At FlowShare, we deal with companies of all sizes and from a wide range of industries on a daily basis.
Many of those companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, have one challenge in common: the inevitable need to transfer information about best practices and digital processes. For that purpose, the companies create documentations or step-by-step guides – however, this is frequently done without any tools. IT administrators or application managers manually create software documentation and step-by-step instructions for colleagues, team members or customers. They do so, for example to explain the functionality of software to customers, to streamline their IT support or to get new employees on board.
Anyone who has ever manually created a user documentation with screenshots knows: This is far from easy. Taking screenshots, putting them together in a document, adding texts and descriptions – to summarize software use comprehensively and in a comprehensible way is extremely time-consuming without a suitable tool. The creation of those manuals costs a lot of time, it’s a pain for the creators – and often the result is extremely disappointing. Instead of being uniform and clear, the created instructions are confusing and hardly helpful. Does this pain sound familiar to you?
Why Choosing the Right Software Documentation Tool is Crucial for Businesses
We have never met anyone who likes to create software documentation by hand – and yet documentation is so important and helpful in the everyday life of companies to foster and share knowledge and information. It enables end-users to succeed working with software, streamlines the IT-support, standardizes internal processes and gives subject matter experts and key-users more time to work on valuable tasks.
That’s why there are solutions for quick and easy software documentation and well designed user manuals. There are numerous software documentation tools on the market that save a lot of time and effort when capturing. Their resulting documentations and instructions are targeted towards end-users (not programmers – for these look for “developer documentation” or ”system documentation”) and often have a high quality. In the following article we present some of these end-user documentation tools to you. Armed with this information you can make an informed decision which is the best software documentation tool for your specific use case and business needs.
Top 10 List of the best Software Documentation Tools for User Guides
1. FlowShare: The Smart Documentation Solution
FlowShare is a powerful software documentation tools that allows you to automatically create step-by-step guides:
Just execute the process in any application you want to be captured as a guide on your computer. You can document any software or application you want, in the browser or desktop, even complex or custom applications like ERP-systems, as long as it’s on Windows – FlowShare captures them all.
FlowShare automatically recognizes and captures every click. All steps are summarized in a document with screenshot, arrow and a short text description. You can edit your user documentation afterwards using features like bulk blur, cropping areas, adding additional annotations.
Key Export & Sharing Features:
After you’re done catpuring and refining your process, you can share documentation either through local exports or online – on your customer portal or via an integration. FlowShare offers various local formats, like PDF, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, HTML, xAPI, SCORM or OpenRPA and allows you to customize the design or use a custom Word or PowerPoint template to fit your branding.
Among static formats you can also create interactive Demos or if you do not only want to save your documentation locally you can use one of the direct integrations to directly publish the documentations in knowledge base software or E-Learning platforms such as or Confluence, WordPress, Avendoo.
FlowShare is available in English, French and German and has a multilanguage-function that enables translation in over 30 languages.
Due to the high degree of automation and the simple operation, the time saving with FlowShare is enormous:
Instructions are created up to nine times faster than manually by hand. The software runs on Windows and is available from $32 per month. In order to find out whether FlowShare really fits your needs, you can try out the software free of charge.
Create an unlimited number of guides, free for 14 days.
No restrictions, no obligations, no credit card needed. Only pay if you love it after your trial.
2. iorad: The Online Documentation Tool
Iorad can record clicks made in the browser and merge them into an interactive step-by-step guide.
Besides the browser extension, they also have a desktop capture tool for download available. When documenting, the screenshots and texts are generated automatically by iorad. Additionally, users can edit them afterwards if desired.
The finished tutorials are stored in the cloud, users can share them via link, publish them on their website or embed them in their desired learning platform. Moreover, iorad created “The square” which is a community-powered platform where people can ask and answer application-related questions with the help of iorad. While iorad offers a quick software documentation tool, with all its other features it can be considered more as a digital adoption platform than a documentation solution alone. With prices starting from $200 per month for one license, the software is rather a premium product. However, iorad offers discounts for non-profit and educational organizations. It is available at https://www.iorad.com/.
3. Tango: Browser-Based Capture with Chrome Extension I
Other than FlowShare or other desktop tools, Tango is a Chrome extension and therefore operates directly in the browser as an online documentation tool. Tango is especially developed to capture web-based products on a Chrome or Edge browser, yet the Pro version also includes capturing native apps with the desktop app of the software.
As FlowShare, Tango auto-generates a step with text and visuals for each click you make.
However, during our tests we noticed that Tango cannot automatically extract text data to generate the descriptions for the created user manual. We tested it with Microsoft Word which is a standard application where other capturing tools have no problems with. While it shines for web-based documentation, the desktop version falls short. You may keep that in mind when evaluating the right tool.
The default capture language is English, text in other languages needs to be translated manually.
