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The Best Free Screen Recorders for Chromebook Screencasting

Updated on November 08, 2016
Jonathan Wylie profile image

Jonathan is a certified teacher who taught in the UK & the US. He now works as an instructional technology consultant for Grant Wood AEA.

Screencasting: Solved!

For a long time, it was the Holy Grail of Chromebook functionality. It was the one thing that scores of people wanted to do but couldn't, because Chromebooks don't support the Java plugin that is required by popular screencasting tools like Jing or Screencast-o-matic. However, times have changed, and there are now several options for those who need a screen recorder for their Chromebook. Here are three that are well worth considering.

Screencastify for Chrome

Screencastify is the go-to Chrome extension for a lot of people who want to record their Chromebook screen. There is a free or a paid version and you can capture your webcam while you record. Here's how it works.

  1. Download Screencastify from the Chrome Web Store
  2. Click the film strip icon in the corner of your screen to get started.
  3. Choose whether you want to screencast the contents of the tab, or your entire desktop. What's the difference? If you choose Tab, you get access to some live annotation tools. However, you will not see the omnibar or bookmarks toolbar at the top of the page, nor will you see the taskbar at the bottom of your screen. If you need these to be visible, choose Desktop mode.
  4. If needed, you can set the frame rate and resolution, as well as decide whether or not you want to record audio.
  5. Check the Embed webcam box if you want to record a video of yourself as you give the screencast. The icon to the right of your selected camera lets you choose which of the four corners you want the webcam to appear in.
  6. Click Start Recording when you are ready.

When your screencast is done, click the Screencastify icon, and then click Stop Recording. The finished screencast will appear in a new tab. From here you can choose to rename it, delete it, download it to your Chromebook, or upload it to Google Drive or YouTube.

Screencastify is free for videos up to ten minutes in length, and may include a small watermark on your video. To remove these restrictions, you can upgrade to the paid version and also gain access to a video cropping tool.

Record Your Chromebook Screen With Screencastify

Nimbus Screenshot and Screencast

Nimbus is a more recent addition to the Chrome Web Store, but it is winning friends fast because it is a flexible tool that works well. With Nimbus you can capture screenshots or screencasts, but for the purpose of this post we will be concentrating on the recording abilities. Here's how it works.

  1. Download Nimbus Screenshot and Screencast from the Chrome Web Store
  2. Click the Nimbus extension and choose Record Video
  3. Choose whether you want to record the tab or desktop area. The advantages are the same as above.
  4. Choose the number of seconds you would like to include in a countdown timer. This is a great option to give you some time to get everything set and ready before you record.
  5. Click Record to start recording and click the Nimbus icon again to stop recording

The finished video will open in a new tab where you can preview your screencast. You can download your screencast to your device as HTML5 video, or upload it to Nimbus servers. These are perhaps not the best sharing options because you can't send the video to YouTube or Google Drive, but at least you can access your screencasts when you need them. Of note, however, is the 100mb limit on cloud storage with Nimbus. The Pro account unlocks more space.

Capture Screenshots & Screencasts with Nimbus

Editing Chromebook Screen Recordings

As good as these tools are, none of them really provide you any native options for editing your finsihed screencast. So, if you need to cut or trim your final video, add titles or overlay some annotations, then you need to take your video to another app. Chromebooks are not known for their video editing prowess, but there are at least two solid options for editing video.

1. The YouTube Editor - This option works well with Screencastify because it lets you send your video straight to YouTube. In the YouTube editor you can trim, cut and add music to your screencasts. Titles, transitions, filters, and more can be also be added and because you are on YouTube is is easy to share your video with the world. If you haven't tried it before, you should. It's more powerful than it looks. Learn more about the YouTube Editor here.

2. WeVideo - If you want a bit more flexibility with your editing, try the online WeVideo editor. It connects easily to your Google Drive so again it works great with Screencastify. WeVideo includes additional features like multi-track editing, voice overs, custom transitions, graphics, and text overlays. WeVideo has a paid subscription service, but for quick edits the free version may be good enough. Try it and see.

WeVideo Advanced Editor: Courtesy of WeVideo.com
WeVideo Advanced Editor: Courtesy of WeVideo.com

Screencast Performance Issues

So, now that you know how to create a Chromebook screencast, you are probably thinking that it will be a seamless, trouble-free experience. I hope it is. However, you should be aware that if you are using one of the early Chromebooks with an ARM based processor, like the Samsung 303 or the first HP Chromebook 11, you may have some performance issues. The audio and video will not always sync or work the way you might expect because these particular Chromebooks lack some of the processing power that is needed to record a screencast. The Intel-based Chromebooks work much better.

Summary

Any of these Chrome extensions provide a very decent screen recorder for Chrombook users, but they work within the current confines of the Chrome OS. Google is improving the Chromebook software all the time, and Chrome OS will doubtless evolve and add more functionality that will make the likes of Screencastify or Nimbus even better at what they do. I for one look forward to seeing what that might bring, but I am also enjoying the options that are available right now. Are you?

Quick Poll

Which is your favorite screencasting option for Chromebooks?

See results

© 2014 Jonathan Wylie

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    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 2 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thanks for sharing this info. One of our computers is a chromebook. Never knew you could do a screencast on it. Learning all the time. Voted up.

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
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      Jonathan Wylie 2 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Glad you found it useful Raymond.

    • tubblog profile image

      Richard Tubb 2 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      Really useful article - thanks for sharing!

      I've used Google Hangouts to record screencasts before now, but I wasn't aware of WeVideo allowing me to edit videos online. It looks really useful!

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 2 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Glad you found it useful tubblog! :)

    • XxKingOfEvilxX 14 months ago

      Um... How do u upload???

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 14 months ago from Iowa, USA

      Which tool are you trying to use and where would you like to upload it to?

    • Blackfire107 6 months ago

      I have all of these!!! I have snagit, mediacore and screencastify. They all make it so laggy when recording, maybe add more options :/

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 6 months ago from Iowa, USA

      The lag may depend on the version of Chromebook you have. The ones with Intel chips tend to keep up better.

    • jazzy da llama 5 months ago

      can you move the recorder around?

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 5 months ago from Iowa, USA

      Not really. You can't drag a selection to record with any of these tools, so there is not really any way to reposition it. You either get the tab or the whole screen. I suspect Google does not give the ability to do more but maybe that will change.

    • moo 4 weeks ago

      Well mine is not working

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image
      Author

      Jonathan Wylie 4 weeks ago from Iowa, USA

      Which one are you using? Do you need help?

    • how do i get rid of the stupid thing it has adds help 3 weeks ago

      i really hate this thing

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