The Jing Project | Desktop Recording Tool Making Screencasting & Screen Capture Easier

7 min read

Jing LogoJing Project is a new free tool from Techsmith, the company
behind Windows based screen capture tool SnagIt, and screencasting
application Camtasia Studio, commonly seen as the best of it’s breed.

Jing Project allows you to take a screen capture or screencast
of any application based feature, all using one incredibly simple

In offering both means of recording your screen, Jing Project
borrows a
little something from its two well-known predecessors.

Simple Enough For Anyone To Use

But where Camtasia and SnagIt
pack the kind of
feature-sets suitable for professionals, Jing is a pared-down,
ultra-simple tool dedicated to making it super-easy for anyone
to share the contents of their screen in seconds.

If your uncle on the other side of the planet is trying to
show you
what went wrong with his email application, Jing lets him take a screen
grab, or take a quick video. 

Equally, if you then want to show him how
to fix it, step-by-step, you can easily do so by recording your screen
with Jing Project.

It is in this type of simple scenario that Jing Project really
shines, making it easy for non-technical users to send and receive the
kind of information that might be long-winded and confusing over the
phone, or written at length in an email. 

This is a simple but great
achievement – bringing screen capture and screencasting to the masses.

Here are the details:

Jing Project – Overview

Jing Header

Jing Project
is less a beta-release
than an experiment created to gather feedback in the creation of a new
tool that aims to make screencasting and screen capture intuitive and

As such the TechSmith people are
keen to stress
that the features that may go into a final version of the product may
not all be in evidence at this point in time. 

The idea is to provide a
free tool to the public and gather their feedback on its strengths and
weaknesses. Certainly, both are in evidence at this stage in

This isn’t to say, however, that the Jing Project interface is
anything short of excellent, or its simple two-in-one capabilities a
very welcome addition to the Techsmith line-up, but rather that there
are a couple of minor flaws that let an otherwise great service down a

That said, if you are looking for
a screen capture
and screencasting tool that puts usability and simplicity at the
forefront of its features – the kind of tool you could have your mother
using in a minute or so – Project Jing is well worth checking out.

In this short video from the Jing Project website
you can get an instant feel for the capabilities and style of this
useful tool:


The Jing interface is its greatest asset
and it is
evident that a lot of time and care has been put into making it as
accessible and intuitive as possible. Minimalism is key here.

At the top right of my screen there is a small,
semi-transparent sun
– apparently this can be changed to a menu-bar icon on the Mac. When I
roll over this minimized sun icon, it enlarges, presenting me with
three icons – a cross-hair, photo-set and cog.

As you’d expect, the cross-hair is for capturing images or
the photo-set is for accessing your library of files, and the cog is to
change your settings.

Jing Interface

Clicking on the first
automatically creates a
full-screen cross-hair with which I can drag and drop the portion of
the screen I would like to record or capture. 

The second icon opens a
new window with my previously recorded items in thumbnail format ready
for me to scan through and preview if need be.

The third option opens up a larger sun in the center of my
from which I can access help files, quit the application, or send
to Techsmith.

I can also change my preferences in terms of whether or not I
would like Jing to open on start up, and the hot key I would like to use
to launch its capture capability.

What I like about the cross-hair
is that it pops up
straight away for my selection of a screen region whether I am going to
record video or capture an image. 

From there, once I have selected the
region of the screen, I can decide what I would like to do with it.
This is a nice approach, and will make sense to those not familiar with
more complex screen capture and screencasting solutions.

Recording or Capturing

Once I have chosen the region of the screen
I wish
to work with, the remainder of the screen is switched to monochrome,
firmly emphasizing my choice. Then I can choose to redo my selection,
cancel, or create a screen grab or video from it.

If I chose an image, a new window opens with my freshly
still, and from here I can apply basic annotation effects – an arrow,
text, hollow rectangle or marquee-style highlighter are

means that if I want to point to a particular image, or draw attention
to a particular line or paragraph of text, it is easily done.

Jing Annotation

I can then share, save or cancel the work I’ve done.

Jing Share Save

For video, I have stop, pause and
resume, mute audio
and cancel buttons. There are no editing capabilities and you can’t
rewind or trim the beginning off your clip, so you have to get things
right first time and in one-take.

Jing Video

Nevertheless, for the kind of simple functions Jing Project is
to be put to, this is good thing, and once again puts simplicity and
ease-of-use center-stage.


Jing Library

What sharing capabilities Jing Project has
have been made very easy to use.

