Camtasia 3 vs ScreenFlow 7

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  • Updated 2 years ago

I currently am using Camtasia 2, and I'm considering EITHER:

  1. Upgrade to Camtasia 3
  2. New Purchase of ScreenFlow 7

the cost for me will be about the same.

To Techsmith employees, and Camtasia 3 long-time users, please tell me:

  • Why I should choose Camtasia 3
  • What features/benefits Camtasia 3 has over ScreenFlow 7
  • What features in ScreenFlow 7 that are missing from Camtasia 3 (be honest -- I've done my homework)

Please post any web pages and/or videos that support your statements.

In particular, I'd love a good video that compares Camtasia 3 vs ScreenFlow 7.

Photo of JMichaelTX


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Posted 2 years ago

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Photo of Jack Fruh

Jack Fruh, Champion

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I own both programs and for the most part, you can't go wrong with either one.

I'll try to point out some differences I've observed over the years.

Screenflow releases yearly paid updates. Camtasia releases paid updates every few years, and lots of free 'point' upgrades in between (just look at version 2 you own now, it's on 2.10.8  the 10th free update)  I mention this because it's easier to think one tool is cheaper than another, but I suspect that the average yearly cost is about the same. (ie spending a little each year vs buying a bigger upgrade every few years)

Neither program is perfect unfortunately. If one was, then we'd have a clear 'best' program and a decision would be easy.

Both programs do the core functionality of recording and editing a basic screencast.

To me the main difference is in the user interface. You accomplish mainly the same thing in both tools, but the editing experience is drastically different. Camtasia puts a bunch of functionality right in front of you. 

This is my opinion only, but I feel like Camtasia is a better tool if you only make a video once in a while - I can always do what I need in Camtasia without googling how to do it.  On the other hand if you make a video each day, you would learn how screenflow does that, so your time spent googling would be limited to your first few videos.

If you've used other video editors, Screenflow would be favorable, it supports "JKL" key navigation of it's timeline and seems to have a few shortcuts that would make editing faster for someone who's memorized the shortcuts and gotten semi proficient.

I'm sure you're aware that Camtasia is now cross platform and includes a license for both, whereas Screenflow is mac only. This doesn't help in the 'which tool has technical superiority' question, but it could help some users choose Camtasia over Screenflow if they are in an environment that would benefit from cross platform compatibility (ie most of the fortune 500)

On the UI front, Camtasia has a nice interface for 'sharing' videos that includes a "Share History" dialog - this is a really nice feature, especially when sharing to you tube as it keeps a copy of the link for each video.
This is really helpful when you're making and posting multiple revisions.

Ok so other than workflow during editing and the UI there are a few other features that are worth talking about.

Historically, Screenflow has crashed on me slightly more than Camtasia has.

Screenflow supports multi channel audio - camtasia does not.
Screenflow supports AudioUnit Plugins - camtasia does not.
I was really excited about the ability to use plugins, but unfortunately I ran into all kinds of trouble.
For those unfamiliar with plugins, each plugin adds a 'delay' to the audio. It might take a half second to do all the processing that a handful of plugins are being asked to do. Pro video editors like Final Cut are able to read the delay from each plugin, and then delay the video by the same amount so that the video you see on the screen aligns with the audio. Screenflow doesn't do this (or didn't when I last tried it, I've not tried with 7.1.1) There is also a glaring oversight in Screenflow as far as plugins go - there's no way to just add a plugin to the whole project, you have to add it to every. single. audio. clip. one. at. a. time.  So on paper, it sounds like a great feature, but in practice, it's not really usable today.

If I had to help someone pick one tool over another, my decision process would be:
  • Do you need windows compatibility? Get Camtasia
  • Do you need to edit projects created on windows? Get Camtasia
  • Do you do screencasts for other people? Buy both tools, they really aren't that expensive.
  • Are you a casual user who only makes a video or two a year? Get Camtasia.
  • Are you a super enthusiast / power user? Buy both tools, you're going to want to tinker with both.
  • Do you have experience with Pro level video editors like Avid, Final Cut, Premier? Get Screenflow.
As I mentioned at the top I own both tools. I mostly use Camtasia, but every once in a while I use Screenflow. 

As a Camtasia user, screenflow can be tempting as they have a lot of technical bullet points, but I personally find I keep coming back to Camtasia.

So the summary for me is, in late 2017, there is still no clear winner in the Camtasia vs Screenflow comparison, and for my needs Camtasia gets more use.

Since you already own Camtasia, I think you could justify any path forward:
  • Stay with Camtasia, since you already know it.
  • Buy Screenflow, and you can still use Camtasia 2.x  - this seems like a win-win for you.
  • Buy Screenflow, and update Camtasia, also a win-win for you as both are good tools and each does things the other does not.
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A BIG difference is that ScreenFlow supports back-and-forth audio scrubbing of the timeline, which can be a significant time-saver in editing. Camtasia does not, despite years of user requests for this feature.
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Thanks for the feedback.
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You're welcome. I own both products and find myself using ScreenFlow most of the time.
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wendy.hamilton, TechSmith CEO

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So I'm not a mac user, but i'm sure you found this post from yet a third player comparing the two.  I'm curious if this group thinks its accurate.