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Skitch — screen grabs for nearly everyone

August 30, 2012

There are lots of reasons why you might want to capture a still image of your computer screen:

  1. Show students how to do something with a piece of software
  2. Document a course website strategy for your P&T dossier
  3. Illustrate an article about your research
  4. Create a visual for a class presentation
  5. Catch a still image of something that’s moving
  6. Email an error message to tech support
  7. Save anything you found or created on-screen

Both Mac and Windows operating systems (OS) have ways to do this, as do iOS and Android for mobile devices. It can get confusing when you work on multiple platforms, and the OS may not let you crop your “screen grab” or mark it up with arrows or text annotation. For that you need a separate application. Most software titles in this genre are only available for one platform or another. This article is about an exception to that rule.

Skitch is a neat little piece of free software provided by the folks at Evernote, and it’s available for three of the four systems mentioned above. A version for Windows Metro was released in April and, while there is nothing yet for regular desktops, I expect a Windows 8 version this fall.

Skitch lets you save what you capture to your desktop, of course, but the program also connects with Evernote, WordPress, and Flickr. If you have an Evernote account, you can save images online and share them in FaceBook, Twitter, or anywhere else you like. One of the best features, though, is annotation. You can add text, arrows, et cetera – and even edit them later on.

I tried the Mac version, and it is everything you would expect. Then I downloaded the iPad app — very nice!  (see the images above and below) Like many other apps, it lets you annotate an image already saved with the iPad’s built-in screen capture function. On top of that, however, Skitch has a browser, plus camera and map connections for creating all kinds of annotated images. Or you can make simple drawings, starting from a blank screen.

I was reminded of this little gem when Andy Rush gushed about Skitch on his blog earlier this month. The ProfHacker blog has also praised the product several times, including an article on Skitch for Android. It also gets great reviews from CNET, PC Magazine, and MacWorld.

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