When you record a video with Screencastify, you have three options for what you actually capture:
- Your entire desktop
- Your current browser tab
- Your webcam
Today, we’ll focus on when you want to record something on your screen (i.e. not just your webcam).
In these cases, many people default to recording their entire desktop.
This is certainly a good option and is often necessary. However, if the all the content you’d like to record is in your Chrome browser, we recommend opting to record your browser tab when possible.
Here are 6 reasons why.
Benefit 1: Efficiency ⚡
When you record your tab, Screencastify knows to only “focus” on a contained area, so it uses less of your computer’s resources than a desktop recording does. Your computer will run more smoothly, you'll likely get a higher frame rate, and your video file sizes will be smaller.
Benefit 2: Annotation tools ✒️
As of February 1st, 2018 annotation tools are now available in desktop recordings as well!
Tab recordings enable you to use our annotation tools, which include:
- Focus a spotlight on your mouse
- Hide your mouse when not moving
- Draw with our pen tool
- Show or hide timer
These tools go a long way in making your screencasts more polished and easier for viewers to follow.
Benefit 3: Fewer distractions 🔎
Because desktop recordings capture your entire screen, they’re probably going to include things that aren’t relevant to your viewer (e.g. other tabs you have open, your dock/menu bar, etc.).
And you know the golden rule of screencasting, right? Anything that isn’t absolutely necessary is a distraction.
Tab recordings only capture your Chrome viewport, so your audience must focus on what’s actually being presented.
Benefit 4: Webcam flexibility 📷
Update: As of May 2019, desktop recordings now support the same webcam flexibility as tab recordings!
Tab recordings give you more flexibility on how you use your webcam.
First, you can toggle your webcam on and off during a recording, which isn’t available for desktop recordings. This is helpful when you want to go back and forth between directing your viewer’s focus towards yourself vs. the content on your screen.
Second, you can customize the size and location of your webcam during a tab recording. Want your webcam to be in the middle of the screen? Or perhaps a “split-screen” between your webcam and your tab? It’s all possible with tab recordings.
Drag your webcam anywhere in the tab with your mouse, or click on the edge of the webcam to resize.
Read more: 10 benefits of screencasting for teachers and students
Benefit 5: Show mouse clicks 🐭
When you click your mouse during a tab recording, a red circle highlights the click.
This helps your viewers follow exactly what you’re doing, which comes in handy when you’re recording a “how-to” video.
Benefit 6: Record tab audio on Macs 🔊
Tab recordings let Mac users record tab audio, or audio coming from within the tab itself. Examples of tab audio include videos, songs, or the other party’s audio during a video chat.
PC and Chromebook users are able to capture tab/system audio with both tab and desktop recordings.
When you record your current browser tab and switch tabs, the original tab will continue recording in the background. This is helpful if you want to reference something “off camera” while recording.
To learn more about recording your browser tab, read our step-by-step tutorials.
To learn more screen recording best practices, check out the Screencastify team’s favorite tips for creating great screencasts.