Screencasting Tools for Mac

If you are looking for a screencasting tool to capture and record movies of your Mac desktop, the popular choices are Screenflow, iShowU HD, Snapz Pro X and the just launched Camtasia Mac. Adobe is also porting Adobe Captivate on Mac but that is still in beta stages.

Here’s what software reviewers are saying about the various Mac screencasting software:

Video comparison - Camtasia Studio vs. ScreenFlow

Matthew Bookspan on Camtasia and ScreenFlow

Both programs have very similar editing experiences using a timeline. ScreenFlow has the added advantage of separating out the audio from the video portions of the recording. This is a great experience, because you can also add another voiceover quite easily.

In contrast, Camtasia merges the audio and video. It wasn’t easily discoverable how to add or change the existing audio recording. With my limited skills, being able to re-record the audio as a separate track was very handy.

John Basile on Camtasia for Mac and ScreenFlow

Camtasia for Mac strikes an excellent balance of useful features and a sleek GUI with which Mac users will be comfortable. Paramount among Camtasia for Mac’s new contributions to the world of Mac screencasting is its introduction of preset Transitions, Actions, and Filters. These elements are great to have at an editor’s disposal, particularly if your videos feature a lot of overlays.

If there’s something glaringly absent from Camtasia for Mac, it’s the mouse callouts that are so useful in Screenflow. Mouse callouts, which either visually illuminate mouse movements or make a clicking sound when clicks are made, are standard in most other screencasting softwares (including Camtasia Studio for PC).

Scott Skibell compares Recording features of Camtasia with ScreenFlow

Recording from both applications is straightforward. Recording options include webcams and microphones. Both interfaces are clean. It’s interesting to note that both applications record the entire computer screen and not just a window.

My experience shows both capture good video. They both allow you to record system sounds (like audio from a movie or Flash application) along with your microphone. You can use the internal microphone, or better yet, a high quality USB microphone.

One thing I did notice, is that Camtasia has a more difficult time capturing video that’s playing on your screen. So for example, if you wanted to capture part of a QuickTime video with Camtasia so your could edit parts of it, you’ll get a noticeably slower frame rate for the video.

Paul Pival has created two separate HD screencast videos using Camtasia and ScreenFlow thus making it easy for your to compare the output quality.

Screenflow got 1 point because it had easy mouse focus (dimming the background), but Camtasia’s Smart Focus, while it needed a little tweaking, made the zooms easier to throw in.

Screenflow did do a better job with the automatic upload to YouTube; it asked if I wanted to upload as HD, while Camtasia didn’t, and the result with Camtasia’s upload was quite a bit fuzzier.

Screencast video created using Screenflow for Mac:

Screencast created using Camtasia Studio for Mac:

Related: Screencasting Tools for Windows

Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal

Google Developer Expert, Google Cloud Champion

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India.

Amit has developed several popular Google add-ons including Mail Merge for Gmail and Document Studio. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory


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