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Record desktop activity to tiny self-playing EXEs with Screen2SWF

02 December 2015, Mike Williams

Screen2SWFWindows screen recorder Screen2SWF, once a $49 commercial product, is now available for free.

With so much freeware competition around already you might be thinking, “so what?”, but wait: the program does have some interesting features which help it stand out from the crowd.

A strong capture engine enables the recording of desktop activity, mouse clicks and movements, and audio.

There are a few frame rate options, too (1, 2 or 4fps, or as fast as possible), good news if you’re looking to keep the finished file size to a minimum.

Once you’re set up, recording begins with a click, you can pause or resume it by hitting F9, or finish with F10.

An integrated editor offers various ways to tweak your recording. You can change the start or end points, remove unwanted frames, insert delays, zoom in to a particular area, add an image, a text annotation, and more.


The editor has an awkward, clumsy interface, but does offer some clever ways to annotate your recording

While you can’t add shapes, draw arrows, use a highlighter pen or anything similar, the features you do get are capable enough.

Text annotations aren’t just about setting fonts and colours, for instance: you can add a callout box, set opacity, choose the period they’ll be displayed, even have them smoothly fade in and out.

Unfortunately this is spoiled by various interface issues, in particular with the player bar. You should be able to click and drag to zip through the movie and find an area of interest, for example, just like every other media player out there…

But you can’t. Instead you have to move your bar to the point you think you need to edit, then click to find out, and keep repeating the process until you’re happy.

Things pick up whtn editing is over, as Screen2SWF presents you with a good set of export formats: AVI, MP4, FLV, SWF and a Windows EXE (no separate player required, just run the program).

An “Output Quality” option sets the number of colours in the finished video to anything from 16-bit to grayscale, and gives you an estimate of the finished file size.

The end results can be impressively small, too. We created a 10 second clip of a 1920×1200 desktop, saved it as a self-playing EXE, and the finished file was barely 1MB.

On balance, we probably wouldn’t use Screen2SWF for any complex tasks: its editor is too basic, and the interface is annoying.

The program is good at keeping file sizes to a minimum, though, and the EXE export is also a plus. If you need those features we’d give it a try.

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