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What Is OpenBoard?

OpenBoard is perhaps best seen as an interactive whiteboard/blackboard for teaching. The software is free and open-source. It works on Mac, Windows, and Linux platforms. Originally developed for smart board environments, OpenBoard provides an easy an intuitive way to annotate digital content.
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For teaching and the recording of videos, OpenBoard works best with two screens. The instructor can annotate content on one screen, and the abstracted content can be presented on the second screen. By doing so, the audience does not see the tools and dashboard that the instructor uses to teach. You can also flip the background between black and white - which could make your hand-written content easier to follow.

Importing Content

OpenBoard is an annotation tool, and works best when you import a digital asset to write or draw on. You can click on “Documents” and then “Import PDF” to open a PDF to present.

If you have PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, you can export this as a series of images. This, can then be imported into OpenBoard by clicking on “Documents” then “Add Folder of Images.”

You should soon see that the annotation tools in OpenBoard are superior to what you might find in PowerPoint, and perfect for instructional video.

Recommended Tools

There are a number of tools in OpenBoard, but here are the ones that we recommend:

  • Annotate Document: This, as the name suggests, allows you to write and draw on your digital document. You can annotate in five colors, and choose from three thicknesses of line.
  • Erase Annotation: This option changes your stylus into a virtual eraser. Your can choose from three thicknesses of eraser.
  • Highlight: The highlighter tool has five colors to choose from and three thicknesses of line.
  • Laser Pointer: The laser pointer tool works extremely well at applying focus to elements on screen.
  • Background: OpenBoard’s default background is white, and you can change this to a higher-contrast black background. Both of these options also allow for lines and grades, which improves your onscreen graphing.
  • Undo/Redo: If you make a mistake, you can use the undo and redo options.
  • Erase: You can erase all annotations on screen by clicking on the erase button.

Better With A Stylus

  • Wacom Cintiq: For a thousand dollars or more you could invest in a Wacom Cintiq.
  • Touchscreen Laptop: Or you could run OpenBoard on a touchscreen laptop like the Windows Surface Pro.
  • iPad: Sidecar on the macOS and the iPad is a great option if you own devices that support this functionality.
  • XP-Pen: At the more affordable end, the XP-Pen stylus operates as a virtual mouse.


Panopto is an option for faculty and students to record their OpenBoard presentations.

If you are using the recommended two monitors to present, you will want Panopto to record your secondary screen. This means that your video will be abstracted - the tool dashboard will be hidden from view.

Downloading OpenBoard

The OpenBoard software is free and open-source. It works on Mac, Windows, and Linux platforms.

To install, please visit
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