Ember 1.2 — The Smartest Image Library, Ever

The Realmac team's LittleSnapper was the Mac screenshot tool of choice for anyone who wanted to save more than just individual image images to Finder. LittleSnapper turned made it simple to keep a library of everything you've ever snapped, and then annotate and tweak the shots all from one app. And then they decided to start over and make a new app: Ember.

Ember was designed from the ground up to be the best way to organize all of your design inspirations — not just for geeks managing screenshots of apps, even though it's still awesome for that as well. Essentially, you throw all the pictures you want — screenshots, sure, but also photos of architecture or crafts or web design mockups — into your library to easily find them later. Throw in tags and descriptions, and you've got a whole new way to manage those images that otherwise would get lost in Finder.

And now, with the Mavericks-focused v1.2 upgrade, Ember is smart enough to help you find just what you want from your library, and keeps your image assets backed up in iCloud.

Your Mac Recognizes Colour

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Most screenshot tools are simply designed to help you snap part of your screen, and perhaps add some annotations and tweaks before sharing it with the world. But a screenshot tool is decidedly geeky, and the Realmac team saw more potential for Ember than just that. So it made it into a library that’s perfect for organizing any images you want, be it vacation photos or food shots or design inspiration or screenshots. And now, with a Mavericks-only addition, Ember can recognize the main color in your images and help you search for shots by their color along with any other metadata you’ve added to the photos.

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It’s insanely easy to use. Just install the update, then try searching through your library for a color (dark blue, say). Voila — you’ll see all the pictures in your library that are dominated by that color. It works really good by default, and you can tweak it to either search more narrowly or more broadly for color, depending on your tastes. Then, you can make new smart folders that’ll automatically show images with certain colors, giving you a great way to sort all the new white iOS 7 or old black iOS 6 app screenshots out of your library (among other uses).

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Along with that, v.1.1 added a new Smart Drawing tool to Ember that makes it easy to markup your images. Draw a straight line, and it’ll turn into an arrow; draw a circle, and it’ll turn into a far more perfect circle than you could ever hope to freehand draw on a touchpad. It’s a great addition that makes it simple to annotate screenshots and more in Ember.

If you want to tweak your shots more, though, you can set your favorite image and code editor in Ember to one-click send anything in your library to your favorite editor for extra editing. Throw in the fact that it can capture full-length webpages with its built-in browser or the Ember browser shortcuts — including a screenshot and the actual source code of the site — and timed screenshots, and it’s one of the best screenshot tools for the Mac right now. It just needs a blur option to knock out sensitive data, and perhaps a resize option when exporting images, and it’d be perfect.

iCloud for Everyone

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It might be surprising to know that Ember didn’t already support iCloud sync, since so many apps already support it we’ve come to expect it. That’s not a concern now, since Ember 1.2 lets you move your library to iCloud — or, you can keep it local on your Mac if you want, your choice. There’s also a brand-new iCloud based sharing option in Ember that lets you upload a shot to iCloud and share it from there for 2 weeks, no matter where your library is stored. It’s a great way to quickly share shots without having to rely on CloudApp or Droplr. The only problem with it is that your recipient will be greater by a happy iCloud shot and will have to wait to download your image to see it, instead of getting a quick preview of the shot online.

Conclusion

In our original review of Ember, writer Toby Seers concluded that Ember was a great image library and expected that the Realmac team would continue to make it even better. And that’s exactly what they’ve done. iCloud support is perhaps a foregone assumption these days, since so many apps support it. But, the new iCloud-powered sharing is very nice, and something that few other apps have right now (Napkin is the only other app I can think of right off with a similar option). The new color search and smart folders, though, are what really stands out, and together they help to make Ember the smartest screenshot and design inspiration tool.

If you only take screenshots every now and then, you’ll want to stick with the built-in screenshot options in OS X. And if you rarely save images of design inspiration and such, stick with Finder and iPhoto. But if you want a serious tool to help you get the most out of your design images and screenshots — and especially if you snap websites often — you should definitely give Ember a try. It’s the same price as Snagit, and yet is a brand new way of working with all types of graphical inspiration with so many ways to put it to use. It’s got a free 14 day trial, so you can see if it fits your needs before shelling out cash for it. I happen to bet you’ll get hooked.


Summary

Realmac's Littlesnapper replacement, Ember has the tools you need to catalogue all of your images, screenshots, and design inspiration and then helps you find it whenever you need.

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