My day job has me slaving over a hot keyboard, riding herd on a few hundred Macs, Windows PCs, Chromebooks, and iPads at a private school near Chicagoland. That means often I’m called upon to explain how something works and there is no better way than a quick screen video.
Mac users can make their own screen videos with the built-in QuickTime Player app. Open Player, select the File menu, select New Screen Recording. Click the Red record button and whatever else you do on your Mac is recorded as a movie until you stop the recording. Is there a better way?
Why Screen Movies?
Capturing the Mac’s screen as a movie is a habit I got into many, many years ago. First, because it was easy. Second, because it was an excellent way to show other Mac users how to do something. The movie became a mostly permanent way to show many Mac users how to accomplish a specific step-by-step task.
Which Mac screen recorder is best? That depends upon your requirements. There are many apps from which to choose and they range from free to nominal to downright expensive, but with a few stops in between. Here are a few on my list.
Camtasia – this might be the most feature complete screen recorder. That means it comes with a learning curve and a hefty price tag but it does almost anything (Mac and Windows).
ScreenFlow – this is a favorite; priced less than Camtasia, much easier to learn thanks to the Mac only approach. It’s more like iMovie for video presentations. Very intuitive. I use this more than any other.
iShowU – there are two apps to consider here– iShowU Instant which is more elegant and straightforward, and iShowU Studio which has more features. Both are highly recommended because they are feature packed but affordable.
ScreenFlick – get a few more features than iShowU Instant but not as many as iShowU Studio at about the same price. Nicely done, easy to figure out, decent quality for the price.
Open the Mac App Store and type screen recorder into the search field and you’ll get a dozen more ways to capture the Mac’s screen and turn it into a movie. GIFs have made a comeback in recent years but I avoid those. The quality is less, options are fewer. Some of the less expensive screen recorders are close to abandonware. We used Screenium 3 for awhile but it hasn’t been upgraded in nearly three years. That’s telling.
Not all these Mac screen recorders are created equal. Some do not let you record the Mac’s built-in audio at all, while others require a secondary app download to make it happen. The basic rule of thumb here is the most obvious. You get what you pay for.
What you want is the basic ability to record everything on your Mac’s screen– while you use it and narrate what you’re doing– and have it saved as a movie. Editing is optional but preferable (which is why I seldom recommend QuickTime Player). If you’re on a budget, you won’t go wrong with either iShowU option (bargains, actually), and if you want ultra professional editing tools, ScreenFlow is a good choice.