When it comes to authoring tools, you won’t find too many with the attention received by Articulate Storyline 2 and Adobe Captivate 9. Not only are they both fantastic programs, they’re the most widely used authoring tools in the industry which leads to one main question; which is better? Well, today we’re going to break down the differences and provide this comparison for you. By the end, you should know exactly which is best for your needs moving forward! Let’s start with comparing Articulate vs Captivate.

For other content in which Articulate vs Captivate and some other tools are compared have a look at our articles on elearning software.Articulate vs Captivate

Articulate Storyline 2

When you have both Google and Microsoft as customers, you can be confident you’re on to something good and this is the case with Articulate. Before we head into the features and the main drawbacks of using Articulate Storyline 2, we should note that it isn’t available on Mac (sorry Apple fans!). If you have the money and time, the tool can be used on a Mac if you’re willing to install virtual Windows software but there can be all sorts of performance issues with doing this. This being said, you can still produce content to Apple devices so your end product will be viewable on iPads and the like! Which is plus for Articulate vs Captivate. Extensive information on Articulate can be found in our e-Learning authoring Software Market review (2017).

Key Features

First and foremost,  when comparing articulate vs captivate, articulate Storyline 2 boasts tremendous depth in customization and content creation. With numerous sliders, timelines, variables, and triggers, you’re allowed freedom with your creation and you can even import a PowerPoint presentation so you don’t have to start from scratch. Add in drag-n-drop questions and photographic characters, you have yourself a superb tool.

Next up, we love the mobile app for Android and iOS devices. Although the content won’t be adapted for the device (so you’ll see a scaled-down desktop version), this is a great way to check progress on-the-go if necessary. With this feature, you will have to go through a process of trial-and-error because some projects will look a little cluttered on such a small screen; if mobile is an important part of your testing process, you might want to design slides twice.

Finally, both Flash and HTML5 are supported which is great news if you need to target an array of people and devices. Furthermore, it features SCORM, AICC, and Tin Can API 1.0-compliant packaging.

Easy to Use?

With any authoring tool, the ease of use is important because you don’t want to need a degree just to create simple content. Fortunately,  Articulate Storyline 2 is the easier of the two we have here today and this is because the layout is actually very similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. If you’ve used PowerPoint over the years, you’ll find it easy to get on with Articulate vs Captivate and this is great news considering some authoring tools are notoriously tricky to use. If we were to note one downside to this, it would be that you might have to go hunting for certain features within the complex menu system.

Even after this, there’s also a fantastic support community on the Articulate website. If you ever have any questions, just ask on the online forum and you’ll receive a detailed response from the other users or company staff.


  • Above all else, most consumers have a problem with the cost of Articulate Storyline 2 (just under $1,400). If you haven’t yet arranged an LMS (Learning Management System), the cost increases even more because you’ll need Articulate Online ($200 per month).
  • After this, there are no major drawbacks but instead a number of smaller issues that may or may not affect your experience. As we said at the beginning, Storyline 2 isn’t available for Mac so this instantly cuts off the Mac market. Furthermore, there is no video narration, video publishing, and testing on mobile devices only reveals a scaled-down desktop version. Finally, you won’t be able to share a project without publishing which removes the ‘work-in-progress’ phase.

If these drawbacks don’t apply to you, we highly recommend Articulate Captivate and we’ll dive deeper into a summary at the end!

Adobe Captivate 9

When you take a step back, it’s not hard to recognize the similarities between all Adobe programs. Therefore, experience with Adobe definitely comes in handy with Captivate 9. Once again, the importing options from PowerPoint keeps things simple and the tool is compatible with every Adobe program from the Creative suite. How does it differ to Articulate Storyline 2? For starters, you’ll have opportunities to work with multiple authors.

Key Features

If you’re trying to decide between the two, one thing that might sway your decision is the access to over 25,000 scenarios, games, interactions, layouts, and people cutouts. With this in the back pocket, no two content creations ever have to be the same and you can really find the tools that engage your learner. To help with this, you’ll also have visual mapping showing different learner paths. Using screen caption and screencaster options, you can record high-quality product demos without an issue.

Next, we like Captivate Draft because it allows users to make quick storyboards before then sharing them via the cloud. In case you’re worrying, the recipients don’t need Captivate 9 but can still view your work and provide valuable feedback.

In terms of publishing, your options will be almost limitless including AICC, SCORM, and xAPI-compliant LMS publishing. If required, you could also utilize EXE, iOS, SWF, PDF, Android, and Windows.

Easy to Use?

As we saw, Storyline 2 is simple for beginners and experts alike but what about Captivate 9? Unfortunately, not everybody is well-versed with Adobe products and those who aren’t face a very steep learning curve to get started. If you don’t have the time to invest in learning where everything is kept, you face a frustrating time looking for tools and settings. This being said, the Adobe forums can be helpful for beginners.


  • As we said with Storyline 2, you will need an individual LMS if you haven’t got one already and this will add to your expenses. With Captivate Prime from Adobe, the charge is $4 per month per registered learner so your overall cost will depend on the amount of learners you have for your content.
  • Although this won’t affect everybody, those who haven’t used an Adobe program before will suffer at the complexity of Captivate 9. However, this isn’t an issue if you’re willing to invest the time learning where everything is. If speed isn’t an important factor for you, this isn’t something you need to worry about.


So with all the information now laid out, can we have a final verdict on Articulate vs Captivate? If we assess the pricing alone for just a minute, Captivate 9 is the cheaper option since the cost is a one-time $1,230 fee (if you prefer to rent, this is available at $29.99 a month with a minimum contract of twelve months). However, the program is discounted for students and teachers which is always good (if you’re in this industry, of course!).

Moving away from the price, we suggest writing a list of your needs before doing anything else. Once you know exactly what YOU need (not what everybody else needs or thinks), then you’ll be in a greater position to make the right decision for you and your business without making mistakes. For example, Adobe Captivate 9 is perfect if you want access to thousands of creative tools, love Adobe products, are a teacher or student, or if you use a Mac.

On the flip side, Articulate Storyline 2 should be your go-to choice if you have a Windows PC, need to create content quickly, want to get involved with a supportive community, or if you’re accustomed to PowerPoint.

In summary, there is no magic answer we can provide on Articulate vs Captivate (nor one that anybody else can provide). Once you sit down with a pen and paper (or Word document) and write down your needs, only then will you be able to find an authoring tool that matches what you’re looking for. If it’s neither of these programs, you can look deeper into the market; just because these two are the most popular, it doesn’t mean they fit every niche!