Review – OmniDazzle

OmniDazzle

The OmniDazzle love continues. This review was broadcast on Surfbits MacReviewCast #118.

Not long after making my big switch to Apple I discovered OmniOutliner which led me down the slippery slope that is all things Omni. These days I use a strange concoction of OmniOutliner, Graffle, Project, and the Alpha of OmniFocus to keep my personal and professional life on track. Throughout this wholesale adoption of the Omni Applications there was one that I resisted, OmniDazzle.

OmniDazzle is a collection of effects and visual enhancements that follow your mouse around the screen. They vary from the entirely practical to the completely whimsical. For instance, the “flashlight” module is very useful when trying to focus on one section of my screen. I use it in the MacSparky Screencasts all the time. They also have several other very useful modules including one that lets you highlight specific sections of a specific window and zoom in on specific portions of the screen.

They also have a few effects that are amusing but not all that practical. For instance, my mouse can leave a trail of pixidust or little footprints that follow you around your screen. There are a total of eleven different screen effects. Like everything made by the OmniGroup, the program is very clean and a breeze to use. I never cracked any manual and I’ve had no problem operating it. Some of the effects are graphics intensive and it may not looks so good on older hardware. Omni has a page that explains the various hardware limitations

The question with OmniDazzle that I initially faced was why? Specifically, why do I need all these fancy effects? I think that you see the whimsey and forget about the substance. When I decided to get a bit more serious about making screencasts it seemed to be a no brainer at $15 but I realize there aren’t a whole lot of people out there making screencasts. The thing that surprised me though is that I find myself using it under several other circumstances. Whenever I have my Mac hooked into a projector with clients in the room its invaluable.

It also solved another problem I had when giving Keynote and Powerpoint presentations. Specifically, the perils of a laser pointer. When I am in front of a group and try to use a laser pointer across the room it inevitably starts bouncing around the screen. Put simply it is very difficult to hold a laser pointer perfectly still on a screen across a room. Add the stress of a judge, a jury, and a room full of spectators and it looks even worse. So using OmniDazzle I can draw attention to the screen without the dreaded laser and that is a good thing.

So in my life this little application is very useful. I think it would be for anyone else who regularly makes presentation or teaches using their monitor or a projector. I think a good test is your screen. If you frequently find yourself pointing at your monitor or have a bunch of fingerprints on it you should probably check this program out.

This week on MacSparky.com I uploaded a screencast of … you guessed it … OmniDazzle. In it I go through the all eleven effects and ramble with various degrees of incoherence on each one. But wait, there is more! I have been writing to the nice folks at OmniGroup and they have agreed for the week of July 27 through August 3 you can get $5 off the usual $15 license fee if you use the discount code ‚”SparkCast”. If you were thinking about OmniDazzle, this is the week.

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