Users can customize finished guides, for example with their logo, annotations, or drawing. Afterwards they store all workflows as editable files in their Tango workspace. This means that the data is stored in the cloud and cannot be saved locally. Users can share the instructions via link or embed the guide in a knowledge base or web page. Tango has a free version. For advanced features you can purchase the Pro version for $16 per month per user at https://www.tango.us. Tango offers discounts for non-profit organizations and students.
4. Scribe: Chrome Extension II for Automated Guides
Scribe also originally is a Chrome extension to automatically create how-to guides for digital work processes.
Similar to Tango, Scribe also provides a desktop version of its software, for Mac and for Windows.
Once a workflow has been captured, Scribe offers several editing options through a WYSIWYG editor.
These include among others blurring, deleting, moving, copying steps and a customization of the guide matching your brand. All generated data with Scribe is stored in a workspace in Scribe’s cloud, local data storage is not possible.
Users can share their guides via email, they can embed it in their wiki for example on confluence, Microsoft Teams or HelpScout, or they export it to PDF. Scribe has a free basic version, the Pro version starts at $23 per person per month and can be purchased here: https://scribehow.com. The company offers discounts for non-profit and educational organizations.
5. Snagit: Mastering Screen Recording
Snagit is a screen capturing software from Techsmith.
It easily allows you to take screenshots, including horizontal scrolls and scrolling webpages. Afterwards the recorded screenshots can be edited with a wide range of possibilities. For example, users can add arrows, shapes and steps on the screenshots. In addition, Snagit offers a video recording feature and various layout templates for created manuals.
Its real strengths lie in the image editing and capturing, and while it does offer templates that can be applied on the images it captured, Snagit does not automatically create text descriptions. While it does offer a variety of export formats and ways to apply templates to the images its core functionality is not the creation of an entire software documentation but rather giving a headstart to create the images for a software documentation and finish the document elsewhere, for example in Microsoft word. At least in our experience and that of our customers.
Snagit’s users can include a video of their face in the screen recording, explaining the steps of the manual and making the explanations more personal. The documentation can be shared with others via a short URL or via the cloud.
Snagit is available from €68.21 for a single license at https://www.techsmith.com/.
6. Folge: The Technical Editor’s Choice
Folge is a desktop app that is available for Windows and Mac, which means, you get to keep all your data and processes.
Similar to FlowShare, Folge allows you to capture a workflow by taking screenshots for each click you make. It also enables you to capture only a specific area of the screen. After recording the clicks, you can edit the steps in Folge, for example blurring parts of the screen, or highlighting specific areas. If you would like to have a written explanation coming with the screenshots, you need to add the description at the respective steps.
After editing, users can export their generated documentation. Folge offers the export to PDF, HTML, Powerpoint, Word, JSON and Markdown. The software includes different export templates and fonts.
Folge seems to be a popular choice for technical documentation because it offers a variety of editing tools and export formats like Markdown that make it a great solution for technical editors.
Those who still remember and miss Clarify for Mac (which is discontinued as the developers focused on their more versatile solution Screensteps), will be more than happy that Folge exists.
If you, however, need to capture many processes at scale without having the knowledge and skills of a technical editor and want to automate the process of writing the text descriptions as well, you may be happier with a different solution.
You can try out Folge and export five guides for free.
For exporting an unlimited number of guides you can purchase the software for €69 (personal use), respectively €130 (commercial use) at https://folge.me. Folge offers a discount for academic institutions.
7. Screensteps: Integrating Knowledge Base with Documentation
Screensteps is actually a knowledge base software, but its roots lie in software documentation. It is a tool to create structured guides with screenshots and organize these guides in a knowledge base.
The tool includes screen capture as well as various subsequent editing options such as adding arrows, text, videos, GIFs, and collapsible chapters. Screensteps offers many add-ons, like courses or a browser extension for contextual help.
With screensteps, you can collect and organize all your created workflows in an online knowledge base with analytics tools. Employees can browse this knowledge base portal or use a search engine to find a desired work instruction. Screensteps allows you to create various forms of software documentation, like end user-facing documentation and share it in its very own knowledge base solution (public and private).
Screensteps can be purchased from €239 per month for 25 monthly active users. More information at http://www.screensteps.com.
8. Stepsy: The Revamped Tool from Stepshot Legacy
Users that have already created manuals for a long time might still remember the tool “Stepshot”.
Stepshot could take screenshots at the click of a mouse and put them together into a step-by-step guide. In 2019, Stepshot was acquired by UiPath and focused more on Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The old product Stepshot was only supported until 2020.
Now the Stepshot-founder is back, this time with a browser-based solution as well: Stepsy allows to automatically capture digital processes and share the created guides for example with colleagues. The tool is perfectly designed for example for processes in Google Drive. Finished manuals can be exported to PDF or Word, they can be shared in GDrive or their images be saved in a zip file, or as a static HTML page. Stepsy has a free version and costs $9 per month in the Pro version which can be acquired here: https://stepsy.co.
