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

Bakari Chavanu 07-09-2011

create instructional manualNext 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 How To Take A Better Screenshot Image With Jing (Mac) Read More , and the recently reviewed Skitch Evernote Acquires Skitch & Makes It A Free Download [News] Last Thursday, Evernote announced its acquisition of the Mac image annotation application, Skitch, as well as the company that produced it. Skitch is a screen capture and desktop photo application that includes over a dozen... Read More . 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.

create instructional manual

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.


instructional document design

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.

instructional document design

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.

instructional document design

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.

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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.

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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.

make instructional manual


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


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.

create instructional manual

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.

Related topics: Digital Document, Screen Capture, Text Editor.

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  1. Sasha Reminnyi
    January 30, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    I would recommend trying StepShot as a great alternative with functional step recorder

    • Gerry Pedraza
      March 25, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks Sasha... I already have Clarify (which is great Greg!), but I want something simpler for quick uses.

    • Gerry Pedraza
      March 26, 2016 at 12:49 am

      Grrrr. Not for mac. I'm using Snagit.

    • Roksoliana
      February 13, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks, man. StepShot tool is really useful. It was exactly what I was looking for. I made all I wanted spending little time and efforts.

  2. Greg DeVore
    September 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm

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

    • Bakari Chavanu
      September 12, 2011 at 10:10 pm

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

  3. Bakari Chavanu
    September 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    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.

    • Trevor DeVore
      September 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm

      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.

      • Bakari Chavanu
        September 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm

        Okay, Trevor, I 'll give it a try. 

  4. Mattias Davidsson
    September 8, 2011 at 6:04 am

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

    • Bakari Chavanu
      September 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm

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

  5. Bakari Chavanu
    September 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm

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

    • Tina
      September 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      It was spam.

  6. Edward Polack
    September 7, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    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!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      September 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm

      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.