SnagIt screen-capture software: a review

Snagit is a powerful tool for easily capturing, editing, exporting, and sharing images and video. Here’s a quick rundown of what it can do:

  • Capture anything you see on your screen into an image or video file
  • Edit what you’ve captured using a suite of tools
  • Upload to Google Drive, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, and a bunch of other services
  • Combine images into a single, large image or document file
  • Send images straight to the printer

If you’ve ever needed to show something on your computer screen, exactly the way it appeared to you, to someone who wasn’t sitting right there next to you — say, walking them through how to do something, or reporting a bug — image-capture software is the solution. Whether that means buying this particular product will depend on your needs.

First, I’ll cover the basic image, video, and text-capturing abilities and what you can do with them. Then, we’ll look at some of the cool media-sharing capabilites.

Quality/Speed

First off, I’ll just say that this program sports some high-quality graphics as well as an attractive and intuitive interface. It also ran smoothly, even on top of Microsoft Word, Google Chrome (playing music on YouTube), Firefox, Windows Explorer, and iTunes (my processor speed is 2.00GHz).

Price

A single-user license costs $49.95, which seems to me to be on the low end for professional software.

Installation

I downloaded the free trial directly from TechSmith’s website at techsmith.com/snagit.html. This version is advertised as “fully functional,” which I take to mean that it includes all the same features as the paid version.

Notice: as the website will inform you, “Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 is required to use some features in Snagit, including OneClick, automatic updates, video capture, and video playback. To use these features in Snagit, you must install this software.” Whether or not you already have .NET, I suggest you install it at this point: later on, I wasn’t able to download the Google Drive accessory (one of the most useful) without following TechSmith’s prompt to install the .NET software, even though I already had it.

After the basic install, I wound up with a little, transparent, red half-circle sitting at the top of my screen. Placing the mouse on it brings this down:

Techsmith Snagit widget control panel

Obviously, the big red button is for capturing pictures (like this one). The arrow button brings up your “Profiles” — options for capturing and outputs (more on that below) — while the bottom-middle button is to “open the classic capture window”  and the bottom-right is to open the Snagit editor.

The “classic capture window” is basically your toolbox for capture options, and the Snagit editor allows you to see, edit, and share all of your captured images and video.

Images

Capturing:

This in itself is pretty simple. The default option is “region” capture: you click the big red button, and a big yellow crosshairs appears on your screen. You drag it across the image you want to capture–release–and voilá!

Tejas Indian jet fighter

I captured this image from here. Imaging is very easy and intuitive, and it comes with a little zoom-reticule that shows you exactly where, on the pixel level, your crosshairs is positioned.

There are options to capture a defined, square region, the whole screen, the active window, a freely-defined region, or an open menu, as well as several other possibilities.

Editing:

The software comes with a pretty well-rounded image-editing suite. Here’s a small sample of what you can do with it:

jet fighter sample

I wish I actually knew something about graphic design, because then I’d be able to really show you what you can do with this program. Unfortunately, I can’t show you all the tools available, because Snagit can’t do screenshots of itself.

Videos

Capturing

If, like me, you’ve never used video-capture software before, this part might be a little harder to figure out (but not that hard). Of course, the first place I went to test it out was YouTube. After my attempts, I get the feeling that the software just wasn’t designed for this purpose. It seems to have been meant more for capturing processes in order to show someone else how to do something on a computer (see below). 

Nevertheless, just so you can see what it looks like, here’s my attempt to use Snagit to capture a YouTube video, along with the original for comparison (watch in 720p HD, because that’s what I recorded in).

On a side note, if anyone can recommend good software for downloading YouTube videos, I’ll be much obliged.

Editing

The thing about editing videos in this program is…you can’t. Like, at all–not even to crop it. You’ll need Camtasia Studio (another TechSmith product, $299.00) or another video-editing program to do that. On the other hand, here’s what you can do:

Creating “How-To” presentations with video

I think this is one of the most attractive features of this software. If you want to show someone else how to do something on a computer, you can 1) record yourself doing it with Snagit and 2) capture individual frames from that video as images. These frames can then be put together into a single document in Word or a single canvas in Snagit, along with text explaining each one–then, you can export the whole thing to a PDF.

Here’s a sample guide that I made using this feature:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2tzSiB3QzOkVDkweFJpRl9BbUE/edit?usp=sharing

Here’s Snagit’s tutorial on how to do this, which will give you a pretty good idea of what the process and its final outcome look like.

Text

Of all the available options, this one immediately stood out to me as the most intriguing. Holding my mouse over the option revealed the alt text: “Capture the text you see on the screen as editable text.” Sounds cool—let’s try it out!

The thing is, it can’t seem to capture text from anything other than Windows Explorer (that is, your file-viewer) or Mac Finder. It turns this:

documents library windows 7 explorer

Into this:

AnyVideoConverter                                          AtlasShrugged essay

COC School Work and Notes                 Atlas Shrugged notes

Critiques                                                   Atlas Shrugged notes

Enrichment Teacher Internship             Basic resumé template

Flash Drive contents                               Bemiller statement 11‐5‐4

Google Earth Paths                                 Book recommendations

Grab bag                                                   Books I own

Master’s School Work                             Books

Mr. Mack mentorship                             Books2

My Archives                                             Brian Treanor 13th birthday note

My Data Sources                                     Budget

Resumes                                                   cc_20110216_171909

Snagit                                                        cc_20110821_230616

Writing Samples                                      Chambers math review 1.1.13

Writings                                                    Chariots of iron

2010 Tax return                                       Copy Docs ‐ Shortcut

AAA                                                           Dear Mr Harris

I also tried it on a webpage, a PDF, an online image of a receipt, and song titles from iTunes, all of which failed to capture. So it’s handy for that one, single application. I couldn’t find any other uses for the function.

