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Camtasia revisited

14 December 2022

16 months ago I wrote an article concerning my experience using Camtasia for the first time. If you read anything from that article, read the which I both praise Camtasia and apologise for writing so much about its inconsistent interface.

You may be surprised to learn that I now own my own licence of Camtasia (and Snagit) as a replacement to previous screen recording tools on my Mac. Having used Camtasia again in a recent role, I was curious to see if things had improved. Unfortunately, it's a revisit that has mixed results.

So why did I ultimately decide to purchase Camtasia?

I am frequently working throughout the week on both a PC and a Mac. I can be on one or the other (or both) throughout the day. As a self-employed Instructional Designer, when I get hired by an organisation I'm usually provided with one of the organisation's secure laptops to use. These are always Windows laptops. The majority of organisations that I work for will not allow you to bring your own device in to the organisation. It also helps explain why I have never owned a Mac laptop, as I don't have the need for a portable Mac device.

I've worked in organisations where (when working from home) I could download and open anything from SharePoint using local apps on my Mac (like Teams and Word) but it is more common for an organisation to lock functionality down on your home device (no zero trust options are available) meaning you can access things on your Mac via a web browser, but can't use Mac applications. And this is where I started coming unstuck with screen capturing videos.

I cannot afford a subscription for either Adobe Captivate or Articulate 360 unless an organisation issues me with a licence. For years now I have used and loved Telestream's ScreenFlow. But it's Mac only and it was starting to mean that I was using it less and less, as I couldn't pass on project files to organisations that I worked for. So at the time that I started my last contract, I decided to not only purchase Camtasia for myself, but also Snagit. I knew that it meant that the project files could be handed over and that regardless of whether they were developed on the Mac or the PC, they could be opened and used.

Parity feels like it's not important at TechSmith...even within the same application

Parity - the quality or state of being equal or equivalent

So this is where the frustration started for me well over a year ago. For a company producing a product for both Mac and PC, it's not plain sailing when using Camtasia...especially when I can be on a Mac one day, in the office on my PC laptop the next and then back to the Mac after that. Heck, some days I have to work on both my iMac's lovely 5K screen, but then do a Windows only recording later on the laptop for the same project file. It's not uncommon for me to be swapping Camtasia files between my Mac and PC throughout the day.

Now there's a simple solution...stop using the Mac version of Camtasia. I should buy a monitor and plug the work laptop into it at home and only use the Windows version of Camtasia. But the whole point of me buying Camtasia was (as mentioned) because it's cross platform!

I thought it would be an opportune moment to revisit my frustrations from my last article and see if any have been resolved. It really is a mixed bag...and the fact that some basic interface issues still exist, is staggering.

The versions of Camtasia compared (for the record)...

  • PC Camtasia = 2022.2.1 (this isn't the very latest version as I write, but it was the version available to me)
  • Mac Camtasia = 2022.4.2
Camtasia 2021 Issue
Example of why it matters/Comment
There is no cross-platform unified file format. Changing daily between a work PC and a home iMac requires that I prepare (export) content for the PC or when going from PC to Mac, work with a file format that isn't the easiest of default formats to use. Quoting myself from the last article..."Exporting projects for an alternate platform has just become an unfortunate daily norm" No
The options in the side-bar on the left of the application are not in the same order on the Mac and PC Media, Favourites, Library...or Media, Library, depends on whether you are on a Mac or PC. Is it really that hard to have the same order for both the Mac and PC versions? No
Gesture effects are not available on the PC This make moving recordings (that use gestures) to the PC frustrating No
The options in the side-bar on the left of the application on a PC do not match with the order in the drop-down "View" --> "Tools" menu Media, Favourites, Library...or Media, Library, depends on whether you are using the left menu or the drop-down menu...really?! Is it really that hard to have the same order in both? This just seems careless. No
On the main interface of Camtasia, it's possible to delete effects that you might use in your day-to-day work TechSmith seems to be treating effects like toolsets in PhotoShop, where you can delete brush shapes (for example) that you aren't using and add them back in later. But in Camtasia, these are a bare minimum, the way of hiding these should not be called "Delete", but "Hide". No, but it's a terminology issue
There is no ability to spell check text boxes that you have used across a project. I published a video for staff to review with a spelling error in the title that I hadn't noticed it at all. No
No simple way to preview your recording in full screen. Surely TechSmith can come up with a function button combination that simply hides everything and plays the entire project at full screen on your monitor for you to view? No
Interactive questions (which I didn't discuss at all in the last article) have to have an answer. You can't ask an open-ended question and collate the responses. This one I should have left out of the last article as it was a hurried comment. It actually may have been possible and I just wasn't looking closely enough. I know that it is possible now.


