Why You Need Audio Descriptions to Make Online Course Videos Accessible

caption online video courses

Not only does the ADA Section 504-refresh highlight the need for audio descriptions in higher education videos, but it’s also an accessibility best practice that has the potential to benefit all students.

Learn the different types of audio descriptions, how they work, and how to create them so your institution stays compliant.

Are audio descriptions like captions?

Sort of.  Here’s the difference: captions use text to describe what’s being heard on-screen. Audio descriptions (AD) talk through what’s being seen. Put another way, captions help people who are hard of hearing, while audio descriptions help people who have difficulty seeing.

Audio descriptions are also sometimes called ‘video descriptions’ or ‘descriptive narration tracks.’ They all refer to the same thing – an option that gives you all the information from a video without ever opening your eyes.

You’ve probably watched movies that have embedded audio descriptions, even though you didn’t use them yourself (or even know they were there!). Ever see the AD symbol on a DVD? That means the movie has an audio description track that can be turned on as needed. Many movie theaters offer audio description support, too.

Audio descriptions icon

An example – what they sound like
Although visuals are a core strength of video’s ability to convey information, it can be difficult for people with sight loss to understand what’s going on based on standard audio alone. Audio descriptions bridge the gap by narrating what occurs on screen so everyone can understand the meaning.

Here’s an example that demonstrates how audio descriptions can describe important on-screen action that makes the video easier to understand for sight-challenged viewers.

Audio descriptions icon on a still-frame of a popular movie clip, The Lion King

In higher education, audio descriptions are important and providing them is legally required. This is good news because it makes crucial on-screen visuals in online and blended courses available to every student.

Audio descriptions help many types of learners

Audio descriptions help people with a visual disability (more than seven and a half million adults in the United States alone) as well as students with lesser degrees of vision loss.

They can help other students, too. Some people learn better with both audio and visual inputs or are primarily auditory learners. Non-native speakers may like hearing audio descriptions to better understand the language. Students on the autism spectrum can benefit from hearing social/facial cues read aloud.

Student on a jostling bus, using headphones to listen to a video lesson with audio descriptions

Some students turn on audio descriptions simply because they prefer to hear the video lesson. Whether they’re jogging, reviewing a video lesson at night with headphones while their roommate sleeps, or watching videos on a jostling bus, there are many reasons why having the option to treat the lecture like a podcast makes sense.

How to add audio descriptions

There are two main ways to add audio descriptions:

  • Embedded voice descriptions – In this method, audio descriptions are their own separate digital “track,” behind the scenes. They can be turned on as needed. This is the most advanced and versatile method because all students have the same version of the video, and only listen to audio descriptions if they need them.

The best of today’s accessible video platforms now offer features that make it easy to add audio description tracks to videos. In TechSmith Knowmia, formerly TechSmith Relay, you simply log in, go to your video, click on the ‘Accessibility’ tab, and then ‘Manage Audio Description.’

Screenshot of how to add audio descriptions in TechSmith Relay. Click on Accessibility and then Manage Audio Descriptions

Then, upload your audio description track, which can be an Mp3 or M4A file type. Once your video has an audio description track, students can easily turn it on by clicking the AD Track button on the video player.

Screenshot of what video looks like once an audio description track is included, with the AD icon
  • Separate video – Usually only used when embedded tracks are not available, this involves creating a duplicate video with audio descriptions permanently part of the audio, or “burned in.” There’s no option to turn on or off the audio description narration with this method. While this is great for students who always use the narration, having two copies of every video can be confusing and double bandwidth and storage costs.

Create audio descriptions yourself, or outsource

The easiest way to create audio descriptions is to outsource it to a company who does this as a service. Many of the same vendors who create captions can also create audio descriptions and usually charge about $15-$30 per minute.

Another option is to create audio descriptions in-house. It’s more affordable, and you retain complete control of the wording and phrasing.

An instructor creating audio descriptions

Before you begin, learn from those who have done this before and can share best practices. There are a number of preferred ways to explain what’s happening on-screen. It’s helpful and will save you time when you understand common practices. One great resource is the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP), which has a handy description key and other resources with tips and techniques that will make your audio descriptions easier to create and understand.

When you record your audio descriptions, keep in mind that they don’t need to synch perfectly with the visuals. As long as they are approximately nearby the on-screen action, they will be effective.

Another tip is to time your narration so that it doesn’t interfere with on-screen dialogue or other audio in the original video. Record audio descriptions in the empty spaces in between the existing audio. You don’t need to verbally explain every single thing that happens on the screen, as long as you describe the gist of what’s happening.   

Alternatives to audio descriptions

An annotated transcript is an alternative to audio descriptions. Instead of narrating what’s happening visually, you write it out and provide it separate from the video.

For example, if a complicated chart is shown in a health sciences video, an annotated transcript would include an extra section that describes what the chart looks like, in detail.

One benefit of this method is that deaf and blind students can use assistive devices to ‘read’ these transcripts, whereas audio descriptions are only helpful to those who can hear. Extended transcripts may also help other types of students who want to review material through written words, or struggle to process visual information for other reasons. Cons include extra time creating the transcript and maintaining another resource.

Health sciences instructor explaining a medical skeletal model in a video lesson

A final alternative to audio descriptions is simply to verbally describe all visuals within your original video. This takes the concept of providing an AD track and makes it part of the video itself. This method works particularly well for educational videos and demonstrations where descriptions of on-screen action are a natural addition.

For example, if you’re making a video lesson with a chart, verbally explain the main points. If you’re hand-writing a calculus proof, talk through it as you go. Demonstrating a chemistry experiment? Describe what you’re doing along the way, so students have the audio and visuals.

There’s a lot to understand about audio descriptions. This topic will continue to grow as more video platforms offer this functionality, and more colleges and universities begin including audio descriptions alongside video captions as standard accessibility accommodations.

Learn more about TechSmith Knowmia and its accessibility solutions including Audio Description track support.

Dayna Christians

Marketing Content Strategist at TechSmith. I love photography, web design, and baby giraffes, not in that order.

Simplified User Interface: The Beginner’s Guide

Mocked-up website with a simplified user interface

It can be difficult to onboard users to new and complex interfaces and workflows. Too much information can easily overwhelm the user and make it difficult to keep the focus on the essential feature or functionality.

Additionally, software updates tend to be frequent. These regular updates, coupled with localization processes, can make documentation work in the software industry quite demanding for technical content creators. How can we face these challenges without having to constantly update supporting content?

What if we designed our visual content in a way that is easy to follow, and is able to withstand future UI tweaks?

Let us introduce a design technique used by TechSmith’s User Assistance team and others – it’s called simplified user interface.

Simplified User Interface: What is it?

A simplified user interface (SUI) is a visual representation of a software interface that removes  unimportant elements and reduces them to simpler shapes.

Simplified User Interface graphic showing PowerPoint UI
An example of SUI (pronounced “sue-ee” by the TechSmith User Assistance team).

The elements that are fundamental to the instructions or for the user to understand are purposefully kept visible and the SUI graphics serves as a visual aid to support the instructional content given, via the sub- or figure text.

SUI graphics allow for easy-to-follow instructions which enable the reader to get to the point quickly and avoid distractions.

Keep it simple, Stupid!

SUI graphics leverage the famous K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, Stupid!) principle: systems perform better if they are kept simple and when unnecessary complexities are avoided. By reducing the graphics to a simpler state and by removing distractions, we can allow the user to focus on only the essential information, which creates a better experience.

Josh Cavalier,an eLearning expert, describes cognitive load as the “amount of information being processed by the brain”. When you reduce the amount of distractions for your audience, they are better able to focus their attention on what is important.

Simplified User Interface graphic with one menu item exposed
In this example, only a single menu item is shown so as direct user attention to something specific.

In a recent blog post from The Interaction Design Foundation, it’s explained that a user is focused solely on how useful something will be for them. This is true for both the product design itself but also for the how-to documentation and instructions.  If it’s hard to understand how to use a product, the value that it has to offer, or how a product can solve a particular problem, then users will struggle.

SUI graphics build upon these principles: using a simplified user interface in help documentation can aid in user success by giving them only the information they must have in order to be successful, increasing their success and satisfaction with a product.

Keeping content up to date

Keep your content current, longer. A quick survey with attendees at STC Technical Communication Summit revealed that keeping content up to date is one of the biggest challenges faced by technical communicators today. And that makes sense, if we look to software as an example: release cycles are shortening and new features and functionality are being added frequently. And with each feature addition and related tweaks to the user interface, the instructions that the technical documentation team laboriously put together are at risk of becoming quickly out of date, even if only slightly. So what is a technical communicator to do?

Again, simplified user interface graphics can play a strategic role in one’s content strategy. The removal of a button or addition of a feature will easily confuse the user if this change is not reflected in a precise screenshot. However, a simplified user interface graphic can often sustain multiple software versions and updates before needing further updates. The simplified design is more forgiving to minor interface changes and additions as it is already an abstract representation of the interface. Technical content creators can use this technique to extend the shelf-life of their visual content or even for repurposing content in similar scenarios.

Faster content localization

Any content creator who has been through the localization process knows that it can be time-consuming and expensive to create screenshots and graphics for each locale. Yet, the localization of onboarding materials and other graphics can be trivial for any organization that wants to be successful internationally. As Day Translations points out, we should all “scrap the idea that English is the language of business”. It’s important to cater to different customer bases by providing them with content that speaks to them…in their native language.

Most technical communicators know the effort it takes to create and manage unique screenshots for each language. In order to simplify this task, one can design the content to use SUI images instead of language-specific screenshots. The same graphic can often be repurposed across multiple languages with little to no adjustment. Additional information or instructions can be conveyed through the sub- or figure text.

Simplified User Interface used in both German and English dialog boxes.
In this example, the same SUI graphic is used in the software preference dialog for all languages.

Again, this is another area that helps to reduce creation and maintenance efforts while still providing the user with clear instructions.

How to create a Simplified User Interface Graphic

Creating a simplified user interface (SUI) graphic is easier than you think. The best way to get started is to begin with a screenshot and then transform it. To do this, you need screen capture and image editing software. At TechSmith, our tool of choice for creating SUI images is Snagit because it provides both of these functions, though there are other capable image editors.

Step 1: Capture the screenshot

Using Snagit, capture a screenshot of the user interface you want to turn into a SUI graphic and open it in the Snagit Editor. Crop the screenshot to the dimensions of your desired output.

Screenshot of a web page for Bridge Street Insurance featured a Request a Quote call to action button

Step 2: Simplify the screenshot

Simplifying an image is a process that involves covering up and removing visual noise like unrelated text, menus, buttons, or tool tips to reduce an image’s complexity and focus attention on the important parts. Snagit provides two ways to help make this an easy process with the Simplify tool available in Snagit.

The first option is to simplify a screenshot manually by selecting the Simplify tool, and using the graphic elements to hide unimportant details in your image and direct attention to the ones that matter. After choosing the Simplify tool, Snagit automatically detects the colors in your screenshot, creates a color palette, and provides a set of tools that match and are ideal for simplifying images.

The second way option is to automate the process. Snagit’s Auto Simplify feature recognizes shapes and text and then automatically covers them with the themed elements. Remove, add, and change the color of any of the elements Snagit adds to achieve the look you want.

Watch the tutorial below to see the Simplify tool in action!

Step 3: Save it

When you are done, save your file as a .png or .jpg file to be used in your documentation. We highly recommend also saving your final image as a .snag file. This is the Snagit project file type and it allows you to reopen the project to edit and adjust the image later on. This makes updating your image easy so you won’t need to recreate your SUI graphic every time.

Bonus Tip: Use a tag to easily access this file any time in the Snagit library.

Key takeaways

The benefits of using Simplified User Interface graphics in your technical documentation are twofold: First, these graphics visually enhance your instructions and improve the onboarding experience for your users. Second, the graphics make technical communicators’ jobs easier, as they reduce the need for screenshot updates and help with localization.

Integrating SUI graphics into part of one’s content strategy is therefore a smart business decision that all content creators should consider, regardless if your favorite aspect is the improved user experience, having evergreen content, or faster localization. Even just a few simplified user interface graphics can make a big difference!

If you aren’t using Snagit yet, download the free trial today, and get started creating your own SUI graphics!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Allison Boatman

Allison Boatman is a member of the Marketing Team at TechSmith. Follow her on Twitter @allisonboats She can often be found aimlessly wandering around local craft stores. Personal motto: "Work hard, stay humble." Favorites: Alaskan Malamutes, Iceland, and 90's pop culture.

How to Write A Shot List That Will Transform Your Video

SLR camera next to laptop

When you start creating videos, there’s often a lot of preparation before you can even think about hitting the record button. If you will recording using a camera, you need to find a set, adjust lighting, and have the proper camera angles.

The best way to organize this preparation is with a shot list.

Even if your video will only use screen recordings without any camera footage, it’s helpful to have a shot list to help you identify and plan for everything you want to record.

What is a shot list?

A shot list is a document that maps out exactly what will occur and what will be used in that particular shot, or scene, of the video.

And, while your video probably isn’t a big Hollywood production, a shot list helps organize your thoughts and begin with a solid plan.

Shot lists go hand-in-hand as part of writing the script, creating a storyboard, and the overall pre-production process.

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Why are shot lists important?

If you’re asking yourself whether a shot list is really worth the effort, then allow us to answer that question for you: Yes it is!  

A shot list is like a blueprint that acts as a roadmap for your entire project, offering a structured plan that everyone can follow. It ensures that all team members are aligned, setting the stage (quite literally!) for a successful shoot.  

But why are they so important?  

Firstly, shot lists save time. Having a predetermined list of shots helps you utilize your shooting hours more efficiently. It provides quick answers to questions like, “What are we shooting next?” or “Who will be on camera for this part?” Having this information in hand eliminates guesswork, speeding up the shoot and maintaining focus throughout production.  

Secondly, a well-constructed shot list helps keep you prepared because it outlines what to expect at each step. This reduces the risk of misunderstandings and ensures the shoot runs as smoothly as possible.  

In essence, a shot list helps streamline the creative and logistical aspects of making a video. It’s a guide to staying organized, saving time, and most importantly, capturing the footage that will bring your story to life.

The essential elements of a shot list

Now that we know why a shot list is so important, let’s take a look at how to make a shot list, starting with a breakdown of each of the key elements you should include: 

  • Script / SB reference: Indicates which part of the script or storyboard the shot corresponds to, ensuring alignment between planning and execution.
  • Shot Number: The reference number assigned to each shot. This is essential for easy identification and organization.
  • Interior / Exterior: Specifies whether the shot takes place indoors or outdoors. This is crucial for lighting and equipment planning.
  • Shot: Identifies the type of shot — such as Wide Shot (WS), Medium Close-Up (MCU), or Very Wide Shot (VWS) — to establish the shot’s visual style.
  • Camera Angle: Specifies the perspective from which the camera will capture the shot — like eye level, high angle, or even birds-eye view — adding layers of meaning to the scene.
  • Camera Move: States whether the camera will remain static or employ a specific movement like panning, which affects the energy and pacing of the scene.
  • Audio: Indicates if the shot includes specific audio elements like a voice-over (VO), an important note for post-production.
  • Subject: Listing any people needed in the shot is an important detail for scheduling and ensures all team members know what should be captured.
  • Description of Shot: This is a detailed summary of the shot in question, including the visual elements and type of shot to help guide the director, cinematographer, and crew. 

While there is fundamental information that should be included on every shot list, there’s no right or wrong way for you to put yours together. This is a tool for your production and the most important thing for you is to make sure you have all the information you and your crew will need. 

With that in mind, you may wish to add, or even swap out, some columns to list other bits of information, such as: 

  • The Scene Number: This is a number to identify each scene, which will help with the organization and workflow of the shoot. 
  • Location: Specifying the set or location for each shot will help when planning logistics.
  • Framing: This should indicate how you want a shot to be composed, which will help maintain artistic coherence and consistency.
  • Action/Dialogue: This is where you’ll describe what you want to happen in the shot, such as character actions and important lines, ensuring key parts of the story are captured.
  • Props Needed: It’s also worth detailing the props required for each shot.
  • Extra Notes: You can also add a section for miscellaneous (yet essential) information, like special camera instructions, lighting requirements, or anything else that needs to be conveyed to the crew.

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Shot list template

Now let’s take a closer look at what a shot list might actually look like.

In the screenshot below, you can see a clear shot list example, complete with information about each shot to help convey to the crew who’s needed on set, details of the action, and where each shot will be filmed. 

Sample shot list template

We’d recommend organizing your shots based on location. Grouping shots this way will make it easier to film because you’ll be able to film everything you need at one given time. 

For example, if you’re going to shoot a scene at a lake for the beginning and end of the video, it would make sense to film these shots at the same time, rather than separately. While you won’t be filming in order of the storyboard, this makes filming much more convenient. 

The different types of shots

Perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider when creating your shot list is how you want each shot to be captured. This includes information about the types of shots you want to film, as well as camera angles and movements. 

For example, do you want a wide shot (WS) or a close-up (CU)? Will the camera be static or panning? 

Meanwhile, camera angles could include high and/or low-level shots, whereas a move may be on a handheld camera, a crane, or a dolly. Once you’ve decided on your camera work, it’s also important to think about how you’ll record the audio, whether it’s using a boom mic or a voice-over — and don’t forget about your B-roll, the secret sauce of all great videos

We’ve put together a quick and easy chart that you can refer to below for more shot types, camera angles, camera moves, and audio.

Chart of shot types, camera angles, camera moves, and audio options

There’s a lot to consider, but all of these details are vital to creating a shot list that ensures your shoot runs smoothly. 

How to create a shot list in 5 steps:

Now, we’ve already covered enough information to make any video creator’s head spin. But, don’t worry if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating your own shot list because we’re going to make it easy for you. 

Whether you’re making a training video, a software demo video, an animated explainer video (yes, animations need shot lists too!), or any other type of video, we’re going to show you how to make a shot list in five easy steps. 

Now for the actual process of creating your shot list, we suggest opening a spreadsheet. The layout makes it easy to compartmentalize all the information while keeping everything organized and easy to rearrange if and when needed. 

1. Pick a scene

The first step in creating a shot list is choosing a scene from your script to focus on. Then, in your spreadsheet create column headings using the nine essential elements of a shot list that we’ve discussed above, such as the scene and shot numbers, location, framing, etc. 

Next, each individual shot you have planned for that scene should be given its own row. Pretty easy so far, right? 

2. Break down each capture

Now that you have your scene and spreadsheet ready, it’s time to dissect each shot. This means going through them one at a time and thinking about how you’d like to capture each one.

This is the time to use your understanding of shot type and camera movements to fill in each column in your spreadsheet with the specifics that will guide your crew during production.

3. Number your shots

Clarity is key when organizing your shot list, which is why it’s so important to number your shots. Start with the number 1 for your first shot, and for each subsequent shot, create a new row in your spreadsheet and give it a unique number.

This simple system makes it much easier to reference specific shots during a busy shoot and also helps in the editing process later on.

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4. Assign a shot for every part of the scene

There’s nothing worse than wrapping up production, only to realize later on that you forgot to take an important shot — but it’s a mistake that’s as common as it is avoidable. 

