Capturing Beautiful Screenshots with Snagit

There are many times you may wish to capture something from the screen for future use or reference. Up until now, you may have used a combination of print screen, a paint program to edit, and then a final copy to your application.

Techsmith has blown open the simple printscreen button to give you many and varied screen capture options but how does it work in practice, and does it really offer enough beyond your current print screen / edit process to warrant its ~£40 price tag? Let’s find out….

Getting started…

When you first install Snagit, it’s immediately apparent that this application has a lot to offer – its installation menu showing various output options and accessories:

Options to install

Snagit already looks promising at the install screen...

These additional application-specific options embed Snagit’s functionality directly in your MS Office apps so that what you grab gets embedded directly into your application, and if you are grabbing a web page with external links, these are cleverly preserved in the output.

Choose Your target

After installation, you need to decide which key combination you prefer to invoke Snagit, Ctrl+Alt+P or printscreen. You can either then click the red capture button, or press your hotkey to snag your first thing. When Snagit is invoked, you are presented with an ‘all in one’ cross hair selector:

Select target

Snagit's intelligent crosshair selector

This view is perhaps a little suprising if you’ve moved up to version 10 from previous versions where a simple cross hair would appear for you to simply cut out part of the screen. There’s a lot more going on here, with the cursor movement, Snagit is intelligently selecting window frames, individual screen elements, launcher bar, task bar icons and other discreet screen objects.

You can still go ahead and left click / drag for the conventional screen cut, but being guided to the screen elements becomes a preferable option for many uses.You can simply press <Escape> to discard the capture just taken and re-try.

Once you’ve selected a screen item, you then have further options of what to do with this.

Options and Choices…

Snagit has grouped common selection methods and destinations into helpful profiles that group together the most-used capturing combinations:

  • all in one
  • full screen
  • copy to clipboard
  • web page as PDF with links copied
  • text to clipboard
  • freehand
  • menu with time delay

These profile settings are simply combinations of input and output effects and options. For quicker access, Snagit provides “One click” whcih allows easy access to the various profiles, discreetly hidden on your screen as a fall down menu:

The discreet one-click menu is always available

The discreet one-click menu is always available

Selecting a screen area using the left click on hold is the simplest way to capture part of the screen. Rather than finish immediately, Snagit holds in capture mode for you to select other areas, cut outs or screen elements until you right-click, and select finish:

Finish capturing

Finish capturing

It’s not just 2D images that can be captured, though – A useful feature is to “copy text to the clipboard”. This takes any area of plain text in any application where free text is present, and copies what you select to the clipboard as plain text. You can then go on to paste into a word processor etc..

For close-up and accurate selection, the cross-hair can be invaluable, but if you prefer, you can toggle it on or off at any time by pressing the “M” key.

For destinations other than the clipboard, the resulting captures can be sent to your desired MS-Office application, making embedding a breeze, or you can use the added functionality direct from your office applications without invoking the full Snagit GUI:

Direct to excel

Direct to excel

If that weren’t enough, there is also an intuitive and clever editor that is available to further tweak and enhance your captures before reaching their final destination:

Edit example

Edit example

Additional Features

At its simplest, Snagit allows you to capture any part of the screen and paste this into another application. Before Snagit, we would have to make do with hitting print screen, and perhaps an edit or two in paint. As the feature set becomes more apparent through use and helpful startup tips, you can also expand your activities. Here are some extra features and advice:

  • Cut-out button – removes something in the middle of an image and realigns the image
  • Create dynamic and interactive effects
  • Print multiple images at once, adjust using the multiple layout button
  • Snagit remembers where you got your web-snag from, so you can easily reference it or return there
  • Trim solid colour edges to leave just the central captured image
  • Video Record your screen

Snagit’s versatility allows for very specific small section cutouts rather than whole print screens, but it goes much further than this with full screen capture, scrolling window and movement capture, and outputs as diverse as PDF, direct to Excel, Powerpoint, .avi and a multitude of other useful outputs. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this application, and it is a worthy investment that will save time, whilst allowing you to concentrate on clear and relevant presentation.

Wrapping Up

Of course, this is, at the end of the day, a simple function that needs not to be cumbersome or get in the way of your normal workflow. Techsmith understand this, and for most of the time the power and flexibility is hidden until you need it, and disappears again the moment you are done.

This truly is an expertly crafted application and well worth your hard earned money.


Advanced Windows screen capture facility