What does Camtasia or ScreenFlow Offer That Screencast-O-Matic Doesn’t?

What does Camtasia or ScreenFlow offer that Screencast-o-matic Doesn't? snapshot - facebook question

I see this question -- or variations of it -- a lot in discussion groups where folks are creating their first online course.  Usually, it's in context of someone wanting to spend the least amount of money for screencasting/editing software as they create their first online course.  Understandable.

First some helpful references

  • Camtasia Studio (for Windows - $299), Camtasia For Macintosh ($99) and ScreenFlow (for Macintosh - $99) are powerful, multi-featured downloadable software products that let you -- in a nutshell -- capture, edit and publish video and audio of anything you can display on your computer screen. 
  • Screencast-o-matic ($15/year for a Pro account), is a low cost alternative that you can use directly online with either a PC or Macintosh.

My Response

For my part, in response to the oft-asked question about the main advantages of software like ScreenFlow or Camtasia over Screencast-o-matic:

I think screencast-o-matic (SOM) is actually a pretty good (I daresay even excellent) software if the course objectives (and of its marketing) call for BASIC screen/voice capture with the occasional bubble, box or text callout as an overlay. In fact, at $15/year (for the Pro version), I think it's actually quite powerful for the price.

At some point though some online content creators (though not all) find the need to differentiate their presentations a little more from the "basic" look and feel.  (And, let's face it, to differentiate theirs from the run-of-the-mill "death-by-PowerPoint" type presentations.)  So it's for those folks that I think one of the other tools like Camtasia or ScreenFlow might actually be more cost effective.  (As an aside: Contrary to what some may believe, the learning curve for comparable functions in Camtasia or ScreenFlow isn't really more steep than that for SOM.) 

Indeed, there are many features that will teeter the scale one way or the other if you were to compare each feature one-by-one.   But one of the key features that I think gives a lot of power to tools like ScreenFlow or Camtasia over SOM is in their capacity for you to have many more LAYERS ("tracks") in your screencasting project.  This multi-track capability gives you the ability to layer video objects, images and audio clips over your main presentation and with much more flexibility to change different properties for each of those objects independently of any other object.

For example, in addition to a basic PowerPoint and voiceover narration, some folks may want to overlay a music track, a video clip, and/or a video interview that supports the main presentation -- these require 3 or 4 layers (or more). In contrast, SOM only gives you one layer.  (Two layers could be argued, but certainly not more than that.)

(Click here to watch free previews from this ScreenFlow course.)
(Click here to watch free previews from our Camtasia Studio course.)

The video above is an excerpt from Lecture #2 in my course, "Beyond PowerPoint: Teach Online Now With ScreenFlow For Mac." It shows some of the layering and property manipulations (animations) I mentioned that is much more powerfully done in ScreenFlow or Camtasia than in Screencast-o-matic.

Camtasia or ScreenFlow isn't for everybody

Again, not everybody will need or want all that extra "flair" in their presentations.  In which case, if you're in that camp, then screencast-o-matic should work just fine -- especially if price is a huge factor.


Ready to learn the Screencasting Wizard's secrets?Learn to teach online. Go beyond PowerPoint: learn to screencast using Camtasia Studio for Windows, Camtasia for Macintosh, or ScreenFlow for Macintosh. Watch the free previews now and read the topics list on our 5-star rated screencasting courses. Click here to learn more.


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About Mel

Mel is the online training architect and screencasting wizard at Kareo, one of Forbes' 2013 list of 100 Most Promising Companies in America. He's also the creator of Digital-Know-How, a training website devoted to developing learners' skills for screencasting and web video course development. Mel is also the chief blogger of ScreencastingWizard.com; Mel's personal blog. The comments and opinions you read here are Mel's and not associated with any other company.
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3 Responses to What does Camtasia or ScreenFlow Offer That Screencast-O-Matic Doesn’t?

  1. Esther Coronel de Iberkleid says:

    Thank you Mel for this great article. I am looking for a way to create a video bumber using Screencast-O-matic that will then be added with the tool insert More to my video lessons also created with SOM. I wonder which would be your recommendation in this regard. Happy Holiday and a Fantastic 2014!

  2. Jody Heath says:

    Hi Mel, I noticed that your links to camtasia & screenflow don’t have any affiliate code in them (which is admirable by the way). I think you are leaving some money on the table though. Let me know and I’d be glad to help you get set up as an affiliate for both screenflow and camtasia. Here is a blog post I wrote which also describes some pros and cons of camtasia and screenflow:

    http://southernprofit.com/how-to-record-computer-screen-camtasia-vs-screenflow/

    For transparancy, the camtasia and screenflow banners beneath each video are also my affiliate links for each product.

  3. Mark Gandy says:

    Very well put – I think one could lump in Jing + Screencast created by our friends at Camtasia. I even use this combo when in a super hurry, but need Camtasia for more/better enhancements as you share above.

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