While it can be really tempting to skip a “minor” shot when creating your shot list, with an “it-will-all-work-itself-out” mentality, the whole point of your shot list is to list all your shots. So, make sure that each part of your scene, no matter how small, has its own spot on your spreadsheet. By being meticulous in this way, you’ll eliminate ambiguities and ensure that every element in your scene gets the attention it deserves during filming.

5. Draw rough sketches

Even if you’re not an artist, drawing rough sketches or storyboards for your shot list can be incredibly useful. This visual aid will help you and your crew better understand how a scene will unfold. It’s also a good way to try and spot any potential issues before you’re on set. If something doesn’t look quite right in the sketch, you can adjust your shot list accordingly. 

You might want to think of these drawings as a second layer of planning, offering another opportunity to fine-tune your vision before the cameras start rolling.

And that’s all there is to it! Your shot list can be as simple or as detailed as you see fit. The most important thing is making sure you have a shot list in the first place—while it might seem like a lot of work upfront, it will make both shooting and editing your video much easier in the long run. 

Speaking of editing, once you’ve got all your footage together, consider using TechSmith’s Camtasia — which comes with a 30-day free trial! If you’re new to editing, you might also want to check out our guide on how to edit a video.

How to write a shot list, the FAQ

Do I really need a shot list for a small project?

Even for small projects, a shot list can be incredibly useful as it keeps you organized and ensures you don’t miss any shots crucial to your production.

How detailed should a shot list be?

The level of detail your shot list requires will depend on the needs of your project. That said, it’s generally better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Can I make changes to my shot list during the shoot?

Yes! Flexibility is key in filmmaking. While a shot list serves as a guide, there may be moments when you need to adapt due to unforeseen circumstances or new creative insights.

Is a shot list the same as a storyboard?

While they serve similar purposes, shot lists and storyboards are not the same. A storyboard is a visual representation of your script, while a shot list is more like a detailed checklist that includes logistical and technical information.

How to Crop a Video Quickly and Easily

Do you need to change the focus of your video clip without having to re-shoot your footage all over again? This post is going to teach you all you need to know about how to crop a video.

While it’s often used for photo editing, cropping is just as useful when it comes to editing video. With cropping, you can remove unnecessary or distracting portions of a video clip or change its dimensions to fit within a certain area. 

Camera footage is often cropped to change the emphasis of a shot or remove unwanted and distracting portions. So, whether you’re working with footage from a camera or a screen recording, there will likely be plenty of times that you need to crop these clips. 

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What is video cropping?

In a nutshell, video cropping refers to the process of removing unwanted portions from the outer edges of a video to focus on a specific subject or area. For example, if you have a photograph, and you cut out the parts you don’t need so you can zoom in on what’s most important — that’s essentially what you’re doing when you crop a video.

While you might think that cropping sounds similar to trimming or cutting, it’s not. Trimming and cutting generally refers to shortening the length of a video by removing bits of footage. Cropping, on the other hand, doesn’t alter the duration of the video; it simply changes the dimensions and the framing to center the viewer’s attention where you want it.

So, why do people crop videos? Well, there are a few reasons, such as removing distractions from the edge of a frame or changing the aspect ratio of your video so that it’s better suited to platforms like Instagram and YouTube. 

Whatever the reason, knowing how to crop a video is an essential skill for any budding video editor! 

How to crop a video with Camtasia

One of the fastest, simplest (and best) ways to crop a video is with TechSmith’s Camtasia. Our user-friendly editing suite comes with a wide range of advanced tools that are super easy to use — making it perfect for professional and novice editors alike! 

With Camtasia, you can change the speed of your videos, add music to your footage, and even create closed captions and subtitles. But, before we talk about all the wonderful ways you can use Camtasia, let’s get back to the matter at hand. 

Here are step-by-step instructions to crop a video using Camtasia:

Step 1:

With a video clip, or image, selected on the canvas, you can select the Crop tool.

Step 2: 

With the Crop button selected, select the video clip or image that you want to crop. 

Step 3:

A thin blue line (and handles) will appear on your clip, which shows that Crop mode has been enabled. Click and hold the handles to drag the edges of the clip or image until your frame looks exactly how you want it. 

Step 4:

When you’re finished, toggle back to Edit mode by clicking the cursor icon above the canvas. 

Once a clip has been cropped, you can move it to wherever you need it on the canvas.

How to un-crop a video

Using Camtasia to crop a clip is particularly useful because it’s “non-destructive.” This means that when you crop your footage, the original clip remains intact. So, if you look back on your edits at a later stage and realize the shot looked better as it was, or want to crop it differently, you can! 

Simply follow the steps above to toggle Crop mode back on and make the necessary changes by adjusting the edges.

How is cropping different from zooming and trimming?

As we mentioned above, cropping is the process of moving or adjusting the edges of an image. Of course, there are other ways to edit your video that don’t involve cropping images or parts of your video, such as splitting and trimming. 

While these editing terms are sometimes used interchangeably with cropping, they do, in fact, mean completely different things. So, to avoid any confusion, let us talk you through the differences of each: 

What is zooming?

With Camtasia, you can zoom in or out on your videos by changing the size or scale of clips and images. Zooming is perfect for software tutorials and demonstrations when you need to display a detailed view of a user interface. 

What is trimming?

On the other hand, trimming refers to removing part of the beginning or end of a clip and is sometimes, this is referred to as trimming the top or tail. Trimming is critical to making sure that your video starts quickly and you don’t lose your audience’s attention. 

Best of all, with Camtasia’s video cutter, you can trim video and audio files separately.

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What is video scaling?

While we’re here, let’s quickly cover scaling too! 

Scaling an image will change the overall size of that image. If you’re using Camtasia, it’s always best to display media at 100% scale, but camera footage can sometimes be scaled down without losing as much clarity, which could help reduce the file size of your video

The scale of a clip or image in Camtasia can be viewed and edited in the Properties panel.

However, please note that stretching a video or image larger than its natural size can cause pixelation — which is why it’s important to learn how to resize an image correctly.

That’s all there is to it, but don’t forget that as well as zooming, trimming, and scaling, Camtasia has all the editing tools you could ever ask for. Whether you want to blur your footage, rotate the final video, or merge two videos into one, Camtasia has got everything you need! 

When you should crop a video

Here are a few ways that cropping can be a helpful technique to have in your toolbox:

  • Fitting footage in a specific frame — like the screen on a smartphone or tablet.
  • Patching a mistake or irregularity in a screen recording.
  • Removing black bars from mobile videos.
  • Showing simultaneous actions happening in separate areas of your screen.
  • Displaying multiple clips on screen at the same time.
  • Isolating part of a user interface.

Now that you have learned how to crop a video in Camtasia, get out there and work some video magic!

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Croping a video, the FAQs

How to crop a video on iPhone?

To crop a video on an iPhone, open the Photos app and select the video you wish to crop. Tap Edit in the top right corner, then tap the crop icon at the bottom of the screen. Drag the corners to crop your video, and tap Done to save your changes.

How to crop a video in Premiere Pro?

To crop a video in Adobe Premiere Pro, first position the playhead over the clip you want to crop in the Timeline panel and make sure the clip is selected. Next, go to the Effects panel and navigate to Video Effects › Transform › Crop, then double-click to apply it to your clip. Finally, go to the Effect Controls panel, select the Crop effect, and either drag the handles in the Program Monitor or adjust the numeric controls to crop your video more precisely.

How to crop a video on Android?

To crop a video on Android with Google Photos, open the video you want to edit and tap on Edit, followed by Crop. If you’d like to change the aspect ratio, tap on Aspect ratio, or to adjust the video’s perspective, tap Transform and then drag the dots to crop the video. Once you’re satisfied with the crop, tap Save Copy at the bottom right to save your changes.

How to crop a video Windows 10?

To crop a video in Camtasia on Windows 10, first select the video clip or image on the canvas and then click on the crop tool. A thin blue line with handles will appear around your media, indicating that Crop mode is enabled. Drag these handles to crop your video to your desired frame. When you’re done, click the cursor icon above the canvas to toggle back to Edit mode.

How to crop a video in iMovie?

In iMovie, select the clip you want to crop in your timeline and then click on the Cropping icon, which looks like two overlapping squares. Click Crop to Fill and then adjust the frame by dragging the corners or sides. Once you’re satisfied, click the blue tick in the top-right corner to apply the crop and return to the main timeline.

How to crop a video on Mac?

To crop a video on a Mac you can use iMovie or Camtasia. In iMovie, import your clip to the timeline, then click the Cropping icon and adjust as needed. If you’re using Camtasia, select your clip on the canvas and click the crop tool; then drag the handles to crop your frame.

How to crop a video on Tiktok?

To crop a video on TikTok, start by uploading your video before proceeding to the editing screen. From there, click Crop and drag the handles on the sides and corners of your video, or select your desired aspect ratio, until your frame is the shape and size that you want.

Guy Larcom

Guy is the Global Content Strategy Manager at TechSmith. If he's not golfing or skiing, he wishes he was.

How to Record a Streaming Video

These days, it seems that no matter where you look online, you’re bombarded with live content. Whether it’s a video on Facebook Live, a live webinar at work, or a Live Stream on YouTube. 

With so much content available in real-time, how is anyone supposed to process it all? Especially when there’s a chance it’ll disappear the second you scroll, without little hope of ever finding it again… Well, fortunately, there is a way to record streaming video before it’s lost to the void.

Screen recording software like TechSmith’s Snagit, and even the tools that come built-in with most computers, make it easy to capture streaming video while it’s being broadcast live. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss the different ways in which you can capture your screen so that you know how to record streaming content. 

Once you know how to record an online video, you can save it for later or share it with your friends, family, and coworkers. It’s easy, fast, and will bring order to a chaotic media landscape.


How to record a live video with built-in recorders

Computers and laptops are more versatile than ever. While we may use them predominantly for everyday tasks such as answering emails, browsing the web, creating Word docs, and playing the odd video game — there is so much more you can do. 

For example, you can make a decent YouTube video in less than a day. If you’ve got a good microphone for recording, then plug it into your laptop, and BOOM! — you’ve got a mini recording studio. The sky is the limit! 

But before we get distracted by all the awesome stuff you can do with your computer, let’s get back to the matter at hand: How to record a live-streaming video. 

There’s no need to dive into the deep end of the software pool here; both macOS and Windows have integrated tools that are great for recording streaming video. Let’s jump in! 

Video recording built-in tool on Mac

If you’re a Mac user, the built-in screen capture tool — aptly named Screenshot — is an easy and simple solution for recording a live stream. Provided you’re using macOS Mojave or later, here’s how you can record a live video on Mac in five simple steps:

  1. Open Screenshot: Press Shift+Command+5 at the same time. This will open the Screenshot toolbar.
  2. Choose your recording area: There’s no need to capture your whole screen if you don’t need to. Instead, select the specific part of your screen that you want to record.
  3. Don’t miss the sound: Want to capture audio as well? Head to Options and make sure to select Microphone. This way, both visuals and sounds from the stream will be recorded, provided they’re loud enough to be picked up by your microphone.

Note: The built-in Screenshot tool on a Mac doesn’t have an option to record the system audio. This means you’ll need to turn up the volume on your machine to ensure the microphone picks it up (so try not to sneeze!). 

  1. Record your screen: When you’re ready to start recording, hit Record. Then once you’re done, click the Stop symbol that will have appeared in your toolbar at the top of your screen.
  2. Review your recording: You’ll see a thumbnail pop up in the bottom-right corner of your screen. If you click on it, you can trim your video, share and save it.

Video recording built-in tool on PC

Windows users have access to a similar built-in feature: The Game Bar. 

Originally created for the gaming community, the Game Bar can be used for a wide range of tasks — even those that have nothing to do with gaming! This nifty little screen capture tool is perfect for recording live streams across browsers, applications, and other programs on Windows. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to recording a live video on your PC:

  1. Activate the Game Bar: Press Windows+G together. This will open up the Game Bar on your screen.
  2. Personalize your preferences: Navigate to Settings, then to General. Here, you can turn specific features on or off depending on your needs.
  3. Ready. Set. Record: Once you’re all set up, hit Start Recording to begin capturing your live video.
  4. End and save: After recording, your video will be auto-saved as an MP4 file, making it universally accessible across devices and platforms.

How to record a live video with Snagit

Step 1: Find a desktop capture tool

First, find a great screen recorder and screen capture tool. There are many tools that will let you record your desktop screen, but some are better than others — and Snagit is one of them. It’s great for easily capturing screen recordings. You can even cut out the parts you don’t need. 

If, however, you need a tool with greater editing capabilities, check out TechSmith’s Camtasia. While Snagit is perfect for non-complex recordings and basic editing, Camtasia comes with the advanced functionality of a professional editing suite that’s still easy to use. 

With Camtasia, you can change the speed of a video, add captions and subtitles, and even sync audio and video sources in just a few simple steps. 

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Step 2: Adjust your recording settings

Once you’ve downloaded Snagit, open it and check that everything is set up to record a video rather than capture an image.

After selecting the area of the screen you want to record, the screen recorder toolbar will appear. You can then select to record microphone audio or system audio (or both!) alongside the screen recording.

If you’re recording a video that’s streaming live, then there’s a good chance you’ll want to capture the audio as well. This includes any sound from your computer, such as application alerts and the audio playing from your speakers. So, if you want that included in your recording, make sure you’ve got the system audio selected.

Step 3: Select an area to record

Click the Capture button and then select your entire screen, a particular window, or a custom region. Here’s an example of a NASA live stream:

As you can see, we only captured the streaming video section of YouTube, rather than the entire browser window. 

Step 4: Hit record

Once you’ve made your selection, click the Record button to start.

With Snagit, you can pause and resume the recording at any time. You can also record your webcam at the same time as your screen, which is what we like to call a picture-in-picture recording.

When you’re done recording, click the Stop button.

If you plan to record a long video stream, it’s worth noting that if your computer goes to sleep, or a screensaver starts running, your screen recording may be interrupted. So, if you plan to start recording a live stream video and walk away from your device, you may want to turn off screensavers and sleep mode in your computer settings. 

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Step 5: Save and upload

Once you have your video, you can save it to your computer as an MP4 or upload it to a platform, such as TechSmith Screencast, to share as needed. Snagit and Camtasia both have built-in export features for popular platforms such as YouTube, Slack, and plenty more.

Snagit even lets you turn a video into a GIF! But remember, GIF files don’t support audio.

Video captures can help you bring order to the chaos of live content and have many practical uses for saving and sharing both entertaining and useful footage. If, for example, you’re a remote worker, then you might find it useful to record Zoom meetings for future reference, or to share with colleagues that couldn’t attend.

It is, however, important to make sure you have permission to record and share content. If you were to ever pay to attend a webinar, record it, and share it with your coworkers, you and your organization could end up in trouble. 

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Record a live streaming video, the FAQs

Can I record the video and audio on a live stream at the same time?

With Snagit and Camtasia, you can! Simply toggle the aspects you want to record, like your screen or system audio.

Can I record a live stream on my phone?

Yes, you can! To capture a live stream on your phone, download TechSmith Capture. Then, once you’re done recording, you can easily upload the video to Snagit or Camtasia for editing.

How do I record a live stream online?

To record a live stream online, you can use built-in tools on like Screenshot on macOS or the Game Bar on Windows. Alternatively, specialized live streaming software, such as Snagit and Camtasia from TechSmith, offer enhanced recording and editing capabilities.

How do I record a live stream on Windows 10?

On Windows 10, you can use the built-in Game Bar to record live streams. All you have to do is push Windows+G, adjust your preferences, and click select Start Recording. Alternatively, you can use Snagit for more advanced tools.

YouTube vs. Vimeo: What’s the Difference?

youtube vs vimeo comparison

In today’s digital age, video content is king and platforms like YouTube and Vimeo reign supreme. Yet, while both are video hosting behemoths, they cater to different audiences and serve distinct purposes. 

If you’ve ever found yourself torn between the two, wondering which platform to invest your time and creativity in, you’re not alone! 

In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the intricacies of YouTube vs. Vimeo, comparing their features, monetization methods, core users, and more to help you decide which platform is best for you.

So, whether you’re a budding filmmaker, a business looking to market products, or simply curious, join us as we unravel the strengths and weaknesses of each platform.

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What are YouTube and Vimeo? 

Whether you’re catching up on the latest vlogs, tutorials, or indie films, YouTube and Vimeo have become the go-to platforms for millions of users looking to watch videos worldwide. But what exactly are these platforms, and how do they differ?

At their core, YouTube and Vimeo are both online video-sharing platforms, but that’s not to say they’re the same. In fact, each platform is unique. 

Without going into too much depth (yet!) about what makes each platform different, let’s look at what makes them what they are: 


  •  Launched in 2005, it’s a behemoth in the online video space.
  •  A place where users can upload, share, and comment on videos.
  •  Known for its wide variety of content, from amateur clips to professional series.


  • Debuted in 2004, a few months before YouTube.
  • Prides itself on being a platform for high-quality, artistic, and creative videos.
  • A community-driven site, often chosen by filmmakers, artists, and professionals.

Both platforms have evolved over the years, catering to their respective audiences and enhancing the user experiences they offer. However, their underlying purposes, features, and communities have unique nuances that set them apart. 

Now let’s delve a little deeper into what it is that sets these two platforms apart, deciding, once and for all, the ultimate champion of Vimeo vs. YouTube. 

YouTube vs Vimeo, the main differences

Main differences between Youtube and Vimeo

Because YouTube and Vimeo are the giants of the video hosting world, we’ve integrated outputs for both platforms in TechSmith’s Snagit and TechSmith’s Camtasia. However, Vimeo outputs are currently only available through the Windows version of Camtasia. 

While there aren’t really any limits as to how you can use either tool, you could, for example, use Camtasia to create and edit a video, and use Snagit to create the video thumbnail. In doing so, you’ll be able to quickly and easily export your files specifically for YouTube and/or Vimeo.

TechSmith Screencast is another great place to host your video content if you only want to share it with a select group of people. But, before we start tooting our own horn, let’s get back on track and dive into the main differences between YouTube and Vimeo:


  • Audience: With such a vast user base, constructive feedback may be lost amid the sheer volume of comments.
  • Cost: Free version available. A premium, ad-free experience can be had for $10/month.
  • Video Management: You can’t replace videos while retaining analytics, but you can trim your video content.
  • Monetization: Ads are everywhere! This can be frustrating for viewers, but good for content creators looking to profit from their content.
  • Privacy: Options for scheduled releases, as well as unlisted and private video settings.


  • Audience: A predominantly more mature community, often resulting in more constructive feedback.
  • Cost: Offers free and paid tiers (Plus, Pro, Business, and Premium) with varying storage capacities and perks.
  • Video Management: Ability to replace a video without affecting its statistics.
  • Monetization: A completely ad-free platform.
  • Privacy: Features include password protection, alongside unlisted and private video settings, among others.

Understanding the differences between YouTube and Vimeo and what makes them unique, is the first step in deciding which platform is best for you and your content.

