I’m very picky about screenshot applications. Short of a browser and an RSS reader, I rely on a program to take good screenshots more than any other. Why? First for the blog posts and other articles you see around, almost every post needs a screenshot in it. Second, and maybe more importantly from a screenshot aspect, is that I need screenshots for the books I write. And not just any screenshots, they have to be uncompressed TIFF files.
Oh and I have to be able to send an original and marked up copy (if I put arrows or call outs on the image) as well.
I think I’ve taken hundreds, maybe thousands, of screenshots over the past three years of writing books. Screenshots of just part of the screen, with menus open, several windows at once, cropped, edited, scaled…Yeah I’m a screenshot app stress tester.
Needless to say I’ve tried and used a lot of apps in my quest for the “right” app. I’m going to cover the three “big” screenshot apps you can grab on the Mac in this post, Snagit; Skitch; and Little Snapper, as sort of a showdown of the apps. Now, you can probably guess the outcome, since I’m giving away some copies of SnagIt in this post…but be patient let me explain why.
- Snagit ($50)
- Skitch (free or $15/yr on sale, regular $20/yr, for more features)
- Little Snapper ($40)
Both Little Snapper and Snagit offer free trials to help you decide if you like the app. Skitch works on the freemium model so the app is free, but to unlock all the features you need to pay for it. If I were just going on cost, Skitch would have to win, because it is free after all, however since I need TIFF export (and you have to pay for that feature in Skitch) the showdown gets a little more interesting.
Let’s start with Little Snapper.
- It can’t export to TIFF
- It doesn’t have a capable, built-in editor
Yes, I know exporting to TIFF is a pretty esoteric need, but if you’re in publishing like I am, it’s essential. Editing though? Editing, I think, is essential for everyone. Little Snapper, from using it for a while, focuses more on organization than the editing part of screenshots. If you want to really edit an image, you can punt off to another editor (in my case Acorn is my choice). That’s kinda my problem. Even when I’m taking screenshots for a post, I need to be able to resize and crop quickly. I don’t annotate often, but … well Little Snapper leaves me cold in this respect. I gave it an honest try for a while when I got it from a MacHeist bundle deal, but I just found myself needing other tools too often for it to be practical.
Skitch was in beta for years (four?) and honestly I liked it from the start. I used it for almost all my books. It boasted east drag-and-drop as a full sized TIFF and if I wanted to resize or crop, very easy to just change the window size. The annotations were okay. Often I needed things like blur or other effects and they just weren’t there for me to tap into. But for pure, easy Skitch was a real winner. Then they hit version 1. The beta ended and while the app was still free, a lot of the features became freemium—like exporting as a TIFF—which is fine. I figure I have to pay for a good screenshot app, but what I don’t like is that I can’t buy the app outright, I have to pay for it yearly. Yes, it isn’t very much, and even over a couple years, it’s less than the others…but I don’t want to keep paying for the app every year. I don’t really want (or need) the skitch.com sharing service, I need the features in the app. Skitch is a very serviceable screenshot app and if you just need the basics, it’s a good one—especially if the free features are all you need. It just doesn’t have enough power for me now. Skitch’s history function is pretty good, except if you’re taking a bunch of shots and forget to save them between, you risk losing the shots entirely.
Snagit for Mac
Snagit also enjoyed a long, long free period in beta. And because I’ve used Techsmith apps for a long time (Camtasia for Mac and PC, Snagit for PC, Jing for Mac and PC) I know that the apps are really great and I need to give them a shot. Honestly, I would flip between Skitch and Snagit all the time when working on my books. Skitch was great for a quick snap, set to drag out at a TIFF and be done. I didn’t think Snagit could do that, actually it can. I can’t set my drag-and-drop format on the fly as easily as I can with Skitch, but I can drag and drop and drag as a TIFF, PNG, JPG, GIF … you get the idea. Snagit wins, hands down, in the editor features. The number of effects (all non-destructive until you save or drag out) are impressive. I use the Blur tool all the time to hide things in a shot that I don’t want shared. Okay I also apply perspective, shadow and sometimes torn edges to the shots as well. Like Little Snapper and Skitch, Snagit can take shots of entire webpages, which I don’t use very often (mostly because Chrome isn’t supported). All in all, Snagit has won my showdown for apps. Skitch might be better in v1.0, but the freemium model doesn’t fit me very well and the suite of editing tools doesn’t meet all my needs.
Not that Snagit is perfect.
I’ve had some serious crashes with Snagit when editing and moving things around. Also I resize images a lot and would love a shortcut key to do that instead of having to go to the edit menu all the time. I’d also love to be able to select an image file format as I drag on those occasions that I want to change from my default format (png) to something else. When I’m working with images, I often find the zoom in and out to be a little shaky. I think setting a default in the Snagit editing window to zoom to fit would be great. Usually I’m dealing with large shots and I’d like to see the whole image at once without having to adjust the zoom level.
Because I’ve worked with Techsmith so much in the past, they were kind enough to give me a license for Snagit to help with this review (my trial long, long expired) and as a bonus for you, fair readers, I have four licenses for Snagit for Mac or Windows up for grabs!
Yeah that’s a cool, new thing about Snagit now…the same license key works for Mac or Windows. Pretty damn slick I think.
Regardless to win a copy of Snagit, just:
- Follow me on Twitter
- Leave a comment below (with your Twitter ID)
That’s it! I’m going to do the draw on Sunday night from the commenters, so you have plenty of time to enter. Good luck!