Premium screen capture utilities offer professionals many useful features, but they can feel like overkill to casual users. Free utilities take standard screenshots just fine, but they lack many advanced features that power users enjoy. Screencast-O-Matic bridges the gulf between the two extremes with a generous, free version that easily surpasses its no-cost rivals, and a subscription tier that offers cool, unique features. Although Screencast-O-Matic’s paid version lacks the chops to top Snagit, the PCMag Editors’ Choice for screen-capture utilities, it gives you robust image-snipping flexibility.
Price and Platforms
Whereas Snagit and Ashampoo Snap only offer free trials, Screencast-O-Matic’s basic version is free to use forever. You can also choose between two different premium subscriptions. For solo users, the Deluxe tier costs $1.65 per month and the Premier tier costs $4.00 per month. Those prices increase depending on how many team members need access. For comparison, one-time purchases for Snagit and Ashampoo Snap cost $49.99 and $39.99, respectively (and that doesn’t include the price of upgrading to the next year’s versions). Screencast-O-Matic subscriptions are billed annually, so you could use the app for two years and still ultimately pay about the same price as Snagit or Ashampoo.
Naturally, the free version has limitations. You can take and edit screenshots, record up to 15 minutes of watermarked video, and share to online platforms. Upgrading to Deluxe unlocks a host of extra features, most notably unlimited video recordings. Premier gives you more storage and backup options, along with business-friendly branding and advertising features. Still, even without paying, Screencast-O-Matic’s video recording alone makes it more powerful than Microsoft’s free Windows Snip & Sketch, which lacks the feature entirely
Screencast-O-Matic works on Windows and Mac. Its publishing platform runs in your browser. Like Snagit, Screencast-O-Matic also offers companion apps for Android and iOS, so you can sync your mobile and desktop captures.
Image and Video Editing
Screencast-O-Matic’s menu gives you four options: Take Screenshot, Launch Recorder, Open Editor, and Open Uploads. You also get quick access to your recent screenshots and recordings.
Taking a screenshot is as simple as dragging the cursor over an area and letting go. You don’t get some of the fancier capturing options that come with Snagit, such as tracing shapes other than rectangles, timing and capturing scrolling windows, or grabbing text with OCR recognition. However, you do get plenty of editing options. You can crop and resize an image, blur and highlight its different sections, or add graphics and text. You can easily delete any alterations.
The video recorder is similarly intuitive. You can record your screen, your webcam, or both. Recording options are simple and straightforward. Paid users can record computer audio, but it costs nothing to add microphone narration. The aps lets you adjust the size of the recording window depending on resolution. Screencast-O-Matic recommends 720p, presumably to manage file sizes, but I recorded my full 1080p laptop screen.
Free users can trim recordings, write captions, and add a limited number of music tracks before publishing. Upgrading to the proper video editor turns Screencast-O-Matic into a professional tool. You can zoom in and draw during the recording for live lesson annotations; create captions with speech-to-text; make GIFs; or apply image editing tools like blurring sections and adding shapes to videos. Subscribers can also combine recordings, use a green screen filter, or animate overlays. Premier users gain access to an entire stock library of assets. Snagit users would need to download Camtasia, Techsmith’s $250 education-focused recording app, to leverage many of Screencast-O-Matic’s cool, premium options.
One strange limitation for both free and paid users: Screencast-O-Matic only exports images as PNG files. Snagit exports to 19 different formats, Ashampoo Snap supports to eight, and even Windows Snip and Sketch lets you choose between PNG and JPG. For videos, you can export your clips as AVI, FLV, or MP4 files. Transitioning from the capture and editing tools back to the browser isn’t always smooth, but from a technical standpoint Screencast-O-Matic ran better than Ashampoo Snap during testing.
Screencast-O-Matic lets any user share images and videos to the expected locations: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Drive, and email. Paid users can also publish to Dropbox and Vimeo.
Potentially more interesting is Screencast-O-Matic’s own hosting service, also available to all users. With this browser app, you can organize and publish your captures and recordings. There’s a 25GB storage limit in place. The screenshot tool and video recorder both let you publish to this web platform after you’re done capturing. Just make sure your firewall doesn’t block the app. Once files are uploaded, users can add titles, write descriptions, and sort them into different custom channels. You can download your original files from this site, too.
There’s even more to be gained if you treat Screencast-O-Matic as its own platform. You can make uploads public, private, or unlisted. There are detailed analytics to see how your content performs, and you can get links and embed codes to put videos and images on your own site. The default video player is capable, with 10-second fast-forward/rewind buttons and adjustable playback speed. Premier users can brand their video pages and custom players, and upload videos longer than 15 minutes to an expanded 100GB of storage.
While testing and researching Screencast-O-Matic, I came across plenty of examples of users hosting public videos on the native platform. Mostly I saw educators taking advantage of the tool to share video lessons, something especially useful for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The free version includes Learning Management System integration and Google Classroom support.
The Great Compromise
As a paid screen-capture utility, Screencast-O-Matic is a recommended option, especially for video editing and public hosting. Still, it’s missing a few premium capture features you’ll find in Snagit, our Editors’ Choice for screen-capture utilities. However, as a free option, Screencast-O-Matic’s a fantastic middle ground between the basic Windows Snip & Sketch and pricey alternatives. It’s always nice to have choices, and Screencast-O-Matic offers many.
The Bottom Line
Screencast-O-Matic is an excellent, free screen-capture utility that boasts a subscription option that offers even more powerful features.