Create Step-By-Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

screenshot1075   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]Next to text editing applications, screen capturing programs are de rigueur for us writers here at MakeUseOf – as you can easily see from reading any of our articles. I have tried and used numerous screenshot tools, from Apple’s default Grab app to popular third-party programs like Jing, and the recently reviewed Skitch. I typically use at least three different screenshot programs on a regular basis, each including unique features for the type of shots I need to get.

There will never be a shortage of these type of applications, but Blue Mango has produced an app that stands out amongst the rest. Similar to its flagship professional application ScreenSteps, it has released the beta version of an application called Clarify. Clarify is for when you want to produce step-by-step instructional documents that include screenshots and annotations for quick online sharing.

Clarify’s Purpose

Advanced screenshot applications like Jing and Skitch include annotation tools which can be applied after a screenshot is taken. You can see how such tools are used in the screenshot below. Clarify also includes annotation tools, but it goes a step further.

screenshot1076   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

If you are a writer, developer, on-site computer technician, or the go-to tech person in your family who needs to provide step-by-step instructions for using a piece of software, or to explain a complex website, Clarify helps you develop and communicate your instructions easily and clearly.

Main Features

Clarify is both a screenshot program and a text editor. You create your documents within the application, and then export them via e-mail, PDF, or your free online Clarify account. You start a new topic or subject in Clarify, provide a brief description, and then add a series of screenshots which will help communicate what you’re trying to explain.

screenshot1055   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

Similar to other screenshot tools, Clarify provides three different ways to initiate a screenshot. The most common method is to use the default keyboard shortcut (which can be changed in its Preferences) or click the camera icon in the toolbar.

screenshot1077   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

You can also access Clarify from your menu bar, which includes options for delayed screen capture and the ability to automatically upload screenshots to your Clarify account.

In terms of screen capture tools, Jing and Clarify mirror one another. However, if you try to capture say a dropdown menu item, Clarify will automatically hide that action, which means you can can’t capture it. That is one of reasons why I use Jing. The shot below could not be taken with Clarify; I had to use Jing.

screenshot1072   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

Annotation Tools

Each time you make a screenshot using Clarify, the image file automatically gets added and displayed in your document, saving you the necessary steps of dragging it from your desktop. So essentially, each step in your document can be represented by a corresponding screenshot. The annotation tools in Clarify include shapes and arrows, and text boxes.

screenshot1060   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

The annotation toolbar includes features for changing the font style and colors of annotations. Clarify also has a Number Sequence tool that enables you to quickly add bulleted numbers to screenshots in your document. This is ten times faster than creating them in applications like Word.

screenshot1068   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

Another cool related feature is the ability to add a “Create Lists From Sequence” that you can add in the text part of your document, again another useful timesaver.

screenshot1074   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

Annotations, screenshots, and entire steps can be moved around, replaced, or cut even after the document is saved.

screenshot1067   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

Exporting Documents

While you could use Clarify to create a multi-page document or guide, the program is geared more towards quickly sharing your instructions via e-mail, Twitter, or anywhere else online. You can also export documents as PDFs.

screenshot1073   Create Step By Step Instructional Documents With Screenshots & Annotations Using Clarify [Mac]

Clarify contains nearly all of the basic features of the more professional program, ScreenSteps, except Clarify cannot export documents to Word or blog sites. Not everyone needs an advanced screen capture program like Clarify, but if you communicate how-to instructions on a regular basis, you will find this program to be a huge timesaver.

The beta version of Clarify is currently free and available for download for Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Lion. Give it a try, and let us and the developers know what you think.

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11 Comments -

0 votes

Edward Polack

This program is fantastic!  I’ve switched form using Skitch to this program.  I like how I’m able to perform step by step instructions within one document.  Programs like Skitch are good for quick one screenshot editing, but when you need to provide instructions, Clarify is the perfect tool for the job!  One added bonus that sold me on Clarify was the blur tool.  I could not find this on Skitch and I really need this tool.  Great job to the designers and programmers of Clarify!

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Yep, I think once this app gets out of beta stage, and if they keep the price low, it could be perfect solution for many users.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Thanks for the feedback. But not sure what’s the point of the extra information about ipads and tv’s.

0 votes

Tina

It was spam.

0 votes

Mattias Davidsson

I find no free version I am afraid. In sweden.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Mattias, try contacting the developers and see what they say.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Yes, Allison, I didn’t explain about the timed screen shot in Clarify, so thanks for pointing that out. But in referring to the difference between Clarify and Jing, I meant that the latter app can capture drop-down menus and or those tool tips that sometimes pop-up without needing to use timed screen shots. Jing somehow freezes those kinds of actions when you activate it so that you can take the capture.

0 votes

Trevor DeVore

If you use the hot key to trigger the capture then you don’t need to use the timed capture to grab menus, etc. By default this is Shift + Command + 2 on OS X.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Okay, Trevor, I ‘ll give it a try. 

0 votes

Greg DeVore

Just an FYI – There is now a Windows version of Clarify available as well.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Greg, you might want to check back on their site. I think I remember seeing a notice that Clarify is now available for Windows.