YouTube vs Vimeo, the community size

The first question you should always ask yourself before pushing the record button on your camera is: “Who is my audience?” This question extends beyond making a video, as it’s also something you need to consider when deciding whether to host your content on YouTube or Vimeo — because both have very different communities.

YouTube’s community isn’t big, it’s massive! There are more than one billion users watching hundreds of millions of hours of content, every single day! 

While this is great for reaching lots of people with your content — with the potential to get millions of views on a single video — there are some cons with such a big audience. For example, you may run into questionable or even offensive users that aren’t afraid to tell you exactly how they feel about your content.

Vimeo, on the other hand, has a much smaller community. Of its 170 million active viewers, about 42 million are in the United States. However, Vimeo’s community is generally very supportive and has many users that offer more constructive feedback than what you might find on YouTube.

Despite this, when looking at the numbers alone, no video hosting platform can match the sheer volume of YouTube. If you are looking to engage with a creative and more caring community of filmmakers, Vimeo might be the place to go. But, if you want to tap into a gargantuan audience, YouTube is where it’s at. And hey, haters gon’ hate — but you don’t have to listen. 

Winner: Youtube

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YouTube vs Vimeo, the type of content

There’s this notion that YouTube is, first and foremost, a hub for entertainment and viral sensations. While that may have once been the case, YouTube has since blossomed into a diverse platform hosting a myriad of valuable content genres. 

You’ll find many creators offering deep dives into subjects ranging from productivity to videography — all of which offer genuine value for viewers looking for more than just mere entertainment. 

With YouTube’s immense global audience, there is a huge opportunity for creators to carve out a niche and cultivate a dedicated following. Beyond individual creators, businesses also harness YouTube’s reach to share product launches, product demonstrations, customer testimonials, and instructional content.

On the other hand, Vimeo presents a more curated atmosphere. It’s the chosen platform for many creators keen on immersing themselves within a tight-knit creative community. 

Vimeo’s content is meticulously segmented into categories, including ads and commercials, animation, branded content, documentary, and music. This fosters a space where creators can establish their standing in specific genres and better connect with their audience. 

So, while YouTube offers breadth and vastness, Vimeo delivers depth and specialization.

Winner: Vimeo

YouTube vs Vimeo, monetization

Monetizing your video content requires more than just getting lots of views. The strategy you opt for should resonate with your audience, content type, and long-term business goals. 

Here’s how YouTube and Vimeo stack up in terms of monetization:


Through the YouTube Partner Programme (YPP), creators can earn from ads displayed before, during, and after their videos. However, being a YouTuber isn’t necessarily a quick and easy road to fame and fortune. Before even applying to be part of the YPP, creators must have:

  • 1,000 subscribers, minimum.
  • 4,000 hours of watch time on their channel over the last 12 months.
    • Or 10 million Shorts views in the last 90 days.

However, a content creator’s revenue stream isn’t limited to YouTube ads. In fact, many of the highest-paid YouTubers leverage their audience by: 

  • Earning money from affiliate marketing schemes.
  • Procuring sponsorship deals.
  • Seeking donations from their viewers. 


Unlike YouTube, Vimeo is completely ad-free and makes its money by offering premium memberships to its users. This means creators need to follow entirely different monetization methods to profit from their content.

So, if you’re planning to use Vimeo to host your content, here are the two best ways you can make money from the platform:

  • Vimeo on Demand: Pro members can sell or rent out their video content, retaining a whopping 90% of the revenue (after costs).
  • Vimeo OTT: This allows creators to start a subscription-based channel exclusively for their content. Vimeo OTT draws revenue from on-demand content, live streaming, and subscription fees and is great for anyone with an expansive video library, and a large audience. 

To sum up, YouTube leans into ad-based revenue while Vimeo’s monetization models gravitate towards direct sales and subscriptions. While the best platform for you will depend on your content strategy and where your audience is most engaged, we’d say YouTube is probably a better platform for new creators looking to make money from their content. 

Winner: Youtube

YouTube vs Vimeo, usability 

For creators seeking a new platform to share their content, knowing how straightforward it is to upload, manage, and analyze content is crucial. So, let’s take a quick look at how easy it is to upload and manage content on YouTube and Vimeo.


Known for its user-friendly interface, uploading a video on YouTube couldn’t be easier. You simply log on, hit the Upload button, choose a video file, and fill out details like title, tags, and descriptions while you wait for it to upload. 

YouTube also provides a comprehensive dashboard that can give insight into performance metrics like views, subscriber growth, and watch time, to help ensure creators are fully equipped with data to refine their content strategies.


Uploading videos on Vimeo is also very easy. However, Vimeo places a distinct emphasis on video quality. Its upload guidelines, which are slightly stricter than YouTube’s, underline the platform’s commitment to prioritizing the richness of content. 

So, while quantity might thrive on YouTube, Vimeo is the haven for quality-driven creators, and for that reason, Youtube is the winner here. 

Winner: YouTube

YouTube vs Vimeo, the membership fee

Vimeo offers four membership options: Plus, PRO, Business, and Premium. Each one has its own level of storage, support, and unique features, as you can see in the chart below:

Vimeo: choose a membership plan

While Vimeo does offer free memberships, it limits users to a maximum storage capacity of 500MB per week. YouTube, on the other hand, allows users to upload videos for free with an unlimited amount of storage.

There is, however, YouTube Premium which allows people to watch videos without ads — but this is aimed more at viewers than creators. As well as being able to watch videos ad-free, Premium users can download videos for offline viewing and can access the YouTube Music app.

Winner: Youtube

YouTube vs Vimeo, updating your videos

Have you ever uploaded a video, and later realized you need to correct a mistake or update the information? Vimeo allows you to replace a video after it’s been uploaded without losing that video’s stats. 

While we think writing a script for all your videos is a great way to minimize the risk of making mistakes, this feature can be very useful if you need to make a change to your video after it’s been uploaded.

With YouTube, however, you can’t make changes to a video without completely deleting and re-uploading the file. If you use YouTube, you should always double — and triple-check — the content before uploading a video, because once you post it, you can’t fix it! 

Winner: Vimeo

YouTube vs Vimeo, copyrighted material

If you’ve added music to a video before uploading it, YouTube will detect copyrighted music (and images) almost immediately upon upload and automatically disable these elements if you don’t have permission to use them. This can help ensure you’re not unintentionally infringing on copyright.

Vimeo on the other hand, isn’t as strict and won’t disable your content. Remember, if you don’t own the rights to the media in your video, then technically, you’re stealing (even if you don’t realize it). 

This is something you have to be extra aware of if you use Vimeo, because it is your responsibility to ensure you’re not wrongly using material or content that belongs to someone else. 

Winner: Youtube

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YouTube vs Vimeo, advertising

You’ve probably noticed that YouTube has ads everywhere — across its website and within its video player. As a marketer, you have tons of options to reach specific audiences with highly targeted ads on YouTube, but as a viewer the sheer number of ads you’re forced to watch dampen the viewing experience.

Vimeo takes pride in keeping its site completely free from ads, which means neither you, nor your audience, will have to watch a commercial before, during, or after your watching content. 

While fewer ads are arguably better for viewers, it’s no good for advertisers or creators looking to capitalize on ad revenue. 

Winner: Youtube

YouTube vs Vimeo, analytics

Both Vimeo and YouTube offer a wide array of analytics that can be extremely helpful when determining who is watching your content, where they’re based, and how they’re viewing it.

However, if you’re a Vimeo user then you’ll need a premium account to access more advanced analytics — and the more you pay, the more advanced those analytics will be. 

While both platforms offer stats on views, comments, likes, shares, total plays, and geographical data, YouTube offers a little more (for a lot less). 

YouTube also offers insight into traffic sources, gender, what devices your viewers are using, and audience retention. Another feature of YouTube is the ability to add annotations or “clickable hotspots” on top of your video that allows viewers to interact.

Winner: YouTube

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YouTube vs Vimeo, search results

As well as being a platform to host videos, YouTube is the second-biggest search engine on the internet, with Google (YouTube’s parent company) being the first. This gives YouTube an unparalleled advantage in this criteria. 

YouTube’s dominance is doubly underscored when you take into account that Google is inclined to favor videos that are hosted on YouTube. For example, if your search for a video tutorial or product review, it’s not uncommon to see YouTube results crowning the top of Google’s results page. 

This prominence means that creators tailoring their content to cater to specific search queries can expect enhanced visibility on YouTube, as well as a surge in organic traffic from Google.

Vimeo, while a respectable platform, doesn’t quite match up in terms of search result presence. Although Vimeo videos can (and do) appear in Google searches, their frequency is noticeably less than YouTube’s. 

While creators can optimize their Vimeo content with descriptions and alt tags to bolster SEO, matching YouTube’s expansive reach is a challenge, to say the least.

Winner: YouTube

YouTube vs Vimeo, support

Looking now to customer support, Vimeo and YouTube both have different approaches to supporting their users. 

Depending on the kind of membership you have, Vimeo provides users with robust technical support. While basic users only get support via email (and the self-serve knowledge base), Advanced users can access chat support. However, Enterprise users can even get live support over the phone. 

YouTube, on the other hand, takes a more communal approach to support. It houses a vast knowledge library of troubleshooting, tips, and guides but doesn’t provide a channel to communicate with a helpdesk or support staff. While there is also an extensive help community, finding immediate answers to specific questions can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

For those prioritizing direct, on-demand assistance, Vimeo may be the better choice. While it does come at a price, many find the bespoke help and guidance to be well worth it.

Winner: Vimeo

YouTube vs Vimeo, audio and video quality

Audio and video quality can be a determining factor for many when choosing a platform to host their video content. Both Vimeo and YouTube support 8K Ultra High Definition, which is currently the best picture quality any video can achieve. 

Both platforms also allow for high-resolution videos to be compressed to save storage space and will usually adjust the playback resolution to best suit the viewer’s internet speed and bandwidth.

While this might make it sound like a tie between each platform, people have run plenty of tests to see which one really offers the best playback resolution. Most results suggest that Vimeo often delivers a sharper, clearer video, while some YouTube videos can appear slightly less crisp in comparison.

As for audio, Vimeo’s commitment to quality is as clear as the sound it produces. It offers a remarkable 320 Kbps sound quality — which is the ultimate MP3 bitrate. However, it’s worth noting that you do need a paid plan to access this superior audio quality. Meanwhile, YouTube typically streams at 128 Kbps, with a boost to 256 Kbps for premium subscribers.

In essence, if you’re aiming to deliver the best possible audio and video experience, Vimeo might be the better choice, provided you’re open to investing in a premium account.

Winner: Vimeo

YouTube vs Vimeo, privacy options

Vimeo offers a variety of privacy options as well as password-protected content. This can be great if you’re reviewing content with clients and want to keep it hidden from the general public.

Meanwhile, YouTube allows three options; public, unlisted and private. Unlisted means only those with the link can view it, while private means only those you invite with an active YouTube account can view it.

Winner: Vimeo

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The bottom line 

At the end of the day, it really depends on the audience you are trying to reach because both platforms offer great resources for individuals and businesses who are expanding into the world of digital video. 

There are also a lot of other online video platforms to choose from — including Screencast — and finding the right one depends on the features and functionality you need for your videos. For reference, here’s a chart comparing the features and functionality of Vimeo, YouTube and Screencast:

Note: This is an update of a post originally published November 2015. It has been updated in August 2023 to reflect changes to the hosting platforms.

Youtube vs Vimeo, the FAQs

Is Vimeo better than YouTube?

Both Vimeo and YouTube have their distinct strengths. Vimeo is often praised for its superior video and audio quality, as well as its professional community and customer support. However, YouTube offers unparalleled reach, being the second-largest search engine, and provides more versatile ways of monetizing content.

What are the biggest differences between Vimeo and YouTube?

The key differences between Vimeo and YouTube start with their users: Vimeo is used mostly by professionals and creatives, while YouTube boasts a broader reach and a global audience. 
Where Vimeo offers better audio and video quality, YouTube provides better search engine visibility. Additionally, Vimeo’s monetization is subscription-based, while YouTube relies on ads and offers more versatile revenue streams for its creators.

How to Easily Speed Up or Slow Down Your Videos

How to Easily Speed up or Slow Down a Video

Have you ever wondered how to add that extra flair to your video presentations or educational content? Whether you’re trying to glide through a lengthy instructional video or slow down a product demo, altering the speed of your video is a great way to keep your audience engaged. 

The best part? You don’t need to be a professional video editor to pull it off. With the right tools and a dash of creativity, you can learn how to speed up a video, or slow it down, to add that little extra panache that will make your videos stand out.

There are several video editors out there to help you adjust video speed, but we think that Techsmith’s Camtasia is the simplest and most user-friendly. As well as speed up and slow down videos, Camtasia let’s you trim videos to make them shorter, crop the frame for better composition, and even make a split screen video — and that’s just the beginning! 

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, it’s important to understand precisely what video speed is.

What is video speed?

Being able to control the speed of your videos can dramatically enhance your video content. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about “video speed”? 

Video speed refers to the pace at which the frames in your video are played back. Think of each video as a series of still images (or “frames”) that are displayed in rapid succession to create the illusion of motion. The number of these frames shown per second is known as the “frame rate”, often referred to as FPS (frames per second).

By adjusting the video speed, you’re essentially modifying the frame rate at which your video plays. Speeding a video up can give it more energy and or even add a comedic element. Meanwhile, slowing videos down can build suspense and add tension — it’s the difference between a Benny Hill sketch and The Matrix. 

So, whether you’re a vlogger trying to create an engaging narrative, a marketer aiming to highlight a product feature, or simply someone having fun with home videos, controlling the speed can make your content more compelling. And with tools like Camtasia, changing video speed couldn’t be easier.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at how to slow down a video (or speed one up!). 

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How to speed up or slow down a video with Camtasia

With Camtasia, there’s more than one way to change the speed of your videos, but both of them are super easy and simple…

Method 1: Add clip speed

Clip speed allows you to play a video clip faster or slower than its original speed. To apply the clip speed effect, click and drag it from the tools panel to a clip on the timeline.

Open the effects tray and drag the clip speed handles to adjust the speed of a clip.


Method 2: Go to properties, then adjust clip speed

Another way to speed up or slow down a video is to select your chosen clip on the timeline with clip speed added, and simply adjust the speed in the properties panel.

screenshot of clip speed panel to speed up video

It’s that simple! Camtasia gives you the power to create clips and videos at whatever speed you want. So now you know how to make a video slow motion, or lightening fast! 

Do you want viewers to change the video speed themselves?

One thing to note is that adjusting the video speed in an editor is different from the playback speed. If you want to allow your viewers to adjust whether the video plays faster or slower, simply upload your video file to the platform of your choice. 

Most hosting platforms — including YouTube, Vimeo, Screencast, and Wistia — allow users to adjust the video playback speed. 

That’s right, you don’t even have to do anything and your audience will be able to watch your videos at the best speed for them! 

Why speed up a video?

Speeding up a video isn’t just a way to show off your editing skills, it serves a variety of purposes that can take your content to the next level. 

Whether you’re trying to make a lengthy process easier to digest, tell a captivating story, or add humor to your video, speeding up your footage can be a magic ingredient if you know how to use it, and understand how it can affect your audience. 

Showing a long process

We’ve all been eager to learn something new, only to be met with an endlessly long, step-by-step tutorial. When it comes to demonstrating inherently lengthy processes — be it a software installation or a cooking recipe — speeding up your video can be great for you, and your audience. 

By transforming what could be an hour-long ordeal into a captivating two-minute overview, you not only make your content more palatable but also show respect for your viewers’ time. This is done a lot with cooking videos where you can swiftly move from prepping the ingredients to pulling a delicious dish out of the oven, all in a matter of minutes!

While cutting an hour-long video down to 120 seconds might seem like a tall order (and might not apply to your content), we’ve seen plenty of unnecessarily long videos out there. Remember, most people want instructional videos to be less than 20 minutes, with a preference for 3-6 minutes long. Click here to find out more about video lengths

Increasing footage’s production value

Vloggers and filmmakers will often speed up parts of a video strategically to introduce a dynamic rhythm that can make their content go from ‘good’ to ‘awesome’ quicker than you can say “FPS”. 

But remember, contrast is key. When high-speed footage is juxtaposed with slower shots, they enhance each other. Imagine pairing a fast-paced montage of a cityscape with slower shots of an intimate conversation. The result isn’t just a video, but an experience that holds your viewer’s attention and leaves a lasting impression.

This blend of pacing can evoke different emotions and emphasize different aspects of your content, which will also enrich the production value of your entire video.

Telling a story

Storytelling isn’t reserved for movies and TV shows, it’s a powerful and important component for almost all types of videos. Whether you’re making a YouTube video or educational content, most videos have an element of storytelling — and speeding up your footage can help tell the story better. 

Imagine using a time-lapse to show a product being assembled, or being used over time to show off its durability. This essentially sets the stage for the problem your product solves, or its superior quality. Time-lapses and sped-up segments act as a narrative device that can fast-forward your story to its crucial points, allowing you to focus on key moments that resonate with viewers. 

In essence, speeding up your video serves as a storytelling shortcut, offering a quicker route to the emotional or informational payoff that keeps audiences engaged. 

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Creating a comedic effect

Have you ever watched a video that was sped up just enough to make an ordinary situation quirkily funny? Whether you’re creating a vlog, producing a skit, or even adding a sprinkle of humor to corporate content, this simple technique can be surprisingly effective. 

Consider a sped-up sequence where colleagues race against the clock to meet a deadline, their rapid movements turning a stressful scenario into a laugh-out-loud moment. Or how about a quick cooking segment that spirals into a whirlwind of culinary chaos? When you turn up the speed, you don’t just hasten the action — you amplify the comedy.

Why slow down a video?

While speeding up a video can inject some humor or make your content more digestible, turning the speed dial in the other direction has its own benefits. Whether you’re looking to emphasize intricate details or build suspense, slowing down your footage can offer a deeper, more nuanced viewer experience. 

The power of slow motion, or reduced speed, isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about creating moments that invite viewers to engage more thoughtfully with your content. So let’s explore some of the key reasons why you might want to dial down the speed in your next video.

Emphasizing details

With so much happening on screen at any one time, it’s all too easy for intricate details to go unnoticed. Slowing down your video footage offers the perfect opportunity to highlight these finer points, whether it’s the craftsmanship in a handmade product, or the expressions on people’s faces during an important moment. 

By reducing the speed, you give your audience the time to fully absorb these elements, turning what might have been a blink-and-you-miss-it moment into a scene that’s memorable and impactful.

Showing a specific skill

Sometimes, the beauty or complexity of a skill can only be fully appreciated when viewed in slow motion. Whether you’re capturing a musician’s intricate fingerwork, or the precise movements of an athlete, slowing down footage allows audiences to fully grasp the magic of what they’re watching. It’s the reason why sports channels show so many slow-motion replays!

Slowing down a video turns a fleeting moment into a detailed study of skill and precision. Whether you’re a coach, a musician, or simply a fan, slow motion reveals those details that are easy to miss but make all the difference.

