Software

SnagIt 8: Powerful yet user-friendly screen capture utility

Capturing screenshots is a routine task for many IT pros who need handy illustrations for presentations, articles, blogs, and other documents. Bill Detwiler reviews one of his favorite tools, TechSmith's SnagIt 8.

The Job

As an online writer and editor, I'm constantly capturing screenshots for the stories, blogs, downloads, and galleries I publish. But as a knowledge worker, I also use screen captures internally—to illustrate a computer or site problem for CNET's IT department, to create useful process documentation for TechRepublic's editorial team, to enhance the visual appeal of my training presentations. It's true that a picture can be worth a 1,000 words, and a tool that can save you from having to write those 1,000 words has great value.

The Tool

Over the years, I've used a variety of tools and techniques for capturing computer screen output, but TechSmith'sSnagIt has been the most useful and versatile.

SnagIt 8 will capture just about anything your computer screen can display. The application's many capture modes allow you to capture the entire screen, a specific rectangular region of the screen, an individual window, a menu or cascading menus from Windows applications, short, AVI videos of desktop activity, text, Web page elements, an application's printer output, and more. SnagIt 8 also comes with a powerful editor with which you can easily manipulate and enhance your captured material and an image browser, which let's you view images and perform batch processes, like resizing and renaming. When your ready to share or store a SnagIt 8 capture, you can send the item to the a printer, save it to the Windows Clipboard, save it as a file (23 formats), send to and external program, and more. You can find a complete list of SnagIt features here.

Before sharing or storing captured images, you'll likely want to edit or enhance them. Using the SnagIt Editor, you can quickly and easily add text, arrows, highlighting, callouts, and a host of other informative elements. This is perhaps the functionality I find most helpful and the biggest time saver. As I said earlier, a screen capture can save you from having to write the 1,000 words a picture is often worth, but only if the image effectively conveys the intended meaning. SnagIt 8's editor let's you add that meaning.

For example, TechRepublic recently deployed a new, and greatly improved I think, gallery page—you can see an example here. I have suggested that our developers expand and contract the image description text to fill the column to the right of the image. I used the image you see below to illustrate my suggestion.

Figure A

Dinosaur Sightings

I captured just the screen region which I wanted the added a double-ended arrow and text to clearly illustrate my idea—this image has been resized to fit the blog column. The image leaves little room for misinterpretation. As of this posting, they're still working on my suggestion. The SnagIt Editor also allows you add interesting effects such Torn Edges, Spotlight and Magnify, watermarks, and so forth.

You can see more of SnagIt 8 in this screenshot gallery—taken with SnagIt 8.

Right tool for the job?

Definitely. If you don't believe me, download a fully-functional, 30-day free trial and give SnagIt 8 a test drive. If you decided SnagIt is the right tool for you and your organization, you can purchase SnagIt directly from TechSmith or from one of a reseller. A single-user license will set you back $39.95. Buying a 5-user license for $149.75 will save you 25 percent off the full price, at $199.50 a 10-user license saves you 50 percent and a 25-user license saves you 60 percent at $395.00.

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About Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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