and get the photos developed so that you could cut and glue them into the document prior to copying them for distribution. We’ve come a long way.] While the Ctrl or Alt methods are sometimes effective, they often captured way more of your screen than needed (e.g., desktop photo of you at the beach or desktop icons for solitaire, spider, and freecell). For those with patience, Paint could be used to crop the graphic, but most folks just plopped the full graphic into a document without editing. Half the Word document page was useless graphic, especially if the font was too small to actually read. The Jing “sun” brought light into the darkness and gave us the ability to only capture the relevant part of our computer screen. What’s more, Jing gives us audio/video recording abilities to show and tell our audience where to click (rather than putting arrows on the screen capture graphic). Alas, Jing has saved us all from awful screen captures.
My Goal: Capture my computer screen without the need to edit the graphic
- It’s FREE! You download it to your computer so that it’s available to use without Internet access. The Jing “sun” is always visible on my desktop, so I can hover over it to select my option and then click the area to capture.
- Some users find the five-minute video restriction of the free version to be a benefit as it compels the user to keep the information brief.
- It saves a copy of the capture to your Screencast account, though I just use the version I’ve stored locally. You can share this account with other users so they can access the saved videos or graphics. I don’t think they need an account, but you will; and, there is a size limit on how much can be stored for free.
- The quality of the video screen capture is less than ideal if the user needs to read the text on the screen. The text is a little blurry. The video quality, though, is often better than other free screen capture tools I’ve tried. I don’t have any quality issue with static screen capture.
- The screen capture video format does not work with typical video players/editors, as it saves the file as SWF (Adobe Flash Player). If you have Camtasia, then you can edit the files, though if you have Camtasia, then you’re probably using Camtasia’s screen record feature that yields a better quality video. The preferred viewing method of Jing videos is through the Screencast.com website, where your videos and graphics are automatically stored.
- Sometimes the Jing “sun” is quirky, where it disappears or doesn’t respond to clicking. I can either shutdown Jing, or use the Jing button found in my “hidden icons” tab of the Windows toolbar. The quirkiness is not often and not generally a major issue.
- Like most screen capture software, you can’t freeze dropdown menus during the capture process.
Insider View: I use this tool all the time to capture my screen. Most days, I use it to capture views of my gradebook so that I don’t have to log in to the classroom in order to view the gradebook entries from the previous week. I’m able to print out the graphic and write notes about grades/students. Although I work online for most of my teaching, keeping a paper copy of certain things is a way to stay organized (….imagine color coded file folders on my desk).
Final Thoughts: Very useful tool, especially because it is free to download and use. While there are other screen capture tools, this one is my favorite because it is easy to use. Not a fan of the video capture due to quality, though.