The easiest way to explain how to do something on your PC or laptop is to video the action and share the clip. Our Helproom Editor explains how to create a video clip of your PC screen, as well as how to use Problem Steps Recorder.
QUESTION Please suggest some free software that can capture your actions onscreen and save it to a video file. This is to be used for educational purposes. Martin Higgins
HELPROOM ANSWER Perhaps the easiest way to record a video clip directly from your screen is to use a website such as screencastle.com. The site uses a Java plug-in that allows you to select an area of your screen to record and optionally enable your PC's microphone.
To use it, simply click the big red button and grant any requests for permission to run.
Once recorded, your video clip can be previewed and optionally uploaded to the ScreenCastle server. A link is then provided for you to embed it to a web page or send to others via email.
One caveat with this site is that it's impossible to delete your video files when no longer needed. That said, uploaded files are not associated with individual user profiles, and the very long video ID codes used make it unlikely that someone who is not the intended viewer would find them.
If you don't fancy uploading your recordings to an internet server, there are plenty of free applications that can perform the task you require. We've listed a few of the most popular below.
CamStudio is a powerful screen-recording application that's free for both personal and commercial use, but the software lacks editing features.
Alternatively, Jing is available in both free and paid-for versions. It has the added advantage of working on both Windows and Mac platforms.
How to use Problem Steps Recorder
In a similar vein and extremely useful, although it's not strictly a screen-capture program, is Microsoft's Problem Steps Recorder. This is built into Windows 7.
Problem Steps Recorder is designed to help users accurately describe to tech support the problems they are experiencing – and that's a big hint as to why we've mentioned it. The utility makes a recording of your actions in Windows, which you can send to a helpdesk or a tech-savvy friend.
Problem Steps Recorder doesn't record video, but the person helping you will be able to view screenshots of the steps you have taken, and the results of your actions. These include error messages and other pertinent system information, including the version numbers of any software you're using. You can also add comments to the recording, which is saved to a single Minimal HTML file for emailing.
For any Windows 7 users who have a PC problem they'd like our help in solving, please consider including a Problem Steps Recorder file with your query. This can aid us in providing you with a timely and correct solution. Users of other operating systems should also feel free to send us screenshots captured in other formats.
Visit Windows 7 Advisor for more Windows advice.