The attention span of people is way shorter than it used to be, and it only seems to be getting worse. Waxing poetic about stuff isn’t an effective measure if you are in a quest to reach out to a wider audience (to be precise, the younger audience). Pictures and videos seem to do the trick, though.
When you are writing a tutorial, blogpost, or a book, screenshots at regular intervals for sure will increase the chance of getting the message across quickly. Video walkthroughs are even better. There are many free and premium tools that can help you with both the tasks. Voila is one among them and I hear good things about the app all the time.
A new version of the app went on sale recently, and I grabbed the opportunity to check for myself how useful Voila actually is.
On a Mac, there are so many ways you can take screenshots without spending a buck. The keyboard shortcuts for screen grabbing in one fine example. However, if you are like me and have to take multiple screenshots everyday, highlighting menus that are tucked away or to grab an action using a timer, you’ll have to look for alternatives.
Then there is annotation and trimming. I use Skitch for all my screenshot grabbing and manipulation exercises. It isn’t perfect yet (it used to be before Evernote bought it), but the latest update has made it very much usable.
On the other hand, when it comes to screen casting, Screenflow has got the mindshare. It’s feature rich, easy to use and has a powerful video editor that a lot of professionals swear by. But, at $99, it’s out of reach for those with a limited budget.
For an affordable $29.99, I’d expect Voila to be far better than Skitch and do a decent enough job when it comes screen recording capabilities. Fair enough, right?
Image Capturing and Annotation
I always recommend people to buy a screenshot app that comes with timer control. Without that, capturing even simple web elements like dropdown menus becomes a tedious task. Imagine my delight when I discovered a dedicated grab button just for menus! It isn’t just the menus that have got their very own grab button, though.
With Voila, you can now capture and record anything and everything that you see on your screen. Full screen, windows, objects, menus and selected areas – the app captures them all. To shoot unconventional looking screenshots, use the circular, polygonal and freehand designs! If that’s not enough, custom shortcuts are definitely going to enhance your productivity.
Capturing images is just one half of the equation. Resizing and cropping them into the right sizes, sprinkling a generous dose of arrows and text, blurring and smudging sensitive data form the other half. Voila comes with great set of tools that take care of annotating images to the max. As icing at the top, there is an Effects section to add some Instagramish effect to your images.
I was able to create screen recordings with ease. The full screen and area select modes help you cover the areas that you want to focus on. It would have been great if there was a way to adjust the borders of the selected area though.
The recorded videos were clear, crisp and there was no lag. Mouse clicks highlights are very distinct and the viewer won’t miss it. In the new version, you can now pause a screen recording, take a break and start from where you left off. Sadly, though, there isn’t a built in video editor. However, Voila lets you trim recordings with the help of the Quicktime player.
Organizing and Sharing
Organizing screengrabs for future use is part of my normal workflow. Right now, I use to create folders manually and save them for later use. Needless to say, this is a tedious and unproductive task. Thanks to Voila’s smart Organizer, I can save quite a bit of my time. The app organizes all images and videos under the Smart Collections section. You can quickly add new collections on the fly to easily access them without having to jump back to Finder all the time.
With Voila, you can share your work as and when it is done and all with just a click. Choose to instantly share through various modes such as YouTube, Flickr, FTP, Mail (Postbox app support is now integrated as well) and more.
Voila performs as advertised. What works in its advantage though is the attractive pricing. When standalone screenshot apps are going for $20 and $30, at this price Voila looks like a bargain. Even in the absence of a built-in video editor, the combo of Quicktime plus Voila should be good enough in most situations.
I wasn’t a big fan of the user interface, though. It looks a bit dated and could definitely use some polish. That said, I’m convinced of Voila’s chops and I’ll be retiring Skitch from my toolkit!