Techsmith Snagit 9 - the Screen Capture System for Windows
Snagit has been for the past 5 years the premium Screen Capture program in Windows. The screenshot to the left shows some of the many the capture modes that Snagit has available including full-screen, window, active window, region on the screen, fixed region on the screen are among more than 2 dozen capure modes. The advanced menu shows some of the added options for screen capture including Full-screen DOS and Directx.
For example, when you Click on the Directx menu item. Snagit detects that you have not used this option and so it automatically pops up a helpful Tips window that advises you on the best way to do Directx screen captures[and they are significantly different]. But if you are Directx savvy, you can turn off this Tip window by clicking and clearing the "Show Tip Again". This is the other strength of Snagit - Smart Help. Press F1 and you will get one of the better Help systems - a clear overview of what Snagit can do with lots of Snagit screen captures to illustrate the point.
The Help system has a special section on showing the transition from Snagit 8 to Snagit 9[Microsoft Windows 7 "People Ready" documentors, take note of this]. This indicates how substantial a transition Snagit 8 to 9 is. Techsmith has really worked to make the post capture and image editing process much more efficient. Now it really pays to do the recommended workflow:1)capture, capture, capture, etc. in Snagit then crop, edit, and share all the captured images in Snagit Editor. As we shall see Snagit Editor not only has had a major layout make-over but has added new functionality that really streamlines your screen capture work.
Whats new in Snagit is the new emphasis on streamlining the whole screen capture process. Techsmith has been rightly praised for some of its clever innovations on the screen capture side of the business:
- magnifier that helps start user-selected screen capture
- scrolling region capture options
- time delay to allow user to setup dynamically screen captures
- profiles of stored capture presets or rules
- one-click, hiding capture popup dialog
These features can be seen in the opening screenshot under the Overview tab.
But what's new in Snagit 9 is the vast improvements in what Snagit Editor does for you [see screenshot to the left]. It has been totally redesigned. Snagit now has a back-up memory of all your screen captures. Snagit 9 also has a thumbnail ribbon along the bottom of the screen which shows resizable thumbnails of the latest of your captures. Just hover the mouse over a thumbnail and it is enlarged for your viewing. Snagit 9 also has a vastly improved search by tag, date, or folder search system so you can find that elusive capure done 3 weeks or 3 years ago or for the Google Maps screen captures done for the MTO presentation[red-hilighted words have been tagged in Snagit 9] . The net result is that Techsmith has really automated the capture process, particularly post-processing. I now use Snagit Editor as my primary tool for managing past screen captures. I can rely on the fact that it has a backup Library of all my screen captures so I can always go back there and recover any capture, even if have saved the capture on disk and then lost it. And I have three ways to search for the file and then rescue an image/screen capture that I may have "lost" in my documentation work. Note Snagit does not provide a backup service - if you delete the capture in Snagit without backing it up yourself - then it is gone. Still, this basic Snagit backup library is very, very nice.
These features make Snagit's recommended workflow: Capture, Capture, Capture.... then Edit and Share not just feasible but, in most instances, the optimal way of working with Snagit. However, you can (and I do from time to time) use the tried and true capture, edit and save all in one swoop. But even here, despite having available Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo Impact, Corel Paint Shop Pro, and Xara Xtreme Pro - I now use Snagit Editor preferentially over all the rest except when dealing with massively-sized captures where Xara Xtreme's large-scale editing power is a boon. And the next section, New Snagit Directions tells why.
The new direction for Snagit is to not only be the best on input or screen capture but also on output and managing all your image captures. Snagit Editor not only allows users to crop and do all the still image editing chores but it now offers a very powerful tagging capability plus a Library feature that tracks all your captures made in Snagit. Now these tagging and library features apply to video and web captures.
This library function is invaluable for classifying all your image and video captures and then finding a capture done many moons ago. Snagit can find them by the tags you have attached or the date when intitally captured[but not when last editted]. Lets look at these capabilities very quickly.
Screen Capture Image Editing
Snagit has no video editing - look to Camtasia Studio for those capabilities and generally on the same high caliber as Snagit. The new look Snagit Image editor borrows from Microsoft Office's enlarged toolbar styling as can be seen in the screenshot below:
There are 3 major types of image edits in Snagit Editor:
Canvas or Image-wide Edits
1-crop the screenshot
2-cut-out selected areas of the screenshot
3-trim the screenshot
4-rotate or flip the screenshot
5-resize the screenshot with
6-Reset the background color
The trim/crop operations also can be done on screen by dragging and dropping the the resize icons at all four sides (midway) and all four corners of the screen capture image. The Resize operations in Snagit are some of the best for retaining type and lines with out jaggies and other distortions. Be careful - the rotate operations work only on the whole canvas not on selections.
One of the big weaknesses of Snagits is the lack of a)a pointer tool for selecting objects for re-edit and b)a color eye dropper or picker tool so that one can pick out a color from the screen capture. These are constant points of frustration.
