Creating iPad Screencasts

by Patrick Kammermeyer on January 2, 2013

Since the release of the first iPad in April, 2010, I have been pulling my hair out looking for an easy way to create screencasts on it. For some reason, Apple decided to not allow this capability directly on the iPad. (It turns out that there was a way to do it, but it required jailbreaking the iPad.)

But now, with some of my hair still intact, there is a relatively easy way to do it by displaying your iPad screen onto your Mac and using QuickTime or other screencasting software on the Mac for capture.

Since Snow Leopard (10.6), QuickTime has had the ability to create screencasts. While QuickTime gets the job done on a very basic level, my favorite tool for creating screencasts on the Mac is ScreenFlow ($99). Camtasia is also an excellent software package for creating rich screencasts (with captioning). Camtasia is also freely available to Cal Poly staff and faculty through a site license (available through my.calpoly.edu > Technical Services Request). But there are several software packages out there, both free and commercial, that allow you to create screencasts on the Mac and Windows.

The heart of this approach is a piece of software that runs on your Mac and allows your iPad to wirelessly mirror on your Mac’s screen. This software is called AirServer ($15). AirServer has both a Mac and Windows version, so it opens up screencasting the iPad on both platforms. Some details about the Mac version are:

  • It runs on OS X Tiger or greater
  • It works for screencasting iPad 2, iPad Retina, iPad Mini, iPod Touch 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5

AirServer Setup
 

AirServer is an application that runs on your Mac and acts as an AirPlay receiver. It allows you to receive AirPlay feeds, similar to an Apple TV, to stream content or mirror the display from your iOS device. It delivers full 1080p HD! Perhaps a lightbulb just went off above your head as you start to see that there are a number of other interesting possibilities available with the ability to stream content at this resolution to your Mac (where, by the way, it may be recorded). But for now, I’ll focus on creating screencasts from an iPad.

AirServerPrefsIn the General tab of AirServer Preferences you can set the Computer Name and establish a password. This allows you to identify your Mac on the wireless network from your iPad, and create a password so not just anyone seeing your computer on the network can mirror to it. Here you can also adjust settings for rebroadcasting and launching AirServer on startup.

AirServer-optmizeIn the Mirroring tab, you can tell AirServer to optimize for whichever device you are mirroring to the Mac. In this case, I’ve optimized for the iPad, but you can see the other device optimizations available in the drop-down menu.

 

 

iPad Setup
 

Next, we get on the iPad and find the Mac on the wireless network.

Basically, you double-click the Home button on the iPad to bring up a list of active apps along the bottom of the screen. Swipe this list to go to the far left. There you will see the AirPlay icon. Click on that icon and search for your Mac’s name in the list. Click on it and toggle mirroring on.

But just in case that isn’t clear, I’ve created a screencast from my iPad to demonstrate these steps:

 Low Res version:

 

 High Res Version (note that you can set quality to 1080p):

That’s all there is to it. Now you can create informative screencasts from your iPad and share them with the world!

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