Screencast options for ChromeOS
Image: Andy Wolber

The Screencast app, included with ChromeOS Version 103, includes the ability to record your screen, audio from your microphone and video from your webcam all at once. While recording, you may use the marker tool to draw on your screen. When you stop recording, the system saves the recording to a Screencasts folder on Google Drive and starts the process of automatically generating a transcript. You may review the recording in the app, then generate a link to share with other people who use the Screencast app on ChromeOS. It’s a useful tool for anyone who wants to record and share videos on a Chromebook.

SEE: Better tab management in ChromeOS, thanks to desks (TechRepublic)

To use the Screencast app, make sure your Chromebook is updated to version 103: Click the bottom right corner, where the time typically displays, and choose Settings > About ChromeOS > Check for Updates. To access the app, select the ChromeOS Launcher, then search for Screencast. Select the app icon to start it.

Record your screen and webcam

Select the +New Screencast button. An overlay menu displays, as shown in Figure A, from which you may adjust your screencast audio and video settings.

You may choose to:

  • Record full screen;
  • Record partial screen (i.e., select a rectangular portion of the screen to record); or
  • Record window.

Select the settings icon to choose a microphone or camera (e.g., Off or Front Camera).

Chromebook open with Screencast open on it
Figure A: After you select the +New screencast button, you can configure whether you want to record the full or partial screen or a window.

When the Front Camera is active, the image from the webcam displays in a circle. You may click/tap on the circle, then drag it to any of the four corners of your Chromebook screen. Additionally, you may click on the two arrows within the webcam circle to toggle back-and-forth between a small or large size.

Once you start the recording, a brief countdown displays. When recording, a red square within a circle displays in the Chromebook Shelf, next to a marker icon.

Draw on the screen

While recording, select the marker icon, then you may draw on the screen, as shown in Figure B. A long-press (or, on a touchpad, two-finger tap) on the marker icon gives you access to a palette of four marker colors to select: magenta, blue, yellow or red. To clear your marks, either click on the marker icon to toggle it off or double-tap on a touchscreen (or, on a touchpad, two-finger tap). You may resume standard browser navigation and controls once out of marker mode.

Screencast options with SCREENCAST APP written in red over it
Figure B: During your screencast recording, select the marker tool (lower right) and draw on the screen. In this example, the arrows and the words “Screencast app” were all drawn with the marker tool on a touchscreen Chromebook during a screencast recording.

Access and edit the auto-generated transcript

To end recording, select the red square within the circle icon. The system then starts to transfer your recording to Google Drive and also initiates the auto-transcription process.

Wait while the Processing… indicator displays on the thumbnail of your recording. Processing time may vary with the speed of your internet connection and the duration of your recording. When completed, select your screencast to open it.

The auto-generated transcript displays on the right side of your screen, as shown in Figure C. Select the kebab menu to the right of any transcript section to access options to edit the text or choose to skip the section during playback. Viewers of the screencast may choose to translate the transcript text into another language.

A recording using Screencast with options on the right side of the screen
Figure C: Google’s ChromeOS Screencast app auto-generates transcripts for your recorded screencast session. You may edit the transcript, if you like.

Share a link

To generate a link to the Screencast, select the blue Share button in the upper right. You may be prompted to name your Screencast. Adjust the sharing options as desired (Figure D) and select Copy Link. Then, switch to another app (e.g., Google Chat, Spaces, Gmail or a Google Doc) to paste the link in a message or document. Anyone who attempts to follow the link will need to do so on a ChromeOS device with the Screencast app available. People on other systems or without access to the Screencast app will receive a “Can’t view on this device” message.

Share options for the Screencast app
Figure D: From an open screencast, select Share to generate a link to your recording. As of July 2022, only people who use the Screencast app on ChromeOS may view your shared screencast.

The screencast file is saved in WebM format. If you wish, you may make a copy of the file and share that with all the standard Google Drive share functionality. You may also use various tools to convert and edit this WebM file into other video formats.

What’s your experience with the ChromeOS Screencast app?

In early July 2022, I discovered the Screencast app was only available on my Chromebook when I signed in with my personal Gmail account. When I signed in to ChromeOS with two different paid Google Workspace accounts, I could use built-in features to record my screen and webcam, but the Screencast app—along with the marker, transcript and sharing system—was not yet available to my organizational accounts. If you use an account managed by a Google Workspace administrator, you may need to wait for Google and your Workspace administrator to make the Screencast app available.

To me, the Screencast app reminds me a bit of the very early days of Google Classroom. It feels like a useful and interesting app that leverages core strengths of Chrome and Google Drive. At the same time, the multiplicity of obvious opportunities to make the app more useful and full-featured are easy to envision.

What do you think of the ChromeOS Screencast app? Does the app replace an existing tool you’ve been using to create and share screencasts? How do the features and functionality meet your needs and expectations? What sort of content do you most often use screencasts for?

Mention or message me on Twitter (@awolber) to let me know about your experience with the Screencast app.

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