Image Style edits
1-add a drop shadow to the screenshot
2-add a torn edge to the screenshot
3-add a shark/sawtooth edge to the screenshot
4-fade the edge of the screenshot
5-add a perspective look to a screenshot
6-add a shear look to a screenshot
7-add a bevel edge to a screenshot
These tools are so innovative and effective, I have taken lately to importing camera and snapshot images for markup and other styling and image effects such as drop shadow, torn edge effect, and the smart image downsizing/cropping capabilities. Snagit Editor usage extends well beyond screenshot capturing.
Many users wonder if they can modify their screen captures for color, sharpness, brightness and other effects that they can do in regular photo editors. Well checkout the list below: Image Modify edits
1-Color effects include brightness/contrast, B+W intensity=mononchrome, inversion, halftoning, transparency, color substitution, etc; 2-Grayscale (but not tinting) 3-Spotlight and Magnify 4-Watermarking 5-Blur effects 6-Filter effects including sharpen posterize, pixelate, emboss, noise remove/add, oil painting, DPI resolution, etc. The Spotlight and Magnify plus the Watermarking are two of my favorite tools here. But the Color effects are quite complete and almost spill over into specialized Photoshop-like features. One complaint - key masking/selection capabilities like feathering or inverting a mask(because you want to filter the background) are not available in Snagit 9. But on the whole Snagit Editor could be used as a standalone photo editor - as is posted on my Graphics software blog.
Screen Capture Markup
Now that you have captured and edited the screenshot, what kind of added markup does Snagit 9 allow users to do? There is a full range of mark up options to draw attention to some of the key features shown in a screenshot image as is illustraed in the screen shot below:
The number of drawing and markup options available is really quite impressive and useful:
1-selector to cut/move part of the image
3-several arrow pointer styles
4-stamps, including user images
8-plain text captioning
9-line drawing tool
Each of these tools have numerous styling options right nearby on the "Stylings" part of the draw toolbar. Most of these drawings are done as vector objects which can be moved, resized, and arranged above or below each other and changed in color or transparency. In short, for editing and adding markup to your screen captures Snagit 9 is full power.
Snagit provides a very strong cross section of output options. For example, Snagit saves to file in any of BMP, CUR, GIF, ICO, JPG, MHT, PNG, PDF, SWF, TIF formats. It also can save output to the clipboard or send to any actively running photo program or connected printer.
Users can also save to eMail and FTP. Both require added steps of processing. I am surprised that Snagit does not alow users to setup some templates for these operations so "filling in the blanks" does not have to be repeated. Fortunately, Snagit has soem free, downloadable Output Acessories so output to Word, Excel, Flickr or WordPress can be a single click away. But in general, Snagit provides screenshot output to all the major targets including PDF and Flash SWF files. There are no obvious weaknesses in the Snagit output options.
The 9th edition of Snagit really adds value to the Snagit franchise. By assuming a system-wide role for managing your screen capture assets from capture through processing and maintenance to output, Snagit has become essential for documentation and screenshot management. The improvements to the Snagit Editor make it attractive as a general photo editor. Users will really appreciate its screenshot library and search features. This is what Adobe Bridge or PaintShop Pro Browser should be - light, responsive and easy to use. Techsmith once again steps out in front of vendors like Adobe, Madcap, Spotlight plus half a dozen others who are offering free or low-cost screen capture capabilities.
But there are some worrisome notes. Snagit works only in Windows - buts its development audience is moving towards Apple and Linux. Techsmith's free Jing starts to address this concern [but there is not a Linux version]. There are some simple yet still missing editing tools and functionality - color eyedropper/picker tool, selection feathering and inversion capability, a simple clone or blemish removal tool. However, Snagit 9 is so good the company has the luxury of deciding where to go next.
There is the lure of entering the fast and easy to use photo editing market. I already use Snagit 9 for quick photo resizing, cropping and drop shadow or shearing/perspective shifts. With an object pointer tool, color dropper and selection inversion + feathering tools I would use Snagit 9 much more of my photo-editing time.
More realistic might be a Pro edition for Snagit. This version would provide pro-developer features like connection to Subversion and other content/media management system support and maybe to develop a simple macro or scripting capability like that in Lightroom or Photoshop actions. I would be willing to pay $100-250 for such a tool.
In sum, Snagit is now not just a screen capture tool, but a powerful photo editor and general image/media management system. And all this for $50 - an absolute snap-this-one-up bargain.
Techsmith Snagit is the leading source of screen capture facilities on Windows PCs with the top features and ease of use. Camtasia Studio is the leading Windows PC video capture and post-processing tool. Jing, a new and free program, provides image and video capture on both Windows and Mac. Jing does not have all the capture and post-processing features available with Snagit and Camtasia. The Pro version of Jing adds more video capabilities for a $25 annual fee.