Points to consider when choosing screen capture software

There are quite a few screen capture utilities out there including the basic Windows Snipping Tool which comes with Windows Vista and Windows 7. This is fine for a plain screen capture but if you’re a blogger, sooner or later you’re going to need to be able to annotate and obfuscate (blur) text in the image so an alternative utility has to be found. Here are some points to consider when making your choice.

Able to capture anything on your screen, not just in a browser window

This is the first problem I came across with a number of utilities including Awesome Screenshot, Aviary Screen Capture and other browser extensions which offer screen capture. You may occasionally want to capture part of an image from a file on your computer (not in your browser window), a Word or Excel screenshot, etc. and these in-browser utilities won’t work outside the browser window. Utilities like the Windows Snipping Tool, Greenshot, Shotty or PicPick will be fine here.

Launch from hotkey or delayed launch

Occasionally, you’ll want to capture a pop-up window or a drop-down menu in your screenshot. If you launch your screen capture utility with a mouse click, these windows will disappear. You’ll need to launch from a Hotkey like the Print Screen key so as to retain the pop-up window or drop-down menu on screen. Utilities like the Windows Snipping Tool, Greenshot, Shotty or PicPick will be fine here. Greenshot, Shotty and PicPick launch from Hotkeys and here’s how to  launch the Windows Snipping Tool from a key combination.

Screen capture 1

Annotate image and obfuscate sensitive text

A utility that doesn’t do this isn’t much use for bloggers. You’ll occasionally need to be able to draw text on the image, highlight parts of the image, draw arrows to point out certain features, and obfuscate (blur) any sensitive text. Utilities like Greenshot or Shotty will mostly work. However, Greenshot has to annotate with text in a text box which you don’t always want. Yes, you can set the box outline to zero width but the text box still obliterates underlying features. Sometimes I just want to add text without a box and without hiding the underlying features. On the other hand, Shotty will do this, but there is no facility to draw arrows in Shotty. However, PicPick is able to annotate text directly on the image, obfuscate text and draw arrows. Here’s a screenshot of a screenshot in PicPick showing blurring, text annotation, box highlighting and arrows.

Screen capture 2

Of the screen capture utilities I’ve looked at, PicPick is able to do all that I want.

Update (7 April 2012): PicPick can also capture a scrolling window which can be very useful. I understand this was buggy in the past but seems to be working fine on the current version.  Use the Screen Capture utility of PicPick and select Scrolling Window. Move the mouse until the window you want to capture has a red outline border, click the left mouse button then let go and be patient as it scrolls down through the window to the bottom. Then it opens the complete window in the PicPick editor.

Which screen capture utility do you use?  Drop a comment below.

 

4 Responses

  1. Evan @40Tech Says:

    I’ve been looking for a good screenshot tool for a while. I have one on the Mac (don’t remember the name), while on Windows 7 I’ve just been using the snipping tool. I wasn’t aware of the key combo. Very handy, as I’ve had times where the mouse click interfered with what I was trying to capture. I’ll take a look at PicPick- I was just looking for screenshot software this weekend that allows annotations.

  2. Sean Says:

    Thank you for shortlisting the services. I think I’m going to try pickpick. I’ve been looking for such a utility for a while.

  3. Yoav Says:

    Good write up – it really can be very difficult to find the exact software, so thanks for pointing to the right direction – I’ll take a look at pickpick now

  4. Donna Wayne Says:

    Very useful article, thanks for the tips. I changed a million of different softwares by now until I found out that PaintShop Pro has an option for screenshots, and you can check here how easy it is to use it http://www.paintshoppro.com/en/pages/screenshots/ this option made my life much more easier since it delivers the screenshots in high quality unlike other softwares and tools.

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