Category: Utilities, Graphics software
Name of tool: SnagIt Version 5.0
Company name: Techsmith Corp.
Windows platforms supported: 95, 98, NT, 2000
Quick description: A versatile screen-capture tool that continues to be very flexible in terms of image formats and useful for displaying both still and moving images.
**** = Very cool, very useful
Pros: Great screen-capture utility that can save files to web sites in various graphic formats. Can capture portions of the screen as well as particular windows.
Cons: More advanced video captures will require purchase of the companion Camtasia non-linear editing tool to add pans and zooms and to dub your audio.
There are numerous screen-capture products on the market including Ulead Screen Capture, HyperSnap and CaptureEze97, but SnagIt is one of the best based on my experience. It is useful for creating software documentation, training videos and graphic illustrations for your web site. On top of a very reasonable price tag, its menu choices are obvious and simple to navigate, and the product comes with some minimal Help documentation, which is really all you need. It took me all of about five minutes to load and begin using the product.
I've used various versions of SnagIt over the years to provide screen shots to run with software reviews, and Version 5 adds some nice improvements, such as the ability to capture image files and use File Transfer Protocol to transfer them to your web site. It also has the ability to annotate your images with time stamps, machine name and other messages. SnagIt can save files as BMP, JPEG, GIF and TIFF formats, in addition to sending them to the printer or attaching them directly to an email message.
One of the biggest advantages with SnagIt is its ability to capture the entire screen or particular windows. If your window contains information that scrolls off the screen, SnagIt will capture all of the information - this is very useful for capturing long web pages, for example. When you move the mouse cursor over a window, the area that is about to be captured is outlined in red. You can also capture any rectangular region of the screen by clicking on opposite corners with your mouse. It takes more time to explain this than to do it.
SnagIt can also save mouse and screen movements as an AVI video file. This is useful for conducting product demonstrations or tours of a series of software screens. You set the frames-per-second capture rate for your video to decide how to best balance image clarity with the size of the video file produced. New in Version 5 are SnagIt Studio, a graphics editing program and the ability to save multiple capture profiles; you can have one for saving screens for the web and another for saving your screens to the printer at higher resolutions. If you want to get more involved in producing video captures, you'll need to buy the companion Camtasia non-linear editing tool to add pans and zooms and to dub your audio. This is really a minor drawback in a very strong product.Strom-meter key:
**** = Very cool, very useful
*** = Hey, not bad. One notch below very cool
** = A tad shaky to install and use but has some value.
* = Don't waste your time. Minimal real value.
David Strom is president of his own consulting firm in Port Washington, N.Y. He has tested hundreds of computer products over the past two decades working as a computer journalist, consultant and corporate IT manager. Since 1995, he has written a weekly series of essays on web technologies and marketing called Web Informant. You can send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.