Jing is a free screencasting utility that lets you grab screenshots and record an area of your screen in a very simple manner. Jing proves to be a valuable education and office tool with multiple uses related to improved online communications as it also provides multiple sharing alternatives and an essential collection of image editing features.
Before starting the installation you can perform the standard settings by accessing the Options menu from the small button located at the bottom of the install window. The actual install process is done in a blink of an eye and at first run a welcome screen will pop-up offering you a short, interactive tutorial to get you started quickly.
Since Jing offers sharing capabilities through it’s developer’s cloud server, ScreenCast.com, you will be required to create an account in order to use these services. However, the process is quick and painless and the sharing feature is completely worth the effort.
Jing comes in both Windows and Mac flavors with no hardware requirements. For Windows users Jing works with the following versions: XP, Vista, 7 and 8, it requires Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 Full and in order to quickly upload your screenshots and recorded videos to the cloud service for sharing it is recommended you have a broadband Internet connection.
The Mac version of Jing works on Mac OS X 10.5.8 (or later) and requires QuickTime 7.5.5 (or later).
Jing doesn’t have the average type of graphical interface. There is a yellow “sun” icon that stays partially hidden on the edges of your screen (you can move it to any position you want) until you hold your mouse over it. At that point three sun “rays” appear with options: Capture, History and More.
Using Capture you will first have to select a rectangular area that you wish to capture/record. You can also capture screens in 4:3 (by holding CTRL) and 16:9 formats (using SHIFT). Below the selected area, a small menu will appear, from where you can “Capture image”, “Capture video”, “Redo selection” or “Cancel”.
Once you’ve captured the image or video, the resulted file will open up in Jing’s Editor. In the lower-right corner you will be presented with the option to “Edit in SnagIt” (for images) or “Edit in Camtasia” (for videos), Jing’s commercial siblings. Of course these options can only be used if you have SnagIt and/or Camtasia installed on your computer. While Jing doesn’t have video editing functions, there are a few basic ones for images that allow you to add arrows, text, frames, highlights and change their colours.
The Jing Buttons menu found in the bottom-left corner of the editor comes with four default buttons: Share via ScreenCast.com, Save, Copy and Cancel. Right next to the menu there is a “wrench” icon that allows you to customize the Buttons menu and add new buttons for sharing via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and FTP or remove existent ones.
The History option displays a simple, thumbnail-based list of all the captures previously made with Jing. You can choose to display images, videos or all of them as well as sort them by date or by size. From here you can open the captures with the Jing Editor, share and delete them.
Accessing More opens up a large yellow bubble containing Jing’s options and settings. The “Send Feedback: option provides access to Jing’s community web page where you can ask questions, give praise, report problems and share ideas. The Preferences menu allows you to customize several aspects of the program such as the Jing Buttons menu, account management, set up the capture hotkey and proxy settings, enable/disable video hotkeys, startup launch, hide the Jing “sun” and select audio input device for screen video recording.
The Help button provides shortcuts to the online Jing Help Center and a few frequently asked questions. From the same place you can check for program updates. When you’re done with the settings you can press finish to leave the More interface or exit to close Jing.
Jing’s interface is one of the best traits of this small program, as it manages to keep things simple. All of the options are easy to understand so beginners won’t have any problems using Jing even at first run.
– No hardware requirements.
– Versions are available for both Windows and Mac platforms.
– Screen capture/recording can be easily performed using a custom hotkey or from the “sun” icon.
– Contains a basic set of image editing functions.
– Comprehensive and easy to use sharing options include social networks, links (via ScreenCast.com) and FTP.
– No video editing functions.
– Recorded videos can have a maximum length of five minutes.
– Videos can only be saved as .SWF format.
Until February 2012, Jing users had the option to upgrade to Jing Pro, a paid version of Jing with extra features. However, since that date, Jing Pro was discontinued and the developers recommend Jing users to try their other related products SnagIt and Camtasia if they need more functionality as well as the ability to record screen videos that are longer than five minutes. Sadly, these are commercial applications, but if you’re looking for something free you should take a look at CamStudio, PicPick and Shutter.
Simplicity and intuitive use is what makes Jing shine. As long as you don’t need advanced screen capture options, Jing is one of the fastest ways of grabbing screenshots and recording short videos. Along with its brilliant sharing functions Jing is a highly efficient tool suitable for any number of purposes.