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Entries in Productivity (1)


SnagIt - Why I Hate It and Yet Can't Live Without It...

I have a love hate relationship with Techsmith's SnagIt. The app does so many things very well... but there are few things which really frustrate me on a daily basis. I go searching for alternatives fairly often as a result of them. Here's my list of features which are really missing in SnagIt.

At the time of writing, The latest versions are: SnagIt 11.1 on Windows and SnagIt 2.0 on Mac.

1. Facilitate attaching images to Gmail/Web Apps

Webmail is great... but until browsers can fully access the clipboard, pasting images into a gmail window isn't going to be possible. The solution to this limitation that most webapps (gmail included) have embraced is allowing images to be "drag and dropped."

On SnagIt for windows, when you drag and drop an image from the catalog bar (the bar that shows up under the image editor), it attaches the image in the proprietary .SNAG format. Solution: create an event handler for this such that when you drag the image from the catalog it automatically saves it as a .png file in the catalog and use that copy as the image to drop.

On SnagIt for Mac, you cannot drag images out of the catalog bar at all. So, this needs to be added.

The fastest way to attach images I've found is to first do "Save as" and save as a png. Once you do that you can then drag it over and it'll attach as png. But, the additional save as step slows things down. Especially, you were trying to markup 5 images for an email. That extra save as step really adds up. So, the simple solution to this is add an event handler to detect dragging, automatically save the image as a PNG or JPG and then have that copy get "dropped" in the application instead of the .SNAG version.

2. Ability to resize everything using keyboard shortcut.

If you've ever used Balsamiq Mockups, you'll know what i'm talking about. In that app CTRL+[ makes things smaller and CTRL+] makes things bigger. For example, if you have text selected, it should make the text bigger. If you have an arrow selected, it should make the width of the arrow thicker. If you have a rectangle selected, it should make the stroke around it thicker. If you have a stamp selected, it should scale it up and down.

Having to hover over things to reveal the context menu is incredibly slow.

In SnagIt for windows, it is possible to create shortcuts for resizing the text. But, it's not possible to assign a shortcut to increase the width of an arrow unfortunately.

3. Scale Font To Fit.

When I draw a rectangle, I generally know that's the size I want it to be. I want the text I compose to be as large as possible but still fit in the area I defined. So, the default font size should be AUTO and it should resize the font to make this happen for me automagically.

The Mac version is slightly better. When you add more text then what would fit in the text area it automatically expands the shape. But, I'd prefer it to just scale the font instead because as I said earlier... Generally when I draw the shape, that's the size I want it to fit in.

4. Better Default Styles -or- Quicker Editing of Styles

If you love "Comic Sans" then you're the type of person that would like the default styles. Bad Fonts, Bad Colors, and Unprofessional shapes. This feedback applies more to the windows version. The Mac team did a much better good job of defining the styles.

The workaround to this that most people would suggest is to "Create a custom style". Well, no custom styles don't work (see below). But, if you're going to insist on it then at the very least they need to be improved in the following ways:

  1. Custom Styles need to be at the top of the list... not at the bottom where I have to scroll down every time for. Alternatively, make it possible to just delete the default quick styles.
  2. It should remember the last custom style used between sessions and default to this rather then the ugly default style.
  3. The preview for a custom styles don't look right. They don't show my font half the time or it's hard to tell how big the arrow widths are.

Better yet! Just make it easier to change the color, size, etc. No matter how organized you are about creating quick styles, there is no substitute for being able to customize the attributes on the fly. The colors I choose are directly related to the image background / style I'm marking up... so you you simply can't create styles for every occasion. Back in SnagIt 8, life was good. The original interface was so fast and intuitive. Once they made the switch to the ribbon interface in SnagIt 9, Things got hidden in menu's which appear on hover. God forbid you want to change the font size, font, color, and say the width. That's 3 separate hover steps. I still have snagit8 installed and prefer it's editor over the ribbon style anyday!

I like the Mac Version much better because it style has a property panel (similar to how SnagIt 8 for Windows did). But, the Mac Design team made some poor decisions for this panel. For example, If i'm editing a text rectangle. They give you options to quickly edit the Line Style and Width. But, changing the Font size, type and color are buried under a separate panel. Who edits the rectangle width more often then font size? No one! So, these options should be given priority.

Make it Easier to Combine Multiple Captures.

Often I'll take several captures and want to combine them into a single display. When you try and move the second capture into the first, it should automatically expand the canvas area.

Some more nit picky feature requests...

The features above would satisfy me and I feel all are completely actionable requests. But, here's a complete feature request list.

  1. On Mac, the padding between rectangle edge and the text is too high. Hard to fit everything in.
  2. Mac version, doesn't have features like Trim, Cutout, Spotlight and magnify at all.
  3. Windows Version, doesn't have the reflection option.
  4. On Windows, would love to be able to do spotlight & Magnify on multiple areas.
  5. Both Versions, would be nice to be able to create custom stamp library from multiple sources.
  6. On Mac, no option to assign a keyboard shortcut to Increase/Decrease Font size at all.
  7. Create styles which are proportional to image resolution. The styles are by default sized appropriately for screen captures at screen resolutions. If you ever try to markup an image from a digital camera, you'll need to increase the widths / font sizes. Make them be a percentage or scale appropriately based on source image resolution.

No better option!?

So, I've outlined a few of my biggest grips with SnagIt and all of them have to do with the built in editor. There is probably a better editor out there somewhere. But, I keep coming back to SnagIt for the following reasons. If anyone knows of a better editor that I could tie into SnagIt for editing please chime in.

  1. I love how I can capture things and not have to save them. I frequently take a screen grab and then do nothing with it. I save it for later when I have time to do something with it. So, it getting captured in Snagit's catalog is the unique feature which keeps me from switching.
  2. The "All in One" Capture option is incredible.
  3. SnagIt is reasonably priced ($50). I use Snagit on a lot of computers so putting an Adobe Creative Suite on all of them is just cost prohibitive.
  4. SnagIt is lightweight. The time to go from capture to editing is well under 2 seconds (if you have a good computer at least)... firing up an Adobe app just takes too long.
  5. For the most part... everything I need is in SnagIt and it's faster and easier then more heavyweight apps.

I'd really like a better solution and would love for people to chime in on the comments and let me know what they use and if there is a better solution out there. Thanks!

Update: 1/11/2013

I evaluate some other applications.

  1. Most promising to me is Clarify. It doesn't have a catalog per se but you can capture lots of images into a single book. It's intended for making a step by step instruction list. So, it allows you to put blocks of text between your screen grabs. It's a pretty good idea. I really like how they have styles. It's very easy to modify the colors widths etc.

  2. Skitch - seems to be the trendy app people are using. They have very limited options. You get one font and a small color palette. But the one font looks nice, an the colors all go together.