One of the drawbacks to being excellent at technology (apart from the skill of being modest that comes with it!) is that you are the ‘go to guy’ should anything go wrong, or anyone need assistance. It is for this reason why I insist that my friends and family get Mac’s, as it not only a way of reducing the chance of things going wrong, but also if and when they do, they are far easier to troubleshoot.
Over the past few weeks and days, perhaps more than ever, I have found the need to great simple step by step guides to explain to others how to complete tasks on their Mac. Sometimes the task is simple enough for me to start a session on join.me, show the distressed user what I do then go on my merry way, however other tasks are not like this. Perhaps they are more complex, unusual and therefore require additional research before answering, or one that gets asked many a time.
My little sister as part of her university application process has created a website of her own (rachel.the-isaacs.co.uk), one where she can upload her portfolio of art things and photographs of textile projects (yes she really is my sister!). I insisted that she used WordPress to create her site, as this was the method I used when I redesigned mine back in February. Not only was I therefore familiar with how things in WordPress worked, but I could create myself an account on her site to ensure that plugins were kept up-to-date without my sister worrying about such a thing.
The initial build of the website was a little bit stressful as both creative and technical worked together to understand what each other meant, and explained what was possible within the
limited non-existent budget that was available.
However after around two hours of tuition on the basics of uploading images, creating pages, changing the menu items, adding logos etc etc I felt confident that I had taught what was required for little sis to go on her way and fill the world with all things arty!
There were however a few questions that were thrown at me after I had returned to Manchester. To give credit to my sister, these were not simple matters, or topics which we had covered in our whistle-stop tour of WordPress and so there was no problem with me explaining them. Where the problem arose was how did I answer them.
Naturally there are several options available. We quickly discovered that the method of using the phone and me screaming “can you see where it says this” only to get the response “it’s not there, I cant see it” did not work one little bit. The second option as previously mentioned was join.me, whereby where I share my screen to another party was also discounted as if this problem happened again I would have to go back to the beginning and explain things over again.
What I needed was a simple way of showing what I did to my sister in documented form.
Clarify was a solution which I had heard recommended numerous occasions on the NosillaCast Podcast and I was lucky enough to have picked up a licence in a previous mac bundle however had never got round to using it. It will set you back £20.31 from the online store or £20.99 from the Mac App Store. Personally if I hadn’t got the discount bundle I would always choose to get my software from the MAS, especially when there is only 68p in it!
Clarify is one of those fantastic little apps that you have in your arsenal and tend to forget about, but when you need it you love it, and thank g-d that you have it with you.
Creating tutorials is so simple and easy, to explain how to create a tutorial, I am going to create a tutorial on Clarify, and time myself! Once I have created the tutorial, I can then export to Evernote, PDF or Clarify-it’s free sharing service – allowing you to copy and post the HTML code into any platform you wish. Which is what I have done below.
Using Clarify – The Basics
Create A New Step
When you open clarify you are presented with this very clean layout. Since we will be taking screenshots simply click on the camera button to take your first shot.
When you do, you are presented with this dialogue box explaining what to do. Simply drag out the area you want to capture and you’re done.
New Step Created
The image is then placed in your new step, allowing you to add a title, paragraph text or edit the screenshot itself!
Editing The Screenshot
Click on the image, and the following will appear. You can add arrows, boxes, step-by step numbers and blur out text – perfect to draw attention to the things that you want to be drawn attention to.
When you have created your tutorial, at the top there are three options, the middle one and the one on the right are perhaps the one that most people will use most often. They allow exporting to Evernote, and PDF.
Customizing PDF Look
Should you wish to do so, in the preferences, you can change the way the PDF is styled, as you can see I have created a new ‘Default Red’ style.
Once you have the PDF looking the way you want, simply attach to an email and send. Job done.
All in all, it took less than 5 minutes for me to create this basic guide, so not that long at all. The PDF export can be viewed by clicking here, and the online version hosted by Clarify can be viewed here.
Whilst they wont win any styling awards, they do allow my sister to keep them to refer to should the same problem occur, and it saves me time in the long run as if someone comes to me with the same issue, all I have to do is refer them to the document I created.
So as you can see, creating a guide showing someone how to do something on their computer is no longer a difficult task that takes hours, it can be done in a matter of minutes thanks to Clarify.