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Recording screen demos with pyvnc2swf on Windows

I did it for (Ubuntu) Linux and now it’s the turn of Windows to get some screen recording love with pyvnc2swf. The installation procedure on Windows is also fairly simple, but unfortunately because Windows doesn’t ship with Python (unlike well, say, Linux and Mac OS X and most other Unix systems) we have to install that first.

So without any further ado, we’ll get going.


First of all, as I said, we need to grab ourselves Python on Windows. At the time of writing, one of the libraries that pyvnc2swf depends on isn’t pre-built for Python 2.5 (the latest version now), so we’re going to download version 2.4.4. Of course, you should download the latest available version, provided that is starts with 2.4 and not later (i.e. 2.4.5 would be OK).

Download the Windows .msi installer (for x86 in 99% of cases) on that page and run the install. I’m presuming that for all the software installs we’re going to do in this tutorial you’ll be running as an administrator.

Simply double-click that and click through accepting the defaults (install it for all users if you’re prompted).

Next up we need to get pygame – so download it from here and run the executable. It should also simply be a case of clicking through until the install is finished.

Next up we need to install a VNC server. First of all, a quick word of warning. Some over-zealous security software will detect a VNC server’s presence as malware (the reason being some malware installs it). If you have installed a VNC server yourself, you can be assured that their presence is not a malware threat, so don’t remove the program if your security software asks you to.

I recommend TightVNC for this job, but anything will do (this guide will focus on TightVNC). Download and execute the Windows installer.

Whew! Well, thankfully there’s only one more thing to install, and that’s the software itself. Download pyvnc2swf and extract that .zip file to somewhere useful (it will be where the application is stored).

Getting started

One of the first things you should do is rename the main file called to vnc2swf.pyw. What this does is that it prevents a command line window appearing every time you launch the software (the program has a graphical interface and the command line isn’t required to use it).

Next, head over to where you installed TightVNC and double-click WinVNC.exe to start it. Enter a memorable (and secure) password when prompted, as this will be important to setting up your recording. Now click Advanced and tick both Allow loopback connections and Allow only loopback connections if they aren’t already. OK both dialogues and notice the VNC icon in the system tray (this lets us know that the VNC server is running).

Now, let’s do our first recording!

At this point, you need to switch to the resolution needed for your screen capture (you can’t do the fancy desktop-within-a-desktop thing unfortunately unlike on Linux). Now, browse to the folder where pyvnc2swf is installed and double-click vnc2swf.pyw to start it.

First, click Save As to choose a location to save the .swf and .html files. This will unlock the start button. Now, just click Start and after you enter your password, the recording begins!

Record your demo, and click Stop when you’re done. Enter the folder you chose earlier and open up the .html file to view your demo!

To do another demo later, simply start WinVNC.exe followed by vnc2swf.pyw and follow the same steps. Easy.

Coming soon – hopefully audio capability within Windows. I’m working on it, and I’ll post the tutorial in due course!


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  1. corundum wrote:

    Many thanks for your time in putting this extremely valuable guide on the web. I had been unsuccessfully trying to set up pyvnc2swf on Windows machines using Python 2.5. Thanks to you I now know why it didn’t work.
    Your guide is in the true spirit of Open Source altruism. Award yourself a medal.

    Thanks again

    London UK

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007 at 12:04 | Permalink |
  2. neha sharma wrote:

    what about installing pyvnc2swf on red hat enterprise linux?? how do we go about it??

    reply asap

    Friday, February 15, 2008 at 04:48 | Permalink |
  3. Doug Q wrote:

    Thanks for the tutorial. At the end of the tutorial you mention that – “Coming soon – hopefully audio capability within Windows. I’m working on it, and I’ll post the tutorial in due course!” Have you made any progress in that direction?


    Friday, April 4, 2008 at 22:35 | Permalink |
  4. Peter wrote:

    Sadly, no, I didn’t get anywhere with that and this tutorial was written more than a year ago!

    I doubt I will be able to come back to this, as I’m moved on in the tools that I use for screencasting (and away from Windows almost entirely for this purpose).

    Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

    Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 07:04 | Permalink |
  5. Riad wrote:

    Hi Peter,

    Your How-to is brilliant ! Thanks very much for the time you spent in puting all these information together !

    Many thanks.


    Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 01:20 | Permalink |

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