GUIDE – Creative Uses for Screen Recording


  • Definition: recording what appears on your screen (after orchestrating a variety of actions to appear in web or desktop apps, like web browsers, social media apps, photo editing apps, etc.)
  • Best for: telling
  • Difficulty: medium to hard (depending on what you want to show on screen)
  • Tools: free or free-trial versions of screencast software


The creative screencasting option allows you to compose your story using whatever shows up on your computer screen, as you record the screen using a screencast app.

This approach requires the most creativity in terms of figuring out what you can do on the computer that would convey a story, as that concept doesn’t yet have a name. (Unlike the names of the other options, “screencast” refers to how you’d capture the story, not how you’d compose it.)

Reminder: If you take this approach, you will NOT be using a screencasting app for its most common purpose: to record steps for a tutorial on how to do something on the computer. So keep that in mind as you search for resources and examples.


A Google search will produce a variety of results for screencasting apps, including free web-based tools as well as desktop tools ranging from free to several hundred dollars. While the web-based tools are often the easiest to use, their biggest downsides are that you can’t pause while recording and the finished recording is already compressed, making it hard to edit.

Mac users running OS 10.6 or later can screen record with Quick Time X, but the resulting file tends to be huge, even if you export it in “web-ready” format. You also can’t pause while recording, but you could bring the resulting file into iMovie for editing.

Cheaper desktop apps you can find on the Apple App Store or on the web are likely to have the same problem, whereas pricier apps will allow you to pause while recording and provide you with a variety of tools for editing the video, including adding special effects. In previous semesters students have had good luck using the free trial version of Camtasia for Mac or Windows, which expires after 30 days (the full versions cost $99).

I made most of my screencasts for digitalwriting101 using a full version of Camtasia for Mac. I recently switched to ScreenFlow, in part because I got it (plus several other apps) for $49 as part of a MacUpdate Promo, but its trial version leaves a watermark, so I wouldn’t recommend trying that.

For more info as well as links to my help files on using Camtasia and QuickTime, browse the tag archive for screencasting.

NOTE: If you look up info on screencasts, you’ll mostly come across how to make them for instructional purposes, but they have plenty of creative potential as well.


The Google Chrome ads were made with screencasting apps. Coffee is embedded below, but also take a look at: Parisian Love, Dear Sophie, Coffee, and Jess Time.