Stunning Free Update to Adobe Captivate 2019 Raises the Bar with Quick Start Projects & Productivity Enhancements

This summer just got a lot hotter! The latest update to Adobe Captivate is out now, it is free to Captivate users who either own Adobe Captivate 2019 or are on a subscription plan, and it is chock full of fresh, sensational new features and resources. The clear headliner is the new built in Assets and the associated search tool. Adobe has found a delightful way to accommodate the needs of developers who are new to eLearning while simultaneously including a serious speed and performance upgrade for more experienced users. 

The Adobe Captivate 2019 Free Update Announcement Video – includes a short overview.

Quick Start Projects

At the heart of the improvements are a set of beautiful, professionally designed Quick Start Projects. These ready to go slide collections remove the traditional barriers to entry for eLearning developers by providing easy to modify, simple to edit slides that align to virtually every form of online instruction, interaction, quiz, scenario & more. The new search tools in the asset panel make it easy to go shopping for sample slides of virtually every time. But the jaw dropper here is the way Adobe has improved the simplest aspects of working with slides in Captivate 2019.

You just drag and drop – and image replacement is a reality. You can grab those images from your system folders, or from the Captivate library. All of the text elements and shapes are instantly editable, and new copy/paste appearance tools make it a breeze to clone new formatting. The new system is smart enough to allow multiple themes – so you can mix and match themes within a single course / project. And it even anticipates your most likely preference with shortcut menus to let you quickly specify whether to adopt a new theme for a pasted / inserted slide or to stick with the original.

Check out the getting started video for a more visual introduction to the enhancements and new features.

Getting Started with Adobe Captivate 2019: The incredible Free Update

Hot Swap Images

I’m completely obsessed with the new image swap feature and I’m guessing that you will be too. It’s cool to be able to quickly swap an image for something else, but the bit that blew my mind was that Captivate 2019 Update 2 let’s me do this virtually anywhere there is an image. I’ll explain… I use images as backgrounds all of the time. I honestly didn’t think image swap would work for things like that. Imagine my delight the first time I dragged to replace the background of a fluid box and ‘BOOM’ instant background swap. It works with shapes too! You just drag and hover, when you see the powder blue glow, let go – Captivate will do the rest.

Here’s my video overview of the image swap feature for those who prefer it in images rather than words.

Image Swap Feature Explained

Theme Enhancements Galore

Themes have had some major overhauls in this update. Now you can mix and match slides with different themes – using multiple themes within the same course. As you add each new slide you can easily decide whether to retain its source theme or to adopt one of the themes of the new project. This really expands what you can do with themes, and it doesn’t stop there. The Captivate engineers have also added fantastic new tools to make the day-to-day work of an eLearning developer – a lot easier. Now themes include shortcuts to the fonts that you used. So it is easier than ever to identify the themes used in a course, and to replace them all at once if you like.

There is even a new tool to identify when a font used in a project is missing on your computer. This can help you sort out font problems with legacy content, and even makes suggestions about fonts that you can use to replace the missing ones, with a simple click.

Theme fonts help you speed your course creation process

Yeah, sure, that’s a button

We’ve all heard it – the boss comes around the corner, glances at a layout for 2 seconds and solves all of the worlds problems by saying – well can’t you just make that thing a button? Not everything is a button, we would typically reply. Well – now it’s really just as simple as checking a box. Shapes have been enormously popular thanks to their ability to be converted to buttons with the tick of a checkbox in Adobe Captivate.  Now the same multi-state, rollover aware smart button solution can be applied to any image in Adobe Captivate 2019. Just select your image, and check the ‘Use As Button’ option in the properties inspector. It even works with SVG images!

This great video summary demonstrates how simple it is to make a button from an image.


Yes, Icons! Yes, right there in the Assets Panel. Why yes they can be recolored right on the stage. I’m probably a little to excited about this, but Icons are an incredible time saver for me. A nice big library of icons has been included in this update, and Adobe provides the bonus tools that we’ve all come to expect. Just drop your icon in, double click and voila’ the icon is now ready for color swapping. You don’t even need Adobe Illustrator, just select the shape are that you want to recolor, and use the color picker from the property inspector to swap those colors in an instant. (And if you really wanted to do something more, round trip editing with Adobe Illustrator is just a checkbox away too.

Adding icons to your course is easy with Adobe Captivate 2019: The incredible Free Update

Copy – Paste Appearance

Think format painter, but more powerful. This nifty little productivity enhancement allows you to copy/paste the visual formatting of text and shape elements, INCLUDING all of the states of those objects. Just right click (control click) on the object with the right appearance and select copy appearance. Then select all of those pesky future twins and find ‘paste appearance’ in the context menu. That’s it – you get instant formatting across groups and sets. This one new tool saves me incredible time formatting buttons and text elements.

