Where’s the killer screencast app for the Mac? Jason 25 May 2006

61 comments Latest by B Gates

It’s sorta surprising, but there’s no great screencast app for the Mac. Snapz Pro is about the best there is, and it’s not bad, but it’s… well… it feels like there should be something better. And it’s not a Universal app either so it doesn’t work on Intel (it doesn’t even work in Rosetta either).

I’d love to see something from Panic or Iconfactory. One of those guys (or both together) could be our only hope. That is unless Apple makes one. I could see that happening too.

Here’s what I’d like to see. Basic screen video capture with a few simple compression options, audio recording, caption/graphic overlay support, simple video editing (cut, duplicate, slow down, just the basics), and export to Quicktime or Flash. All wrapped up in a nice UI too, of course. The biggest downfall of the current options is editing — there’s no way to preview the screencast you just created, overlay some captions, intro and outro text, and cut out some of the dead video).

Can I get an amen? Better yet, can I get a product?

61 comments so far (Jump to latest)

joe 25 May 06


Pawel 25 May 06

I’d just settle for a good tabbed terminal application. Please don’t bring up iTerm. Grrr..

Jon Maddox 25 May 06

Doesn’t Panic MAKE Pixadex for IconFactory?

On a side note, what i’ve wanted for a while was a two fer. 1. I want ichat to be able to play quicktime in a chat window, a kind of evolution of images in the window. Then i want built in screencasting, so i can do it just as fast as i take a screen capture, with the same capture features, and paste it right into a chat window.

I love taking advantage of screen capture, i use it all day long to show interfaces, good…bad…my own….and having video would be that much better

Rob Poitras 25 May 06

I didn�t realize until now that Macromedia / Adobe doesn�t have a mac version of Captivate.
That�s kinda surprising, frankly.

I got major side tracked before I posted so I missed the last couple comments.

I have mine on a dell box, I just figured it was Apple friendly but I guess not.

Scott Walter 25 May 06

iShowU looks promising but its not quite ready for primetime. When playing back movies the mouse cursor lags behind. Also I disabled sound, but sound is still recorded.

iShowU is still in beta so I plan on taking another look at it once it reaches 1.0

Bob Aman 25 May 06

Agreed, though remember, a screencast app from Apple would auto-cripple itself if you had a media player of any kind open at the same time.

n/a 25 May 06


Did you guys upgrade to the intel pros?

ceejayoz 25 May 06

Agreed, though remember, a screencast app from Apple would auto-cripple itself if you had a media player of any kind open at the same time.

Not necessarily. It might just take the approach Windows Media Player does - display a blank space where the media playback would have been if you’re playing off a DVD or protected media of some sort. Pretty trivial to implement, I’d imagine.

John Gruber 25 May 06

I’d say your best hope is a new version of Snapz Pro X.

Snapz Pro has already solved a bunch of really hard technical problems; your wish list features (to my eyes) look pretty easy compared to the features it already has.

Don Wilson 25 May 06

If anything, a mac-related company should be able to make a fantastic screencast app.

Nolan Eakins 25 May 06

Show me the money!

If the 37sigs team wants to finance the development of such an app, then I’m game and available. Feel free to send in your requirements and I’ll shoot back an estimate. :-)

TK 25 May 06

I’ve been using SnapzPro on my Intel-based Mac, no problem.

Michael Hyatt 25 May 06

Snapz Pro works on my MacBook Pro. I am using 2.0.2. Are you sure you’re running the latest version.

Leonard Lin 25 May 06

Even SnapzPro just doesn’t compare to Camtasia, but I found iShowU to be pretty good. When I made some quick clips, I just did basic editing in Quicktime Pro - iMovie would work fine as well.

This is really no different than Camtasia, where you launch a different GUI when you edit anyway.

The biggest thing I miss from Camtasia is the mouse click highlighting, which is actually quite useful when creating demos.

Dennis Bullock 25 May 06

I have used snapz in the past along with some quicktime audio and it worked great for the short photoshop how to I put together. But you are right….its about the best there is currently.

JF 25 May 06

SnapzPro works on Intel for static images, but not for video. They even say it on their own site.

Jamie Tibbetts 25 May 06

I’ll give you a big amen. But please let it be made by any other company than Panic. I’ve been a registered user of Transmit for years now, and it is by far the buggiest piece of software I own - hands down. Panic is good at the sizzle but not the steak, and video capture is all steak.

long Time Listener - Repeat Caller 25 May 06

Where�s the killer calendar app for the web / Backpack?

It�s sorta surprising, but there�s no great calendar app for the web. Google Calendar is about the best there is, and it�s not bad, but it�s� well� it feels like there should be something better. And it�s not working on all browsers either so it doesn�t work on Safari (it doesn�t even work in Shiira either, obviously).

