Although I’m a technical writer, and able to explain steps in a process through text, I value the “let me show you” ability that screen capture software provides, either with still-shots or video capture. This type of software helps the audience compare their actions and outcomes to those described in the tutorial or instructions. I can only imagine how this software would have changed my approach to training when I first started out as a technical writer. Instead of long training sessions, brief videos could capture what the documentation reinforced. For anyone who has sat through a three-hour PowerPoint training class, you’ll understand the value of videos you can watch at your leisure. As for screen shots in documentation created 15 years ago, I used the Prt Scr keyboard button of Windows, and then edited it in Paint. Actually, TinyTake is not too far off from the options in Paint, though it includes the screen capture feature that Paint does not. If TinyTake was the only screen capture software I was given when abandoned on a desert island, I would probably last about a week before pitching my laptop into the ocean. It isn’t bad software, but it’s just not very dynamic. That said it would work well for anyone who likes to use a simplified version of Paint (if you can get more simple than Paint).
I would like to thank one of my technical writing students (Britt Wells) for bringing this tool to my attention!
Goal: create video or static photo of my computer screen through screen capture software
- There is a blog associated with the tool, but at the time I wrote this post, there were only seven articles and none were dated, so they could be a few years old. (I’m becoming such a blog-snob, as I want companies to continually update their blogs with fresh ideas and insights.)
- There are undo and redo buttons. As someone who is prone to playing around with software until it breaks, I like the option to go back to a pre-broken state.
- There is an effect to “pixelate,” which threw me off at first because I’m always trying to make graphics clearer rather than more obscure. But, then it dawned on me that sometimes you need to obscure personal information and the like.
- You can add arrows to point out areas in the graphic. There are options to change the color of the arrow, though that’s about it. It’s also easy to add an arrow and textbox.
- There are a few different options to save/share: save to computer or to TinyTake cloud; copy to clipboard; email; or print.
- When uploading videos to YouTube, you can preset all the videos to use the same privacy setting (e.g., Unlisted).
- MangoApps, the company that created TinyTake, claims their cloud storage is very secure. This is helpful when storing screen shots of proprietary software or personal information.
- If you like the ability to add text, arrows, and other simple graphics (e.g., circle, square, etc.) to your own photos, you can open graphic files with TinyTake. I’d probably stick with one of the more “fun” photo/graphic editing options, such as PicMonkey, BeFunky, or Canva. You can also import a video you’ve recorded with other software.
- You can record the audio from your speakers, which is convenient if you’re recording a Google Hangout session. But, you only have five minutes of recording time on the free version, so it needs to be a very short meeting.
- You can share more than the TinyTake screens/videos on their cloud; in other words, you can share documents and your other YouTube videos you’ve created and want to show others in your group/class.
- Requires software download. This isn’t a big deal, but some people can’t make changes to the PC/laptop they’re using (e.g., school lab, work laptop).
- Required login to use the software. It’s best to set up the account prior to download because you have to receive and respond to the confirmation email.
- No click and drag resizing before opening the editing window. Jing, for example, selects the area and allows me to drag the borders to capture more/less in situations where I missed the mark I was aiming for.
- There’s a “drag me” indicator at the bottom of the screen that makes it seem like more features are available, yet it actually implies you can click and drag your graphic right into another application (e.g., email). I was hoping for something more fun (like Alice in Wonderland‘s “drink me” bottle to change sizes).
- The pixalation squares for the pixelate effect are really big, so they seem more decorative and the audience may not realize that you intentionally obscured information. I think I would prefer a blurring effect that can be gained in a photo editing tool.
- There are few formatting options for the textbox text. The border color is the same as the text color; so, you can’t have a green border and black text, for example.
- The free-draw option (as compared to drawing a box, circle, or line) is pretty basic. I tried to draw a star and I think that I was able to draw better looking stars when I was in kindergarten.
- The free version does not allow for annotating the video.
- If you click the main Save and Share button, it goes right to the TinyTake cloud; you have to click the little arrow on the right side of the button to open the other save options.
Insider View: The free version provides 2GB of cloud space for saving files if you decide not to save them to your computer. The video recording time is limited to five minutes, which is the same as Jing. One other thing to be aware of is you need to make the window that you want to capture small enough that the capture tool doesn’t end up as part of your screen capture. You’ll see what I mean if you watch the video sample I created (below).
Final Thoughts: You have to appreciate the irony of using Jing to capture the screen shots of a TinyTake. I guess that’s my final thought in that I still prefer Jing when just looking to copy a window/view of my monitor. Jing and Screencast-o-matic are still my favorite free tools for capturing still shots and video of my computer screen. If I want to add text or graphics to the shots, I’m okay with using other photo editing software because there a significantly more features to use, though I have to go with Camtasia, Movie Maker, or other video editing tools to add content to a video screen capture. TinyTake is free, but too basic for my tastes.
Samples: The first sample is just a simple screen capture of my computer screen. The second sample is a sample video; the content is simplistic, as I just wanted to give an indication of the quality of recording available through the tool. The completed video was downloaded to my computer and then uploaded to YouTube for embedding in my blog.