When we first started toying with OS X, we were sure that, due to the graphical nature of the system, we'd be offered a decent tool for screen capture. Wrong! The bundled screen capture utility, Grab, is about as bare bones as one can get, it can only do a full screen capture, a timed screen capture, and a selection. Even OS 9 had more functionality than this!
Longtime Observers may fondly recall Snapz Pro, Ambrosia's screen capture for OS 9. The good news is that Ambrosia has been hard at work bringing the features of Snapz Pro to OS X. The result, Snapz Pro X, brings enhanced screen capture functionality to OS X users. Not just a port, this is a whole new version, taking advantage of many OS X features.
The enhancements to Snapz Pro X begin with the number of different graphic formats you can save your shot as. In addition to GIF, JPEG, TIFF, PICT, and PNG, which were supported by the original product, you can also save your shot in BMP (Windows bitmap) PDF (Adobe Portable Document Format) and PSD (Photoshop) formats.
Snapz Pro X Control Center
Snapz Pro X has several different capture modes. The first, and probably least exciting, is the screen capture mode. This is something that Grab can handle. But with Snapz Pro X, you can benefit from all sorts of extra options, like being able to scale the image, change the color palette, apply a border, and so on.
Next is the selection tool. Again, something that Grab can handle, but where Snapz Pro X offers extra goodies. The capture area is shown as a bright box, and the rest of the screen is dimmed. You can get greater control over the capture area by holding down the Control key, which will invoke a "Fatbits" type of tool. This greatly magnifies the cursor area, allowing for a precise selection.
The Objects tool is what really got us excited. Although Grab hints at the ability to capture a window, the item is grayed out, and unavailable. Fortunately, Snapz Pro X can capture windows, menus, the Dock, and other interface objects. Gone are the days where you have to spend time touching up window selection captures, due to the lame Grab selection tool.
For a little extra dough, you can also take advantage of the Snapz Pro movie capture feature. This will let you record the action on a portion of your screen, and save it to a QuickTime movie. Make sure not to select too large an area, or use a high bit depth, since even the fastest machine can't keep up. You can also annotate the movie with an available audio source, like a built-in or external mic. Great for demos and tutorials.
Take advantage of screen capture functionality Apple should have included with Mac OS X but didn't. Get Snapz Pro X, and never deal with Grab again.
Have any other Mac OS X gadgets that can help improve your image? Send an e-mail to John, and he'll get on it.
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John is a software engineer who works in the corporate R&D group of a Fortune 500 company, focusing on all aspects of communications technology. He has several degrees that claim he knows what he's doing when it comes to computers. After watching co-workers reinstall Windows, search for device drivers, and experience other horrors during the day, he's glad that he comes home to a Mac (compatible) computer. Have any comments, suggestions, or favorite Gadgets? Drop John a line at