Copy / Paste appearance saves valuable time – giving you a powerful tool to quickly format your text and shapes

Virtual Reality VR Gets another boost

Creating 360 Virtual Reality courses keeps getting easier. In this update several enhancements have been added that make it even easier to create virtual reality courses. A new action trigger allows you to launch videos from a hotspot in a a VR / 360 project. In addition, the popups, including text areas, images and videos now all have close boxes – so your learners can control how long the popup item is visible in the project. There are hint and rollover enhancements for the hotspots, and you can now edit the hotspot SVG images by double clicking. It is also now possible to adjust the size of a hotspot – using control handles that appear upon selection.

VR text elements got a substantial makeover in this update as well. Now you can see the text elements on screen while editing, and you can alter the font, the formatting, color and even the opacity of the background. This let’s you really polish the look and feel of your VR courses. Perhaps my favorite VR enhancement is the option to include hotspot interactions as reported quiz interactions. You can now set the score, name the interaction ID, and chose whether to report the interaction as part of a quiz.

An overview of the VR/360 feature.

Branching without Advanced Actions or programming

Yes, you better believe it. Now the most common branching workflows, including forced navigation and in-course branching are easier than ever to accomplish. You can download examples from the Asset panel and simply swap the images and content to use your own, or by following a simple naming convention – Captivate 2019 will do the work for you. The most common course navigation pattern is to provide a menu page for your learners, where they can select from several available topics. Usually you want to give learners the freedom to decide the order of learning, but also want to verify that each section of content has been visited. This workflow can now be accomplished without programming. You just name the menu slide ‘branching’ and ensure that the buttons on the menu slide follow a simple naming convention, and Captivate will figure out the branching logic for you.

Overview of the automatic navigation and branching feature

Similarly, Captivate can now automate navigation of multi-state objects on a single slide – creating a forced navigation workflow that will hide the button to navigate to the next slide until all of the buttons on the slide have been explored. The method for both the course branching and the forced navigation of multi-state objects on a single slide handle all of the common interactions and can save you a lot of time while completely bypassing the need for advanced actions. (If you are a power user – don’t worry – you can still use advanced actions, and as a special bonus – you can even combine them.)

There are so many incredible enhancements and new features in this major free update you absolutely won’t want to miss it. If you are already a Captivate 2019 user, you can get the update right now, simply by following these steps:

In Adobe Captivate 2019,

  • Select Help Menu: Check for Updates.
  • The Adobe Captivate Updater dialog will appear and guide you through the remaining update process.

If you aren’t a Captivate customer yet, you can download the free trial here.

If you just want to learn more, check out these additional resources:



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Learning Thursday #13: Packing List for the Traveling Trainer

Learning Thursday is a blog series that features a new L&D article every other week along with discussion points.  Read and then share your own ideas by commenting below!  Check out the last Learning Thursday here.

Are you new to the world of traveling and training?  A significant amount of my career has involved speaking at different locations, either for employers or at conferences.  Here’s a list of items I usually carry when giving presentations.  What do you pack when you’re presenting?  Leave your advice in the comments section.

Equipment for the Presentation

  • My laptop plus a backup laptop

No really – I always have two laptops.  Remember to check that you have your laptop and phone chargers before leaving for a trip!

  • My phone

Remember to place it on silent.  You can use it as a timer if needed.  I carry a charging cable and battery pack if I’m doing an all day class.

  • Voltage adapter if traveling to other countries
  • USB drive with a backup copy of my presentation

I also email it to myself and store it on Google Drive.

  • Two clickers and extra batteries

I often loan my extra clicker to other facilitators if they forget theirs.  Great way to make friends.

  • Wireless mouse

Use it as another clicker in a pinch.

  • HDMI to VGA adapter to connect your laptop to the projector

The adapter you need will vary by laptop. Also check with the event organizer regarding what equipment they will provide and what you may need in order to be compatible with their setup. Bring adapters even if they say you won’t need them. I’m speaking from experience. 

  • I sometimes carry a projector, lavaliere, and battery pack but most events provide them
  • Hotspot in case the conference has limited wifi
  • A locally stored copy of any videos you intend to show
  • A PowerPoint presentation of technology screenshots

If you are demonstrating technology during your presentation and that technology requires wifi, figure out a way to show the technology even if you aren’t able to access the internet.  I often make a PowerPoint deck of screenshots so I can at least show the technology.

  • If presenting live and virtually at the same time, carry multiple microphones just in case.

I usually have my Blue Yeti Pro, two headsets, and my phone earbuds as a last resort.