I�d love to see something from 37Signals for Backpack. One of those guys there (or all of them together) could be our only hope. That is unless someone else makes one. I couldn’t see that happening, tho.

Can I get an amen? Better yet, can I get a working version embedded in Backpack like we’ve been told we’d get?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. No animosity though… Just being impatient.

random8r 25 May 06

iMovie comes with every mac, and is free - therefore solves the editing problem.

Hunter 25 May 06

What do you mean by ‘video’? I just recorded a video of me cruising a Web site for a demo using Snapz Pro on my MacBook Pro so I’m not totally sure what you mean by video.

Of course there are bugs - the cursor shows funky sometimes and that is Rosetta related. But overall, it worked fine.

I then put it in iMovie for editing. Worked fine. Added captions, etc…

kev 25 May 06

How is Tranmit buggy? I’ve owned it for years, and besides a few things here and there, it’s been fantastic.

Thijs van der Vossen 26 May 06

You can’t use iMovie to edit screencasts because iMovie only edits DV format footage. If you convert your screencast to something can edit in iMovie, you’ll lose a lot of the image quality.

Same goes for Final Cut Express, there you are limited in the output format you can work with. The full version of Final Cut might be OK, but that’s rather expensive…

I think Snapz does a great job capturing, but I’d also like to see a simple app for editing _any_ kind of QuickTime video.

Jesper 26 May 06

Better yet, can we stop calling them “screencasts” and start calling them “demo videos” which is about the same length, doesn’t need explanation and actually makes sense?

Cearbhall 26 May 06

You can do simple edits with QuickTime Pro such as trimming and adding/removing soundtracks, etc…

Mark 26 May 06

It’s a shame Qarbon pulled their Mac development, their Viewletbuilder(Win / ‘nix) and ViewletCam (Win) are much nicer then Captivate. I’m one of the lucky few (

It seems constant tweaking of the Mac OS video set against limited Mac user demand meant Qarbon pulled the plug. I guess Mac users need to get more vocal about the need for a screen capture device. It also means there’s an open niche market for a video-savvy Mac developer.

Snapz Pro X is good but the lack of a simple/chaep MOV captioning app makes such output of limited use.

Sad to see the ViewletBuilder idea not going forward. It gives you ‘semi-motion’ tracking mouse-movement and capturing button states etc. (though it can’t catch fades/wipes/etc.). Upside is no comically fast voiceovers trying to match on-screen action - you control the timeline making captioning much easier. Great for walk-through/how-to stuff.

Christian 26 May 06

Amen�something a little less expensive than Snapz Pro wouldn’t hurt either � %-)

Anthony 26 May 06

I’m a fan of ScreenRecord too. It could be improved, but it’s much cheaper than Snapz.

Ryan Heneise 26 May 06

JF: “SnapzPro works on Intel for static images, but not for video. They even say it on their own site.”

I’ve been using SnapzPro to capture video on my Mac Mini, and it seems to work flawlessly (if a little slow).

I agree though - it would be nice to see a competing app with more polish (and Universal).

SU 26 May 06

I’m on PowerPC still, so Snapz Pro works for me… However, I’ve been playing around with Screenography and had good results — much more flexibility around file formats to boot.

Damian Tarnawsky 26 May 06

Actual Mark - Macromedia’s Captivate was originally eHelp’s RoboDemo (not RoboHelp) which was previously Nexus Concept’s Flash Cam (aquired in 2002).

RoboDemo/Captivate started out as a Delphi 7 win32 app and has been slowly converted to a C++ app. There are no Mac coders on the Captivate team.

The main reason for no Mac version is that it only represents about 1% of the market - it is actually more efficient to make a Korean (say) version using existing developers rather than pull together some Mac coders.

Of course, Nexus Concepts would like to put together a Mac screencast app but have a non compete until 2007.

The Mac & Linux platforms are now the only niche left in the “Screencast” market and its about time Adobe, TurboDemo or TechSmith take a second look as the Windows market is now over saturated.

Amit Agarawal 27 May 06

Anyone tried iShowU ? It’s a new screencasting app for the Mac and free as well.

John Koetsier 27 May 06

Double plus amen.

I’ve been doing screencasting for demos for 5-6 years and never found anything better than Snapz Pro.

But it’s a pain that you have to publich in .mov files, because something like Flash would be much more accessible and easy for most people.

You can get it into Flash, but one of the things Macromedia has really dropped the ball on, IMHO, is an easy one-step video (with synced sound) import into a Flash movie. Getting QuickTime into Flash with correctly synced audio is PAINFUL in the extreme.

So I always ended up just leaving my screencasts in QuickTime.