Video Review (similar to Articulate Review) - loading the same video with the same name (for review) does not overwrite the existing video. You need to easily replace an existing video and get feedback on a later version. Yes!
In Adobe Captivate, if you need to fake a scene where you are clicking on something, you can replace the background of the slide (which is always just an image) and add a new cursor path...literally laying down a line that a "fake" cursor will then travel across. In one recording in the previous version of Camtasia, I found that I had missed an entire step somehow and there was no easy way to fake a cursor path and action on screen. Yes!Edit cursor path options

Export craziness not only's worse than I thought!

I spent a lot of time looking at the inconsistencies across export menus in Camtasia last time. But I realise now that I had left out an entire "Export" menu. There are in fact 3 locations in Camtasia to find an "Export" option...from the "File" menu over on the left of the application, from the top-left of the application and over on the right of the application.

Look at the following table. Go across the top row and compare each of the export option on a Mac. Then do the same for the PC options. And then, imagine you're jumping between Mac and PC and compare the columns to understand the differences between platforms...

The "Export" section of the "File" menu on the left of Camtasia
The "Export" menu at the top-left of Camtasia
The "Export" menu at the top-right of Camtasia

Export menu, under File menu on a Mac

There are 15 options under this Export menu

Export menu at the top of the screen on a Mac

There are 12 options under this Export menu

Export menu top-right on a Mac

There are 8 options under this Export menu


Export menu, under File menu on a PC

There are 3 options under this Export menu

Export menu at the top of the screen on a PC

There are 12 options under this Export menu

Export menu top-right on a Mac

There are 8 options under this Export menu

This inconsistency continues to stagger me! Maybe it's OK that the options on the right of Camtasia aren't the same as the ones on the left. But look at the first two images for the Mac...if you want to do something such as export the project for Windows, you have to remember to use the "Export" menu that is part of the "File" menu and not the "Export" menu at the top of the application. The two menus on that side of the screen aren't the same and TechSmith expects you to always remember that.

So what about "Export Frame As..."? On a Mac, you can do this from either menu on the left side of the application. Great! On a PC, you have to remember not to use the "Export" menu that is part of the "File" menu, but instead use the "Export" menu at the top-left of the screen. Again, TechSmith just expects you to remember that.

And this is also where you have to start remembering which is the better approach based on whether you are using a Mac or a PC. It's better on a Mac to use the "Export" option in the "File" menu (as it has more options available)...but don't do that on a PC as there are hardly any options available. Imagine the cognitive load this places on someone like me, jumping between versions of Camtasia throughout the day...."Don't go to that menu on this version...That option isn't in the same place on this version...You won't find it there like you would on the Mac". Crazy!

NEW - Cursor swap !!

I was ecstatic when this was released by TechSmith in much so that I tweeted about it at the time. One of the issues that I was noticing on screen recordings focussed on the cursor, was that the cursor frequently changes its look as it interacts with a website or web-based application. Just watch the following example of the cursor on my Mac as it moves across different objects on a news website (there is no audio in this clip)...

Camtasia now lets you see all the different cursor types that appear in a recording and allows you to replace them by setting a standard cursor across the entire recording (or you can refine your cursor choices on a one-by-one basis throughout the recording).

Cursor swap options

Let's look at the same video clip with one cursor style selected for the entire recording. Pay close attention to the cursor and see now how it stays the same visually. This is such an easy change to make in a Camtasia recording and has made me exceptionally happy, as the cursor changing is now no longer a distraction!

Parity versus being consistently inconsistent

Before I conclude this article, I do want to point out that Camtasia has also introduced a reverse video feature, although I've not had an opportunity to try using it.

To finish, I want to give a very simple example of why I don't understand the process that TechSmith uses to develop the Mac and Windows versions of Camtasia. It seems at times that maybe the two development teams aren't actually talking to each other to keep the application types on a par with each other.

In late August, Camtasia posted this helpful tip (about extending frames) on Twitter. The video is great, short and informative. I don't have any issue with how helpful it is...but at around 45 seconds, Andy makes a comment that frustrated me so much I felt the need to respond on Twitter. Here's his comment...

"Quick Pro Tip - If you're working with Camtasia on Windows, you have a second option for extending frames. Just move your play-head to the exact frame you'd like to extend, then right-click on the clip and select the option titled Extend Frame"

What?! Why on earth is this Windows only? I just don't get it. There's no reason that someone responsible for ensuring parity between the Mac and Windows versions of Camtasia couldn't have told the teams that they needed to implement this functionality on both platforms! This is not good software development and seems to assume that users are either using the Windows version or the Mac version of Camtasia, but not both. And I find that bizarre...especially when the licence for Camtasia not only allows you to install Camtasia on two machines, they actively promote the fact that this can be on a Mac and PC!

Come on TechSmith! Please stop treating the same app in different ways across platforms. Embrace the fact that you not only have a dual-platform application, you have dual-platform customers!

Make changes (some of which are so easy to implement) to allow those of us using both Windows and Mac versions of Camtasia, to not have to spend our days thinking about the differences we are going to in and day out, depending on which platform we are using with the same product!