SnagIt - Top Notch Screen Capturing

In my quest to blog a little review of most of my favorite apps, I come to SnagIt by TechSmith.  SnagIt is a fantastic screen capture tool that lets you do two key things very well:

  1. Capture Just What You Want
  2. Annotate the Capture

Capture Just What You Want

In SnagIt's main form you can select to capture a specific user dragged area of the screen (Region), a specific application's window or dialog (Window), the entire screen (Full screen), or even scrolling boxes like web pages (way cool).  There are also hotkeys for the various capture techniques, including just hit the "Print Screen" button.  The "Region" option has a zoom box so you can get down to the pixel relatively easily.

SnagIt also does some oher fancy capturing techniques, including:

  • Basic Screen Video Recording (like a lightweight Camtasia)
  • Application Menus
  • Editable Text on the Screen
  • Images on a Web Page
  • Scrolling Web Pages to a PDF File

Annotate the Capture

After a capture is made, you can mark it up all sorts of ways.  Here's a capture of the annotation app and some types of annotation.  The editor is so good that I use it to do basic editing (crop & rotate) on my photos too.

The window has been squeezed so that it fits in the post.  You can check out some other examples of annotated captures here (lots of stuff), here (one a photo), and here (torn edges).  From this screen there is easy deployment to the printer, an e-mail, a file, etc.

If You Read This Far...

Then you may be interested in knowing just a few other things...  TechSmith is a good company.  They are quick to reply to feedback and they give Microsoft MVPs free licenses to their apps, which is how I originally got SnagIt and one reason I'm writing my opinion. :)

Windows Vista has a basic screen capture tool built-in called the "Snipping Tool" (type "snip" in Vista Search).  Here's a post about it and a video.

For screen video recording, try their Camtasia program.  It is very easy and produces a perfect picture quality using it's own lossless compression.  You may want to tweak the audio codec to get good sound at a lower cost, I use the "Microsoft ADPCM" in "44.100 kHz, 4 Bit, Mono, 21 kb/sec" which after much trial an error strikes a good balance of great voice recording quality with small size.  Windows Media Encoder is free and also does screen recording, but the coloring in picture is lousy as it uses lossy compression.

You can buy SnagIt for $40 from or download a 30-day trial from TechSmith.

There are a few things I wish it did, like remember some of my effects settings, which I've passed on to TechSmith and they've been responsive.  On the whole I've been quite happy with the tool and find it indispensable for communicating in e-mail, on blogs, presentations, screen mockups, etc.  It's become an essential part of any PM's toolkit here at MS too.

Update (on 7/9/07): TechSmith has created a plugin to SnagIt to integrate with Visual Studio Team System. Check it out at: SnagIt + VSTS = Integration Love