Daily Mac App: Clarify

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Daily Mac App: Clarify

We're unabashed fans of the folks at Blue Mango Learning Systems; in fact, we did a video introduction to their flagship product, ScreenSteps, after we met with them at Macworld Expo 2008. ScreenSteps has saved countless hours of effort in quickly developing software documentation, but the Blue Mango team realized that it may be overkill for streamlined communications aimed at reducing the frequency of roundtrip email exchanges.

That's the origin story of the new Clarify, a simplified take on screenshot-driven document creation that's meant to help everyone deliver clear and easy-to-understand instructions with a minimum of effort. The app is about as simple as can be: take a screenshot or series of screenshots as you walk through your process, then document them with as little or as much detail as you need. You can export to PDF with a single click, save your instructions to Dropbox for third-party review, or upload to the free Clarify-It web service.

If you're already a ScreenSteps user, you'll be pretty comfortable with Clarify. It adds a few niceties (a menu-bar screenshot tool, highlight and border controls) while dispensing with the document library and workgroup editing features. It also drops the automatic capture of clipboard screenshots, which I regret; that's one of my favorite ScreenSteps tricks.

Still, the Clarify UI is nice and clean, and it's easy to create solid documents in very short order. You can copy and paste your instructions as RTF for use with Word, Evernote or other destinations. If you need to include real-world images (versus screenshots) in your instructions -- say, to help rental tenants find climate controls or light switches in an apartment -- drag the pictures from the Finder, iPhoto or Aperture right into your Clarify document.

Clarify is available as a 14-day trial and can be purchased direct or via the Mac App Store. Normal pricing is $29.99 for a single-platform license (Mac or PC), $39.99 for both platforms; however, through October 19 there's a $10 discount offer available.

It's true, you could certainly make similar screenshot-driven instructions with Word or Pages, but if you spend any substantial fraction of your time describing tasks step-by-step you can save yourself aggravation and effort by giving Clarify a shot. If you think you need the power of ScreenSteps instead, the base license is $39.95.

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