Why we love ScreenFlow: screen capture for the Mac

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If you spend any time teaching people about online tools, or documenting them, or pitching them, chances are you've thought about screen capture software. And last week, a post on the Web of Change email list asked for recommendations on just that topic.

I weighed in on the side of Telestream's ScreenFlow, and I'm sharing it here in case you're looking for something for your next computer or Internet tutorial:

I have a two-year torrid love affair with ScreenFlow (although Darren Barefoot has actually proposed to marry it, so consider me trumped). It's Mac-only, but if you're in the Apple universe, you get an awful lot for the $99 pricetag.

Here's some of what I like:

  • A simple, intuitive editing interface that – for me, at least – beats the more recent versions of iMovie for making sense right off the bat
  • Fast and easy creation of callouts (that is, highlights, with background blurring and darkening, and foreground zooming)
  • Fast and easy annotation with text and shapes
  • Easy addition of new recordings
  • Simple adjustment of playback speed

And here's some of what I'd like to see:

  • Clip masking or cropping (Update: Lynn from ScreenFlow comments below that you can crop a clip by selecting it and then ctrl-dragging the sizing handles. Huzzah!)
  • Integrating edited clips into one, so you can then apply affects to the whole
  • Customizable presets for text, annotations and callouts
  • More customization in the export settings, especially publishing
  • Better HTML5 support in publishing

Check out some of the other feature requests from the user community.

A note: because its export function relies on QuickTime, you're limited to Apple's selection of video formats (of which H.264 is probably the most universal). So if you have your heart set on WebM or Ogg, you're out of luck.

How about you? Got a favourite screen capture tool? Do you use QuickTime's free screen recording feature on the Mac? CamStudio on Windows? Camtasia? Jing? Make your case in the comments!*

* Vendors, you know we love you, but please leave this conversation for users and customers. Thanks!


Lynn says

June 5, 2012 - 11:30am

Thanks for the great post! You have some great feature requests that I am adding to our list. We are actively working on building new features into ScreenFlow, so you might very well see some of these in an upcoming version :)

Also, you mention "Clip masking or cropping". Are you aware that you can currently crop clips within ScreenFlow? Here's a post explaining how: http://blogs.telestream.net/screenflow/2011/09/cropping-and-scaling-your-videos/ Thanks again!

Rob Cottingham says

June 5, 2012 - 3:02pm

Hi, Lynn -

Thanks for the kind words - and I can't wait to see what's coming next in ScreenFlow!

Meanwhile, I'm delighted to learn about cropping, and I'll be taking that out for a spin this afternoon. I'm updating the post to reflect the feature - thanks again!

Mike says

September 27, 2012 - 9:48am
Rob, i just wanted to know if it is possible to see myself when I am recording. I have done everything in the setup section as instructed; however, when I hit record, my image goes away and all I see is the desktop or whatever I am attempting to record. When I go to play it back, I can see myself there. Any thoughts.

Rob Cottingham says

September 28, 2012 - 12:32am

As far as I know, you can't... at least, not if you want the webcam to be a separate video track (which is one of the really genius things ScreenFlow does).

If you want to be able to see your smiling face, here's a workaround:

  1. Don't record from the webcam to ScreenFlow. Instead, open QuickTime, and choose File - New Movie Recording, and View - Float on Top.
  2. Place and resize the movie window to your liking, then click the red button in the QuickTime movie window to start recording (and, more importantly, make the bar at the bottom disappear).
  3. Now start recording your ScreenFlow session.
  4. When you're finished, stop the ScreenFlow recording, then stop and discard your webcam movie.

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