If you are a writer, blogger or website owner, once you have used a screen capture tool you will wonder how you ever coped without it.
Windows and Macs both have ways of doing this for free if combined with a photo editing software or online service, but neither do it as well as SnagIt, a commercial application sold by Techsmith ($40 from www.snagit.com)
In this article I take a detailed look at SnagIt and then list some free alternatives. If you find this review useful, please leave your comments below
SnagIT by Techsmith – www.snagit.com
Finding and adding images to a website can be a frustrating and time consuming process. SnagIT 8 makes it very easy.
All of the images you see in the recent articles on the SubHub website are added using this application. Take a look at this article as a good example.
What Does SnagIT 8 Enable you to Do?
I won’t go through all the functionality. It will take to long and most of it won’t be relevant to what you want to achieve. I’ll stick to the basics, which account for 90% of its value.
SnagIT has two user interfaces. The first for ‘snagging’ images:
The second for editing and saving the ‘snagged’ images:
Using these two simple screens I can ‘snag’ parts of a screen, a whole screen, and whole webpages, including the bits that are below the fold. This is invaluable when illustrating articles (like this one!)
Once a screen is ‘snagged’ you can enhance it with annotations, titles, borders, arrows and watermarks using the simple SnagIt editor.
It took me just 10 minutes to get started
So here are some examples of how you can use SnagIT to capture images for your website:
Image #1 – ‘Snag’ part of a web page and add a border
Image #2 – ‘Snag’ part of a page, magnify it and add a caption
Image #3 – Capture a whole web page
Image #4 – Add special effects. This image has torn edges
Image #5 – Grab an individual image
SnagIt provides has plug-ins for Microsoft Word, Excel, Adobe FrameMaker, IE, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Outlook.
Firefox users can install the SnagIt Firefox extension to capture Web-based content from the Firefox Browser itself.
Some further uses, suggested by Amit Agarwal on his blog Digital Inspiration , are:
SnagIt as an OCR
SnagIt captures text from graphics and error messages that normally do not allow copy and paste in Windows
SnagIt as a Personal Video Recorder
SnagIt Video Capture Mode lets you create screencasts (recordings of a series of scree shots) with audio.
SnagIt as an Image Editor
SnagIt is not just for taking screen captures, you can edit any image in Snagit Studio - crop or rotate, apply filters, add annotations, borders, text titles. SnagIt also comes with Batch Image converter
SnagIt as an Offline Web Image Gallery
Specify a website URL and SnagIt will capture all of the GIF, JPG, and PNG images available on that site.
SnagIt as an alternative to Adobe Acrobat
SnagIt can convert any webpage or file to PDF. To convert a long Microsoft Word document to PDF, capture it in SnagIt AutoScroll mode and save it as PDF from SnagIt editor. You can also stamp a document just like in Acrobat.
Snag logos from websites which are otherwise impossible to copy
Some webmasters splice web graphics or integrate the logo into the masthead to prevent downloading of the image. With SnagIt you can simply grab the logo or image you want
SnagIt for web designers
Web Designers can capture draft site layouts, add titles, captions and quickly share the designs with clients in PDF or any image format. Experienced SnagIt users can even create complete web design personas in SnagIt studio.
Download images from Protected PDF, Flash Animations, Windows Help files
Adobe won't let you save images from protected PDF documents. And it requires even greater effort to save pictures embedded in Windows Help Manuals (CHM, HLP) - SnagIt can help you do this in just a click.
SnagIt as Proof of Purchase, Web Transaction Receipt
Whenever you win a bid on Ebay, buy something online or make a bank transaction - take a web capture with SnagIt and save it in PDF. This can be used as proof in the event of any dispute.
Erase parts of an image
SnagIT allows you to capture an image and then with an eraser, remove any bits you don’t want. Very useful!
Free Alternatives to SnagIT
If you don’t need to capture images very often, or don’t want to spend $40, there are other ways of doing the same things.
Use Windows Commands
If you right click on most images on websites you can copy or save them as JPEG’s. You can also capture whole pages simply by pressing Ctrl – Alt – PrtScr together and then copying the screen grab into Word, Powerpoint, etc.
Free video tutorial: Capturing screen shots with Windows XP
Free tutorial: Capturing Screen Shots with Windows Vista
These images can be edited using software apps such as Photoshop or the free, Paint.NET (www.getpaint.net). Also give the free online image editors a try – Fotoflexer (www.fotoflexer.com) and Picnik (www.picnik.com).
This small screen capture utility sits as a small scissor icon in the Windows menu bar. When you click the scissors you can capture any part of the screen. Independent review
Free for personal use. Fastone lets you capture anything on a screen including regions menus, icons and free-hand selected areas and scrolling windows/web pages. It can save in all the important formats. Independent review
ScreenHunter has a free and commercial version of their screen capture software. The free ‘lite’ version is excellent offering more features than Gadwin (below) at the cost of a little more complexity. It can save in .jpg, .bmp and .gif formats. Independent review
This application only allows you to capture the full computer screen or active windows but, because of this, it is nice and simple to use. Its also allows you to capture the mouse pointer and you get to choose the destination of your screen shots (e.g. Windows Clipboard, the printer or save as a file). Independent review
Cropper makes it fast and easy to grab parts of your screen, including text and images, and drop them into documents. Independent review
For MAC users
The new Snapz Pro allows you to effortlessly record anything on your screen, saving it as a QuickTime® movie or screenshot that can be emailed, put up on the web, or passed around however you want. Snapz Pro X 2.x costs $69
Having tried many screen capture software solutions, SnagIT, wins hands down. However if you don’t intend to use the software regularly, then one of the fee solutions will be adequate.
Mac users should try the screen capture capability within the Mac OS. Its pretty good. If it is not sufficient then trial the Snapz Pro solution. Its not as good as SnagIT, but does a pretty good job.
If you use other solutions please let us know in the comments below.