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I’ve used TechSmith’s SnagIt for well over a decade. I’ve used it at work to create training documents, user manuals, document issues and overall communication about software systems I use, support or help develop. In the evenings, I’ve also used it from my work laptop/tablet to edit photos, capture screenshots to communicate with others how to do things or to document support issues when things go awry. I think are a lot of folks think about SnagIt  simply as a screen-capture tool and, hey, doesn’t the Snipping tool included with Windows do that for you? For some, the Snipping tool may be all they need, but SnagIt’s ability to capture scrolling areas within a page, add annotation, make it dead easy to share and countless other activities all leave the Snipping tool and other capture tools (free and otherwise) in the dust (about which more later)

 

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All images courtesy of Techsmith.com

 

While its screen capture ability is the gold standard, I use its editing tool at least as much; I use it for photos as well as screen captures. Now, it’s not going to have filters, change of white balance or other pure photo editing features, however, I tend to use those aspects sparingly. I typically use the original image but will crop/paste, annotate or resize for web use. One of the primary uses I’ve had over the last couple of year is to manage images for this blog. There are times I’m just using my home computer and I always run into a challenge – there is no other tool in its price range (roughly $50) that I can find that allows me to edit an image for a particular pixel dimension without degradation of the image. Many online platforms have defined recommended pixel height and width (they’ll accept others but the aspect ratio or quality will be degraded). For example, the particular WordPress template I use has the banner set to 960 x 260. Not too many images have that as their native dimension.  I typically mashup images such as an author picture with book cover elements to create a banner (with their permission, of course). SnagIt’s editor is a huge help in this. I can crop, resize and paste in images with clear feedback on the pixel size throughout the editing process. The editor has some of the best annotation tools as well as ability to obscure sensitive information with highly configurable blurring. Simply put, SnagIt is my business and personal workhorse for image editing. Yes, I’ll turn to other tools to create a collage, to apply rarely used filters and to fix an image’s white balance, but nothing is as easy, intuitive and functional as SnagIt for my purposes. This is key for an impatient, non-artistically inclined guy such as myself. It returns its value on its editor alone.

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The editor, however, is certainly not the only story; indeed, it’s not the main event. SnagIt’s ability to capture exactly what you want on screen is dead-on simple and accurate. If you word within web applications or just grabbing information from a web site, SnagIt can accurately capture the most obscure elements whether that is a drop-down box with values listed, a window within a window or an area on the screen that scrolls or where you select an area like a slide show. It can capture all of it. You can also create presets to manage the way you capture for your use. For example, the default capture mode will present the captured screen in a box that allows you to quickly set the pixel dimensions and whether you’re capturing a still image or a video (see below). The vast majority of my captures keep whatever pixel size I originally selected and it’s a still image. So, for my use, that dialog is redundant. Presets to the rescue! I created a preset that bypasses the dialog and brings it right into the editor. By the way, this is a tribute to Techsmith’s excellent customer service. I actually fussed about the intermediary dialog when it first came on the scene in release 12 and didn’t like that there wasn’t a setting to ignore it in this post. The folks at TechSmith came right back with the suggested preset. I felt partly idiotic for not thinking of it myself but mostly grateful for their detailed suggestion.

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The magic of the latest release, along with improved user experience through changes in the user interface, is its enhanced ability to capture any region and especially a part of an application or web page that scrolls they’ve dubbed panoramic capture. Here’s a little video example of how it works:

This latest ability has finally pushed me over the edge. As cheap as I am (for example, I still have a 1995 Ford Taurus station wagon for the use of my children), I finally broke down and bought my own copy for personal use. I’m not sure I have a better evidence for how well the tool works for me than that.

There are some tools that, over the years, that simply nail their niches such as Scooter Software’s Beyond Compare, Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking and IDM Software’s UltraEdit; Techsmith’s SnagIt (as well as their Camtasia video creation/editing tool, but that’s another post) belong in that pantheon that own their category of software tools. If you need to do anything beyond the most rudimentary of screen captures or image edits, I highly recommend SnagIt, you’ll be glad you grabbed it.

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