  • If you need to also record voiceover for courses while traveling, you may want to carry the equipment discussed in this video:

Supplies for Activities and Room Setup

  • Sticky notes or notebooks
  • Large sticky pages for parking lots and brainstorming
  • Pens or markers
  • Small fabric bag to do drawings or collect business cards
  • All of my handouts are delivered electronically so I don’t have to carry extra paper

Send everyone a link to a shared Google Drive folder with any supplementary resources.

  • Tape for your posters
  • Plastic displays

The kind that hold brochures or documents upright.

Personal Items

  • Outfit that is appropriate for a lavaliere microphone

You’ll want an outfit that has a place to clip the battery pack.  It’s best to wear a top or jacket that won’t move much so that the microphone stays still.  Consider packing a belt.  With a dress I often hang the battery pack behind my neck since it can’t be hung at the waist level.  If wearing a dress with a zipper in the back, check that there is a hook eye closure at the top of the zipper so that the weight of the battery pack doesn’t open the zipper.

  • Sweater
  • Flats, especially if you’re teaching a full day!
  • Deodorant and hair clip if it’s hot and humid
  • Hairspray
  • Granola bar, the non-crumbly kind
  • Eye drops and lip balm in case the room is dry
  • Water bottle or coffee
  • Antacid tablets
  • Oil control blotting tissues
  • Lozenges (not menthol) or throat spray

I was once hit with the 24 hour flu at a conference and had to present with a sore throat.  Under the circumstances I thought it would be a great idea to down a bunch of menthol lozenges.  It turns out that menthol lozenges will make you totally loopy if you have too many.  My boss noticed I was literally weaving from side to side and figured out what I had done to myself.  I recovered in time but please learn from my mistake.  

  • Business cards
  • A watch

In case you’re one of those people who walk the entire ballroom and you want to be able to keep track of time without your laptop.

  • Fabric tape

If the lavaliere is causing your blouse to gap or sag, you can place a piece of tape under the fabric and anchor it to your skin. Fabric tape is also great if you’re in a humid environment and you need to keep posters from falling off the wall due to dampness.  Used this trick in Hawaii.  Nothing else worked.

  • Tea bags or instant coffee

In case your hotel room doesn’t provide caffeine and you need it while you’re getting ready.  Conferences are often held in Las Vegas and it’s unfortunately one of the places you don’t get a coffee maker in the hotel room.

  • Cashews and gummy bears

I like to have something with protein and something with sugar in case I need to pump up my energy during a break.

What do you pack when you’re presenting?  Leave your advice in the comments section.

Try Adobe’s learning management system, Captivate Prime, for free.  Connect with the author on Twitter or LinkedIn, and follow me on Adobe’s eLearning blog.

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Adobe Captivate Prime ranked #2 in Top 20 LMS Software based on User Experience!!

We are super excited to announce that Adobe Captivate Prime has been ranked #2 in Top 20 LMS Software based on User Experience for 2019 published by eLearning Industry!

Adobe Captivate Prime was launched in 2015 with the objective of delivering seamless and engaging learning experiences. This award truly reflects our commitment towards our customers for offering industry-leading features that allow them to scale as they grow, and continuously reduce employee skill gaps.

Read the full report on the award here.

If you’re ready to invest in an LMS that features a mobile app, extended enterprise and partner training, sales enablement and social learning support, then look no further. Adobe Captivate Prime provides a free 30-day trial so that you can experience all these the benefits firsthand.

For more details, please write to Adobe Captivate Prime team at

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Good News for Captivate Canucks

As a Canadian, I sometimes feel like I’m in the shadow of my neighbours to the south. For my fellow Canadian who also feel this way, I wanted to let you know about a couple of activities that are up and coming that you might want to consider.

That’s right. There is a Canadian eLearning Conference here in Toronto, Canada on July 18 & 19, 2019. In fact. It’s currently celebrating its 10th anniversary. This year’s keynote speaker is Connie Malamed. You will recognize Connie as a fixture at various eLearning conferences around North America including the Adobe Live Events as well. Also, Joe Ganci will be conducting a workshop and a concurrent speaking session, and I will be running a session on day two about mobile responsive design in Adobe Captivate. This will be an excellent opportunity for Canadian eLearning designers to network and share some great ideas about the current technologies in eLearning today. Looking forward to meeting more fellow Captivate Canucks.

Adobe Captivate Specialist

If you have held off attending an Adobe Captivate Specialist Certification because of the distance from Canada for the workshops, you’ll be happy to know that for the first time there will be a Canadian session in Toronto on September 11, 2019. You can register and reserve your seat. This industry-recognized standard is crucial for those looking to prove to potential L&D managers that you have the skills in Adobe Captivate. It’s also an opportunity to meet other Captivate Canucks like your self.

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Everyone Has a Voice

I got into the training industry by accident. The company that hired me did so because I was a subject matter expert in the area they needed to deliver training. They sent me on courses to learn the skills and knowledge required to be an instructional designer, and I’m forever in their debt. I found what I was meant to be doing.

