For a lot of users creating screencasts is too much of a pain, and so a lot of people will avoid them. This is especially true if they see software like Camtasia Studio that has a pricetag of $300, which is overkill for what most people are looking to do.
ScreenToaster is an awesome alternative that uses Java through your browser, and doesn’t make you download/install anything. You’ll need to register for an account, but it’s completely free. After you get done making your screencast they’ll let you download it as a .mov file, upload it to their own site (free hosting), or upload it to YouTube in HD quality. The choice is yours, but you should be aware that they will place a watermark in the bottom-right corner so that people will know you created it with their service. That’s really the only trade-off that I found though. Heck, you can even add subtitles, record from a webcam, and include audio in your screencast.
I’m not a huge fan of tools that use Java, but in cases like this it is kinda nice. Since it uses Java this tool is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. I had never really found a good screencast utility for Linux that was easy-to-use, but something like this would be perfect for most of my situations… especially if i’m just trying to show a friend how to do something real quick.
If you’ve got something easy and free that you use for screencasts let us know in the comments.