A few months ago, Google announced a lengthy roll call of upcoming changes and upgrades across its tools and platforms, which I summarized here. One that really caught my attention: starting with Chrome version 90, the Chrome OS for Chromebooks will now include a built-in screen capture and recording tool called (wait for it) Screen Capture!
We've been deploying this latest version of Chrome to our students' Chromebooks for a few weeks now, and recently I was able to go to classrooms and see it in action. I'm happy to report that Screen Capture seems stable and works as advertised. (For Google's official support article on the tool, click here.)
Students with Chromebooks can access this new tool one of two ways:
- The keyboard shortcut Control + Shift + "Switcher" (the "box line line" icon key above the number 6)
- The "Quick Settings" button in the lower right corner of the screen, where you will find the new Screen Capture button in the tray.
Either choice will then open up your Screen Capture toolbar at the bottom of your Chromebook. (The default is image mode, although you can toggle over to video if you like.) You are now a button push away from capturing the entire screen, lassoing a portion, or capturing an open window/tab; you can also just hit Enter to make the highlighted choice happen. One clever feature is that captured images are automatically put into your clipboard, making it very easy to immediately paste them into a document.
|The Screen Capture toolbar. Screenshot from John R. Sowash's website Chromebook Classroom.|
Read here for some tips and other details about the tool!
Note that if you are in video mode, you can click the settings (gear icon) to turn on or off your microphone as part of the screencast recording. However, two caveats: the only audio you can capture is from your mic (no computer generated audio can be recorded), and trying to record a video of a video that is playing or streaming will tax the Chromebook's processor and produce iffy results at best. Some examples of when the screen recorder might be most effective:
- narrating through a Slide presentation
- discussing your research on a topic while flipping through tabs of various website resources
- explaining your latest revisions on a Doc
- showing a teacher how something is not working in order to troubleshoot a tech problem
By default, the saved images and recordings are put into your Chromebook's Download folder, at which point you could either upload it to your Drive or delete it after its purpose has been served. (This also implies that you can do screen capturing and recording without being online!) I find this feature helpful, because it allows you to be more disposable with screen captures and not necessarily clutter up your Drive's storage space; do you really need that image for perpetuity once you've inserted it into your Slide presentation? On the other hand, your Chromebook's hard drive storage is much more limited than a typical laptop, so students may need to be reminded to clean out their downloads periodically.
With such a useful tool now built-in and free, should you stop using other add-on screencasting Chrome extensions? Not necessarily. To take one example, Screencastify offers additional features like "telestrating" annotation during recording, as well as some limited editing, However, the free version of Screencastify is also limited to five minute videos! It is therefore hard to beat Screen Capture, especially for its convenience, simplicity and speed of use.