ActivePresenter Free is a capable screen recorder with a lot of potential applications.

At a minimum you might set it up to record a fixed area, an application window or the entire display. It'll then record what's happening at a click, before exporting the results to images (JPEG, PNG) or video (WMV, AVI, MPEG4, WebM).

If you'd like to create a tutorial or demonstration, you can have the program automatically highlight keypresses and mouse clicks, and display a text annotation on what you're doing. So when we clicked the "File" menu on a program for our own test project, for instance, ActivePresenter created a slide with an image of the screen, where "File" was highlighted, then added a callout saying "Select [File] menu item".

While that can be a great timesaver, you might have your own ideas of the annotations you need. And so any particular slide can be further customised with new shapes, captions, highlights, images, cursor paths, zoom and pan effects, even audio or video clips.

And if you don't like some aspect of how the program works, just check the Preferences dialog - it's quite astonishingly customisable. So if you're creating a cursor path, for instance, you're able to set the default cursor highlight shape, colour, size and opacity, the type of movement path, the cursor shape, even the noise it makes to indicate a left, right or double-click.

Unsurprisingly, if you part with some cash for the Standard ($349.95) or Professional ($449.95) editions then you'll get even more. The Standard build can export to FLV, Word, PDF and HTML as well as videos, for example, while the Professional edition can add interactivity to your project (true/ false questions, multiple choices, actions, branching and more).

With so much power here it can occasionally take a while to find out how to do even relatively basic things, and the documentation isn't as helpful as it should be.

Still, there's an amazing amount of functionality here for a free tool, and if you've any interest in screen recording then you should grab a copy immediately.

Version 5.0.0 brings:
    •The user interface is completely revamped.
    •Edit Closed Caption track directly from Timeline.
    •More powerful Properties pane.
    •Allow changing the Style of multiple selected objects at once.
    •Fix HTML5 audio loading issue in Firefox.
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Verdict

A very powerful tool for creating demonstration videos, presentations and more