Adding suspense

Going back to the power of good storytelling, slowing down your video can add a whole new layer of tension and drama. By drawing out key moments (and the build-up to them) with slow motion, you heighten the emotional stakes of the story you’re telling, and pull your audience to the edge of their seats.

The psychological impact of a slowed-down scene can be tremendous, keeping viewers glued to the screen in anticipation of what’s to come. Used strategically, slow motion can turn ordinary footage into a suspenseful narrative that deeply resonates with your audience.

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Focusing on an experiment

If you’re conducting a science experiment, the devil is often in the details. 

For example, you might want to film a chemical reaction — where elements combine and transform in a matter of seconds — to study exactly what’s happening one frame at a time, or simply for fun. 

Slow motion videos provide a unique way to focus on the intricacies of the reaction that might otherwise be missed (and it will probably look really cool). This focused viewing can be both educational and awe-inspiring, because in slow motion, even the ordinary can become extraordinary.

Tips and tricks to change video speed

So, now you know how and why to speed up and slow down your videos, as well as the effect it can have on your audience. While you might be raring to jump straight into the editing suite, we’ve got a few final tips to share that will help you create videos that both look and feel professional.

  • Choose Your Moments Wisely: The art of speed alteration lies in its strategic use. Don’t just speed up or slow down footage at random, instead use these effects where they’ll make the most impact, such as to highlight key moments or to maintain interest.
  • Be Subtle, Be Smart: Slow motion doesn’t mean snail-motion, and fast doesn’t mean frantic. When slowing down or speeding up your video, aim for a pace that enhances, rather than distracts from, your content.
  • Pair With the Right Audio: The right soundtrack can make or break your video’s mood, so if you’re going to add music to your video, make sure that it complements the change in speed. For slow-motion scenes, consider soft, atmospheric music; for fast-paced moments, something energetic may work better.
  • Narrate When Necessary: A well-placed voiceover can add depth to your video, especially if your sped-up or slowed-down scenes lack audio clarity. Narration can guide your viewers through the action in a way that provides context and enhances storytelling.

    If you do plan on narrating your video, you might want to check out our guide to the best microphones for recording videos.
  • Background Matters: The choice of background can drastically affect your video’s impact. We suggest keeping your background as uncluttered as possible to allow your viewers to focus on the action, especially when you’re manipulating speed.
  • Add Closed Captions: Adding captions and subtitles to your videos is a great way to increase engagement and make your content accessible to a wider audience.
  • Review Before Publishing: As with any video you ever make, be sure to always preview your edits before publishing online. This gives you a chance to double-check the video speed changes, as well as branding, captions, and other edits you’ve made.

Trust us, it’s much better to spot potential mistakes before your audience does!

Kara Swanson

Marketing Content Specialist at TechSmith. I know way more about tea than any human being ever should.

How to Screen Record on Windows 10 & 11 (With Audio)

How to Screen Record on Windows

Have you ever wanted to record your screen on Windows, but found yourself getting frustrated by the limitations of built-in tools? Odds are that if you’ve tried using a basic tool, you’ve struggled with one or more of the following obstacles:

  • You can’t record file menus or dropdowns
  • You can only record one window at a time
  • You can’t add effects or callouts
  • You can’t record your audio simultaneously
  • You can’t add music or background audio

Well, believe it or not, there is a better way. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to record your screen on Windows 10 & 11 using a range of different tools, so you can find the best screen recorder to suit your needs. 

This includes TechSmith software such as Camtasia and Snagit, both of which let you record your screen on Windows 10 & 11 with audio. So, if you want to learn how to screen record with audio on Windows, keep reading! 

And if you’re an Apple user, fear not — we’ve got another post on how to record your screen (with audio) on Mac

How to screen record on Windows 10 & 11 with Game Bar

The Xbox Game Bar is a built-in app created by Microsoft that’s readily available on Windows 10 and Windows 11 computers. While it was initially designed for gamers wanting to capture their gameplay, this handy tool can be used to record practically anything happening on your computer screen. 

Here’s how to use it: 

1. Open the Game Bar

Starting up the Game Bar is super easy. All you need to do is press the Windows logo key + G at the same time. This will open up a control panel near the bottom of your screen.

2. Choose your audio inputs

In case you want to narrate or add a live commentary to your screen recording, click on the Record Mic option. But remember, you can record your audio separately and add it later, if you prefer. 

If you do plan on adding a voiceover to your video, you might want to think about the equipment you’re using and whether you’ve got the best microphone for recording videos. While you don’t need to make a huge investment to get great audio, any external microphone will likely produce better-quality audio than the one built into your PC. 

3. Start recording

Next, start your screen recording by clicking on the bright red recording icon. Then, when you want to stop recording, click on the red recording panel that appears in the top right corner of your screen. 

All screen recordings are automatically saved on your laptop as MP4 files and can be found in the Captures folder, in Videos — and that’s all there is to it! 

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How to screen record on Windows 10 & 11 with the Microsoft Stream app

The Stream app is one of the many tools now included in the Microsoft 365 bundle, sitting alongside Windows classics such as Powerpoint, Word, and Excel. 

It was primarily designed to simplify the video-making process across Microsoft devices and is a good tool for capturing screen recordings — if you’re a Microsoft 365 user. 

Here’s how to record your screen on Windows 10 & 11, with the Stream app:

1. Access the screen recorder in Stream

Start by launching the Stream app. Once inside, navigate to the screen recorder by choosing Create > Record Screen or Video from the navigation menu.

2. Configure your devices

Choose which devices you want to include in your recording by selecting one of the following options from the Screen and Camera dropdown menu: 

  • Screen Only to record just your computer screen.
  • Camera Only to record just your webcam.
  • Screen and Camera to record both your webcam and computer screen simultaneously. 

3. Start recording

Once you’ve chosen what you want to capture, you can start recording by clicking the red recording button. You will then be asked if you want to record your entire screen, a specific window, or a tab in your web browser. 

If you’d like to record your microphone audio as well, click Share Audio (and be sure to check out this article on how to record great audio). 

Then, when you’re ready, click Share and your recording will start after a three-second countdown. To stop your recording, go to the Microsoft Stream Screen Recorder tab in your browser and click Next to review your recording.

It’s worth noting, the most you can record your screen with Microsoft Stream is 15 minutes.

4. Pause or end your recording

If at any time you want to pause your recording, simply click the Pause button. Then, when you’re ready to continue, click the Record button again. Once you’ve completely finished, click Next in the lower-right corner of your screen.

5. Review and edit

Once you’ve finished recording, you’ll be shown a preview of your screen recording. Here, you’ll also get to trim the start and end of your video by adjusting the handles on the timeline.

6. Upload to Stream

Finally, after reviewing your recording, you can upload it to Stream. If you’d like to share it outside of Stream then you can download it to your computer.

How to screen record on Windows 10 & 11 with Snagit


If you need to show a process or walkthrough with a short video that doesn’t require much editing, then a screen capture tool like TechSmith’s Snagit is the perfect tool for you.

It’s easy to use and comes packed with a range of features, from basic trimming and editing to more advanced tools that let you remove the backgrounds from pictures and turn screenshots into videos

Short and informal screen recordings are great for off-the-cuff videos that explain and convey information to others. For many people, these are the types of recordings they make the most, which is partly down to the fact that they only take seconds to create!

In this section, we’ll walk you through the steps of capturing your screen on Windows 10 & 11 using Snagit. 

Step 1: Choose what you want to record

Capturing a video with Snagit only takes a few clicks.

To start, all you have to do is open Snagit and select the video tab from the Capture Window. Make sure that Region is selected from the drop-down menu, as this will make it easy to record just part, or all, of your screen.

When you’re ready, hit the big red Capture button — you can’t miss it! Then, the Snagit crosshairs will appear, which you can use to select the area that you want to record.

You’ll notice that the selection will automatically snap to the windows you have open. Pretty sweet, right? However, if you want to manually select a portion of your screen, just click and drag the crosshairs accordingly.

How to use the crosshairs to select a recording region in Snagit

Step 2: Choose which audio to record

With your region selected, it’s time to choose your audio input settings.

To record your voice, select the Record Microphone option. If you want to record the sounds that come from your computer as well, like notifications, make sure to select Record System Audio.

Snagit can even record your webcam alongside your screen so that your face appears in the screen recording. We like to call this a picture-in-picture video, and it’s a great way to bring more personality to your videos and connect with your audience.

Click here to learn more about how to record a picture-in-picture video.

Video tab in Capture Window

Step 3: Start your screen recording

When you’re ready to start recording, click Record. Snagit will then give you a three-second countdown and anything that appears in the recording area will be captured in your video.

Snagit will give you a 3 second countdown before it starts recording

Once you’ve recorded everything that you want to be included in your video, click Stop. Yes, it really is that easy! 

Recording toolbar

Step 4: Trim your video

Once you’ve stopped recording, you don’t have to wait for anything to render, buffer, or load, your video is all set and ready to go. The Snagit Editor will open in a new window and your video will open up in a new canvas, ready to be edited, trimmed, or shared. 

Of course, once you’re finished with your screen recording, you’ll probably want to edit it a little. Even the most carefully planned recordings will likely have something you want to cut, and with Snagit, you can easily trim your recording to remove unwanted clips.

So, if you find anything you want to remove, make a selection with the playhead, and click cut.

How to trim a video in Snagit

On the other hand, if you wanted to bring multiple clips or snippets together to produce a longer video, you might want to make use of one of Snagit’s latest features: Combine Videos. This allows you to collate several videos together and create one cohesive video.

On the other hand, if you find yourself needing more in-depth, high-tech video editing than what Snagit offers, you should check out TechSmith’s Camtasia.

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Step 5: Save or share

When you’re finished with your video, you have the option to either save it locally on your computer or share it with your contacts — or both! 

To save your video, simply go to File and click Save as…, from there, all you have to do is decide where you want to save your file, and click Save.   

However, if you’re in a hurry to share your video with your colleagues then you can click on the Share Link button in the top-right corner of the Snagit Editor. This will automatically upload your video to TechSmith Screencast

The link to your video will be automatically copied to your clipboard so that you can share it instantly with anyone — and best of all, it’s free! Simply paste the link into an email, a direct message, a Slack channel, or any other form of communication (excluding carrier pigeon) and send it!   

How to make a professional-quality recording on Windows 10 & 11 with Camtasia


While Snagit is perfect for creating short and informal videos, there’s really nothing better than Camtasia for creating professional-quality videos. Not only does it have hundreds of easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editing features to give your screen recordings a polished feel, but it also comes with a free trial. 

While many screen recordings don’t need to be overly complex, sometimes you might want to add annotations, closed captions, effects, and animations to your videos.

But don’t worry, despite its advanced functionality, Camtasia is just as easy to use as Snagit — and we’ll prove it! In this section, we’ll walk you through the steps of recording your screen on Windows 10 with Camtasia. 

Step 1: Choose your recording options

First, open Camtasia and click the Record button.

How to record your screen using Camtasia

This will open the Camtasia recorder, which is the control center for your video and audio recordings.

From here, the Camtasia recorder allows you to fully customize the controls for your recordings.

Customize your recording controls with Camtasia

Step 2: Select the region you want to record

Similarly to Snagit, start off by selecting the part of your screen that you want to record. 

While there may be times you need to record your entire screen, if the purpose of your video is to demonstrate how to use software or where to click on a website, it’s probably better to record a single window — or even just part of one.

Select a custom region to record with Camtasia

Just as with Snagit, Camtasia will let you choose to record your whole screen or a specific part of it. You can choose from one of the pre-determined regions or choose “select an area to record” to select a custom region.

Pro tip: If you do plan on recording your entire desktop, it might be worth tidying it up a little to ensure there is nothing distracting or unwanted in your video.

Step 3: Record your audio

If you’re narrating your recording, then we suggest writing a script, or at least some talking points. Having a script in place is a good way to ensure you cover all the most important points without veering off-topic.

How to select your microphone using Camtasia

For now, however, just choose which microphone you want to record from and decide whether you want to record your computer’s system audio.

Then, when you’re ready to stop the recording, click the recorder icon in the taskbar. We told you it was easy! 

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Step 4: Edit your video

While you can do some simple editing in Snagit, Camtasia comes with a much more powerful and feature-rich built-in video editor. That said, it’s still incredibly easy to use.

How to trim a video in Camtasia

When editing your video, the first thing you’ll want to do is cut out any mistakes and errors. You can do this by selecting them with the playhead, and clicking Cut. You can also trim footage from the beginning and end of your recording by dragging either end of the clip in the timeline.


Once you’ve trimmed your footage accordingly, you can play around with Camtasia’s more advanced features and add a wide range of different effects. 

Step 5: Produce and share

Finally, once you’ve perfected your video it’s time to share it with the world. Whether you’ve recorded a webinar or an entire lecture, there are loads of platforms you can use to host your video.

Depending on your audience an online platform like YouTube or Vimeo could be the perfect place to host your video. If, however, you’d rather share it with a select group of people then TechSmith’s Screencast might be a better option. Alternatively, you might not want to share it online at all, in which case you can save it on your PC as a video file.

How to share videos using Camtasia

And that’s all there is to it! Whether you want to use the built-in tools, like Game Bar, or third-party software such as TechSmith’s Snagit and Camtasia, you now know how to screen record on Windows, with audio.

Screen recordings are a great way to produce clear communications for your audience. This could mean you no longer have to schedule Zoom calls to walk a coworker through a process or have countless meetings to explain simple tasks. From now on, you can just send them a screen recording!

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Screen Record on Windows 10 & 11, the FAQs

How do I screen record on Windows with audio?

With Snagit and Camtasia, you can easily record your screen and audio, either simultaneously or separately. Just follow the steps outlined in this guide to record perfect audio every time!

How do I record my screen and myself on Windows?

To record both your screen and your webcam footage on Windows, simply toggle the Record Webcam option in Snagit or Camtasia.

How do I record my iPhone screen?

While Snagit and Camtasia can’t record your iPhone screen, TechSmith’s Capture app lets you quickly and easily record your iPhone screen. Once you’ve downloaded the app, follow these steps:
Step 1. Enable screen recording on your iOS device.
Step 2. Set up your screen recorder.
Step 3. Record your screen.
You can then upload the recorded footage into Snagit or Camtasia.

How do I record my screen and internal audio on Windows?

To record your screen and your computer’s audio, select the Record System Audio option in Snagit or Camtasia.

For how long can you screen record on Windows 10 & 11?

The amount of time you can record your screen on Windows 10 & 11 computers will vary based on the tool you’re using. While the Xbox Game Bar allows clips up to two hours, the Microsoft Stream App limits recordings to 15 minutes.
However, with Snagit and Camtasia, there’s no limit on the length of your recording, allowing you to capture content as long as your storage space permits.

Where do screen recordings go on Windows 10 & 11?

Screen recordings created with the Xbox Game Bar are saved under the Videos folder in a subfolder named ‘Captures’. However, for recordings made with Snagit or Camtasia, you can customize the save location in the application settings, giving you complete control over where your files are stored.

Kara Swanson

Marketing Content Specialist at TechSmith. I know way more about tea than any human being ever should.

How to Extract Text From An Image?

How to extract text from an image

Imagine there was an easy way to copy or extract text from an image, scanned document, or PDF file and quickly paste it into another document or chat tool.

The good news is that you don’t have to waste time retyping or searching for the original document. Some programs use magic (aka. Optical Character Recognition (OCR)) to analyze the letters and words in an image and convert them to text.

Anyone who’s ever had to painstakingly copy the words on a screen manually will know just how useful this can be. But, if you’re lucky enough to have never been in such a position, here are some reasons why you might use OCR technology to copy text from an image or PDF:

  • Paste text from a picture or screenshot into Slack, Teams, Word, or any other tool
  • Copy text in an error message, pop-up window, or menu where the text can’t be selected
  • Capture the text in a file directory (filename, file size, date modified, etc.)

Regardless of your situation, this function can be super helpful, especially when you need to copy information about a file or from a screenshot that would otherwise mean you spending lots of time copying the text manually. 

Fortunately, TechSmith’s Snagit makes extracting text from images quick and easy! This means you can capture words or make a mere picture of text editable in just a few steps. 

Snagit is an all-in-one screen capture and recording software that helps you capture your screen and camera, edit screenshots, and share images, GIFs, and videos across a wide range of platforms.

With Snagit, you can even watermark photos, remove backgrounds from pictures and turn images into videos

Here’s everything you need to know about how to extract text from an image on your computer screen using Snagit.

Extract text from images today!

Download a free trial of Snagit to quickly and easily extract text from images.

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Use a screenshot to capture text on Windows or Mac

Step 1: Set up your capture settings

To capture text, open the Capture Window, select the Image tab, and set the selection to Grab Text.

how to capture text on Windows or Mac step 1

Step 2: Capture your screen

Start your capture, then use the crosshairs to select the region of your screen with the text you want to copy. Snagit will then analyze the text from your selection and displays the formatted text.

If the font identified isn’t available on your computer, Snagit will substitute it with a similar style.

how to capture text on Windows or Mac step 2

Step 3: Paste your text

Next, select the text you want to copy, or click Copy All, to add it to your clipboard. This will allow you to paste the text into a chat tool, document, presentation, or any other place you can think of.

how to capture text on Windows or Mac step 3

Extract text from an image with OCR

Step 1: Find your image

To capture text from a scanned image, first upload it to the Snagit Editor or take a screenshot on your desktop.

extract text from image step 1

Step 2: Open Grab Text in Snagit

With the image open in Snagit’s Editor, go to the Edit menu and select Grab Text. Alternatively, you can simply right-hand click on the image, and select Grab Text from there instead.

extract text from image step 2

Step 3: Copy your text

Then, copy the text (or click Copy All), and paste it into other programs and applications.

extract text from image

That’s all there is to it! It doesn’t take much effort at all to extract text from pictures, PDFs, or scanned documents when you’ve got Snagit.

Extract text from an image, the FAQs

How can I convert images to text with Snagit?

Upload your image into Snagit. Then right-click anywhere on the image and choose Grab Text. This scans your image and converts it to text.

How do I extract text from an image on Windows?

First, use Snagit to take a screenshot of your image or upload it into the Snagit Editor.
Snagit can use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to detect and extract text from an image on your Windows computers.

How can I extract text from a scanned PDF?

First, open the PDF file and take a screenshot of it using Snagit. Then, in the Snagit Editor, right-click on the image, and select Grab Text.
The text from your scanned PDF can then be copied and pasted into other programs and applications.

How can I copy text from an image?

To start, open Snagit’s image capture window. Then, in the selection dropdown, choose Grab Text. Once you’ve taken your screenshot, a box will pop up with all the text from your screenshot, ready to be copied and pasted elsewhere.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Kara Swanson

Marketing Content Specialist at TechSmith. I know way more about tea than any human being ever should.

What Are Video Thumbnails and Why Do They Matter?

video thumbnails hero

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” which is exactly why video thumbnails are so important. They give potential viewers the first impression of your video. 

A great video thumbnail can mean the difference between getting a few views, and a few thousand views. But how do you know what makes a good thumbnail, and how do you create one? Well, allow us to show you. 

