Taking screen captures and annote-izing (wait, is that a word?) them is absolutely brainless with FlySketch. I love brainless. This little app is so intuitive and useful that it took me all of 60 seconds of fiddling with it to say out loud, “Holy crap this is cool!”
The ability to draw (boxes, notes, fuzzing-out, etc) over top the image you’re about to grab, and include those edits in the grab is fantastic. I think the most ideal use is for any tutorial based instructions. It’s just so simple and fast when it comes to taking and labeling screens in one move.
Last week I turned in a few screen shots to my manager upon her request. With FlySketch, I was able to put my notes and helpful information right in the shots! It was so useful compared to having a notes sheets referencing different screens, and then different portions of those screens in some cases. Much less confusion, and absolutely simple to generate.
Essentially, FlySketch runs in the background once you launch it. You invoke it with a hot key, and a semi-transparent window with a toolbar appears. (You can set the desired transparency with a slider, to make it easier to see what you’re working with.) Size the transparent window and move it so it’s hovering over whatever you want to capture. Then use the drawing tools to highlight, add notes, draw boxes, circles, lines, etc to get the final look you want from your screen shot. When it’s to your liking, click the camera button and it saves your screen shot exactly the way you saw it in the FlySketch window.
There’s an “i” button that opens a settings drawer that applies tweaks to each of the drawing tools. You can draw boxes with thicker borders, transparent backgrounds with color, or whatever makes the most sense for the goals of your screen shot. Composing each detail right on the image before you take it just makes for a very efficient process, as everything you need to do it right there. I love things that save me time, and FlySketch is definitely one of those things.
You can even set aliases up in the Workflow folder to be able to move your doodles or screen shots directly to other apps (Think Word, Photoshop, MarsEdit…) while working in FlySketch. Generally, I would just take the screen shot and export it, but as the Flying Meat website states, “Try out FlySketch for a week, and we promise you’ll think of more ways to use it.”
I did have a couple gripes about FlySketch however. While fairly minor, they should be mentioned so you know what you’re getting when you check this tool out.
FlySketch hovers somewhere on the same window-level as Quicksilver’s bezel, or Konfabulator floating widgets. So trying to get screen shots of things at the same window level can be a difficult task. Sometimes I could get it to work, other times I was unsuccessful. Like I said, not really a huge deal, but when you actually try to do it, you may find it annoying.
The Settings Drawer doesn’t keep track of the colors, opacity, sizes, etc for each tool. Each time you alter one of the settings it leaves the new setting for all the tools. So say you have a drawing line width of 5, but you want a box with a border of 2, when you go back to the drawing line tool, you’re width needs to be reset to 5 again. The saved time of using FlySketch quickly dwindled as I battled to create more customized notes on my screen shots. I just spent too much time trying to reconfigure all my tool settings for the desired effects.
You have to be sure to send your screen shot into a workflow, or use the FileExport option to save the capture to someplace on your hard drive. Just taking the snapshot doesn’t save the image to your computer. It’s a slight misstep the first couple times you try using the tool – at least in my experience.
I’ve been labeling FlySketch as a screen shot tool, when in reality it’s much more. Create doodles to add to other applications that don’t allow that kind of action inherently for instance. There’s so much to this tool, that you’ll constantly be coming up with new uses for it.
I think FlySketch has a lot to offer, and a great take on the screen shot utility. People who work on tutorials or documentation will really love using this tool daily. I think there are some small issues that could use a bit of polishing, but they won’t stop me from using FlySketch on a regular basis.
You can download your free trial copy of FlySketch from Flying Meat, and purchase a license for $19.95.