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Free Screenshot Captor Trounces $50 Snagit

Screenshot Captor offers powerful image capture tools, outperforming Snagit in some cases.

Taking screenshots is an addictive habit: It's something many people don't do, but once you get started, you will probably find yourself taking them all the time. Screenshots are great for illustrating software bugs, showing a relative or friend how to do something on the computer, documenting your astounding gaming feats and records, and dozens of other daily uses. Screenshot Captor (free) lets you take many kinds of screenshots, and in some ways it performs even better than the screenshot industry's 800-pound gorilla, Snagit ($50).

One of the trickiest tasks for a screenshot application is to take a screenshot of a scrolling window. Let's say you're trying to save an image of a webpage that takes up several screen lengths: Your screenshot application would have to be smart enough to scroll the window, take multiple screenshots, and then stitch them together into one seamless image, eliminating duplicate content.

In Screenshot Captor 3.0, scrolling capture was reworked from the ground up, and I couldn't resist pitting it head-to-head against Snagit. In terms of UI, Snagit is far slicker: Just hover over a scrolling area and a double-arrow icon shows up. Click the icon, Snagit scrolls the area, takes a screenshot, and you're done. Screenshot Captor uses a much more involved interface in which you test the window for scrolling methods beforehand, take the screenshot, and then stitch the image back together once the screenshot was taken, with full control over the stitching process.

I first tried to take a screenshot of a webpage shown in Opera. Snagit flat-out refused to work: The double-arrow icon simply didn't show up. Screenshot Captor reported that Opera wouldn't respond to normal scrolling actions, so I just told it to send PgUp/PgDn keypresses. That worked fine, and produced a beautiful screenshot. Screenshot Captor 1, Snagit 0.

My next test was capturing a screenshot of art website Ffffound.com shown in Chrome. I picked Ffffound because it's a long webpage, and because it often contains animated GIFs. Snagit scrolled the page briskly and produced a screenshot. Sadly, it was confused by an animated GIF, producing multiple copies of it one after the other, effectively breaking the screenshot. Worse yet, Snagit doesn't offer easy tools for fixing such errors.

Screenshot Captor scrolled much faster than Snagit, and it caught the animated GIF mid-frame: There was no duplication. There were some image issues near the bottom of the page, most of which I easily fixed using Screenshot Captor's post-processing stage. The end result was a beautiful screenshot of a page containing an animated GIF. Screenshot Captor 2, Snagit 0.

Scrolling image capture is just one of Screenshot Captor's features. Screenshot Captor can also save an individual screenshot of every control (button, text area, and so on) in the target window automatically, or just take a simple screenshot of the active window or any region of the screen. The application also features a built-in image editor with simple annotation tools such as arrows and text boxes, and supports free utility ZUploader (from the makers of ZScreen) for uploading images to hosting services.

In terms of UI, you won't find many bells and whistles. Screenshot Captor is a no-nonsense utility, containing plenty of options, buttons, and controls and very little visual flair. The buttons are clearly labels, and helpful hints explain tricky points. The author, Mouser, also created a series of screencasts showing how to use some of the tools.

If you don't mind the initial learning curve, you'll find Screenshot Captor 3 to be a very capable screenshot application that makes things as simple while still providing enough tools to obtain professional-looking results.

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