In this article, we’ll answer questions like “What is a thumbnail?” and discuss the best practices for creating your own. So, in a nutshell, here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What are video thumbnails?
  • Why are video thumbnails important?
  • The essential elements of effective video thumbnails.
  • Technical requirements of a thumbnail
  • Four ways to make your thumbnails stand out.

However, if you want to learn how to create your own video thumbnails, we’d suggest downloading a free trial of TechSmith’s Snagit and checking out our other post on ‘YouTube Thumbnail Sizes and Best Practices’. 

Why? Because it includes a step-by-step guide on how to make your own YouTube thumbnail. 

Make your own YouTube video thumbnails today!

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What are video thumbnails?

A video thumbnail is a still image that acts as the preview image for your video. It’s kind of like a book cover. And, like a book cover, its job is to entice potential viewers to want to see more.

The actual term “thumbnail” originated with still images (rather than videos). It was simply a smaller version of a full digital image that could easily be viewed while browsing multiple images at once.

A MacOS window showing thumbnail previews of various images files.

Thumbnails are everywhere — even your computer’s operating system uses them! As you can see above, when viewing this folder, the computer shows several smaller representations of each file. 

Although a video thumbnail isn’t a smaller version of the video, it should give your audience an idea of what they will see when they decide to watch it.

You’ve probably been told not to judge a book by its cover, but if that were true, book publishers wouldn’t go to the trouble of making such lavish and exciting covers. The same is true of your video thumbnail.

Why are video thumbnails important?

In a world where video has become the most popular form of content — with video consumption accounting for 65% of all internet traffic — video thumbnails are more important than ever. 

By understanding the value thumbnails bring and using them effectively, you can captivate audiences, increase click-through rates, and ultimately drive more engagement and views to your videos. Sounds good, right?

Thumbnails help rank on YouTube

While video thumbnails themselves don’t directly influence how YouTube handles your video, they play a crucial role in driving viewer engagement once they click through. 

YouTube employs various mechanisms to present your video to users, such as search rankings, video page recommendations, and the YouTube homepage. The performance of your video in these areas is influenced by how viewers interact with it and how others respond to your content. This is where video thumbnails come into play.

An appealing and authentic video thumbnail has the power to entice viewers to click, watch your video, explore more of your content, and potentially subscribe to your channel. On the other hand, a misleading thumbnail that fails to deliver can lead to viewers feeling frustrated. 

This frustration could lead users to stop watching the video early, push the ‘dislike’ button or even leave YouTube altogether. In turn, YouTube’s algorithms take note of these interactions and adjust their recommendations accordingly, impacting the visibility of your videos across search results, video pages, and the YouTube homepage.

By creating captivating and truthful video thumbnails, you can maximize the chances of attracting engaged viewers, fostering positive interactions, and ultimately increasing your video’s reach and success on YouTube.

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Thumbnails help rank on Google

See: https://wave.video/blog/video-thumbnails/ 

Believe it or not, your videos can make an impact beyond the platform they’re hosted on, whether that’s YouTube or Vimeo. As you’ve probably noticed, Google search results often include videos, as well as text and web pages. This means that your video — and your thumbnails — could appear at the top of the first page on Google. If that sounds like a big deal, that’s because it is. 

Imagine someone searching for “how to promote your YouTube video” and seeing a load of articles next to a select group of videos. Which do you think people are most likely to click on? Well, if you’ve got a good thumbnail, it could be yours!

Ultimately, if you haven’t got an enticing and authentic thumbnail, your video is unlikely to be featured in Google search results. That’s how important this is. 

By optimizing your video thumbnails for Google search rankings, you can increase your chances of standing out, enticing viewers to click on your videos, and driving traffic to your content — whether it be on YouTube or other platforms where your videos are embedded.

Thumbnails build brand awareness

See: https://wave.video/blog/video-thumbnails/ 

Even in a crowded digital landscape, thumbnails play a pivotal role in strengthening brand awareness. Imagine the power of having an audience that recognizes your videos from the thumbnail alone. 

Now, everyone has a general idea that brand awareness is important, but not everyone knows that it can directly impact sales and profit. Research suggests that consistent brand representation can increase revenue by more than 20%

When viewers consistently encounter visually cohesive and recognizable thumbnails, they associate them with your brand and its values. Over time, this recognition builds trust and loyalty, driving engagement, click-through rates, and ultimately, conversions. 

By incorporating elements such as consistent colors, styles, logos, overlays, and more, you can reinforce your brand identity and make a lasting impression on viewers. Investing in the consistency and visual representation of your video thumbnails can yield long-term benefits and contribute to the overall success of your brand.

Make your own YouTube video thumbnails today!

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Essential elements of a video thumbnail

If a thumbnail is your audience’s first impression of your content, you want to make sure it’s a good one. 

A custom thumbnail allows you to really sell yourself and your video, so give your audience a reason to watch your video — especially if your video is one of many on the same subject.

With this in mind, your thumbnail should always:

  • Clearly convey your video’s subject.
  • When possible, show the face of the person speaking in a fun and inviting way.
  • Include your brand.
  • Be optimized for any device.
Thumbnail for the video "How to Make a YouTube Video."

Looking at our example above, you can see that we’ve managed to tick all the boxes because:

  • The video’s title is large and easy to read.
  • The video’s speaker (our very own Andy Owen) is striking a humorous pose to convey an emotion.
  • The TechSmith logo is clearly visible.

We even earned ourselves a bonus point by letting potential viewers know that there’s a free template up for grabs, which lets them know there’s even more value to be had by watching our content.

When you think about it, that’s a lot of information being conveyed by a single image. And, it helps anyone looking at it decide if that video is right for them.

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Technical requirements of a video thumbnail

A key part of knowing how to create a thumbnail for a video means understanding the technical requirements that will ensure optimal compatibility across a range of devices and screen sizes.  

This isn’t something we need to overcomplicate, you simply need to follow these rules: 

  • Thumbnail Size: The recommended YouTube thumbnail size is 1280 by 720 pixels, with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • Minimum Width: It’s best to keep the width of your thumbnails at least 640 pixels.
  • File Size: The file size of your thumbnails should be no more than 2MB.
  • Supported Formats: The commonly supported formats for thumbnails are JPG, GIF, and PNG. These formats provide good image quality while keeping the file size manageable.

By following these video thumbnail guidelines, you can’t go wrong. 

Make your own YouTube video thumbnails today!

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Video thumbnail best practices

A quick search on YouTube for just about any subject will turn up hundreds, if not thousands, of videos. And, a good number of them will have custom video thumbnails.

So how do you make yours stand out from the crowd?

If you did a random search on YouTube for “How to make a video,” there’s a good chance these will be among the first few results. You can learn a lot about how to design a thumbnail, just by looking at these examples!

Five examples of video thumbnails. Each is unique, but all have several common features, including flattering images of the person or people speaking, the video's title, and pleasing design.

Let’s now take a look at some of the best practices to keep in mind when designing a video thumbnail, and think about which of the examples above tick the most boxes. 

1. Use color

Color can make all the difference. Even thumbnails with a black or grey background can benefit from a splash of color. You might notice that all of the examples above use color to help draw your eye.

2. Use closeups of faces

Every one of these examples show someone’s face — even the one that uses a cartoon — and all of them are conveying emotion. Remember, you don’t want the subject’s face to look bland or emotionless, this isn’t a passport photo! 

3. Use bold, clear text

You want to make sure that anyone who sees your thumbnail instantly knows what the video is about. Don’t make their eyes hunt around for the title.

4. Be consistent

This is especially true if you’re trying to grow your channel and build your Youtube audience. Be sure to use consistent colors and themes in your thumbnails so that your audience can tell your content apart from everyone else’s, no matter how many other videos appear in the search results.

Once you’ve gained credibility as a creator, people will come back for more of your content — so make it easy for them!

Video thumbnails, the FAQs

How to make a thumbnail for YouTube?

Creating a thumbnail for your YouTube video is easy! Start by finding an image that represents your video’s content. Then, use image editing tools, or YouTube’s built-in editor, to customize the thumbnail by adding text, graphics, and branding so that it’s visually appealing and instantly recognizable.

How big is a YouTube thumbnail?

Always aim for a thumbnail size of 1280 x 720 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio. This ensures your thumbnail will look great across various devices and screen sizes.

Why can’t I change the thumbnail on YouTube Shorts?

To edit a thumbnail for a YouTube Short, you need to upload your video using a mobile device (rather than on a desktop) via the YouTube app. However, you can’t change the thumbnail after the video has been published. Instead, you’ll need to delete and re-upload your YouTube Short with the new thumbnail.

What is a thumbnail sketch?

A thumbnail sketch is quite different from a video thumbnail. It’s a quick and simplified drawing that serves as an early visual representation or concept for a larger design or artwork. Artists, designers, and creatives often use thumbnail sketches to explore different ideas, compositions, and layouts before diving into detailed work.

How to download YouTube thumbnails?

Downloading YouTube thumbnails is easier than you might think as there are a range of online tools, such as Softr, designed to do exactly that. Simply copy the URL of the YouTube video with the thumbnail you want to download, paste it on the Softr website, and follow the instructions to save the thumbnail image to your device.

How to change the thumbnail on a Facebook video?

First, find the video post that includes the thumbnail you want to change. Next, click on the three dots in the top-right corner of the post and select Edit Video. Next, hover over the video and you’ll see a pencil pop up in the top-left corner, click it. Then click on Change Thumbnail and decide whether you want to Choose Suggested, Upload Image, or Choose From Video.

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

Here’s the Best Way to Quickly Take a Scrolling Screenshot

Here's the Best Way to Quickly Take a Scrolling Screenshot

The majority of basic screen capture tools allow you to capture all or part of your screen, but what if you need to capture more than what’s visible on your screen at any one time? If you’ve ever needed to screenshot an entire web page, you probably know how annoying it is to take multiple screenshots and stitch them together.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

The scrolling capture tool on TechSmith’s Snagit allows you to take screenshots of content that doesn’t fit within the dimensions of your screen. They’re great for capturing:

  • Long website pages and documents
  • Spreadsheets with lots of rows or columns
  • Lengthy email, chat, and social media threads

In this post, we’ll show how to take a scrolling screenshot in the best and easiest way, using Snagit. 

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What is a scrolling capture?

Put simply, a scrolling capture (formerly panoramic capture) is a screenshot that allows you to scroll to capture content that may not be visible on your screen. You can scroll vertically to capture things like web pages or documents or horizontally for spreadsheets and large graphics.

How to take a scrolling capture (Windows or Mac)

There are many ways to take screenshots on Windows or Mac, but the built-in screen capture tools on both operating systems lack a scrolling screenshot feature. This means they can only capture the visible areas of your screen.

Unless you want to spend lots of time piecing multiple screen grabs together, you’ll need advanced screen capture software to take a scrolling screenshot. 

For the purpose of this post, we’ll use Snagit to show you how to take a scrolling screenshot on Mac and Windows. Unlike browser extensions, where your captures are limited to web pages, Snagit can capture anything on your screen. 

If you don’t already have Snagit, then don’t worry you can try it for free without needing a credit card.

Capture a scrolling area with a scrolling capture

With Snagit, there are two ways to take a scrolling capture: manually and automatically. 

While the automatic scrolling makes it super quick and easy to take a scrolling capture, doing it manually gives you greater control of the area you want to capture. For example, if you’ve got an Excel spreadsheet with lots of rows and columns, you might want to scroll both vertically and horizontally, which is easier to do manually. 

How to take an automatic scrolling capture

Here’s how to take a full-page screenshot automatically using Snagit’s Automative Scrolling capture tool: 

  1. Select the all-in-one tab within Snagit’s capture window and click Capture.
  2. When the orange crosshairs appear, click the window you want to capture, and Snagit will snap to that window.
  3. Next, click on one of the orange arrows to select the direction you want your screenshot to scroll.

    (Don’t worry if you can’t see all the arrows. If the web page or program you’re using can only scroll in one direction, then only one arrow will appear.)
  4. Once you’ve clicked an arrow, Snagit will take the scrolling capture and open it up in the Snagit Editor when it’s ready. 

How to manually take a scrolling capture

If you’re looking for more control over the area that your scrolling capture actually captures, then you’ll need to take your Scrolling Capture manually. Here’s how: 

  1. Select the all-in-one tab within Snagit’s capture window and click capture.
  2. When the orange crosshairs appear, you can either click on the window you wish to capture or drag a custom area across your screen.
  3. Next, click on the icon with the camera and arrows. This will start the scrolling capture process.
  4. Next, scroll through the content you want to capture, then click Done. We’d suggest you scroll slowly to get the best results. 

Once you’ve captured your screenshot, it will automatically open in the Snagit Editor, where you can preview, edit, add markup or callouts, and quickly share it. It’s that easy!

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Three ways to make your full-page screenshots even better

Screenshots on their own are useful, but when you add a little context, they can be downright magical in helping explain ideas and convey information. Here are three different ways you can use the Snagit Editor to bring the magic out in your screenshots and Scrolling Captures:

1. Annotate your screenshot

Don’t let important information go unnoticed. Use arrows and callouts to highlight specific areas of your screenshot or add more context. Choose from different color themes, or create your own to keep your images on-brand.

2. Rearrange objects within your screenshot

Snagit automatically makes the objects in your screen capture movable, which means you can rearrange buttons, delete text, and edit other elements in your screenshots.

So, if your cursor blocking something, delete it! If you’d prefer that button was on the right and not the left, move it! With Snagit, it really is that easy. You can even magically mock up websites with screenshots.

3. Edit the text in your screenshot

Snagit recognizes the text in your screenshots for quick editing, which means you can change the text’s color, font, and size — as well the actual words —without redesigning the entire image. 

With Snagit, you can even extract text from an image, which is something that no built-in screenshot tool on the planet can do!

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The best way to capture scrolling screenshots

Scrolling captures is a lifesaver when you need to screenshot an entire webpage, extensive spreadsheet, or long chat thread. And as you can’t take scrolling screenshots with native apps like Snip & Sketch, investing in a more powerful screenshotting tool is well worth it.

As well as being the best tool for taking full-page screenshots, Snagit lets you quickly capture your screen, add additional context, and share images, GIFS, and videos to your favorite apps in just a few clicks.

Scrolling screenshots, the FAQs

How do I take a screenshot bigger than my screen?

Snagit’s scrolling capture tool is a great way to capture content that doesn’t fit within the dimensions of a typical screenshot.

Can you scroll while taking a screenshot?

The native Windows and Mac tools don’t have a scrolling screenshot feature, but it can be done with a third-party app like Snagit.

Is it possible to screenshot a parallax website?

Static screenshots aren’t the best way to capture interactive elements like parallax scrolling. However, with Snagit, you can record your screen and quickly turn the video into an animated GIF.

Can you take a scrolling screenshot on an iPhone?

Yes, but only when using native apps like Safari and Notes. Press the Lock button and Volume Up button simultaneously to take a screenshot. Then click on the preview and tap Full Page at the top.

How do I take a scrolling screenshot on Android?

On Android 11 or later, press the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time. Then, tap the Capture More option at the bottom-left corner of the screen.

What are High-Resolution Images?

learn what hi-res is

Picture this: Your coworker asks for a photo, so you quickly email them one from the web. Moments later, they reply back: “Do you have that in hi-res?” and you think to yourself: “Does it really matter?”

Well, the answer is a resounding yes. Your colleague isn’t just being picky, there really is a difference between lo-res (low-resolution) and hi-res (high-resolution) images. It can mean the difference between a company logo that looks fuzzy, or one that is crystal clear.

But in order to understand when a hi-res image is a must (such as for printing and enlarging), we should first discuss what exactly hi-res means.

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What is the meaning of “high resolution”?

In short, hi-res stands for high resolution, or denser image quality.

Digital images are made of tiny pixels (picture elements), or squares of color. You usually don’t notice individual pixels because they all blend together to form the picture that you see. 

But, those pixels are still there! You can see them either when you zoom in too much, or you try to enlarge an image beyond what it can handle — which is why it’s important to know how to resize an image correctly.


As you can see, the lo-res image on the left looks great at its normal size, but when we zoom in or enlarge the image, it looks choppy. 

In other words, it’s “pixelated” because you can distinguish each pixel, in a block pattern. Anyone that pre-dates smartphones might recall this distinctive, low-tech aesthetic from retro video games.

pixelated image

Early video games looked pixelated because they purposefully used minimal colors to preserve memory and processing power. Today, we usually only see pixelated images when they’re either:

  • Overly enlarged
  • Too zoomed-in
  • Printed from a low-resolution file.

You’ll be glad to know that we’ve got a whole post about how to prevent blurry pictures (and it’s easier than you might think).

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What are high-resolution images?

Lo-res images have around 72-pixels, or squares of color, per inch. This makes them great for the web because that’s usually as much as most computer screens can display. Lo-res images are also very lightweight (because they have fewer pixels), which helps websites load quickly.

Hi-res images, on the other hand, are at least 300 pixels per inch (PPI). This resolution makes for good print quality and is pretty much a minimum requirement for anything you want hard copies of, especially to represent your brand or other important print materials.


Ink is expensive, so using hi-res photos to produce sharp prints without any blurry or jagged lines is the best way to avoid any printing regrets.

How to tell if an image is high or low resolution?

Just because a picture looks good on your computer screen doesn’t mean it’s hi-res, and you can’t tell by the aspect ratio, either. A hefty file size might suggest an image is high-res, but this isn’t always the case. 

The best way to check image resolution is to open it up in an image editing program, like Photoshop or TechSmith’s Snagit, and view the file properties. While this particular feature is currently only available on the Windows version of Snagit, you can also use it to extract text from images and remove the backgrounds from photos — on both Windows and Mac. 

While Snagit is great for quick photo editing, most computers come with a basic editing program that will help you see whether or not a picture is hi-res. 

Do you need high-res or low res-images?

So now that you know the difference between low and high-resolution imagery, and you understand how important it is, the next hurdle is knowing when you do and don’t need hi-res images. 

Ultimately, this all comes down to what an image will be used for. Whether you’re a budding photographer planning your first exhibition, or an entrepreneur working on a new website, understanding the format and context of where your image will be seen is the key to knowing the resolution you need. 

In this section, we’ll look at some typical examples of where low and high-resolution photos are required, to help you decide what best suits your needs.


Whether it’s a computer monitor, mobile device, or television, high-resolution images are often praised for their clarity and sharpness on screen, but there’s still a balance to be struck.

Digital screens have a finite number of pixels, and it’s this pixel count (often referred to as screen resolution) that limits the detail they can display. Using an image with a resolution higher than the screen’s probably won’t improve the picture quality, as the screen simply can’t render the extra detail.

What’s more, because high-res images make for heavy files, they can slow down websites and take up unnecessary storage space on your device. This means that low to medium-resolution images are usually best for screen-based applications.


When it comes to making posters — particularly life-sized ones — high-resolution images are generally the way to go. This is because large-scale prints need more detail to maintain the integrity of the image, ensuring that they don’t appear pixelated when printed.

There is, however, one essential caveat: The viewing distance. If your poster is going to be seen from far away, then there isn’t as much need for ultra-high image definition.

