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A brief overview of Snagit screen capture utility

There are many screen capture utilities, but I’ve used Snagit for years and
continue to be impressed with its functionality and ease of use.

In this video for an Ask Leo! webinar, I’ll
walk through installing Snagit, and show off a few of its features.


View in HD (1280×720)


Hello, everyone this is Leo Notenboom for

In today’s video, we’re going to take a look at a subject of a recent webinar: tools that I install first when I set up a new machine.

This video is going to cover Snagit. I’m going to download it, install it and show you a few of its features. Snagit can be found at or as you can see here at the website.

There’s a free trial; they ask for your email. As you can see, it’s available for either Windows or for Mac OS X. As you can see, I’m using Google Chrome as my browser so once the download completes, I’ll simply click on the download here to run the program.

We do want to run that file; installation is pretty typical. There’s a license agreement to be accepted; hit ‘Next’. It’s up to you whether or not you want to help Snagit improve itself by collecting anonymous usage data (we’ll decide later in this particular case). We’re gonna go for the 30 day evaluation.

As always, I recommend you select ‘Custom’ to be able to choose things that you might not otherwise know about. The installation location is correct. There a number of different add-ons specifically for Snagit. I’m actually going to go ahead and have them all be installed at this particular time. And we’re going to go ahead and configure it to not only start Snagit when installation is finished but also run Snagit automatically everytime Windows starts.

Naturally, Snagit is installing something and we will probably get a user access control dialog to which we would say ‘yes’. And that’s it; Snagit’s been installed. Now, what does that mean? In a moment we’ll see a new icon down in the notification area and of course, Snagit’s own user interface and its ‘welcome’ message. Since we’re using a trial, it’s telling us of course that we have 30 days left. For the moment we’re going to go ahead and just continue the trial.

So, Snagit does a number of different things and in some cases it tries to do them all at once and it’s actually pretty powerful. Most of the time, you’ll actually not see this window so I’m going to go ahead and close it. As Snagit points out, it’s still running down in the notification area.

So, Snagit is all about taking screenshots; it’s a screen capture utility. How do you do that? Well, what Snagit does is it takes over the Print Screen key. So if I now hit Print Screen, the Snagit UI pops up. This is the ‘capture’ UI and you’ll notice some interesting things happening as I move the mouse around the window. You’ll see that different windows are being highlighted. We’ll start with capturing an area. So if we want to simply capture the area, I click; hold and now you can see the area that is being selected for the capture. As soon as I release the mouse, Snagit’s editor fires up. Now this is actually a really powerful little image editor that will work well for a number of different things. The nice thing is that it’s very highly tailored of course, to editing screen captures captured by Snagit.

I’m just going to leave that there for a moment and go on to show off a couple of the other ways that Snagit can capture things. I’m going to hit Print Screen again. What I want to draw attention to here is the way that the rectangle that’s being highlighted is changing. Now normally you’ll think of Windows programs as being a Window but in reality, Windows programs themselves take advantage of Windows’ ability to manage…windows and actually compose their display out of several what are actually separate windows. You can see here that Snagit is highlighting the main content area in Chrome. Another window that’s available in Chrome is the address bar; a separate window. And finally in Chrome, at least, the entire program itself is, as you might expect, a window. You can also go down and capture the task bar with this thing; the start button; the notification area, the various little windows that are here if you wanted to take pictures of them.

The reason that this is interesting is that it’s a very quick way to get an accurate capture of a rectangle on the screen without you having to try and carefully manipulate or move the pointer.

So what I’m going to do here is go ahead and click on this window and release. And what Snagit has now captured is in fact, an image of what’s called the Client Area or the Display area of the web page.

Now, one of the things that’s missing in a case like this is you can see that it got only the part that was displayed where in fact, the window itself is much longer. Snagit actually has a way of handling that. I’m gonna hit Print Screen again and this time you’ll notice that there’s this little yellow ball here with a couple of arrows on it, a couple of up and down arrows. That is to capture as they call it, the scrolling area. Since this has a scroll bar, Snagit knows how to capture, scroll down, capture and then paste everything together. I’ll show you how that works by just clicking on it.

So now the top part of our capture looks very similar. But this time you’ll see that it actually includes everything on that web page, even the part that had scrolled below. So as you can see, those options alone make Snagit a pretty powerful little screen capture utility. I want to highlight just a couple of the options that are available.

‘All in One’ is the mode that we were using. You can, if you’re having trouble with this All in One crosshair type scenario, you can select exactly what you want: web page, automatic scrolling, free hand, copy to clipboard, full screen captures which basically replicates the capture of the entire screen much like Windows does itself then firing up the Snagit editor. There are various options you can include, you can say I do or don’t want the mouse pointer to be included. If you have something that is difficult to capture because the act of capturing actually makes whatever you’re looking at go away, you can tell Snagit to capture five seconds after I push the capture key to give you enough time to set things up and then wait for Snagit to capture on its own.

Like I said, several different options, several different ways of going about this but fundamentally a really great way of capturing things on your screen to Snagit’s editor. So let’s go back to Snagit’s editor because that’s where I typically have a lot of fun.

You can see that we’ve got the last four captures down here. I’m sorry, the last three; Snagit came with one preinstalled so-to-speak. This is the first capture we did which is just the text on the Snagit screen. This is the capture of the Snagit screen. The first thing we’re going to do is crop this image just a little bit. Perhaps we only wanted to show the navigation portion of this website up here in its upper left. So we will go ahead and just sort of click and hold on the little tab there. That allows us to bring the right edge in and then crops to where we drop it. And then the same thing on the bottom; the little handle here; we pull it up and release and now we’ve got a portion of the screen that we had captured.