9. Greenshot: The Classic (and Almost Free) Solution
Greenshot might look a bit old-fashioned at first glance, but it still enjoys great popularity among some longtime users.
It is a nice free documentation software (for Windows, Mac-users pay the small fee of $1.99) that allows you to take simple screenshots of the whole screen or selected areas. The screenshots can be enhanced with graphic elements or labels in the editor and then be saved.
Greenshot cannot create the entire software documentation or user guide for you – but it can help you create the images and screenshots for it. You still need to do the heavy lifting of creating an actual document, writing the text descriptions and doing the layout. If you are very fast with Word and want to have the most flexibility over how your document looks like – and want to use a free tool, then Greenshot may be the right choice for you.
However, the last available version of Greenshot is from 2017, so the tool hasn’t been developed further afterwards.
Overall, Greenshot is a basic tool to create and edit screenshots, free for Windows users and available for $1.99 for Mac users.
If you opt-in for Greenshot, you should not expect too much automation or modern usability in this software product which you can get here: http://getgreenshot.org.
10. Windows (Problem) Steps Recorder: The Underutilized Free Documentation Software
Almost every Windows user has it installed on his computer, but hardly anyone knows it: The Steps Recorder, formerly “Problem Step Recorder”. With this windows tool users can record processes using screenshots, add comments and save and share the finished documents as zip files.
As already declared in the name, the recorder is designed to record problems – and subsequently send to a person that helps with the troubleshooting.
As a creative solution, you could also use the tool for creating a short tutorial and software documentation. However, the design of the finished manual is not very user-friendly. It was never designed or intended to offer beautiful software documentation but rather a tool for developers and technical manuals. The manuals don’t show the exact click positions and the written descriptions of each step can be found at the very end of the document instead of being placed under the appropriate screenshots.Therefore, the Steps Recorder is rather an emergency option for manuals than a comprehensive software documentation tool. It is pre-installed on most Windows computers. Where you can find the recorder and further information can be found on the Windows website.
Overview: 10 Best Software Documentation Tools
|Tool||Desktop or Browser-based||Supported Languages||Export Formats||Integrations||Own export templates possible?||Price|
|FlowShare||Desktop||English, German, French (automatic translation into over 30 languages soon available)||PDF, Word, PowerPoint, HTML, PNG, SCORM, xAPI, OpenRPA||Avendoo, Confluence, WordPress, Synthesia, Nugget Creator||Yes||$32 per user per month|
|iorad||Browser||English and over 20 languages||PDF, Word, HTML, GIF, GDOC, Video, SCORM||Canva, Confluence, Notion among others||No||$200 per user per month|
|Tango||Browser||English||PDF, HTML||Notion, SharePoint, Zendesk among others||No||$16 per user per month|
|Scribe||Browser||English||PDF, HTML, Markdown||Confluence, Notion, SharePoint, Embed||No||$23 per user per month|
|Snagit||Desktop||English||PDF, PNG, JPEG, MP4, GIF, Powerpoint, SNAG among others||Sharable link||No||€68.21 (perpetual license, one year maintenance)|
|Folge||Desktop||English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese||PDF, HTML, Powerpoint, Word, JSON and Markdown||Yes||€69 (personal use), €130 (commercial use)|
|Screensteps||Desktop||English||PDF, HTML||Screensteps knowledge base, Slack, Teams, Salesforce, among others||No||€239 per month for 25 users|
|Stepsy||Browser||English||PDF, Word, zip file (images), HTML||integrations planned but not there yet||No||$9 per user per month|
|Greenshot||Desktop||English||JPEG||–||No||free for Windows/$1.99 Mac|
|Windows Steps Recorder||Desktop||English||Zip-file||–||No||free|
These are only some of the existing documentation tools on the market. You can also find other providers in current software tests.
Now what? Finding the Best Software Documentation Tool for Your Needs
In this comprehensive guide, we’ve highlighted some of the top software documentation tools available, diving into their features and unique benefits. The essence of effective knowledge transfer lies in the quality and clarity of content. So, when choosing the best documentation software, consider the following questions:
- Which software do you need to document: desktop or browser-based?
- How frequently will you be documenting?
- Which is more crucial for you: automation level, flexibility, or both?
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, test those tools. Most offer a chance to use them before you commit to a purchase.
Embarking on Your Software Documentation Journey
While we’ve spotlighted tools that specialize in creating documentation, there’s a broader landscape of knowledge base solutions to discover. If you’re curious about these solutions, delve into our in-depth article on the best knowledge base tools.
We’re keen to hear from you:
- How have you been capturing your screen and crafting manuals?
- Do you have any unique methods or tools for software documentation success?
- Might there be overlooked tools in the software documentation field we haven’t mentioned?
Your insights and experiences are invaluable to us. Share them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in a seamless, automated documentation process? Explore FlowShare. We have a free trial ready to meet your documentation needs without commitment.
Dive into FlowShare’s realm of automated software documentation. Begin your free trial today!