This is because, from a distance, our eyes can’t discern the same level of detail as up close — but you knew that already. This is where intermediate resolutions come into play, as they can provide a perfect balance between giving posters a clear and detailed appearance without needing extremely high resolution. 


Whether it’s a business card or a glossy magazine, you’ll need the level of detail that only high-resolution images can provide to ensure the printed image is crisp and clear.

For this reason, images intended for print should have a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch). This isn’t just a random number — it’s the perfect resolution to provide a high-quality image at arm’s length. 

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Artwork and fine photography

When you’re dealing with artwork or fine photography, every detail matters. Here, the texture of a brush stroke, the delicate shading in a charcoal drawing, or the interplay of light and shadow in a photograph can be the difference between an image that looks good and one that truly captivates onlookers. 

As you might expect, high-resolution images are especially useful in such scenarios, as they capture subtle details with the kind of precision that lo-res simply can’t. 

That said, it’s still worth thinking about how your image is going to be used. Are you planning an exhibition where your work will be displayed in large formats? Or are you building a digital portfolio? While high-resolution images are a must for a physical exhibition, low-res photos might be better if you’re planning to display them online.

Nature photography

Nature photography is all about capturing the world around us. From the textured bark of an ancient tree, to the vibrant hues of a sunset, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of intricate details that make each photograph a unique testament to the beauty of nature.

As such, high-resolution photos are crucial for capturing and sharing such photos. Think about it, have you ever seen a blurry picture in National Geographic?… Exactly. 

Hi-resolution images, the FAQs

How to make a low-res image high-res?

If possible, it’s always best to try and recapture an image in high-resolution, rather than make a lo-res image, hi-res.
That said, software such as Adobe Photoshop or online services like Let’s Enhance use sophisticated algorithms to upscale images and improve their resolution while minimizing the appearance of pixelation. However, the end-result might not be as sharp as an image originally captured or created in high resolution.

How big is a high-res image?

While the file size of high-resolution images varies greatly, hi-res is typically defined by its pixel dimensions and the number of pixels per inch (PPI or DPI).
An image is generally considered high resolution if it has 300 PPI or more, with typical dimensions ranging from 2,000 x 2,000 pixels for smaller images to 5,000 x 5,000 pixels (or more) for larger ones. Keep in mind that the specific pixel requirements will likely depend on the intended use of the image.

How can you tell if an image is high-res?

You can determine if an image is high resolution by checking its DPI (dots per inch) and its pixel dimensions. This can be done by looking at the image’s properties on your computer, or in an image editing suite.
Generally speaking, if an image has 300 DPI or more and has large pixel dimensions (usually in the thousands), it is considered high resolution.

How to make a high-res image low-res?

To make a high-res image low-res, you can use software such as Snagit or Photoshop or free online tools like PIXLR. These tools allow you to decrease the image’s size in pixels or change its resolution (DPI).
By reducing these parameters, you can essentially lower an image’s resolution by creating a smaller, less detailed version of the original image.

Are JPG images high resolution?

The resolution of an image isn’t determined by its file format but by its pixel dimensions and DPI. So, any file — including a JPG — can be a hi-res image provided it has large pixel dimensions and a high DPI (usually 300 or more).
It’s important to note, however, that JPG is a lossy format. This means some image data and quality is lost each time the image is saved, which could affect the resolution over time. You can learn more about different file types here.

How to Do a Voice Over Like a Pro: The Complete Guide

Whether you’re making a YouTube video or recording a presentation, if you make videos — especially how-to and explainer videos — you will almost certainly need to record voice overs. In fact, depending on how many videos you create, you may have to do a lot of voice over work.

For many people, the thought of recording their voice and sharing it with the world is horrifying. Or at least genuinely uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful!

So what is voice over recording? And how do you record voice overs that grab and keep your audience’s attention? Well, buckle up, because you’re about to find out! 

In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of what a voice over is, how you can record your own, and go over some voice over tips for beginners. Here’s what you’ll learn:

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What is a voice over?

A voice over recording (or just a “voice over”) is a person speaking (but not seen) during a video — often describing, highlighting, explaining, or providing additional context to what a viewer sees.

It’s often confused (or equated) with narration. And, while they are similar, they are not quite the same thing.

Narration is a specific type of voice over that describes all of the on-screen action, often telling a story based on what’s happening. While narration is more commonly used for entertainment, non-narration voice overs are often used on instructional, informational, and educational videos.

An easy way to think about it: All narration is a voice over, but not all voice overs are narration.

Why is a good voice over important for your video?

Some might think that the audio portion of a video is less important than the visual aspects, but that’s not true. Most people that watch videos say they are more likely to stop watching a video with bad audio vs. one with lower-quality video.

In fact, a recent TechSmith study of viewing habits showed that more than 25% of video viewers watched a video all the way through because the audio was good — more than those who said professional video style was most important.

This isn’t that surprising when you think about it. While the on-screen elements of your video are what makes it a video, in many cases, it’s the voice over that helps people truly understand what’s being shown.

Muddy, muffled, or otherwise garbled or difficult-to-understand audio tracks are frustrating to viewers. And, for people who are blind, but still need the information your video provides, good audio is essential.

So great audio isn’t just important. It’s a fundamental necessity to keep an audience interested and engaged — and to ensure they get the information they need.

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Do I need a professional voice talent for great voice over?

The short answer: No. 

Just because quality voice over is important for the success of your video, it doesn’t mean you need to go to great lengths (and expense) to get it. Some people think you need to have one of those super-snazzy radio voices to produce good voice overs for your videos, but that simply isn’t true. 

Sure, if you have the budget and you’re making professional videos, you can hire a professional voice over artist. But it’s not necessary.

With the help of this guide, you’ll soon see why most videos don’t need professional voice overs and that you really can do it yourself! But how can you record your voice over a video? First, you need to know what good voice over is.

The essential elements of a good voice over

When most of us think of great video voice overs, we probably think of actors like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones, usually because there’s a tendency to associate voice overs with having a really great voice. And while that can help, it’s not a prerequisite for doing a voice over.

In fact, with a little know-how and some practice, almost anyone can produce a professional-quality voice over for a video. All you have to keep in mind are the key elements that make a voice over stand out: 

  • Audio clarity and volume
  • Pacing
  • Vocal tone and inflection
  • Pronunciation

1. Audio clarity and volume

The clarity of your voice and speaking at a comfortable volume may be the most essential parts of great audio.

If your voice over recording is fuzzy or muddy sounding, it will be difficult for people to understand and your audience will be distracted and unable to absorb the information or may simply switch your video off. Either way, they’ll miss your message and you’ll miss an opportunity to share your knowledge.

Similarly, if the volume of your audio is too low, it may be difficult for people to hear. And if it’s too loud, you risk distorting it. Fortunately, there is a solid sweet spot for getting the volume just right, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.

2. Pacing

Ever talk with someone who has a really exciting story to tell, but they’re so excited about it that they rush through it and when they’re done you can’t even remember what they were talking about? Or, someone who drones on and on with no end in sight, while you struggle to keep your eyes open? 

This is called pacing, and it’s really important to get right. Too fast and your audience won’t know what hit them. To slow and they’re likely to get bored. 

The best voice overs have a natural and deliberate pace, which is why you should always write a script (and practice it!) before you start recording as this will help you speak naturally. You should also remember that pacing includes things like pausing now and then to take a breath, either for effect or to give the listener a break to process important information.

3. Vocal tone and inflection

Like pacing, vocal tone and inflection refer to ensuring you speak naturally and pleasantly. You want to sound friendly and engaging, but not so much that you sound fake.

No one wants to sound like a game show host (or like Troy McClure). But, you also want to avoid a monotone robot voice which, like pacing that’s too slow, can be boring and off-putting.

4. Pronunciation and enunciation

The final element of great voice over work is ensuring that you pronounce each word correctly and that you speak clearly enough to be understood. Avoid mumbling, but don’t shout or over-enunciate, either.

Be mindful of your regional accent (yes, we all have them) and pronunciations as they relate to your audience. While it’s perfectly acceptable to “warsh” your hands in Missouri or have a great “idear” in New England, those pronunciations may confuse people from other locations.

Don’t worry, though. No one expects you to sound like a professional voice actor. The best thing you can do is speak naturally and clearly — the rest will follow with practice.

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How can I make my voice sound better on voice overs?

This is the number-one issue most people bring up when they have to do a voice over for their video.

Most of us rarely have to hear our own voices in audio recordings. We’re used to the rich, warm sound of our own voices in our own ears and there’s no way around the fact that you sound different on a recording than you do to yourself.

So how do you stop hating the sound of your own voice? Well, you just have to get used to it.

Think of it this way: Your voice on recordings is how you actually sound to everyone around you. When you speak to others, that’s what they hear. the only one who hears a difference is you.

So, there’s really nothing to be embarrassed or feel shy about.

Everyone who does voice work has to overcome this hurdle. But, like most things, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Once you’ve done enough voice-over work, your voice will sound just as normal on recordings as it does in your own ears.

Of course, if you really can’t get over it, you can always ask someone for help. Whether that means enlisting a friend or colleague, or hiring a professional to do the work for you.

How to record a voice over

1. Preparing to record

Not all videos need a ton of preparation. Quick one-off screencasts or a fast demonstration of a new user interface for a colleague can probably be done on the fly. But, for videos where you want a more polished look or need to cover more information, a bit of preparation goes a long way.

Find a quiet place to work

You’ve probably seen what a recording studio looks like. Professional voice over artists typically have a room somewhere with walls covered in sound-absorbing foam, a fancy microphone setup with a pop screen, and a computer workstation that looks like NASA’s Mission Control.

Luckily, you don’t have to go that far to get great results. You can create a great voice recording space with minimal effort and very little expenditure.

First — and most importantly — you’ll want a space that’s free from distracting noises and where you are unlikely to be interrupted. Most decent microphones pick up even faint ambient sounds, and those sounds will make it into your recording.

If your space is at work, avoid areas where you can hear your coworkers talking, etc. Or, plan to record when no one else is in the office.

Wherever you are, be mindful of the sounds of your heating and cooling system. If you can’t find a spot where you can’t hear air rushing through your ducts, you may want to shut down your furnace or AC while you’re recording.

If your recording space is near a window, listen for sounds from outside, such as wind, birds chirping, and dogs barking. Be especially mindful of traffic sounds — particularly loud delivery trucks as these will almost definitely be picked up in your recording.

Nowhere is going to be completely silent, so find the best place you can — even if that means thinking outside the box.

For example, you might find the quietest place you can find to record is in your car (with the engine off, of course). It might not be the ideal setup, but if all you need to do is speak into a microphone, it might be the quietest environment you have access to — and you might be surprised by the results! 

Choose a microphone

Next, you need a decent microphone. We won’t go too in-depth with this here, but we do have another article detailing the best microphones for recording video.

What we will say, however, is you should definitely avoid recording your voice ovesr on your laptop microphone, if possible. While built-in mics are fine for the likes of Zoom meetings, even a low-cost external microphone will be better for a video voice over. 

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars, either. You can get a decent USB microphone for $50-$100, which is well worth the investment if you’ll be doing a lot of voice over work. However, even the headphones that come with your smartphone (which usually have a small built-in mic) will record a better sound than just your computer’s microphone.

If you do intend to use an external mic, we’d also recommend investing in a pop filter. They’re cheap and help minimize the distracting sounds caused by hard consonants such as “p” and “b.”

The Easiest and Fastest Way to Record and Edit Voice Over Audio!

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Choose your audio software

There’s no shortage of audio recording software on the market and most of them will offer more or less the same level of functionality. But, for the average user, these tools are often complicated and come with a high learning curve to be of any practical use.

So, with that in mind, we’d recommend checking out TechSmith’s Audiate — which comes with a seven-day free trial. 

2. Write a script

Having a script is probably the single most important thing you can do to ensure your voice over sounds professional. Nothing ruins a good voice over faster than a lot of “uhms” and “ahs” as you try to remember what you wanted to say.

The best scripts will include everything you intend to say, word for word. Taking the time to write this out before recording helps ensure that you will cover everything you want to without the risk of wandering off into unrelated topics.

To write a script, you should first outline the points you want to make and then write the full script based on that outline.

Once it’s written, read your script aloud several times before recording, and be mindful of words or phrases that may feel awkward or difficult to say. A script often sounds and feels different when it’s read out loud compared to how it sounds in your head.

This great blog post will give you more information on writing your script.

3. Do a test recording

Now that all the essential tools are in place, it’s time to record your voice over!

Before you get down to the real thing, though, be sure to run a test recording to ensure your equipment is working as it should, and your audio levels are good.

Even if nothing has changed from the last time you did a voice over, it’s still good practice to run a test first. There’s nothing worse than jumping straight into the recording, only to finish and find that something wasn’t set up properly. 

You don’t need to record the entire script for your test recording, but a few paragraphs will give you enough to ensure that the audio is clear and doesn’t include any stray or ambient noises.

Top Tip: When you listen back to your test recording, use headphones to check the audio quality. These will be much better than your computer speakers at picking up any unclear audio, feedback, or weird noises.

While you’ll obviously want the audio to sound good on the cheapest speakers, you (and your audience) will be much happier if you use headphones to check for quality. Remember, many of your viewers will probably listen via headphones, so you want to make sure they have the best possible audio.

The Easiest and Fastest Way to Record and Edit Voice Over Audio!

Audiate makes recording and editing your voice as simple as editing text in a document.

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Microphone placement

You also want to consider where to place your microphone. If it’s too close to the person speaking, it will pick up all kinds of weird mouth noises and air puffs. However, if it’s too far away you might sound lost in a large room.

Ideally, place the microphone about six to eight inches from your mouth, and slightly below your chin. If you’re using an LAV (clip-on mic), make sure it’s about six to eight inches below your mouth.

You should also be mindful of the surface where you place your mic. Some microphone stands will be susceptible to picking up noises from the desk or table they’re sitting on, so be sure to listen for those types of sounds on your test recording.

Check your volume levels

Getting the volume level right for your audio ensures that it’s easily heard and not distorted. If the volume is too low, your audience will have trouble hearing what you say. If it’s too high, you risk garbled audio or blowing out your people’s ear drums.

While you can always make a video louder and adjust levels when you edit, starting with the best possible audio level as you record is always your best bet.

The folks over at Premium Beat have a great post on recommended audio level settings, but here are a few basics.

  • Audio levels are measured in decibels (dB).
  • In audio editing, 0db is actually the maximum you want to achieve. It sounds weird, but trust us. 
  • For the most part, your ideal audio level is between -10db to -20db. Your audio should peak around -6db.
  • Never go above 0db, as your audio will distort or “clip.”

Most audio recording software will have indicators that let you know when your audio is in danger of being too loud and clipping.

The image above shows TechSmith’s Camtasia interface with the waveform (a graphical representation of your audio recording) on the left and the level indicator on the right. The indicator shows that the audio peaked at just under -6db and is well within the acceptable levels.

4. Record your voice over

Once you’re satisfied with your microphone placement and audio levels, you’re ready to record your voice over! With Audiate, it’s as simple as clicking the record button and speaking.

As you record your script, remember these key tips for ensuring a great voice over:

  • Speak slowly and clearly: Enunciate each word, but don’t concentrate on it to such an extent that you sound like a robot.
  • Consider your tone: You want to sound pleasant, but not overjoyed or overly excited.
    • Pro Tip: Smiling while you read your script can help you sound happier and more natural.
  • Don’t stop: If you make a mistake, you don’t have to start over — you can always fix it when you edit. Just go back a sentence or two in your script and start again.
    • Pro Tip: With Audiate, you’ll be able to see and edit your voice over’s text, so you can easily go back and fix any mistakes when you’re done.
  • Take breaks: If you struggle with the script or it just gets too hard to keep going, pause your recording and take a break. Rewrite any parts of the script that may be giving you too much trouble and try again.
  • Practice makes perfect: As with anything, voice overs get easier the more you do them. Don’t give up if it’s not perfect the first time!

5. Edit your audio

When you finish recording, it’s time to edit. Even if you didn’t make any mistakes, there’s a good chance there’ll be a few things that need fixing. At the very least, you’ll want to trim the beginning and end to remove any dead space.

However, Audiate makes it so easy to edit that you’ll barely have to lift a finger. The video below gives a great overview of how to work in Audiate.

With traditional audio software, you have to hunt through your recording to find your mistakes and edit them individually. Even a short video could take an hour or more to edit depending on how complicated your edits were.

Traditional audio software only displays your recording as an audio wave, making it much more difficult to edit your audio.

But with Audiate, you can just read the text before highlighting and deleting any mistakes you find. You might also notice that the Audiate interface (below) is much less complicated than the software shown in the screenshot above.

With Audiate, you can still edit with the wave form if you like but you can see that the text is displayed, allowing you to more easily see where to make your edits.

When editing a voice over, it’s always worth listening to the entire recording from start to finish, before making any changes.

While you might find it useful to make some notes to remind yourself of something you want to edit later on, you should try and focus on listening to the overall pacing and tone of your recording on the first listen. 

Does it sound like you hoped? Are there any parts that sound rushed, or too slow? Are any words unclear? Did you mumble? Are there weird silences or strange sounds? There’s no better time to answer these questions than on your first listen. 

Once you’ve listened o your voice over all the way through you can go back to the beginning and start editing and reducing audio noise. You might also want to cut out any abnormally long silences between sentences or statements. 

But remember, pauses are ok! In fact, they’re necessary to help break up the audio and make it feel more natural and conversational.

6. Import your audio into your video editor

In Camtasia, importing and working with audio only takes a couple of clicks and with Audiate, it’s even easier. You might also want to check out this post on syncing audio and video in Camtasia, but for the most part that’s it! You have just successfully recorded your voice over!

It’s worth remembering that Camtasia can also be used to add music to your video, trim your footage and even crop the frames of your videos

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Don’t forget the captions and audio transcription

We’ve already mentioned that a large portion of your audience will probably listen to your video via headphones. But, what if we told you that there’s also a high chance that many people will watch your video with no sound at all? 

This is why adding captions and subtitles to your video, as well as providing an audio transcription, are so important. For those who can’t, or otherwise won’t, listen to the audio elements of your video, captions allow them to digest all of the information your video provides.

This is another reason why Audiate is so incredibly helpful.

With most other audio tools, you would have to send your audio out to a professional transcription service to have an audio file transcribed and timestamped. Even if you typed out a full script, it won’t have the necessary time stamps to be used as a captions file.

But with Audiate, the transcription happens automatically, complete with time stamps that can be used as captions.

Once you’ve recorded and edited your voice over, you can export that transcription as a caption file (and SRT file) and import it directly into Camtasia. Then, Camtasia will automatically insert the captions into your video. It’s practically magic! 

How’s it feel to be a voice over pro?

Recording a voice over like a pro is easy when you know what you’re doing, and you have the right tools at your disposal. 

However, taking the proper steps before you hit the record button — and then taking the time to edit your audio appropriately — will go a long way to ensure your voice overs sound professional and engaging.

And remember, practice makes perfect! The more you do it, the more natural it will become.

