Creating iPad Screencasts

Since the release of the first iPad in April, 2010, I have been looking for a way to create screencasts on it. Screencasts can be very helpful in creating quick video tutorials. 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 there is a way to do it by displaying your iPad screen onto your Mac and using screencasting software on the Mac for capture.

Since Snow Leopard (10.6), QuickTime has had the ability to create screencasts. My favorite tool for creating screencasts on the Mac is ScreenFlow ($99), but there are several software packages out there, both free and paid, that allow you to create screencasts on the Mac.

The secret to this approach is a piece of software that runs on your Mac and allows your iPad to wirelessly display on your Mac’s screen. This software is called AirServer ($15). AirServer has both a Mac and PC 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

The setup is relatively simple.

AirServer Setup

AirServer is 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 being able 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.

AirServer Preferences

In 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.

Optimize AirServer for each deviceIn the Mirroring tab, you can tell AirServer to optimize for which ever 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.

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:



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


  1. Bill says

    This is great! I’ve been wanting to do screencasts on my iPad for our teachers for so long. I resorted to using a video camera aimed at my iPad, but this is so much more elegant.


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