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Review - OmniDazzle

by , 9:00 AM EDT, October 26th, 2006

Presenters and teachers that need to draw attention to their mouse cursor during a presentation often try little tricks like jiggling their mouse and saying "look here." OmniDazzle gives you a better option: It highlights your cursor, and even throws in a few extra bells and whistles just for good measure.

When OmniDazzle is running, you use keyboard combinations to invoke cursor highlights. The most common highlight, Flashlight, dims your display and highlights the area around your cursor. It's amazingly effective at drawing viewer's eyes to exactly what you want them to look at.

OmniDazzle's Flashlight highlight.

But OmniDazzle takes it a step further by offering several other ways to highlight your cursor. Cutout highlight parts of your display as you click and drag your mouse. The areas outside your drag area dim, and the area inside your drag area highlights with a colored border. Focal Point dims everything except for what you are selecting. It, too, adds a border around the highlighted item.

Focal Point (left) and Cutout (right).

Other highlight styles include Scribble, Bullseye, and Zoom. Zoom is handy if you want to enlarge a section of your display instead of using the full screen zoom feature that's built in to Mac OS X.

Choose highlight styles from the OmniDazzle menu.

Selecting a highlight style is as easy as choosing an option from the OmniDazzle menu item, or you can use the Configure window. The Configure window also shows samples of each highlight style, and lets you adjust settings like keyboard shortcuts, highlight opacity, and border colors.

OmniDazzle's Configure window.

There are a few more styles that, depending on your needs or whim, may not be particularly useful: Pixie Dust trails your mouse pointer with, um, pixie dust. Waves simulates the ripple effect you see when Dashboard opens a widget. Footprints leaves a trail of footprints, complete with sound effects, in your mouse trail. Comic splashes a comic book-style sound effect bubbles on your screen. Pow, Blam and Zap aren't usually necessary as screen effects in my presentations, but to each his or her own.

OmniDazzle is versatile enough that you can use if for more than presentations. Its highlight effects are visible in screenshots, and you can also use them in Keynote 3 - just enable Allow Expose, Dashboard and others to use the screen in Keynote's preferences. The only thing it doesn't let me do is record movies of my actions from inside the application. For that, I still rely on Snapz Pro.

Keynote 3 supports OmniDazzle highlights.

OmniDazzle's effects make for some great eye candy, which also means that they need a powerful enough video card to handle what they are doling out. If you have an older Aluminum PowerBook or G4 iBook, odds are this application won't work for you at all. The GeForce FX 5200 found in the 12-inch Aluminum PowerBook is only partially supported. Luckily, The Omni Group has a compatibility Web page you can check before trying OmniDazzle out.

The Bottom Line
OmniDazzle makes a versatile addition to any presenter or teacher's arsenal. Thanks to its wide range of highlight styles, there is an option for most every presenter's needs. I take advantage of OmniDazzle in all of my presentations.


Product: OmniDazzle

Company: The Omni Group

List Price: $14.95

4 out of 5 stars

Pros: Lots of highlight styles to choose from, menu item makes it easy to choose highlight style, works with Keynote.
Cons: Some styles may not be useful, some Mac video cards aren't supported.

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