Three Essential Screenflow Features You Need to Know to Efficiently Create Video Content

Three Essential Screenflow Features You Need to Know to Efficiently Create Video Content

Screenflow is one of the best video editors I’ve used for creating online video and courses. In this post, I step you through three of its essential features that I use on a regular basis to quickly and efficiently create video content.

I’ve created many online technical courses over the last couple of years. I’ve created short courses such as Getting Started with PhpStorm and First Look at SlimPHP for EnvatoTuts+, and longer courses on Zend Framework, the Mezzio framework, as well as my upcoming course on Authentication and Authorization in PHP for Pluralsight.

For most of that time, I’ve been using one version or another of Screenflow. I originally started using it when I was creating my first course, and I found the UI much more inviting, much easier to get started with for a complete newbie than other tools, such as Camtasia.

In the time since that attitude hasn’t changed. I’ve experimented a bit more with Camtasia, and respect that it’s a very full-featured application, and I’ve also experimented with DaVinci Resolve.

However, at least as I sit here, both of these applications are either far more than I need or are designed for people whose needs are more advanced and demanding than mine, such as professional video editors and content producers.

Now, to the point of this article. Despite using Screenflow for so many years and learning a lot about it, I only used the basics for a lot of that time. As a result, creating content was often a time-intensive, laborious process.

In recent months, however, I’ve learned how to use it effectively, so much so that I can now do editing and post-production on course content in a fairly short amount of time.

So, today, I want to show you the key features that I use that help me be as efficient as I’ve become. Specifically, I’m going to show you two specific techniques for doing that. These are Ripple-Delete and Ripple-Delete with Clip Locking.

Use Shift-Select & Ripple-Delete

A marked selection in Screenflow 9

Shift-Select and Ripple-Delete is the first feature that you must know to use Screenflow 9 efficiently. If you’ve not been using Screenflow for that long, this might not be the most intuitive thing to do. Perhaps you do what I used to do, which is:

  1. Select all video and audio clips

  2. Move the scrubber, which is the red vertical bar, to the start of where you want to cut

  3. Split the clips

  4. Move the scrubber to the end of the selection

  5. Select one or more clips

  6. Split the clips

  7. Delete the undesired clips

  8. Select all the relevant clips after the deletion and move them to the start of where I’d just deleted

Does this sound efficient? It sure isn’t. It’s frustrating, mundane, and very time-consuming.

What’s more, as you move clips around, you’ll likely have, at least once, moved one clip a little bit over the end of another. This creates a transition between the two that you need to undo.

Alternatively, you’ve likely not quite joined two clip boundaries together properly, which resulted in a random section with either no audio or blank video. Sound familiar?

Don’t waste your time, or lose your momentum editing this way. Instead, move the mouse to the start of where you want to cut. Then, hold down shift and drag the scrubber to the end of where you want to delete. As you do this, you’ll see a purple-highlighted area appear in the timeline.

Doing this creates what Screenflow calls In and Out Points. Adjust them if you need to, to make the selection larger or smaller. However, once you’re happy with the selection, click CMD+Backspace and two things will happen simultaneously:

  1. The selection will be deleted; and

  2. The space between the selection will be removed.

You could do this by hand, but it’d likely take you 3 - 4 times as long. This is because you’d need to move to where you want to create the In point and press I. Then you’d need to move to where you want to create the Out point, and press O. Finally, you’d need to press CMD+Backspace. However, even that is better than what I used to do,

So, my first recommendation is to start using Shift+Select and Ripple-Delete and watch your editing time drop like a proverbial stone.

Use Ripple-Delete with Clip Locking

A locked clip in Screenflow 9

As you can likely imagine, once I started using Shift+Select and Ripple-Delete, I was able to edit much more quickly than I had ever edited before. However, I quickly hit an efficiency limit, as, on its own, this technique isn’t always suitable.

This is because the scenario which I stepped through before assumes that you want to remove everything within a selection, whether that’s audio, video, or effects, such as text overlays. This isn’t always the case, and perhaps often isn’t.

Very often, you might want to remove only audio or video, but not anything else. For example, say that you’re narrating a coding sequence, but you have some flubbed audio, which needs to be removed. In this case, you have to only want to delete the flubbed audio, but leave the video intact. In this case, what do you do? How do you keep editing rapidly?

To do so, it’s time to add Clip Locking into the mix. When you lock a clip, you are no longer able to edit it in any way. You can’t move it earlier or later in the timeline, speed it up, slow it down or cut anything from it. You can’t make any change to it whatsoever!

Given that, it’s the perfect addition when using Shift+Select and Ripple-Delete to efficiently edit your video content. To use it, first Shift+Select the content that you want to delete.

Then, click the track you don’t want to touch and press Alt+Cmd+L. You could also double-click the track and enable "Locked" in the Clip Inspector (which you can see below), or click Arrange  Lock Clips if you prefer.

A locked clip in Screenflow 9

Regardless of how you do it, the clips’ border will change to bright yellow and the clip preview will be darkened (or shaded), indicating that the clip is now locked. Then, continue selecting and ripple-deleting as you have before.


Those are my two power recommendations for rapid and efficient video editing with Screenflow 9. Perhaps I’m just a slow learner, but if you’re like me, these two approaches to editing video in Screenflow are a must. They might not seem so at first, but once you start using them, you’ll know why. Perhaps, like me, you’ll get addicted to them, and not be able to imagine working any other way.

If you’re a Camtasia or DaVinci Resolve user, is there equivalent functionality? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Alternatively, what is your approach to rapid video editing when you’re creating online courses and YouTube videos?

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