Make flawless screencasts on your Mac

If you're looking for a way to easily capture the action on your computer screen for a presentation or project, Jason Parker has the perfect program for the job.


Have you ever made a screencast? A screencast is when you capture and record all the action that takes place on your desktop so you can view it as a movie. Many people use screencasts for presentations and instructional videos for software, though there are many other uses. Sometimes you probably wish you could make a screen recording for less computer-savvy friends and family so you wouldn't have to have those exhaustive phone calls: "No grandpa, I said Save the it."

I found a program for Mac today that makes creating screencasts easy. It's called ScreenFlow, and though it is a little cost prohibitive for friendly tutorials ($99), if you're going to make a presentation on a Mac, it's definitely the software to have. Once you have everything set up, simply launch ScreenFlow, choose what you want to record (like the desktop, your Webcam, and a microphone) and ScreenFlow will start recording everything simultaneously. Once the initial recording is finished, you can have the action on screen, your smiling face, and all the narration done in one-step.

Use the time line editing tools to find the appropriate spots to call out actions. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Once the recording phase is finished, ScreenFlow really shines with excellent editing tools to refine your presentation. You can call out certain parts of the screen with graphics or you can zoom in on the windows where the action is taking place. It also has an option to blur objects in the background, so you know the viewer is paying attention to the action at hand. In addition to calling out areas of interest in your presentation, you can use panning effects, add drop shadows and reflections, and you can combine other video files into your project. It also offers audio queues for mouse clicks and other actions to keep the presentation exciting.

Call out certain parts of your presentation and adjust opacity and zoom for easier readability. (Credit: CNET Networks)

When your project is finished, ScreenFlow supports both Keynote and PowerPoint presentation software so you know you'll be able to use your screencast on any system in addition to your Web site or Blog. One drawback of this great software is that it only works on Leopard and certain features require a higher-end graphics card, so you'll need to upgrade if you haven't already. But with the right hardware, ScreenFlow makes it easy to make high quality screencasts for any project or presentation and it's relatively low cost makes it a great option for power users.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.