Thursday, 23 December 2010

Using Jing for Screen Captures and Screencasting

Recently I was asked how I create screen shots with arrows and short captions for assisting my learners either in learning how to use new websites or identifying steps to be taken during an engagement.

Over the past several years I have used a wide variety of tools to help visually explain or identify key areas of a message I was trying to get across. I’ve basically settled on two tools, both by the same company but used, in my circumstances, for two different purposes.

In this post, I’ll be introducing you to a downloadable tool called “Jing” which is from Techsmith in the US. I don’t usually recommend downloadable tools because of the growing number of online options available for most jobs. However, Jing and its big brother Camtasia are, for my purposes, the best possible solutions to my screen capture and screencasting needs.

Briefly, Jing is a screen capture (takes a snapshot of whatever is on your screen) and a screencasting (creates a 5min maximum video of whatever is on your screen) tool from Techsmith. It is free (but you can buy the pro version for about $15.00/yr), and it allows you to store your video and images at Techsmith’s online storage facility called account or pro available).

I absolutely love this tool (it's one of the first 5 things I recommend downloading for every new system) because it's easy to download and install, a breeze to access (as you’ll see) and allows direct uploading of captures/screencasts to your online account. It also provides options for including captions, arrows and creating screencasts.

This is where you can find it: Jing from Techsmith

Here is an example of a screenshot I took a while back using Jing:

As you can see, screenshots with captions can really help explain a procedure or series of steps much better than simple text.

Here is the procedure to install and start using Jing:
1.    Go to the Techsmith Jing website.

2.    Click download:

 3.    On the next page, decide between the download for Windows or the download for Mac.

4.    Afterwards, this window will open:

5.    Find and click on the "jing_setup.exe" file you have just downloaded and follow the installation instructions.

6.    Once Jing is installed. You will see a little yellow sun appear somewhere on the border of your screen, which will look similar to this:

7.    To use Jing for a screen capture, hover over the sun for a second and then select the crosshairs (see the image above). Then select your region to capture by dragging your mouse to enlarge the rectangular capture area.

8.    As soon as you let your finger off the mouse, the area you have selected is captured and comes up in an editing window, like this:

9.    You can then use the tools along the left of the window to annotate your pictures with arrows, text, boxes, etc.

10.    Now, all that remains to be done is to decide what to do with the capture. You can,
share it through, save it to your computer, edit it with Snagit or Camtasia if you have either one installed or delete the capture.

11.    If you decide to share it, the link is instantly available on your clipboard to paste wherever you need it.

I have been using Jing for screen captures and screencasts for sometime and I really like it. It’s a straight forward, no nonsense capture tool that gets the job done quickly and efficiently. I have used Jing’s screen capture facility to give instructions on using new or unfamiliar websites to learners and highlight important locations on Google Earth or important words, phrases, sentences or other text features before, during or after F2F sessions with my learners. My kids and I appreciate how easy it is to use, and my kids appreciate the added clarity it brings to instructions and engagements.

In my next post, I’ll demonstrate using Jing as a screencasting tool for brief 5 minute video masterpieces :)

Good Luck!


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