Review: Techsmith Snagit (Mac and Windows)

I have been creating web sites and pages for seemingly ever. Well since 1996 to be exact when OzEmail asked me to develop a site for one its corporate clients – Coates Hire off memory. From there I did other sites for Hertz, John Williamson (Old man Emu) and even developed the original HSC Online for the NSW Board of Studies.

I was among the first that worked out how to add video to websites – and that was before the Sydney Olympics in 2000!

I gave up counting the number of sites I had put together in the corporate and educational world at about 500, and only stopped when it become economically unviable when the tools made available by the likes of Microsoft (FrontPage) and Adobe (Dreamweaver) made it possible for companies’ IT departments to take the task in-house.

But over all that time, and right until about 5 minutes ago, one tool has stayed with me, invaluable for a major component of all websites – graphics images.

Yes, Adobe Photoshop is brilliant and without question, the top of the pack, blowing away all pretenders to the throne over the years. But like Microsoft Word for example, most users wouldn’t touch even 5% of its capability.

So for getting screen shots and creating transparency for images to go onto a website, or into a video, then the subscription price is hard to justify for most folk.

Enter Techsmith Snagit, an app I have been using since those early days of web development in 1995!

Remarkably easy to use and intuitive, Snagit comes in two parts – the Capture utility and the Editor.

Capture

Capturing screens lets you choose whether to get a defines Region (using the mouse to draw a rectangle over the desired area), a window, full screen, a scrolling window, a panorama, get just text. There is also an advanced Capture for menus, multiple areas, the clipboard or free hand selection.

All sorts of effects can be applied at capture time and you can even automatically direct captures to a third party app such as Twitter, Evernote, OneNote, Word, Dropbox or Google Drive for example.

Still images of course can be captured, but it also possible to capture “video” making it a breeze for Snagit to let you capture a sequence of say mouse click, menu drop, choose item and then the selection doing whatever it does. Simply brilliant for creating video tutorials or segments off that can be later put together.

You can choose to capture the cursor or not, set time delays for capture and even set presets for future use.

Editor

The Editor component takes the functionality of Snagit to a new level. Captures are automatically placed in the Editor, and once there, can be embellished with arrows, text, callouts, shapes and stamps. Fills can be applied items erased and my favourite, transparency applied to selected sections.

In Photoshop, adding transparency to an image’s background means fiddling about with Adding Layers, re-ordering them, making sure they are not locked and various other non-intuitive steps.

With Snagit Editor it is as simple as:

Step 1: Insert the image into the editor

Start by taking a screenshot with Snagit, or upload an image from the File menu. Images that have a white background, solid colour, or high-contrast backgrounds work best.

Step 2: Next, click the Fill button on the toolbar and choose Transparent

If you need to add a transparent fill to your Quick Styles for the first time, it’s pretty simple. All you need to is click down on the fill colour option in the Tool Properties and select the transparent fill.

Step 3: Adjust your tolerance

It’s fairly easy to adjust the tolerance on this image because it’s only black and white. But sometimes you have an image with lots of different shades. If you have an image with lots of similar colours or gradients in the background you may end up with some bleeding around the icon, logo, etc.

One thing you can do to remedy that is to adjust the tolerance of the fill. One percent is the most strict, and 100 percent means it will pretty much wash out your entire image. You may have to play with the tolerance to get the right transparency level.

Adjusting the opacity will dictate how transparent you want your fill to be. The more opaque, the less transparent your fill. So if you want your background completely removed, go with 0%.

Step 4: Click the background areas you want to remove

If you are using a screenshot or a PNG image, it will default to have a transparent background. If you are using a JPG or other file format, you’ll need to adjust your background colour in the Snagit editor first or it will default to white rather than transparent.

To do this, simply click Image > Canvas Colour (on Windows) or Image > Change Canvas Colour… (on Mac).

Step 5: Save your image as a PNG

(If you save as another format, say JPG, it defaults the background to white)

Conclusion

As you can see, Snagit Capture and Editor and very easy to use, and extremely fast in their operation. Available for both Mac and PC, it is a well matured product I have been using for many years and I see no need to change.

It costs AUD$75 from www.techsmith.com for either Mac or PC version, and to me, is worth its weight in gold and paid for itself many, many times over in time saving.

You can also get a trial version to see if you like it.

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