When I decided to go freelance, I knew that becoming well known for my knowledge and skill would help me get new clients. I had worked as an instructional designer for two companies for over nine years. Only a handful of people knew that online learning design was something I had a talent for. I attended a few webinars online with Anita S Horsley, and I got to know her a little. I saw that she was a frequent speaker at the Adobe Learning Summit in Las Vegas. My initial thought was that I would love to be a speaker at Adobe Learning Summit, but all these speakers were people with masters degrees in education, and some were even PhDs. I was just a guy who knew how to do some stuff in Adobe Captivate. Through Anita, I made contact with the folks at Adobe. Their initial reaction was lukewarm until they realized that I was the guy making all these YouTube videos. They invited me to be a speaker at the first eLearning Conference in Washington D.C.

I remember showing up at my first Adobe eLearning Conference in 2016. To say I was nervous would have been an understatement. My topic was Test and Track with Adobe Captivate 9 with Adobe Captivate Prime. I had my little PowerPoint presentation which I thought was so amateurish, and I just hoped that I would be able to hold it together to get through the one-hour session. The conference was a great success. My session went well, and many people recognized me from my YouTube videos. To date, I have been invited back an additional six times. Each time I participate in these live events, I get a little bump in business. I get home to more requests for training or design jobs than is normal for me.

Since that time I haven’t looked at my role in this industry the same. You can have all the education in the world, written scholarly articles that theorize about where modern learning trends are heading. What matters is your ability to create effective training. I no longer get nervous when I present at conferences because I didn’t spend all those years at a college earning a fancy diploma. Now I get nervous for other reasons, but I have confidence in the material I deliver. Remember you aren’t born an online learning expert. It’s something you have to work at. It takes time, and you will make mistakes, but in the end, anyone can do what I and others do. There is nothing special about any of us. We just put in the work.

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Upcoming Webinar: “Five Must-Haves in an LMS to Get Mobile Learning Right”

Join us! On April 24, ATD Orange County hosts a virtual session of my class, “Five Must-Haves in an LMS to Get Mobile Learning Right.” It’s open to the public in exchange for a small donation to ATD. Click here for details.

The slideshare and session description are below. This webinar is inspired by Adobe’s white paper by the same name. Check out page three for useful L&D studies and resources.

Got Mobile? Our corporate learners are on the go constantly, which means we need to make training opportunities accessible from a wide range of locations. Fortunately, learning technology enables us to reach employees no matter where they work or travel.

Join Katrina Marie Baker to explore five ways a Learning Management System (LMS) can enable mobile learning. We will discuss how to:

  • Make just in time training content available to on-site and remote employees
  • Use QR codes to efficiently track classroom and on the floor/on the job learning
  • Enable travelers and sales representatives to access resources when wifi isn’t available
  • Format content so it displays responsively on mobile devices (links to supplemental resources will be provided)
  • Incorporate mobile learning into an employee’s overall blended learning experience

We look forward to seeing you!

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Breaking Captivate News!

If you’re like me you’re always trying to find out the latest about Adobe eLearning. This post might get shut down but I won’t be silenced! I’ve managed to figure out that the Adobe Learning Summit 2019 will take place on October 3rd, 2019. I don’t have the conference details yet but I noticed that an additional date for the Adobe Captivate Specialist Certification Program has been added here:

You’ll notice that the Las Vegas event is scheduled for October 2nd and is priced at $499. The regular price of the Adobe Captivate Specialist Certification Program is $799. The only time it’s less expensive is when it coincides with an Adobe eLearning live event such as the eLearning Conference in Washington DC or the Learning Summit in Las Vegas. You can’t keep a secret from me.

So why does this matter in March? Here’s the deal. When you participate on the Adobe eLearning Community by performing activities like showcasing your work, posting blogs or video tutorials, writing testimonials for Adobe eLearning products and posting discussions, questions or answering user questions correctly, Adobe gives you points. Now you might be thinking why do I give a hoot about points? Here’s why. If you can accumulate 5,000 points (this discussion I’ve started will earn me 100 points), you will receive…

  1. 12 months of complimentary license usage of Adobe Captivate and Captivate Prime;
  2. complimentary invite, including travel and accommodation costs within the US to the Adobe Learning Summit; and
  3. invitation to speak at the Adobe Learning Summit

Knowing that the Adobe Learning Summit is in early October means you have some work to do to get ready. You’ve got six months or so to post 50 video tutorials, blog posts, or demo projects created in Captivate. Accumulate the points needed and not only can get Adobe Captivate for free for 12 months but you could be going to Vegas for free as well. The Adobe Learning Summit 2019 would be my eighth Adobe Live event that I’ve attended for no cost to me. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you there as well.

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