Making a voiceover, the FAQs

Do I need a professional recording set up to do voice overs?

No! You can do great voice over work with minimal investment. All you need to get started is a microphone and audio recording software.

How do I improve the sound of my voice?

The short answer is you just have to get used to it. But, there are a few things you can do to improve the overall sound of your voice, including speaking from your diaphragm rather than at the top of your throat.
Also, be sure to have some water handy for when you’re recording. It’s important to keep your vocal cords hydrated!

What software works best for voice over recording?

There are many options available for audio recording, but if you only need to record voice overs, TechSmith Audiate is your best bet.

Will my laptop microphone be ok for recording voice overs?

Probably not. While a laptop mic is fine for calling into a Zoom meeting, you’ll want an external microphone for your voice over recording. Fortunately, you can pick up a good microphone for between $50-$100.

Do I need to hire a professional to get a great voice over?

No! You can do it yourself with great results. You just need the right tools and a little practice.

Note: This post was updated in July 2023 to include new information.

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

YouTube Thumbnail Sizes and Best Practices

YouTube Thumbnail Sizes and Best Practices

Are you looking to get more views on your YouTube videos? While you may want to consider finding new ways to promote your content, there is one really easy and effective solution to getting more clicks: improving your video thumbnails.

Whether it’s a learning video, a product demo, or a video podcast, your video’s thumbnail is just as important as its title when it comes to attracting views. Thumbnails draw the attention of potential viewers and help them decide which video they should watch — hopefully yours!

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the exact size your YouTube thumbnail should be and go over some best practices for creating your own thumbnails  — but first, what exactly is a thumbnail? 

What are Thumbnails?

Thumbnails are small versions of images or videos that give a visual preview of what’s inside the file. They originally got their name from being about the size of a human thumbnail, and in the world of online video, YouTube thumbnails are a bit like book covers.

People’s decisions on whether or not to click a video will often depend on the thumbnail. While an eye-catching image can draw people in, they’re more likely to scroll past boring or blurry thumbnails.

Ensuring your video thumbnails are better than those of other content creators will make your videos more likely to win video clicks on YouTube and other search engines — which is vital to building a YouTube audience.

Of course, having a good thumbnail is one thing, but you still need to make sure you have a great video behind it. If you’re just starting to make your own online video content, we recommend checking out our Ultimate Guide for How to Make a YouTube Video.

Make your own YouTube video thumbnails today!

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2023 YouTube Thumbnail Sizes

Now that you know what a thumbnail is, let’s talk about getting the perfect YouTube thumbnail dimensions.

The ideal YouTube thumbnail size in pixels is 1280 × 720, with a minimum width of 640 pixels. On the other hand, the ideal YouTube thumbnail size ratio for YouTube players and previews is 16:9.

As well as getting the size and ratios right, you’ll also want to keep in mind the file size and file type of your thumbnail. To help you get started, we’ve put together this handy guide you can refer to as you create your video thumbnails:

1280 x 720 pixels
– Minimum width: 640 pixels
– Recommended ratio: 16:9
– Maximum file size: 2MB
– Accepted file types: .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG

Fortunately, some other video hosting platforms, such as Vimeo, support the same thumbnail sizes. This is great if you want to repurpose your videos as you can post your content on multiple platforms without needing to do twice as much work. However, there are other differences between YouTube and Vimeo that might be worth familiarizing yourself with.

Now that we’ve covered the technical details, it’s time to get creative. How do you make a great-looking thumbnail that entices potential viewers? Great question! We’ve pulled together some expert tips to help you create the very best YouTube thumbnails for your content.

YouTube Thumbnail Best Practices

Keep it simple

Be concise! YouTube thumbnails are small. And they’re even smaller when they’re viewed on a mobile device, which is extremely common since YouTube is often watched on mobile phones. In fact, as of November 2022, almost 90% of worldwide YouTube visits were made from mobile devices.

 With that in mind, try not to add too much text to your thumbnails, or text that’s so small it’s hard to read. Ultimately, anything in a thumbnail that’s difficult to see or understand is a waste of valuable thumbnail real estate.

To make sure you keep your thumbnail simple, avoid adding the entire title of your video to the image — remember that the title will appear right next to your thumbnail anyway.

You should also try to shorten your title to just a few short words, or if possible, simply use a still image with a logo. Stills are great for thumbnails because they give quick snapshots of what viewers will find in your video, without you having to create a new image from scratch.

Use contrasting colors

We’re willing to be that you’ve seen online videos make this tragic mistake before: white text on a light background or black text on a dark background.

Remember, thumbnails are small and there are usually a lot of them on the screen at any one time. Yours needs to stand out, so if a viewer can’t easily read the text on your thumbnail, it’s unlikely they’ll click on it.

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Pay attention to logo placement

Adding your logo to your YouTube thumbnails is always a good idea as it can help boost brand awareness. However, how and where you place your logo on your thumbnails is crucial.

Firstly, you need to make sure that your logo isn’t too big as you don’t want to distract from the thumbnail’s message. However, if it’s too small there’s hardly any point in adding it at all.

Adding your logo to the corner of the thumbnail image works well, especially if you have other text on your thumbnail, but you should always avoid the bottom-right corner. Why? Because that’s where YouTube displays the length of your video. If you put your logo there it’ll be covered up and make your video look unprofessional.

Avoid irrelevant or misleading images

No one likes clickbait. That’s why it’s important to ensure your YouTube thumbnail accurately depicts what your viewers will find in your video. If it doesn’t, you could hurt your reputation or brand. But worse than that, YouTube could stop showing your videos in search results if your bounce rates are too high.

A thumbnail’s purpose is to give context, so using an image that doesn’t depict what a viewer is actually going to see won’t benefit you. It’s a good idea to find the most important point of your video and highlight that by creating a thumbnail around it. 

Try to create a visual teaser of your video, but without revealing too much information. The idea here is to show just enough that users want to click through and see what you have to say.

Make your own YouTube video thumbnails today!

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Bonus! How to Make Your Own YouTube Thumbnail

Now, let’s put these tips to good use by actually creating a custom thumbnail image. We may be biased, but we’d say that one of the easiest ways to create a YouTube thumbnail is to use TechSmith’s Snagit.

Here’s a step-by-step on how to create a YouTube thumbnail in Snagit.

1. Download a free trial of Snagit.

Yes, the first step really is that easy!

2. Import your video into Snagit.

If you’ve used Snagit to record a screen or your webcam then you can skip this step. However, if you used a different recording tool, all you need to do is: 

  1. Open Snagit
  2. Click on File in the Menu Bar
  3. Go down to Import and click Import to Library…
Import Video to Snagit Library

3. Use Snagit’s convert to PNG button to turn your video still into an image.

Once your video opens up in Snagit, find the exact spot that you’d like to turn into an image for your thumbnail.

Convert Video Still to PNG

4. Add text, callouts, arrows, your logo, and more right within the Snagit Editor.

Remember all those best practices we listed earlier? Good! Now’s the time to use them. Be sure to use simple text, contrasting colors, and be mindful of where you place your logo.

YouTube Thumbnail with Text and Logo

5. Save your image to upload to YouTube for the video thumbnail.

Once you’ve created your custom YouTube thumbnail, all you have to do is upload it to YouTube before posting your video. We told you it was easy with Snagit! 

Hopefully, your new, customized thumbnail will bring you more views, clicks, and engagement!

Youtube Thumbnail Sizes, the FAQs

What is the ideal YouTube thumbnail size?

The perfect YouTube thumbnail size is 1280 × 720 pixels. This maintains an aspect ratio of 16:9 — which is perfect for ensuring optimal visibility across most screens and devices.
Remember, the width of your thumbnail should be at least 640 pixels, anything less than that might result in low image quality.

Can I change the thumbnail size on YouTube?

You can’t change the size of a thumbnail directly on YouTube, since they control how it shows on the platform. But, you can upload a new and larger thumbnail, which YouTube will automatically scale down to make it fit.

Can I add a full-size thumbnail on YouTube?

You sure can! Just remember to follow the best practices for creating thumbnails — this is where the aspect ratio is crucial and you should always aim for a 16:9 ratio.
If you go with a 4:3 ratio, your thumbnail won’t cover the width of the entire screen.

Is 1920×1080 a good size for YouTube thumbnails?

YouTube can support thumbnails with a resolution of up to 1920 x 1080, but as a small image, it’s unlikely anyone will notice the high definition. Remember, you also need to ensure the file size doesn’t exceed 2MB, which might be an issue with high-resolution images.

Lauren North

Direct Marketing Specialist at TechSmith. I enjoy painting with watercolors, visiting our National Parks, and eating nachos.

B-Roll: The Secret Sauce of Any Great Video

B-roll for a great video

If you’ve ever been drawn into a film, captivated by a documentary, or compelled to watch an advert until the very end, you’ve likely been influenced by the artful use of B-roll. Yet, despite its power to engage and enthrall, B-roll remains one of the least understood aspects of video production, especially for those who are new to the field.

But, what is B-roll? Why is it so important, and how can it make a difference in your videos? 

As its name might suggest, B-roll may play a ‘supporting role’ to the main footage (known as A-roll), but it’s a game-changer in terms of impact and storytelling. B-roll is the secret weapon that can add context, enhance the narrative, create interest, and hold your audience’s attention.

Whether you’re a marketing professional looking to make a demo video or a YouTuber looking to make an instructional video, understanding the power of B-roll and how to use it effectively can seriously enhance the quality of your work.

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What is B-roll?

Imagine you’re watching your favorite documentary, and as the narrator speaks, you’re captivated not only by their words but also by the seamless flow of images and video clips complementing the story. These compelling visual elements that enhance the narrative, providing context and depth without breaking the stride, make up what we call “B-roll”. 

At its most basic, B-roll is the footage intercut with the main shots in a video production. If the main shots, or the “A-roll” (the central interviews, narrative, message, etc.) is the burger and bun to your Big Mac, then the B-roll is the secret sauce that brings it all together.

So, while the A-roll focuses on delivering the main narrative through principal footage and dialogue, the B-roll adds flavor and texture, enhancing the visual experience for your audience. It helps paint a richer, fuller picture of the narrative by supplementing what’s being said with complementary visuals.

The different kinds of B-roll footage

B-roll is a broad term that encompasses several types of supplemental footage, each serving a unique purpose for storytelling. And what’s more is, it’s everywhere! 

Whether it’s a shot of a bustling city street while a news reporter narrates or a close-up of a chef’s hands prepping a dish in a cooking show, B-roll is used all the time across virtually every type of video. From YouTube videos to Hollywood blockbusters, B-roll footage is an integral part of video production. 

So, to give you context here are some more B-roll examples:

  1. Cutaway Shots: These shots usually deviate from the central action to capture something at a medium or far distance. They’re often used to subtly reveal details to the audience that the characters don’t notice, which may set up anticipation, divert attention, or even deliver a visual punchline in a comedy production.
  2. Establishing Shots: These are often panoramic shots of the location that will set the stage for the narrative. Remember all the times you’ve seen the outside of a New York apartment block in Friends? That’s an establishing shot.
  3. Atmospheric Shots: These shots are carefully composed captures of locations, objects, or people that evoke a specific mood or atmosphere. They are, in a way, similar to cutaway and establishing shots in the sense that they work to immerse the audience in the narrative.
  4. Candid Shots: Unlike scripted scenes, these shots are typically spontaneous, capturing subjects in their natural state or behind the scenes. Most of the time, they’re found in documentaries and non-fiction productions.
  5. Dramatic Reenactments: These are dramatized portrayals used to bring narrations and interviews to life. With or without dialogue, these enacted sequences can make the content more engaging, as the narration continues as a voiceover.
  6. Stock Footage: This refers to pre-recorded footage, which could either be royalty-free or licensed. These supplemental clips serve to illustrate concepts, demonstrate machinery, insert animations, or even add humor to lighten the mood.
  7. Archival Footage: This includes historical images, recordings, and footage from archives and/or libraries that may be licensed or in the public domain. More often than not, archive footage depicts significant events, locations, subjects, and individuals.
  8. Repurposed Primary Footage: Sometimes, even A-roll can be used as B-roll. For example, a discarded take (or part of it) could be used in the editing process to enhance the narrative.

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What is B-roll used for?

While you might not think much about the B-roll when you’re watching a film or TV show, these clips play a pivotal role in shaping narratives and adding dimension and depth to a story. 

It’s also an editor’s best friend as it gives them plenty of ways to enhance a scene, break up a monologue, or distribute information more fluidly. In fact, if there’s a small glitch or error in a scene you love, B-roll provides an opportunity to work around it, ensuring the final cut is nothing short of perfect. 

With all that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how B-roll is used:

  • Setting the Tone: B-roll can create ambiance, subtly guiding the audience’s emotions and perceptions.
  • Providing Editors with Choices: B-roll offers a range of alternative footage, which can be used to help enhance the narrative.
  • Offering Exposition: B-roll can communicate crucial background details or context, providing depth to the story.
  • Emphasizing Key Details: A well-placed B-roll shot can highlight important details that might go unnoticed.
  • Introducing Characters: B-roll can be used to give viewers a glimpse of a character’s personality or background.
  • Concealing Errors: If the primary footage has an error, B-roll can be used to cover it up! 

Why is B-roll so important?

While B-roll footage might appear secondary to the main action (and technically, it kind of is) it’s no less important than A-roll — in fact, it’s often the difference between a good video and a great one.

In the following sections, we will explore how B-roll adds interest, allows for seamless edits, and maximizes the value you derive from your shoots.

B-roll makes your videos more interesting

If you want to make your video more exciting, B-roll can do exactly that! Imagine that you’re interviewing a woman about sports cars and, during the course of this hypothetical interview, she explains the differences between regular tires and rimmed tires…

When you watch the footage back, you might think “Wow, this is so dull”. 


Or, you might think: “This is a perfect time to insert some B-roll!”

By overlaying footage of tires while she’s talking, you’ll create a much more engaging interview, as opposed to just having her talk on screen the entire time.


Here’s a tip: If someone says it, show it. 

For example, if you say the word “pizza” in your screencast, consider showing a pizza. If you’re creating a training video about “interoffice communication,” think about adding some stock footage of office workers talking, or taking a quick video of your coworkers with your phone. 

If you’re using TechSmith’s Camtasia to edit your video (and we strongly recommend you do) then you can easily add B-roll to your video timeline by placing it above your interview footage.


B-roll is a great way to cover up mistakes and tighten the overall edit

As we’ve already touched on, B-roll is a great device for covering up mistakes and cutting unwanted footage.

Let’s say you shot a great interview with your CEO but it went on a little too long and you’re worried your audience will become disinterested. There are hundreds of reasons an interview might overrun, such as:

  • They go off topic
  • Their explanations go into too much detail
  • They cough or sneeze on camera
  • They keep glancing at their watch
  • They think about their answers for too long
  • They just love to talk! 

Now, for the sake of this example, let’s imagine you’ve got this overly-long interview with your CEO, and you need to trim it down. Anyone who’s ever been in a similar scenario will understand the anxiety that comes with such a high-stakes edit! 

For one thing, you can’t chop it all up in the edit, making it look like you manipulated the answers. However, you don’t want to leave things that could make them look bad on camera. 

So how can you trim an interview while ensuring your CEO still looks great? That’s right: By using B-roll! With a little bit of B-roll thrown in throughout the interview, you’ll be able to effectively hide your edits. Here’s how:

  1. First, edit out all the bad parts of the interview and anything that’s not relevant.
  2. Then, insert your B-roll on top of the edits.

example of b-roll


Now you have a condensed interview that doesn’t look like you manipulated or overly edited the footage, and we’re willing to be that your CEO will be glad you only kept the best parts. However, most people are so used to seeing B-roll during interviews, they probably won’t even notice! 

However, now that you know the trick to the trade, you’ll start seeing it everywhere. Local newscasts and documentaries on Netflix use B-roll all the time to cover up edits — especially those made during interviews.

B-roll maximizes the value you get from shoots

The value of B-roll becomes increasingly clear when you consider the efficiency it can bring to a shoot. By capturing B-roll, you are essentially investing in a stockpile of additional footage that can be used in any number of ways throughout your project. In other words, by filming B-roll, you’re making the most out of every minute you spend on set.

This means that when it comes to editing, you’ll have plenty of footage at your disposal, all of which can be used to expand your narrative, fill gaps, and add visual variety without needing to spend more time shooting. This can be particularly useful on projects with tight deadlines or smaller budgets. 

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Tips to make a great B-roll

Now that you know the full power of B-roll and what it can bring to your videos, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to create B-roll footage of your own. 

1- Plan ahead 

The key to shooting great B-roll starts with understanding your story and identifying the key themes or ideas you’d like to reinforce through your footage. Having a clear vision of what you want to communicate will guide you in deciding what kind of B-roll shots you need.

Before you start shooting, it’s worth making a list of potential shots that complement your primary footage. Consider the locations, actions, or objects that could add value to your narrative. Remember, B-roll should serve a purpose, not just fill space. 

If possible, create a shot list or storyboard (and write a script if you haven’t already). This helps in visualizing your ideas and makes the shooting process more organized and efficient. You could also label your shot list with ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’ to ensure you don’t miss any crucial footage during the shoot. 

The more you plan ahead, the more time you’ll save on set, and the better your B-roll will be.

2- Find a great location

The environment you choose for your shoot should align with the theme of your story and add a layer of depth and intrigue. When scouting for locations, think about how they can serve your narrative, contribute to the mood, and enhance the visual appeal of your footage.

Consider the variety of shots you could capture in each location. Spaces with interesting architecture, dynamic lighting, or unique features can provide a wide range of opportunities for capturing captivating B-roll. 

As well as the aesthetic of a location, you should also think about how practical it will be. Is the location easily accessible? Will there be uncontrollable noise? Do you need a permit to shoot there? Are you going to need any special equipment? Answering these questions ahead of time will save potential headaches during the shoot.

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3- Try several angles

Shooting B-roll is your chance to get creative and push beyond your comfort zone. The more angles you try, the more material you have to work with in the editing room, and the more visually compelling your final product will be.

A varied collection of shots from different perspectives can add depth, interest, and dynamism to your video and work to keep your audience engaged. With this in mind, it’s well worth experimenting with different camera angles, as this is a great way to tap into the versatility that B-roll footage can offer. 

For example, rather than limit yourself to eye-level shots, try shooting from a low angle to make a subject look larger and commanding. Or, from up high to make them appear small and vulnerable. Each angle tells a different story and evokes a different emotion. 

Even the simplest scene can be transformed through the lens of a new perspective. 

4- Get more footage than necessary

While it’s important to value quality over quantity in the editing suite, it’s usually better to take on a ‘more is better’ approach when shooting your B-roll. It can be all too easy to stick to a specific shot list but having a bank of extra footage can provide both a safety net and a broader canvas to paint your narrative.

By ‘overshooting’, you’re giving your future self a wider variety of shots to work with, which can be invaluable. This allows for greater flexibility during the post-production process. Take it from us, there’s nothing worse than wishing you had ‘just one more shot’ when you’re editing. 

