Screen grabs and screencasts made easy, with Jing

Need to grab some images or videos from your PC? Check out Jing.

The team behind the screen recording utility Camtasia have released a simplified, experimental version of the technology, packaged into a nice downloadable application called the Jing Project (download).

This blob is the Jing UI. CNET Networks

Jing makes it very easy to grab screenshots and videos straight from your PC, and then save them or share them on the Web. For me, the coolest part of this experiment--in theory--is Jing's integration with Screencast.com, a hosting service for videos recorded off your computer. Once you've recorded a video, you can save it to your Screencast account, and from there you can get an embed code to put it in a blog or other page.

The experimental Jing is great, but oddly, the well-established Screencast.com site is the weak link in the chain. It's unattractive, and the links you need (the embed codes) are nearly impossible to find. Plus, after 60 days, the free trial service expires--so don't get hooked if you can't stomach the $6.95 a month fee for screencast hosting. What I'd really like to see is a quick and easy way to upload Jing files to YouTube, Blip.TV, Viddler, or other free sharing sites. That would kill part of TechSmith's revenue model, though.

If you need to do serious screencast editing, the full Camtasia product is worth looking at. And, of course, you can grab graphics from Windows without any download at all (shift-PrintScreen). But for a clean, flexible, and almost fun way to grab pictures and onscreen videos, Jing really can't be beat.

Update: Chris Pirillo raised a good point via Twitter: Jing has less than no YouTube support. It produces Flash SWF files, which YouTube doesn't read. That's a colossal omission in a video product these days.

The following video was made, of course, with Jing.

 

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