How to Record Video of Your Desktop for Free

By Alexia Petrakos

Have you ever needed to show somebody how to do something on a computer, but he or she was at another location? Or maybe you just wanted to create a "How To" video for something computer-related to put on your own website or blog? Maybe you've seen other video "How Tos" on other websites and wanted to do your own, but thought the software would be too costly or complex to use? Well, thanks to TechSmith, the creators of Camtasia Studio, you can record video of your own computer's desktop, quickly, easily and for free.You can save the video to your hard drive or instantly publish the video to the Internet to share with others.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer running Windows or Mac OSX (This article features a Windows-based PC)
  • Internet connection
  • A microphone attached to your computer
  • Jing Software

Step 1

Download the Jing software (see link in Resources below).

Step 2

Run "jing_setup.exe" to install Jing to your computer. Check "I accept the fine print" and click Install. Click Finish when the install is complete.

Step 3

Jing will automatically start. The first screen asks if you want to allow Jing to send information back to TechSmith so they can improve the product. You can uncheck the box if you like. Hit Continue.

Step 4

Create a account. This is required to use Jing, so fill in the required fields and hit Continue. is a service you can use to post the videos to the Internet.

Step 5

Hover your mouse over the sun that appears at the top of your screen and you will see three options: Capture, History (for viewing pictures and video you have already taken) and More (where you adjust your preferences). The sun can be moved elsewhere just by dragging it or you can hide it completely and access Jing from the taskbar or by Hot Key.

Step 6

Click "Capture" while your cursor is over the sun. You will see your cursor turn into a set of crosshairs. Drag the crosshairs to select the area of your desktop that your want to record for the video. This will turn into a frame for the video. * Note: Choose carefully, because once the crosshairs are set you will not be able to move the frame for the duration of the video. You can, however, move other windows in and out of the frame.

Step 7

Click the second button at the bottom of the frame. This is for capturing video. If you want to capture a still screenshot from your desktop, use the first button.

Step 8

Jing will give you a quick countdown and you're recording video! Wasn't that easy? If you have a microphone connected to your computer Jing will also record the audio for your video. The five buttons along the bottom are: Stop (for when you are finished recording your video), Pause/Record (allows you to record a bit, pause and then record some more), Mute (to control if Jing is recording audio or not), Restart (allows you to do the whole recording over) and Cancel (cancels the whole recording).* Note: Jing will only give you 5 minutes of maximum recording time for your video.

Step 9

Hit the Stop button once you've finished recording. This will open up a new window where you can play back the video and also gives you some options for what to do next.

Step 10

Type in the name of your video in the Name field. The buttons along the bottom allow you to publish to or to save the file on your hard drive as an swf Flash file. * Note: Be sure to either save the video or share it (if you don't, when you close Jing it's gone forever). Sharing on will give you a link that you can send to others to view your video. You can also customize Jing to allow you to upload to ftp, Flickr or YouTube (Pro only).

Tips & Warnings

  • Jing can also be used to take screenshots as well, which can then be customized inside of Jing with directional arrows and text. You can also assign a Hot Key to use Jing, instead of having the "sun" on your desktop. Upgrading to Jing Pro will allow you to save your videos directly to YouTube and also allow you to save your videos in MPEG-4 format that can be edited with a movie editing program such as iMovie. Jing videos can also be edited using Camtasia Studio.

References & Resources