Why You May Need Screencasting Software For Your Mac

Image 2015-03-20 at 16:14:47

Daily Mac View’s Alain Latour on why many Mac users are making videos of their screens.

pic of grandmother at laptop

*If you can’t help her set up her email account in person, a video beats a long email anytime. *

Gone are the days when most of us were passive information consumers. Today, anyone can easily create and share a message with the world.

But creating content requires tools. And in an increasingly visual world—one where YouTube stands as the second largest search engine—those who take the time to craft video tutorials and presentations have a clear advantage over those who don’t.

For example, they can create massive open online courses (MOOCs), tutorials, webinars, or video podcasts, thereby increasing their site’s SEO and attracting a wider audience.

Even casual users can benefit from learning to create video presentations. They might want a grab a clip from a video they’re watching, record some strange behaviour if an app or website isn’t working as they would expect, or simply show their mom or dad how to do something. (I for one wish I’d thought of this when trying to explain to a relative, via email, how to do something on WordPress.)

Admittedly, these casual users can get by with QuickTime Player, which comes free with every Mac. (This Engadget tutorial explains how to record a video of your Mac’s screen with QuickTime.)

Serious users, however, should look at more advanced software, as should people looking to simultaneously capture video from a built-in iSight (or connected camera) rather than just what’s going on their computer screens.

Such advanced software can not only elevate the look and feel of a project; it also has the added benefit of letting users add layers, or tracks, to their screencasting project. This means they can layer video objects, images and audio clips over their presentation. Professional software is also much more flexible in terms of changing different properties for each of those objects independently of any other object.

For example, if you were doing a webinar featuring a PowerPoint presentation with a voiceover narration, you could overlay an audio or music track, a video clip, and a video interview, all of which would require at least three or four additional layers.

If you are interested in these features, the best options are Camtasia for Mac and Screenflow, the field’s two reigning champs. Let’s take a look at both.

Camtasia For Mac ($99 USD)

screenshot of Camtasia for Mac

Created by TechSmith out of Michigan, Camtasia Studio was first released in 1999. That means the company has 16 years’ experience with screen recording software. It claims over 10 million people in over 160 countries user its products—a respectable number for sure.

Yet the bulk of its business seems to be based on the PC market, with Camtasia for Mac being released in 2009. Professional reviews for the first version weren’t fantastic, but that seems to have changed with the second version, released in June, 2013. For example, CNET called it “one of the best screen applications for Mac,” praising its “numerous handy features and intuitive interface.”

Telestream’s Screenflow ($99 USD)

screenshot of Screenflow

*Screenflows looks like it belongs in a Mac environment. *

It’s easy to see why Nevada-based Telestream received not one, but two Apple Design Awards for Screenflow. More so than Camtasia, this software looks like it belongs in a Mac environment. It’s also on its fifth version (again, Camtasia for Mac is only on its second). Out of the two companies, Screenflow was the first to add iOS capture.

It’s difficult to decide between Screenflow and Camtasia. They’re both quality products, created by reputable companies, and they cost exactly the same price.

Luckily, they both offer free trials, so you can take them for a spin before you make up your mind. My (biased) tip? If you’re certain you won’t have to use a Windows computer for screencasting purposes in the near future, go for Screenflow.

Otherwise, get a copy of Camtasia for Mac —it’s not identical to the Windows version, but if you did have to use Camtasia on a PC, you’d face less of a learning curve.

Summary

As usual, Apple is making it difficult for companies like Telestream and TechSmith to survive. Thanks to features introduced in its latest operating systems, many Mac users can now make videos of their computer screens and iOS devices without having to fork over extra cash for additional software. Better still, the process, as you would expect from Apple, it’s easy and elegant. But if you want a more professional solution, you have at least two solid contenders.

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