Say Cheese: 3 Screen Capture Tools Reviewed

screencapiconsDo you have a need to capture screenshots for personal or work use? If so, you are in luck as the market for these tools is improving. In case you did not know, Apple provides default screenshot capturing within OS X (via command keys) and also provides an enhanced free tool (Grab). However, if you need more control than what Apple provides, you will want to read on and see what else is available to you.

We’ll be taking a look at three different screen capture tools. A longtime standard of mine has been Ambrosia’s Snapz Pro X. Another very popular tool is Plasq’s Skitch. And a short while ago, the folks at RealMac software released LittleSnapper, a new tool that takes a different approach to screenshot capturing.

Let’s take a look at what each tool provides…

Snapz Pro X – $69 (Ambrosia)

Snapz Pro X

This is a very powerful tool, although the UI is a little dated. However, the rich functionality plus simple operation makes it a great choice, depending upon your needs. Of course, the price is very high at $69. However, when you compare the functionality to the price, Snapz Pro X is a great value.

Snapz Pro X

Some of the key highlights for Snapz Pro X include:

  • Capture screen, objects (menus, windows) and selection.
  • Save your image to a variety of formats (PNG, BMP, etc.).
  • Live preview what you are about to capture.
  • Add watermarks to the image and change borders.
  • Change the bit depth of the image from color to grayscale to black & white.
  • Record movies of your clicks for screencasts with voiceovers using your Mac’s microphone.

On the downside, Snapz Pro X neither has any additional editing tools nor the ability to share images to services like Flickr or an FTP site.

Note: I had to use LittleSnapper to take a screen capture of the Snapz Pro X UI. I thought this was strange and thus appropriate to share (Snapz Pro X cannot capture its own UI).

LittleSnapper – $39 (Realmac Software)

LittleSnapper

LittleSnapper was released in late 2008 to a flurry of pretty positive reviews. The application has a ton of functionality and has a very modern UI. The price is more reasonable than Snapz Pro X, and the initial purchase guarantees free upgrades until version 2.0.

Little Snapper Main screen

Here is a list of LittleSnapper’s key functionality:

  • Capture complete web pages, or capture specific elements (via the HTML DOM).
  • Capture screen, objects (menus, windows) and selection.
  • Collect, tag and rate images. One of the unique features of LittleSnapper is its ability to organize all of your images, rather than leaving them loose in a folder.
  • Edit your images via non-destructive tools. Yes, you can add information (text, arrows, blurring, etc.) without negatively impacting the image itself.
  • Share your captured images with others via Flickr or via the QuickSnapper service (included with the product).

As I mentioned, LittleSnapper is very easy to use. It has a rich set of capturing tools for both the web and desktop. The file management features are exceptional, as you can group images by project or by rating. In fact, you can even create smart collections based upon specified criteria.

Compared to Snapz Pro X, this tool is much more modern. However, you can’t capture video/screencasts. Depending upon your needs, this might not be an issue.

Skitch (beta) – FREE (Plasq)

Skitch

Skitch has been in public beta on the market for a little while now. The folks at Plasq have built a Mac screen capture tool that enables you to send the images to the web via their own service, Skitch.com.

My biggest beef with Skitch is that the UI is just completely non-standard. It’s meant to be fun, and you can argue that it is, although some of it just feels clumsy and busy.

Skitch Main Screen

Let’s take a look at Skitch’s core functionality:

  • Capture screen, objects (menus, windows) and selection.
  • Edit your images with text or drawing. Skitch automatically smoothes any drawing.
  • Leverage existing iPhoto images and make edits.
  • Share your captured images with others via email, Flickr, MobileMe or Skitch.com (included with the product).

Skitch is still in beta and it is unknown what the price will be once it officially launches. I know a lot of folks who swear by Skitch. However, given the user experience, I did not prefer it.

Conclusion

In researching the apps for this review, I came across many other tools that were either freeware, shareware or commercial. However, many appear to have become abandonware, having not been updated in over a year. So, I focused this review on current offerings.

For the money, I really have to say that LittleSnapper wins in this round-up of tools. When it comes to capturing, managing and sharing screenshots, LittleSnapper really takes the lead on all three fronts. Even though Skitch is free, it is also in beta and its UI is clumsy.

I will say that each company’s web site has excellent visual examples and video tutorials on how to use their respective products. Further, each company also has a downloadable trial, so that you can test the software for yourself before making a purchase.

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