Make Tutorials Easily with Clarify

Clear wingsProfHacker has a longstanding interest in tools for screen capture, screencasts, and the like. We’ve reviewed apps like Skitch (Mac), Greenshot (Windows), Screenr (browser-based), and ScreenSteps. There’s just something appealing about the ability to quickly explain technology by showing what it looks like.

Blue Mango Learning, the makers of ScreenSteps, which George raved about two years ago, have introduced a new program, that simplifies the task of annotating multiple screenshots, combining them in a tutorial and instantly sharing them with others. Clarify is an OS X app (a Windows version is promised, currently in a free beta period, that allows you to take multiple screenshots, annotate them, and combine them into a single document. This creates an easy-to-follow set of instructions for just about any task.

The easiest way to show what Clarify can do is with an example. I used it to create all the screenshots in this morning’s post about FileStork. As you can see, Clarify has the ability to draw arrows and shapes, to insert text, and so forth. Since I wanted to use the screenshots in a blog post here at the Chronicle, I saved the images and uploaded them to Flickr.

But Clarify also allows you to share the annotated screenshots you’ve created, and it’s pretty cool. It stitches the screenshots together into a single document, so you can follow the screenshots from the beginning of the task to completion. You can share the page directly, as I’ve just done, you can embed it, and more.

The interface for Clarify also shows off two nice features:

Clarify interface

Click for full-size

First, unlike many screen capture apps, Clarify lets you take delayed screenshots, which is convenient. And second, you can export your stitched-together screenshots as a PDF, for easy printing/sharing. As you can also see, Clarify makes it easy for you write explanatory text above and between the screenshots. (The reason I didn’t do this for this morning’s blog post is that it would’ve been more trouble than it’s worth to resize the Clarify document to fit ProfHacker’s template at the Chronicle.)

Mac users who create explanatory documents based on multiple screenshots might want to give Clarify a try. For individual screenshots, Skitch is still probably best–it has at least as many annotation features, and it integrates nicely with Flickr (and now Evernote, as Amy will detail in a forthcoming post). But for a page like this one, Clarify would save a fair amount of time.

It is also worth remembering that Clarify is still in beta. On my computer, Clarify feels slow, especially compared to Skitch. Not, “well, I guess I’ll go get coffee” slow, but still noticeably slow to launch the screencapture tool. Hopefully that will improve–along with other features that users are requesting.

Do you have a favorite screencapture program? Let us know in comments!

Photo by Flickr user Eddy Van 3000 / Creative Commons licensed

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