As soon as you have finished a capture or recording you are
the option of either sharing – which will upload the file to your
account instantly – or saving, whereby you can choose the destination
on your computer that you wish the file to be stored.

Theoretically at
least this gives you the choice of either sharing your file over the
web, or sending it in an email.

It’s really as simple as that. Furthermore, should you decide
delete a file at some later point, it will also be deleted on All from clicking the delete button below your image or

As your videos and images are all stored locally and arranged
in a
library of thumbnails, you are not forced to share them immediately,
and can easily do so at any point in time.

Room For Improvement

ScreenCast Dot Com

Sharing is not the strongest card
in the deck for
Jing, and if there is one thing that lets the project down at this
stage, it is a lack of image and video export options. 

Images, which
can be saved to your desktop or instantly shared from your
account, are only produced in the .png

There is nothing wrong with that, per se, but if you want a
file, you are going to have to convert the file yourself with another
application. This is annoying more than anything.

Video sharing, though, is a whole different game which goes
beyond annoying and into the realms of unpleasant.

Certainly, it is easy enough to
share your video by uploading and linking to your
account, but if you don’t want one of those, this is where the problems

Because the videos produced by Jing Project, which you can
save to your desktop, are in .swf
format. That’s great in terms of maintaining pretty good quality at low
data sizes, and allows Jing Project to create videos on the fly,
without having to encode the footage first. 

The problem is that very
few people have an .swf
player as standard on their computer, and .swf is one of the
few formats you will not be able to upload to
YouTube, or almost
any other video
sharing service.

All of this would seem to conspire
towards making the easiest option for sharing signing up for a
account, which while free for the duration of the Jing Project
experiment – is usually a paid service that charges for storage and

This walled-garden
approach just doesn’t swing it in these days of easy media sharing
online. I would rather pay a modest fee for the software for the
freedom to upload where I choose than use a free service tied into a
proprietary hosting solution.

Technical Specifications

Jing Tech Specs


  • Windows
    XP & Vista
  • Microsoft .Net Framework 3.0
  • Flash Player 6 or higher
  • 8MB of free hard drive space
  • 1GB of RAM recommended


  • Mac OSX 10.4.9 or later
  • Flash Player 6 or higher
  • 8MB of free hard drive space
  • 1GB of RAM recommended

Linux is currently unsupported. A broadband Internet
connection is highly recommended.


In terms of ease of use and
two-for-one functionality, Jing
is a knock-out success, providing one of the easiest ways to capture
video or still images from your desktop that I have seen to

will be priceless for those working in tech support or
educational/training roles, and will also come in very handy for others
looking to
help out a friend without having to explain an on-screen procedure
blow-by-blow in text, or over the phone.

By rolling both video and stills capture together, and making
most of an interface that foregrounds simplicity and ease of use, Jing
Project is likely to open up screencasting to a non-technical audience,
which is a definite step forward.

This is by no means a replacement
for the professional end of screencasting tools, such as Techsmith
as without even rudimentary annotation or editing features, Jing
Project is aimed squarely at the casual user. 

It is this casual user
that is likely to get the most from Jing, which sits unobtrusively in
the corner of your screen waiting to take and share captures at any
point in time.

Sharing Is the Weak Card

Sharing, however, is the weakest card for Jing Project, and as
it stands today is likely to be a deal breaker for many.

The main issue here is in locking
the user into using
for sharing and publishing videos and images. 

Yes, you can save .png
and .swf
files to your desktop, but there are very few video publishing
destinations out there that accept the .swf format, leaving the average
user stuck with sending out links to their account for
sharing, rather than being able to easily embed, email or publish

In these days of easy media sharing and data portability this
is all
a little lame, especially if you consider that once the Jing Project
comes to an end, and the final release candidate goes live, you will be
stuck paying a fair amount for content storage each year. 

The Jing
Project developers could learn something here from the recent,
feature-packed screen capture tool Skitch
which makes it incredibly easy to drag and drop images to email, as
well as publish directly to your Flickr
account, .mac or
own website.

This irritating flaw aside,
though, Jing Project is
a really simple screen capture and screencasting solution that will
meet the simple needs of those not looking to create all-singing,
all-dancing screencasts and captures, but to quickly and easily
communicate in images what would take a lot longer in words.

For that reason alone it is well worth trying out.

Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about Jing Project, you might
want to check out the following links:

Originally written by Michael Pick for MasterNewMedia and titled: “Screencasting Gets Easier With New Screen Capture And Desktop Recording Tool: Jing Project” on July 24th 2007. Some Rights Reserved