If someone made an app that does what you’re suggesting, I think it’d be a massive hit. Mac users are creative producers on the web, and this is a gap in our toolkit.

Steve 29 May 06

Regarding Qarbon: I emailed them a couple of months ago about the OS X version. It wasn’t on their product page but you could still buy it in the store and I was confused. Their response:

“Unfortunately, the OS version is discontinued. After launching it we came across too many complications. However, we are expecting to launch an OS version with our next generation due out end of second quarter.

Because the new product will have a different architecture we shouldn’t have the same difficulties.”

So there may be some hope.

Garrick Van Buren 30 May 06

Snapz Pro never handled audio to my satisfaction (even pre-Intel) - especially if another application was outputting audio. I found iShowU a couple weeks back, made 5-6 screencasts totalling 30min+ with audio much more quickly and reliably than Snapz Pro.

Joel Jensen 02 Jun 06

I have been looking for a virtual video camera that basicly just converts desktop to DV. From there I could use imovie to do screencasts and just record from the that virtual camera.

Amy Hoy 06 Jun 06


The worst part about trying to screencast on a Mac is that there’s no easy way to add voice-over later. I did an hour and 15 minute Photoshop how-to for somebody, and I can’t design AND talk at the same time. The pain I went through to try to voiceover it later was ridiculous, and it was really hard to make the audio register properly with the video because if i had to stop talking, I had to pause two applications, and the second or two that takes could introduce an offset that was hard to track down and repair.

Combining the audio and video was also awful. Because I wasn’t working with TV-sized video, I couldn’t do it in iMovie without making the screencast look like somebody barfed all over it. As far as I could find, my only option was a command-line muxing tool, and while it worked, it wasn’t fun.

Reza Hussain 16 Jun 06

Hasnt anyone tried display eater yet?

&y 17 Jun 06

Adobe Captivate 2 is rumored to be cross-platform…

Michael Cage 28 Jun 06

With OmniDazzle (recent OmniGroup release) you can do the highlighting-style things Camtasia can (and more) … pair it with IShowU and you are 90% of the way there. Now we just need a cheap alternative for titling and transitions of the movies.

mlambie 08 Jul 06

Pawel: I just used fink to install gnome-terminal on my my MacBook Pro. I had to use the unstable tree but so far it’s working well for me.

Jay Lucke 13 Jul 06

Hey Everyone,

We are about to release ViewletBuilder 2006 here real soon for Windows and will shortly after launch the Linux and MAC versions.

We have Version 4x available to test on your machine for compatitbility, so email me if you want to try it.

Mike 13 Jul 06

Works on my MacBook for video no problems!

Christian Linhart 17 Jul 06

Hi Everyone,

I may be able to fulfill your needs.

Jonathan Buys from osvids.com pointed me to this discussion.

He uses my product DemoRecorder which is a screen recorder for Linux which can produce production quality videos in different formats including FLV, AVI, MPEG2, …

I may create a version of DemoRecorder for the Mac.

It will also support the same output formats as the Linux version.

If somebody pays or gives me an Intel Mac loaded with all necessary development tools I will start development as soon as I receive the Mac and you will get DemoRecorder licenses equal to the value of the Mac in return.

Now, development will of course take some time. This is no easy task. But I’ll do my best to get this out ASAP. What I can probably do rather fast is a pre-version which can only record X11-apps.

Since many of you mentioned the ability to import to Flash-projects: The FLV format is perfect for that. FLV supports a lossless screenvideo codec which is of course supported by DemoRecorder. Lossless means that it is pixel by pixel equal to the original, which means no compression artifacts. Take a look at DemoRecorder.com: All videos shown on the website are exported using the lossless FLV codec.

Please tell me what you think about that.

Jay 23 Sep 06

Hey Mac Users,

Qarbon has pushed the plug back in and is wrapping up some Linux updates before getting back into the Mac world. We heard your requests and feel this market might be better than Linux. VB4.56 Mac will relaunch soon after our Dev Team gets some bugs worked out….then VB5 for Windows will launch….then we’ll work on VB5 for MAC….

You are welcome to test the current version we pulled:

It should work fine for PPC users….probably not for Intel chip users. The one thing that we found doesn’t work is the sound….we’ll crack this bug 1st. If you like it…you are welcome to buy it…just order the Windows version and use the activation code to register it.


Dawn 26 Sep 06

Double amen to that. I have found some good solutions for PC— and free at that, but nada for my beloved MAC.

B Gates 26 Sep 06

Are you surprised or Upset that there is no MAC Screencast Software ?

Living in Denial is not good. PC rules 90% of the Computer User Market, so why would anyone foolishly take the pain to write Screencast s/w for a measly 10% population ?

Switch to PC. Now !