There have been good things happening in the world of screen capture apps, with new apps becoming available for Mac and old favorites updating with new features. In the giant sea of screen capture apps, though, it can be hard to find just the right one for you, the one that has all the features you need and not too much of the stuff you don’t.
We’re going to amble through seven great apps for creating and annotating screenshots. They run the gamut of price and features, and hopefully at the end of it all, you’ll have a better handle on what’s out there and what’ll work for you.
Acorn was just updated, and while it’s not, strictly speaking, a screen capture app, it can create images of your entire screen using a keystroke. That’s pretty much what a screen capture app does, so it’s got the chops. The new screenshot will open up in Acorn, and you’ll have all of the usual image editing tools at your disposal.
A good screen capture app is going to help you create annotations without making you work for it, and Acorn’s got that down. Create shapes and outlines to draw attention to sections of your image; even arrows are standard. Easily add text to explain what’s going on and let your recipients know what’s important. While all of this is pretty standard for a screen capture app, you’ve got everything else that comes with a great image editor, like adjustment filters, fancy brushes, and lots of ways to select your image.
Requires: OS X 10.8 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: Flying Meat
More than just screenshots, Clarify lets you add note-like text to your images. Before or after capturing an image, add a subject and title for your screenshot. You can also write out a few notes below the image, too. If you need to include several images, that isn’t a problem. Just add them to the Clarify document, giving each its own image title and description.
Stacking images with a single subject within a project is really useful if you’re sharing your screenshots with someone else. Organizing them in Clarify ensures they won’t appear out of order and each has the proper context. Because Clarify saves in a weird, Clarify-specific file format, it may not seem like that does you a lot of good, but you can export your notes to Evernote or share them via the Clarify website.
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Blue Mango Learning Systems
Voila is something really special. Sure, you can take screenshots, and you can even make video screencasts or grab pages from your browser. That’s cool, but there are other tools that do that and will give you the annotations you’ll find in Voila. Text, shapes, and arrows are all here and will help you create more informative screenshots.
What’s so special, then? Everything else. Voila includes lots of stamps and stickers to really personalize your screenshot. I can definitely see the use of adding stamps that mark your screenshot as “private” or a PDF as “paid.” Even the “pow!” and “bang!” would be nice touches if you want to call out great work. I’m not sure the sparkles, lens flares, and bling jewels do a whole lot productivity-wise, but I sure do like having them available to give my screenshots that something extra.
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Global Delight Technologies Pvt. Ltd
The aim of Napkin is to make it easier to communicate with images. While you don’t have to use screenshots to do this, it’s certainly a good option. There’s more going here than just annotating a single captured image, as your Napkin workspace is really meant to accommodate several images, allowing you to create diagrams and mark up your images as much as you require.
One of my favorite features is the Call-Out. This allows you to select a section of the image and pull it out to annotate separately. If there’s something super important going on, that’s the part of the images that’s going to get hit up with the Call-Out tool. Drag the PNG pip onto your Desktop or into any folder to save your napkin file or share it via all the usual suspects. You can even upload your napkin to iCloud and share it with your colleagues using a link that expires after a couple of weeks.
Requires: OS X 10.8 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: Aged & Distilled, LLC
You already know about Skitch. Chances are you’ve tried Skitch, and you may be using it to take screenshots of this roundup right now. Even if you’ve looked at Skitch before and passed on it, there are reasons to look again. A recent update brought new annotations for everybody and PDF collaboration for Evernote Premium subscribers. If you haven’t figured it out, Skitch is an Evernote app and integrates with the notes giant.
The standard annotations are on deck. There are arrows, shapes, and text, but a white outline and drop shadow around everything makes it all look a bit more polished. The blur is nice, if you need to keep something private, and there are a couple of markers you can use, too. What Skitch does that really makes it stand out are stamps. There are a handful of different stamps, and you can use them to call out elements of your screenshot and add short clips of text.
Requires: OS X 10.7.4 or later, 64-bit processor
Glui is a pretty simple screen capture app. It takes screenshots, and then sticks text, arrows, and other shapes on your image. You can crop and freehand draw, too, but unlike some of our other apps listed, it won’t snap your freehand sketch into a pretty shape, instead leaving you with the scribbly mess we all make when we draw with a mouse or trackpad. Still, it’s a good little app, and I’m a big fan of simplicity, especially in my screen capture tools.
Something Glui has going for it that the other apps don’t is that it will save your screenshots directly to Dropbox. There’s a big blue button with a box on it–you know what to do with that. Uploading to Dropbox is awesome if you want to be in control of your screenshot links but don’t actually have your own server for this sort of thing. You can also share and save the normal ways, too, and if you hold down Option, you can drag your image to the Desktop, too.
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: Sebastian Razola
I sort of love this one. It’s replaced the default Mac OS X screen capture tool as my go to for all screenshots. Not only does it have all of the annotation tools you’re looking for, there’s a bonus you may not be expecting. You know how most of the time you only create an arrow so that you can stick some text at the other end of it? There’s a tool for that in Monosnap, so you don’t have to click back and forth. It’s also super easy to change line thickness and object color, as well as remove drop shadows and outlines and change your line style.
There are plenty of ways to get your screenshot saved, too. Drag the handle of the Monosnap window to place your image on the Desktop or in a folder. You can also save it in your default editor–set that one in preferences–or open it in any of several applications. Share it to your social networks, too. The best, though, is Monosnap’s upload function. With an account, you can upload to Monosnap’s site and share the link to your image, but if you have your own server that will accept the image, Monosnap doesn’t discriminate. Pop that info into the preferences and do what you need to.
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later, 64-bit processor
Developer: Farminers Limited
There are a lot of great apps for creating and annotating screenshots out there. There’s a huge range of prices and options, too. It’s hard to tell what’s going to work for you until you’ve played the field, but there are some important things to think about before you jump in feet first. What do you need from a screen capture app? Do you just want a quick image or are good-looking annotations important? Will you be uploading or sharing your screenshots and does it matter how that gets accomplished? Keep your priorities in mind as you wade into the screen capture deep waters.
I tried to hit some of the best and brightest of the screen capture apps out there. Do you have a favorite I missed or are you happy with good old Command+Shift+3 and Preview? Let us know in the comments!