Now, a lot of people often ask me how I get that torn effect on the images that you put on Ask Leo! Well, this is where I do it: under ‘Image’ there are various effects that you can do. Actually there’s quite a raft of them: torn, curled, faded, etc…perspective. What I end up doing is I go down here to torn effect; I set up how big I want the tear to be; how deep the shadow behind it should be; where the shadow should be and what the direction the shadow should assume the light is coming from; how big I want an outline of what’s left so if I take the outline away you can see that the image becomes more ‘bare’ torn. I tend to use a single pixel outline because I think it tends to make it look a little bit better. And once I’ve configured the capture the way I want it to be, I can then also add this particular configuration (the size of ‘3’; to the lower right-hand corners; the shadow depth; light from this direction; the width of my border; the color of my border) I can add that to Quick Styles. So that will save me a step next time. I hit ‘Ok’ and this is what I have. I have in fact, the torn effect of a screen capture, a portion of a screen I captured earlier.

So, another thing I often do is I will draw on top of this. For example, I will often use circles although you can see there are many different shapes and sizes you can use (excuse me, shapes and colors) you can use. I tend to use an ellipse with a shadow and I’m going to highlight the word ‘Snagit’ here and you can see I can choose, I can make the circle however big I want; I can move it around after I’ve placed it. And once I drop it, it is where it’s going to be including a little bit of a shadow to give it that 3-D look. Often, I’ll also include a pointer. Well, pointers are very easy and once again, the default is to include a shadow. Now as you can see, there are tons of options on pointers. There are tons of options on call-outs. So, for example, if you want to have a box above this in green that says ‘Snagit’ you can add that just that simply.

It’s a great way to annotate the screen captures that you are making to make a point, to point out specific features of whatever it is you are trying to illustrate. In this particular case, I want that to go away.

And let’s see…other options. The stamp tool is an interesting one. I don’t have my logo here. I have that installed on my main machine but what that allows you to do is to overlay the image with a few pre-defined accents. For example, if I wanted to include this the international ‘no’ symbol, I would click on it and now wherever I leave it, it drops.

What you’ll notice I often do with my ‘Ask-Leo!’ logo which I do this same way is that I’ll actually change it to be somewhat transparent. You can see that this is solid 100% opacity. If I take it down to about 25% and drop it again, you can see that whatever’s behind it shows through.

Snagit has the usual number of drawing tools: you can draw, you can highlight, you can, of course, magnify, you can type on top of your image. You can draw lines. As you saw earlier you can draw circles, boxes and other shapes. You can fill areas with color and of course you can erase.

You’ll notice that one of the things that Snagit was highlighting in its own marketing literature as we were installing this was the ability to include transparencies. If you take a look closely you’ll see that the area around the edge of what I’ve created here has this light grey checkerboard effect. That actually indicates that that area is transparent so that when I drop that image on a web page or a document whatever is behind the image or underneath the image will actually show through. That allows me to actually give it a pretty nice effect when I have it on top of my light web page, the whole thing, the background, the white background just bleeds through and it looks like it’s floating on top of the page.

Finally, the last thing I want to show here is Snagit’s Send feature. ‘Send’ allows you to take the image you’ve just created, however you’ve annotated it, and send it to a document like Excel or Word or to PowerPoint or what I’m going to do here is send it to is included with Snagit, access to it is anyway, and you are then able to then upload, automatically whatever you’ve done to So we’ll do that. As it turns out, yes, I already have an account. Once you’ve logged in, the screen capture is uploaded and the URL is pasted in your clipboard. A very quick way to find that out is to just go in and start Notepad and hit ‘Edit’ ‘Paste’. That URL is a URL of that image on the web. You could share that right now with anybody you wanted to. I’m going to copy it again, although I guess I didn’t need to do that. Go over to my web browser and in a new window, paste that URL. And what we have here is the screen capture that we just took on the web for anyone to see. And in fact, I’m going to leave this image up here for you to see so that you can see exactly what screen capture and Snagit and all look like.

There are additional plug-ins available for Snagit that will also allow you to upload to some of the more popular photo sharing sites including Flickr. Snagit is one of those tools that I rely on heavily and I endorse heartily. Now there are lots of screen capture utilities out there and while Snagit is not free, let’s take a quick look and find out how much it is. It’s $49.95. I find Snagit so powerful and so flexible that to me it’s worth every penny. I’ve been using it for years. I’ve been staying up-to-date with the various feature additions and I just can’t say enough good things about it. The little editor that comes with it I find so powerful just on its own that I often take images from other sources and use Snagit’s editor to annotate, highlight, add circles and arrows and so forth to create annotated images.

That’s Snagit. As I said, I’m a true believer. I use it a lot and I recommend it highly.

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5 comments on “A brief overview of Snagit screen capture utility”

  1. Excellent stuff, thank you. Was looking for something like this to help tech-supporting my family. I’d really appreciate better micing though, the muddy off-mic audio was a little distracting.

  2. Leo, I’ve been having fun with picasa and flicker for a couple of years and can now see Snagit utilized in our business marketing. As always, I look forward to your next post as I’m always learning something new from you. Thank you

  3. Leo: SnagIt along with Total Commander are programs that I use every day. I’ve been using SnagIt it for years and couldn’t do with out it.

  4. Leo – For a number of years, I have used the “ctrl-printscreen” to capture screen images. I can then bring up WordPad or Word & paste the image. No neat editor but it is quick, easy and free.

  5. Hi Leo! I got the free version of SnagIt 7.2.5 that you told us about a few years ago. When my computer burned up, I lost it and now cannot figure out how to get it back. Is there any way to do this? Thanks!

    I wasn’t aware that there was a free version, only a free trial. Don’t have an answer for SnagIt specifically, (other than to me it’s worth the money). There are some free alternatives around, but I don’t have much experience with them so I can’t recommend one over another.


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