It is, however, still important to stay focused. While you should definitely capture lots of B-roll, you should still make sure that all of it has the potential to add value to your video. Ultimately strive to shoot more, but don’t lose sight of what you’re shooting.

Making B-rolls, the FAQs

A-Roll and B-Roll Footage, what’s the difference?

A-Roll refers to the primary footage, typically featuring the main subject or speaker and carrying the central narrative. B-Roll, on the other hand, is the secondary footage that complements and adds depth to the A-Roll, often used to provide context, create visual interest, and enhance storytelling.

How long should B roll clips be?

B-roll clips should ideally be held for at least 10-15 seconds for short videos, and up to a minute for slow-paced or feature-length videos. The amount of B-roll you need to shoot depends on the project, but a good guideline is to capture four to six times the length of the video. This will ensure you have plenty to work with while editing.

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

Image Cropping 101: The Basics

image cropping is the act of improving a photo or image by removing the unnecessary parts.

By now you know that images are essential to creating great content and clear communication. Whether you’re trying to explain something, show how something works, or add elements to help grab a reader’s eye, images add interest and can help get your point across better and faster.

Images can even help you save time.

But there’s a big difference between using an image and using the RIGHT image. And while there are many ways to decide which image is right for what you’re trying to communicate, nothing ruins a potentially great image like a bad crop.

What is image cropping?

First, cropping has nothing to do with farming, so we won’t be asking you to plow or sow or anything like that. To “crop” an image is to remove or adjust the outside edges of an image (typically a photo) to improve framing or composition, draw a viewer’s eye to the subject, or change the size or aspect ratio.

In other words, photo cropping is the act of improving an image by removing unnecessary parts.

Chances are, you’ve already done some image cropping without even realizing it. If you’ve ever taken a photo with your phone’s camera and then posted that photo on Instagram, you might probably needed to choose how much of the overall photo to include in Instagram’s square traditional image format. That’s picture cropping!

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The Rule of Thirds in image cropping

It may seem illogical, but the most interesting and eye-catching photos rarely have their subject smack-bang in the middle of the image. In fact, it’s a fundamental rule of photography that your primary subject shouldn’t be in the center.

But if it’s not in the center, where does it go? That’s where the rule of thirds comes in.

The rule of thirds divides all images into three equal horizontal and vertical sections (or nine individual boxes) separated by grid lines. Generally speaking, you want to place the points of interest near the spots where these grid lines intersect.

Have you ever wondered why the view on some phones and digital cameras has a grid? It’s all thanks to the rule of thirds. As demonstrated in the screenshot above, these grid lines are there to help you compose your image. The idea is that when you’re lining up your shot, you can use them to ensure your image follows the rule of thirds.

You can also see Reo from TechSmith’s doggo department. Isn’t she cute?

But composing your image when you take a photo is just the beginning. Many times you’ll want to adjust and edit your photos even further. The first step, however, is always cropping. There are many reasons why you might want to crop a photo, including:

  • The discovery of background elements you didn’t realize were there
  • Issues with the framing or composition
  • To better focus on your subject

To crop your image, you’ll need a photo editor to act as your image cropper. For the sake of this article, we’ll be using TechSmith’s Snagit, but most editing software and apps (even the ones on mobile devices) will offer basic picture-cropping functions.

So, without further ado, here’s how to crop a picture with Snagit. 

Firstly, open your image in Snagit and click on the Crop tool. 

Similarly to your phone’s camera app, photo editing tools provide grid lines to help you make your crop according to the rule of thirds. The photo above is a computer screenshot of Snagit — taken with Snagit (how meta!) — and, as you can see, there’s a photo open that definitely needs to be cropped. 

In the next screenshot, you can see our adjustments:

Here, you can see that the grid lines have moved as that image has been cropped, to show how it fits with the rule of thirds now that it’s been adjusted. 

Which photo do you think is better? The original image…

… Or the cropped image?

The cropped image brings us closer to the subjects and cuts out unnecessary elements from around the outside of where the skaters and coaches are standing. What’s more, all the visible faces are in the outer or upper thirds of the image. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s definitely a lot better.

It’s important to point out that the rule of thirds does not dictate that your subject can only be in one-third of the photo area. You can easily divide the image into two-thirds areas, as well, like so:

Other image cropping tips

But the rule of thirds is just the beginning.

Take a look at this photo of two friends at senior prom:

First off, the photographer chose to show the subjects’ entire bodies because, unlike our very own rebel Ryan Knott who provided the photo, most people at prom are dressed in beautiful dresses and tuxedos. So it makes sense that they would want the photo to show their whole outfit, including the shoes.

However, Ryan’s clothes aren’t really that important (sorry Ryan!), which gives more freedom to play around with cropping to emphasize different aspects of the photo.

This cropped version brings more attention to Ryan and his friend’s face (and amazing early-90s hair!) and distracts a bit from the fact that Ryan wore his teen angst on his sleeve (or, on the lower half of his body, as the case may be).

Generally speaking, when using photos of people or animals, the closer the crop, the more “dramatic” the photo.

For example, in this photo of a smiling woman, you get a complete view of what she’s doing and where she is. We have a lot of context of her surroundings, which helps tell the story of the photo.

But in this cropped version, we’re drawn more to her face and the fact she’s focused on her phone. The setting isn’t as important as the subject herself. We’ve narrowed the story a bit to capture only what she’s doing.

Cropping it further takes the phone out of the image entirely and now we’re left with just her face to contemplate. What is she thinking about? What’s making her smile? Did we catch her in mid-laugh? By taking out parts of the overall story, we’re left to create it for ourselves.

This also provides another great example of why you might want to crop an image: to change its shape and/or aspect ratio. The original image was horizontal. The first crop turned it into a vertical image and the final crop made it square. Depending on how it’s going to be used, the shape of an image can be very important.

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Potential pitfalls of image cropping

So, we’ve learned the basics of how to crop a photo, but what’s the downside?

Firstly, when you crop an image and save it, you’ve deleted the original image. For that reason, we suggest saving a copy of your image and making any edits to the copy, rather than the original. At TechSmith, we’ve all lost great images to bad editing at some point, and we can’t stress this strongly enough.

Secondly, the closer you crop, the smaller the actual image becomes. If the original image is 1280×1024 pixels and you crop it down to 640×512, you have reduced the size by half. So, always make sure any cropping you do will leave an image large enough to fill the space you need to fill. 

Remember, with photos, you can’t simply adjust it back up to the size you need. If you don’t resize your photo properly, you risk losing resolution and ending up with a pixelated, blurry photo.

Third, it’s really easy to over-crop a photo. Especially when cropping close to a person’s face. Give the subject some room to breathe. In the final photo of the smiling woman above, that crop is probably a little too close, but we wanted to show what would happen when we removed the phone. If we were using that photo for publishing in another capacity, we probably wouldn’t have cropped it quite so tightly.

Finally, don’t get too caught up in rules. Play around with cropping and see what pleases your eye. Rules are rules, but rules can be broken, sometimes to great effect.

Image cropping, the FAQs

How to crop an image in Photoshop?

In Photoshop, cropping an image is a breeze. All you need to do is open your image, select the Crop Tool, drag the corners to mark out the part of the image you want to keep, and hit Enter on your keyboard. It’s easy, just be sure to save or export your image when you’re done.

How to crop an image in Illustrator?

In Illustrator, begin by placing the image you’d like to crop with File > Place, then select your image. Once the image is in place, use the Selection tool to choose the image, before clicking on Crop Image in the Control panel. Next, adjust the crop boundaries by dragging the corners, and finalize your changes by pressing Enter on your keyboard.

How to crop an image on Mac?

If you’re using a Mac then you’ve already got a secret weapon for picture cropping — the Preview app. First, find the photo you want to crop and double-click on it, this should open it in Preview by default.
With Preview open, you’ll notice that your mouse cursor turns into crosshairs when hovering over part of the image. This is the Selection Tool, which you can use to drag a rectangular shape over your photo. Once you’ve outlined the part of your image you want to keep, push Cmd + K on your keyboard to make the crop, then Cmd + S to save it.

How to crop an image in Indesign?

In InDesign, you can crop an image by first selecting a frame with the Selection tool. Then, go to Object > Fitting and choose between ‘Fit Content Proportionally’ or ‘Fill Frame Proportionally’ to adjust the image within your frame. To maintain your cropping when resizing the image later, select Auto-Fit and remember to save your changes.

How to crop an image in Powerpoint?

PowerPoint provides easy-to-use tools to help you accurately crop images. Upon selecting your image, head to the Format tab and click on the Crop tool. This will bring up some adjustable handles around your image that you can use to cut out the parts of the image you want to crop.
Once you’ve made your adjustments, simply click the crop button again to set your crop — it’s that easy!

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

JPG vs. PNG: Which is Better?

As with many of the world’s greatest battles — Batman vs. Superman, Ninjas vs. Pirates, Cats vs. Dogs — the fight between JPG vs. PNG has been raging for centuries. 

Of course, when we say ‘centuries’ we mean since the mid-90s, and when we say ‘battle’ we mean the conundrum faced by people wanting to know which file format is best for exporting their images. It’s a decision that can be as hard as choosing coffee or tea on a Monday morning. 

As with most things, PNGs and JPGs have their own pros and cons — so it’s good to understand all the different formats — but the best file type for you will depend on how you plan to use it. While PNGs offer high-quality compression, JPGs take up less space and will load faster on the web. 

The decision between JPEG and PNG isn’t just an abstract ultimatum, it’s a choice that impacts how you edit, share, print, and archive your images.

If you’re caught in the tug-of-war between JPEG and PNG, don’t panic! This post is your guide to understanding each format. Whether you’re a graphic designer, a budding photographer, or just someone who wants their photos to look good online, we’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each file.

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The JPG format: makes big files much smaller

The JPG, typically pronounced “jay-peg”, was developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) in 1992. The group recognized a need to make large photo files smaller so that they could be shared more easily.

Some quality is compromised when an image is converted to a JPG. This is because the compression is ‘lossy’, which means that certain unnecessary information is permanently deleted. A JPG does, however, allow you to create a smaller file size than you could with a PNG.

JPG vs. PNG side by side comparison picture of Zion National Park

Generally, a JPG should be used whenever it’s important to have a small file. Beyond initially saving an image as a JPG, there are also tools that will allow you to compress the file even further. This is useful for web images, as smaller files will boost the speed at which the web page loads.  

Although modern broadband and fiber optic internet connections are making this less of an issue, those with slower connections or less powerful computers will thank you.

Key benefits of JPEG/JPG format

The JPG (or JPEG) format is a popular (if not the most popular) choice in the digital world, and it’s easy to see why. This image format brings several key benefits to the table:

  • Efficiency: JPG files are designed to effectively compress image data, which means they occupy less space on your storage drive or website. This is great for those who have limited storage or manage websites with lots of imagery. 
  • Speed: Smaller file sizes mean faster load times, and JPGs are much quicker to download and share across different devices, networks, and online platforms. Again, if you manage a website, you’re likely to rank higher in Google search results if your website quickly loads. Even if it’s only a few microseconds faster, every little bit helps. 
  • Compatibility: Virtually every photo viewer, editing tool, and device in existence supports JPG files, making the format a safe choice for most applications.
  • Minimal Post-Production: When photos are shot in JPG format, they usually require less post-production work. Aspects like white balance, contrast, and sharpening are often already well-adjusted, saving photographers a lot of time when editing images.

The key to getting the most out of a JPG lies in understanding these advantages and how they can accommodate your needs. Through this understanding, you can ensure your images are optimized for how you plan to use them.

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The PNG format: enhanced colors and improved image quality 

The PNG file format, usually read aloud as “ping”, was created in 1994 to act as a replacement for the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). We won’t go into why — this is about PNG vs JPG after all — so let’s just say the GIF had some limitations that prompted the creation and prevalence of the PNG.

An important benefit — and often a deciding factor for using a PNG file — is that the format supports transparent pixels. This means you can have a transparent background around an irregular-shaped object and avoid a white (or other colored) box outlining your image. 

So, if you’re looking for transparency, you’ll need a PNG.

Unlike the JPG, compression for a PNG file is ‘lossless’. As the term suggests, lossless compression retains all of the data contained in the file during the compression process, which is important when you have images that need resizing several times or require multiple rounds of edits. 

Because PNGs hold more information than JPGs, they’re often used when images are more complex (with lots of fine details) and when storage isn’t an issue. 

It’s also ideal to use a PNG for a graphic image

Key benefits of PNG format

The PNG format is another formidable player in the world of digital images, boasting features that make it a standout choice for certain applications. Here are some of the key benefits of using the PNG format:

  • High Quality: PNG employs a lossless compression algorithm. This means the quality of the photo remains high, even after compression and decompression. Unlike some formats that sacrifice quality for smaller sizes, PNG keeps images looking crystal clear.
  • Sharp Graphics: When it comes to creating crisp graphics, the PNG is a real winner. Whether you’re designing a logo or a text-heavy graphic, a PNG will keep the edges sharp and the colors vivid.
  • Creative Freedom: The humble PNG is a favorite among graphic designers for creating background effects and overlays. It supports a wide array of colors and shades, allowing for greater creativity and precision in design.
  • Transparent Backgrounds: One of PNG’s standout features is its support for transparent backgrounds. This is incredibly useful for creating images that need to be layered or placed over different backgrounds. You can even create a semi-transparent watermark, so nobody tries to pass your image off as their own. 

Understanding these benefits can help you leverage the PNG format to its full potential. Whether you’re designing a logo or a website banner, the PNG format offers powerful capabilities to ensure your images are visually stunning.

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What are the differences between JPEG and PNG files?

JPGs and PNGs each offer distinct qualities and are optimized for different uses. While these differences might seem subtle, they can have a substantial impact on your images, depending on how you intend to use them. 

In this section, we’ll explore these differences in detail to help you pick a side in the title fight of PNG vs. JPG.

Lossless vs. lossy compression

One of the major talking points when looking at JPG vs. PNG, is the compression method they use — specifically, lossy (JPG) and lossless (PNG) compression.

Lossy compression, as the name suggests, involves some degree of data loss, which is what a JPG does. When you save an image as a JPG, the algorithm deletes some data to reduce the file size. The resulting image is a balance between file size and image quality. 

While this process might lead to a slight reduction in image quality, it’s usually undetectable to the human eye. However, any data that’s deleted in the compression process will be gone forever, and this will happen every time the image is saved. This means that the more you edit and/or save an image over time, the more likely you’ll notice the reduced image quality. 

On the other hand, PNG uses lossless compression. In this method, no data is deleted during the compression process. Instead, the algorithm finds efficient ways to represent the same data, resulting in an image that’s identical to the original after decompression. While this ensures high quality and detail preservation, it often results in larger file sizes than JPG.

Your choice between lossless and lossy compression will ultimately depend on what matters most to you — storage efficiency or image quality.

File size

The size of an image can really affect storage, loading times, and data usage — especially on websites and mobile apps.

While JPGs are known for smaller file sizes, some image data is lost in the compression process, which can compromise the picture quality over time. That said, the effect on quality is usually negligible. If you’re prioritizing speed and efficiency, particularly for web usage where quick loading times are essential, JPEG’s smaller file size might be the way to go.

PNGs, on the other hand, tend to create larger files due to their lossless compression method. This quality preservation, however, comes at the cost of larger file sizes, which might be slower to load on the web.

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JPGs do not support transparent pixels — it’s as simple as that. When you save an image in a JPG format, the transparent pixels will be filled with a solid color, usually white. This lack of support for transparency makes JPEG less suitable for images that need to be placed over different backgrounds or layered with other images.

Meanwhile, if you ever need to remove a background from an image, you’ll probably save it as a PNG, because this format does support transparent pixels. This is especially useful when designing websites and digital graphics, where images often need to blend seamlessly with different backgrounds.

In short, if you need to work with transparent or semi-transparent images, you need a PNG.

So, should I pick JPG or PNG?

There is no right or wrong answer here. It all comes down to what you need the image for. Think of your choice as an exercise in optimization, and allow the factors we’ve discussed so far to guide you in your decision.

But, just in case you’re not sure which format is best for you, let’s take a look at some of the most common ways people work with and use image files. 

PNG vs JPG for Editing

With high-resolution image quality, lossless compression, and transparent pixel support, PNGs are much better than JPGs when it comes to editing images.

While JPGs can handle simple edits efficiently, they’re no match for the intricate editing and compression capabilities of PNGs — which is why professionals will often opt for PNGs in the editing suite. They’re perfect for editing graphics, illustrations, product pictures, and icons across all mainstream editing software.

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​​PNG vs JPG for Archiving

When it comes to archiving images and saving hundreds (or thousands) of photos, the smaller file size of a JPG makes it the obvious choice. 

As JPGs take up less space than PNGs, you can save a lot more photos without needing loads of storage space, whether it be on a physical hard drive or on the cloud. Quantity isn’t usually more important than quality, but it is when you’re archiving.

JPG vs PNG for Printing

When printing, the choice between PNG and JPEG depends on your needs and the resources at your disposal. PNG’s high-resolution images offer superior color depth and can deliver high-quality prints on home or industrial printers. Meanwhile, lossy compression could make JPG photos become blurry or lose color when they’re printed.

That said, neither PNGs nor JPGs are perfect for commercial printing tasks, like posters and T-shirts. Why? Because these formats support RGB color, but not CMYK, which is the preferred format in the commercial printing industry. 

So, if you want to print your design on a load of tote bags, you might want to consider a different file type altogether.

PNG vs JPG for Web

When it comes to posting images on a website, you might opt for using a mixture of JPG and PNG formats.

JPEG’s smaller, compressed file size gives it an edge for website use, as faster loading times contribute to a smoother user experience and improved SEO ranking. However, PNG’s support for transparency can make it the ideal choice for including graphics, such as logos and icons, on websites. 

Still, it’s important to consider the trade-offs. While PNG may deliver higher quality, the larger file size could impact your site’s loading speed. Therefore, striking the right balance between image quality, size, and website performance is crucial when deciding between JPG and PNG.

PNG files versus JPG files, the FAQs

Are PNG and JPEG files compatible with CMYK?

No, PNG and JPEG files are not compatible with CMYK color mode. Instead, these formats support RGB color, which is used for digital screens. For printing purposes, where CMYK is often the preferred color mode, files such as TIFF and EPS are probably more suitable.

When to Use the PNG Image Format?

If you need high-quality, lossless images — particularly for digital graphics, logos, and web design elements — then use a PNG! This format is also excellent for images that need to be partially transparent or if you plan on doing multiple edits, as the format doesn’t lose quality with multiple saves.

When to Use the JPEG Image Format?

JPGs are best when you need to balance good image quality with smaller file sizes, such as for web images, email attachments, or archiving large photo collections on limited storage devices. However, keep in mind that repeated editing and saving of a JPG image may result in a loss of quality over time.

Allison Boatman

Allison Boatman is a member of the Marketing Team at TechSmith. Follow her on Twitter @allisonboats She can often be found aimlessly wandering around local craft stores. Personal motto: "Work hard, stay humble." Favorites: Alaskan Malamutes, Iceland, and 90's pop culture.