Giving someone written instructions on how to do something on the computer can be difficult. Showing someone how to do it is much easier. One way to do that is to make a little movie of your screen while you are doing it. This is called a screencast. Here is how you can do it on a Mac with the latest version of QuickTime Player which comes with all Macs:
- Open QuickTime Player.
- Click on ‘File’ at the top of the screen and choose ‘New Screen Recording’.
- A new dialog box will appear with a record button in the middle. Before recording, click on the little down arrow on the right side of the box. A dropdown menu will appear. Choose your microphone (default is Built-in Microphone) or ‘None’ if you don’t want to record any audio. Choose your quality (high or medium) and choose ‘Show mouse clicks in recording’ if you want a circle to appear when you click on your screen in the recording. This is a helpful option when showing what to do without audio.
- Click on the red record button or hit the space bar to bring up a message, ‘Click to record the full screen. Drag to record part of the screen.’ At this point, go to the application or window where you would like to start your recording. To do this, do not click on the application in the dock as this will start a fullscreen recording. To go to the window or application, hold down the Command key (???) and hit the Tab key without letting go of the Command key. You can continue to hold the Command key and keep tapping the Tab key to scroll through the applications that are open. Once a box appears around the application you would like to open, you can let go of both keys and that application will move to the front of the screen. You can also do a similar thing to scroll through the windows that are open in the application itself. The only difference is that you don’t hit the Tab key, you hit the key just above it that has a ` and ~ symbol on it.
- Once you have the window where you would like positioned in the front, you can either click and drag the mouse over the area you would like to record, or you can click anywhere (or hit the spacebar) to record the whole screen. The QuickTime dialog box will remain on the screen, but will not appear in the video.
- Move your mouse around the screen and click where you would like. Everything you see happening on the screen will be recorded. Once you are done, click on the stop button on the QuickTime dialog box to stop recording. The QuickTime window will appear with the video in it. You can now watch the video to make sure it is okay. To make the play dialog box appear, just move your mouse and it will appear in a black box at the bottom of the screen.
- To save your video or share it, go to ‘File’ at the top of the screen, choose ‘Export’ or ‘Share’ and follow the instructions.
This is also a great tool for giving feedback on written work that is in electronic form, such as a Word document. Also, it can be used to record a PowerPoint presentation along with audio.
How do you use screencasts in your classroom? Share your ideas in the comment section below, send me a Tweet at @nathanghall, or send me an email using the contact page on this website. Thank you.