Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
Free Switched iPhone app - try it now!
AOL Tech

Snagit 10 Is Here: Screenshot Tour and Giveaway!

SnagIt 10

Let's start with the part you all want to hear: TechSmith is celebrating Snagit's tenth version, and so has graciously provided ten Snagit 10 license keys for us to give away to DLS readers! So if you want one, just leave a comment and you may have a chance to win.

You have until 11:59PM EST Thursday 13 May to enter the competition. Full terms and conditions follow.

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, leave a comment below.
  • The comment must be left by Thursday, May 13 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Ten winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Prize: Snagit 10 retail value of $49.95USD.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

Alright, and now, on to the detailed review. At the most basic level, a screenshot is a pretty simple thing; it's a picture of what's showing on your monitor. That sounds pretty straightforward, right? And indeed, I find that my current favorite, tiny, simple and free Screenpresso is more than enough for my own needs, and I use screenshots quite heavily.

So what does Snagit 10, weighing in at over 30MB and $49.95, have to offer, that the simpler and free alternatives don't?

In a nutshell, Snagit is insanely powerful, and accordingly, quite complex. It's got everything, kitchen sink included. Is such a wealth of options actually good for something as simple as creating screenshots? Join me after the jump for an exhaustive tour, and make up your own mind.

This is what Snagit looks like when capturing a screenshot; I captured this (and most other screenshots for this review) using Screenpresso. This particular one caused Snagit to crash -- I guess it's a bit camera-shy.

At any rate, what you see below is one of Snagit 10's new features. It's called "all-in-one" capture. In previous versions of Snagit, you had to preselect whether you want to take an image of a window, the whole screen, or a region. Snagit 10 lets you change the scope (and style) of the image simply by moving the mouse. When you hover over a window, it focuses on the window (and dims the background). When you start dragging, it switches to region mode; when you're in a scrollable window, you get icons you can click so make Snagit capture a scrolling region.

While this is a powerful and intuitive feature, I must say free Screenpresso already does this (except for the scrolling region capture).

Here's another new feature for Snagit 10, one that Screenpresso doesn't have. It's a feature which handles window transparency correctly, and makes for far professional results (or far less of a hassle). Below you can see an image of my Foobar2000, captured by Screenpresso. You can clearly see another window behind it (on the top-left corner), as well as the dark splotches caused by my wallpaper (Foobar is just over my desktop here).

And the image below is the exact same window, at the exact same position, captured by Snagit. See how clean it is. Snagit removed any trace of anything I had in the background. For me, this is a huge time-saver; I usually open a large Notepad window and put whatever I want to capture on top of it, using it as a white canvas. With Snagit I no longer have to do this, which is really cool.

As I mentioned above, Snagit is incredibly complex -- perhaps a bit too complex. At the heart of the application are "capture profiles" -- you configure multiple profiles, one for each style of work. You can have a profile which applies a certain effect, and another which doesn't. Or a profile for saving images in a particular location or a specific size, etc. Each profile has numerous options -- in the dozens. This can get quite difficult and tedious to configure.

One attempt TechSmith made to simplify this task is by making a Profile Creation Wizard (probably not new to this version). Below you can see step two out of six, in which you configure the input. After selecting "All-in-One" I can go into the properties and review a dialog with 7(!) tabs. The tab shown below lets me configure the feature you just saw -- transparency capture. There are three different ways to handle window transparency, each illustrated.

Is your head spinning yet? We're just getting started here. We haven't even touched on the editor yet.

Moving on with the wizard, we get to step three, image output (don't worry, I'm not going to cover every step). As you can see, you can select out of 11 methods (including "none"), and you can also select a combination of methods. Now let's see how far we can drill down out of the wizard...

I clicked the "properties" button for the file output option, and was presented with the dialog below. What, only five tabs? I was almost disappointed at this sparse selection, until I noticed the "Automatic file name" radio button, along with its promising "Options" menu.

Ahhh, I breathed a sigh of relief. More options. In case you've lost track, we are now drilling down, two dialogs away from the third step of the wizard. What you see here is a myriad of options for automatically renaming your files.