This TechSmith page (link) informed me that “SnagIt cannot capture text from PDF documents or image files. SnagIt is not an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program. To extract text from images you need an OCR program, which we do not provide.” I suppose this wouldn’t have been so disappointing if it hadn’t been for the promise made by the words, “Capture the text you see on the screen as editable text.”

That same TechSmith article does provide a link to another page where you can watch a video tutorial on how to make Snagit into an OCR by combining it with another Microsoft program, and it seems like it would work very well, but I’m not going into that just now.

Sharing your captures

There are some pretty cool options for sharing and editing your images and videos.

In the image editor, the default options under the “Share” tab are as follows:

  • Email: opens your default email program and creates a message with your image in it.
  • FTP (for advanced users): allows you to send your capture directly to another server
  • Program: allows you to select any program to export your capture to
  • Clipboard: puts your image directly into your clipboard (“copies” it) so you can paste it elsewhere
  • Word: pastes your image directly into a new document or any document you currently have open
    • For this and the other Microsoft options, you can select to either paste the image or a link to it
  • Powerpoint: pastes your image directly into a new or currently-open presentation
  • Excel: same thing, but with spreadsheets
  • Screencast.com: uploads your capture to Screencast, which is TechSmith’s file-sharing service.
  • Camtasia Studio: imports your video into Camtasia (another TechSmith product) for editing
  • YouTubeallows you to connect your YouTube account and directly upload video captures

There’s a pretty big list of other export options, all of which are downloadable add-ons to Snagit. The list is here; it includes sharing with:

  • Google Drive
  • WordPress
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Evernote

Just know that, once you opt to share your Snagit files directly to any of these services, you’ll get a notice like this:

google account privacy notice

Snagit will be able to see your profile and contact information for whatever service you hook it up with. Pretty standard stuff in this day and age.

Profiles

For me, one of the most interesting features is the ability to create custom “Profiles.” The software comes with several by default, such as “Share via Screencast.com” and “Insert into Word with border.” These profiles can all be selected from the control widget by clicking on the little arrow button:

widget with text

Any profile can also be given its own hotkey. For example, I set the “Insert into Word with border” hotkey combination to ALT+F8 – so when I press that key combination, the Snagit capture tool automatically opens, allows me to capture my image, and inserts it into my currently-open Word document.

However, in the “classic capture window,” you can also add and edit your own custom Profiles–and holy cow, are there tons of options for this. You can set it do capture an image or video in virtually any way, as well as to automatically do virtually anything once you’ve captured it.

Connecting to mobile

A surprise use for the program is that it’s a pretty easy method for getting photos from your iPhone or iPad to your PC. I don’t know if this process is smoother with an Android or between an iPhone and a Mac, but with the setup I have (iPhone 4S to Windows 7), it’s been kind of a pain.

Transferring from mobile to Snagit requires downloading a TechSmith app and scanning a QR code, but once you’ve got your images into Snagit, you can edit them in any way you want. Exporting them in a batch, to any folder and file type you want, is also easy: select your images, select “Convert Images” from the File menu and follow the steps.

The only hiccup to this was uploading video from mobile. Any videos taken in portrait orientation will appear on your computer turned on their side, and there’s no way to fix this. From the TechSmith tech support page on the subject: “Videos recorded in portrait orientation on a mobile device will appear rotated during preview in Snagit Editor. Sharing to YouTube or Google Drive automatically corrects the video’s orientation to give the best viewing experience for your intended audience.” Well, that’s fascinating. What about when I just want to watch it on my computer? Apparently, that’s just too bad.

Conclusion

Honestly, all of this has come out of me trying to use a brand-new software product, the like of which I have no experience with, in whatever ways I can figure out on my own, with very little reference to the tutorials or suggested uses (like all of these, which look really neat).

I get the sense that this was designed for a professional environment in which there’s a lot of need to share very specific content with others, and I can see it being extremely useful in that context. My mentor, who recommended this software to me, says he uses it about 200 times every day.

Overall, if all you’re looking to do is capture simple images and edit them in very basic ways, there are free alternatives. I think Snagit’s advantage lies in its powerful sharing tools, moderately advanced image-editing capabilities, and the ease with which it allows you to create how-to presentations. It’s very attractively designed and pretty intuitive to use.

The free trial version purports to have all the same features as the paid download, so I’d say this product is definitely worth your time to try out, both at home and at work, and see if it improves your quality of life. If nothing else, it’s fun to play around with.

Afterword: my system specs

..as shown by Snagit!

windows 7 my computer properties

Why I wrote this review

My professional mentor, Eric Mack, challenged me to write this review for three reasons: 1) to see how I’d go about learning a completely new software application; 2) to see how quickly and how well I could write up a review of it, and 3) because he thought it would be a useful tool for me. He also said, if I was sold on my experience of the software (which I am), he’d buy it for me. Neither he nor I are affiliated with, sponsored or endorsed by, or in any way related to TechSmith or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or principals, except as users of its product. Apart from the aforementioned software-buying, neither of us are being paid, rewarded, or otherwise compensated in any way by anyone for the production of this review.

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