Screen-record a PC problem

After running out of words to express her tech woes, Jane Hoskyn shuts up and works out how to…

Screen-record a PC problem

If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video speaks at least, oh, two and a half million. Tech tips and PC problems are much easier to explain through screenshots than words, and a screencast – basically a video screenshot – epitomises the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule of explaining things. I’m talking myself out of a job here, aren’t I?

So let me talk myself back into it by telling you, in words, how I created my own screencast.

The task was triggered by my perpetual frustration over my computer’s failure to connect to the Windows Store. If I were to record the problem in action – along with associated error messages, settings, and futile efforts to fix it – then I could post it online and get people’s advice.

FastStone Capture’s program window is diminutive – I’ve got bigger frown-lines

Finding good screen-recording software was its own adventure. Top tools are expensive (Camtasia costs £), while free stuff is a minefield. CamStudio is a junk-offender, and oCam bundles the Trojan ‘BRTSvc’ in its installer.

Other freebie recorders are safe but intimidating (OBS: https://obsproject.com); Linux-only (SimpleScreenRecorder: www.snipca.com/31450); or “freemium” (marketing-speak for “not actually free”).

There’s TinyTake (https://tinytake.com), whose free version only lets you record five minutes, and open-source tools Captura (www.snipca.com/31442) and

Update - 2022.10.15

Behold my closed Windows Store, as seen by Flashback Express and its annoying upgrade ads

ShareX (https://getsharex.com), which make you download codecs because they don’t support normal formats like MP4.

My faith was restored by FlashBack Express (www.flashbackrecorder.com/express) and FastStone Capture (www.snipca.com/31443). I still can’t decide which one is best, so I’m keeping both.

FastStone Capture costs $ after a 30-day trial, but that’s not a bad deal given the time I wasted on dubious freebies. FastStone’s Image Viewer is a superb tool, so I knew I was in good hands. As a bonus, FastStone Capture’s program window is diminutive – I’ve got frown-lines bigger than this thing (see screenshot below). I clicked its film icon, chose Full Screen Without Taskbar in the box that opened, unticked Record Audio (not because I don’t love the sound of my own voice, but because my PC doesn’t

FastStone Capture is my screen-recording soulmate and… where’s it gone? Oh, there it is

have a mic) and clicked Record.

After I’d walked through the eye-rolling process of trying and failing to launch Windows Store, I pressed Ctrl+F10 to stop recording. FastStone saved a WMV video file that I could open in any standard video program, but I opted for the in-house option by clicking Edit to open FastStone Video Editor. This lets you splice, annotate, narrate and soup up all your videos, not just screen recordings, and it’s included with FastStone Capture. I’d say it’s well worth 15 quid.

FlashBack Express has plenty going for it too, not least that it’s free (if you don’t mind the ads for FlashBack Pro, see screenshot above). But its recordings use a format that only works in FlashBack Editor, which you may not like.

You can watch my video at www.snipca.com/31539. Offer advice if you like, but I suspect the problem is that my over-zealous blitzing of Microsoft’s ‘telemetry’ snooping rendered the Store permanently shut. To re-open it, I probably just need to reset my privacy settings. But I’d be interested to hear a workaround…

THE BEST FREE SCREEN RECORDER 2018

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Bình Phan Đức

Bình Phan Đức

Hello, I'm the founder of this blog and a part time blogger. Find more information about me at here. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

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