I actually feel there's an important option missing here: Why can't I set the current window caption (or process name) as a prefix? Maybe the option does exist and I just missed it, but I couldn't find it anywhere. You can select your user name, computer name, all sorts of time and date variables, but not the current window caption. That could have been a really useful feature for me. Perhaps in Snagit 11?

As long as we're on the subject of minor gripes, I'd like to show you this section of a window. This is from somewhere within the wizard. As you can see, it's a sidebar with vertical scrollbars, but when you scroll down, there's nothing there. You just have to scroll up. And once the entire content of the sidebar is in view, the scrollbar doesn't go away. A minor UI bug, but surprising for a product which has seen so much love.

This is the last "capture" feature I will show, just so you would get an idea to what extent TechSmith has expanded the "screenshot" concept. The "Keep links" option lets you keep web page links active in your screenshot. It does this by producing a PDF, SWF or MHTML file with your screenshot, which actually has active links. That's pretty crazy.

We're just about done with the "capture" part of the software, although I've skipped several significant features; you're just going to have to try the program if you're curious. The last thing I wanted to show you is the main window interface. You can see your list of profiles here, with profile settings for the currently selected profile at the bottom of the window. Once again, I can see efforts have been made to simplify the interface as much as possible, but it is still quite intimidating (especially when compared to other, simpler screenshot applications).

And now let's cross over to the editor, by first looking at one of its products. I took the same Foobar image I captured before, and using a single operation, just cut a large swath off the middle and applied a neat "torn" effect to it. This is very useful for showing just the top and bottom of the image you want to show, and (you guessed it) is just one of quite a few effects you can use the editor for.

This is the main editor window; as you can see, it uses the new Ribbon interface. There's a gallery of recently captured images at the bottom, and the "folder" icon opens up a complete library.

It's almost needless to say at this point, but the editor is powerful. It's like a mini-Photoshop. You can apply filters, color corrections, contrast/saturation corrections, rotate, crop, trim ... the list is endless. You can also draw on top of your image, and apply batch operations (called "image styles") quickly.

Some operations feature "live preview", where you just have to hover the mouse over the button, and the image immediately changes to show you what it would look like if you click the button. This is what you see below, as I select an image style for the border of my Foobar image. Very neat. Even the tooltip packs a ton of information, showing you the exact filter parameters being applied. I'm not sure you even want to know this, but it's there.

This is the library within the editor. It does sort by application, as you can see (and by numerous other parameters). So it's obviously aware of the application I'm taking the screenshot of; maybe that auto-naming option is hidden somewhere after all.

Here's something odd I was unable to fix: Here in DLS, we can use images which are up to 580px wide. Wider images just mess up the layout of the page. So of course Snagit has auto-resizing options (just like Screenpresso). But for the life of me, I could not figure out how to tell it that 580px is the maximum image width. It kept on trying to size all images to 580px wide, even if it meant enlarging them, as you can see in the screenshot below (note how blurry the image is -- that's because it has been enlarged so much).

To me, this is a bit of a dealbreaker. But I find it hard to believe that it is really impossible; I am more inclined to think that just like that elusive auto-rename option, the way to do it simply eludes me.

The final image is a most appropriate one, IMHO: The Snagit user manual. Luckily, like all aspects of this enormous piece of software, the manual has had its fair share of TLC. It is generous. The tree just goes on and on, and TechSmith didn't skimp on the screenshots either. I suspect that given enough time and determination, you can get Snagit to do whatever you want. Maybe even make you coffee.

Bottom line: I think Pareto would have loved to use Snagit as a case study. TechSmith lets you opt-in and send anonymous usage data; I would love to take a peek at that and find out what percentage of the program's features are actually used on a day-by-day basis by most of its users.

[Reminder: The Giveaway is subject to Weblogs Inc. Rules and Regulations.]

Tags: blogging, camtasia, features, giveaway, screenshots, shareware, snagit, techsmith