Capturing the Mac

Anthony Caruana
9 November, 2011
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Windows users have long been fans of SnagIt and Camtasia. These two apps, from TechSmith, make it simple to create screen and video captures of on-screen activity.

But the Mac versions have been around for a couple of years and we spoke to TechSmith Chief Evangelist Betsy Weber about the two products.

“SnagIt turns 20 this year,” she says. “For a long time we’ve been writing software for the PC and a couple of years ago several of our customers switched to the Mac and said, ‘Hey, we want to take you with us.’

“So we built the products from the ground up and optimised them for the Mac. We didn’t just port or copy our Windows versions.”

By building new apps rather than porting, TechSmith was able to harness the many years of experience they had gained in the Windows world.

“That was the great thing,” Weber says. “We could take all the experience on capturing the screen and we were able to write this brand new without the constraints of the past”.

Although the Mac and PC versions do the same things, they don’t look the same. Mac users get a very Mac-like experience rather than a clumsy Mac retrofit to a Windows program.


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Camtasia is more than a simple screen recording app. If you’re running Lion, after all, the capacity to record everything on the screen is already built into QuickTime.

Camtasia for Mac is a full video-editing suite that includes screen capturing. The user interface is simple to use – there’s a record button and you can choose whether to record what’s happening on the screen, your Mac’s iSight camera or both at the same time.

If you’re producing an educational video you can have both the application and trainer’s face on the screen in picture-in-picture mode.

As well as the direct recording by Camtasia, you can add your own media including images and video from other sources. Camtasia includes a video-editing tool that looks like a modernised version of iMovie HD – the last version of iMovie that included a proper timeline for editing.

When you use the iSight camera as an input with your screen capture, Camtasia places the camera’s video in a separate video channel that can be edited independently of the main screen. You can also move and resize the camera feed so that your final product looks perfect.

Where you make edits or integrate other content you can apply effects such as transitions, apply filters and other options such as fades, flips and focus on specific areas of the screen. Camtasia might be sold as a screen capture tool but it is much more.


US$49.95 from developer (free 30-day trial)

Sure, there’s the trusty old c-Shift-4 combination for capturing a screen but SnagIt does so much more. Like its companion, Camtasia, SnagIt can capture and edit images.

This makes it simple to capture an application window and then add arrows, annotations and callouts quickly and easily.

One of my favourite features is the ability to catch an entire web page. By setting the appropriate option, SnagIt is able to capture an entire window even if it scrolls past the end of the screen. SnagIt does the scrolling for you and then stitches together the sections perfectly. This is handy for archiving web pages that you want to keep.

The editing tools are easy to use. Even if you’ve only rarely edited images, SnagIt’s editor makes amending the image easy. You can add shadows and change the opacity of the image and edit others you’ve collected from other sources.

Like Camtasia, SnagIt is able to deliver output in a variety of formats so it’s easy to share what you’ve created.

If you need to capture screen content, then SnagIt is a great tool for the job.

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