9 Awesome Mac Apps For Taking Screenshots and Screencasts

If your job requires you to take a lot of screenshots or screencasts of what you’re working on (for example, if you write for Mac.Appstorm), you might soon find that the built-in apps that your computer came with to do the task, are sometimes not powerful enough.

Today we’re here to present you the most relevant and current apps for any task that might involve taking pictures or video of your screen. We’ve got everything from built-in apps, to the most expensive and complex screencasting apps, and everything in between. Come take a look!

Screenshot Apps:

Grab

You might know Grab as the free app that came installed with your Mac. If you’ve never seen it, you can open it by using one of its default keyboard shortcuts or by opening it directly from your Utilities folder. It’s a pretty simple app, although it does a pretty good job at taking screenshots. It can take full-screen (timed or manually activated) shots, or it can shoot only specific portions of your screen.

For the longest time, I’ve used Preview coupled with Grab to get all of my screenshots done, but I have to say that I’ve never really been impressed with the quality of my images after they’re done. Still, they’re a simple and affordable solution for the task.

It’s important to note that using the Grab application has a few small benefits over the built-in screengrab shortucts, such as the ability to include the cursor.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10 or later
Developer: Apple

Clarify

Although by definition it falls under the “screenshot” app category, Clarify has a different take than the competition. It is aimed at people who want to create documents that are based on their screenshots, with annotations and other sorts of visual aid. Clarify is ideal for creating tutorials, walkthroughs, reviews, or anything that uses screenshots as a visual aid, but still needs some visual support.
Price: $29.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Blue Mango Learning Systems

Skitch

Because of its price and its awesome web service that works hand-in-hand with it, Skitch is a very popular alternative for taking and editing screenshots. The Skitch.com web service makes it very quick and easy to upload and share your screenshots, after you’ve finished making the corresponding annotations to them through the Mac app.
Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Evernote Corporation

LittleSnapper

LittleSnaper is another favorite that integrates very well with the Mac that has been around for quite a while now. It’s not very cheap, but it justifies that with all the packed in features that it has. Not only does LittleSnapper help you take screenshots of specific things on your screen, it also lets you store them and organzize them inside the app; as well as edit them and share them online.
Price: $39.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: RealMac Software

Screencast Apps:

Quicktime Player

You might be as impressed as I was to find out that Quicktime, the default video player on your Mac also comes equipped with screencasting capabilities. It actually even does quite a good job at it. You can access this feature by going to the File/New Screen Recording menu, and in it you’ll find a few things that you can tweak in your videos, like the audio source, the video quality and the portion of the screen that you’d like to record.

If you’d prefer to avoid annoyances of installing third-party apps, Quicktime is not a bad option for recording video at all. It only saves video in MP4 format and it doesn’t have the ability to share or edit your video anywhere, but aside from that it has everything you might need.
Price: Free
Requires: Quicktime
Developer: Apple

Screenflow

Screenflow is an expensive, yet quite functional screencasting app, that mixes the simple ability to record video of your screen with the useful utilities of video editing that you might need when you’re trying to share something a little more professional. It can also export to a bunch of formats like .avi and .mp4, and it can also publish to YouTube or Vimeo.

It does not come cheap, but it delivers on your money. Think of it as a full-on video editor for your screencasts.
Price: $99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Telestream

Camtasia

Camtasia is another expensive app available for both Mac and Windows systems. It’s very similar to Screenflow in features, as they both offer powerful video editors as well as options for publishing your stuff on many other networks. Camtasia does have a powerful feature that sets it apart, it’s called SmartFocus and it works like it sounds, it brings attention to the part of your videos that really matter (guessing on where your mouse is, where you’re entering text, etc.).
Price: $99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Techsmith

A little bit of both:

Jing

Made by the same people who do Camtasia, Jing is a popular and (sort of) free solution that offers a little bit of everything that you might need to share what you’re seeing on your screen. Although a bit shallow, it has the capability of recording screencasts and screenshots.

Jing has basic editing features (especially for screenshots), but if you’re looking to get something elaborate going, it won’t do much for you. It also has a paid option that allows you to share to YouTube and a few other features, but nothing big. If what you’re looking for is an affordable, simple, and functional way of quickly sharing snapshots of your screen, Jing is a great option.
Price: Free / 14.95 per year
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Techsmith

Screeny

Screeny is a very elegant and simple solution for any of your screengrabbing needs. It fits very natively with the Mac interface and it’s also quite affordable (when compared with the competition, at least). It lives in your menu bar, where you can quickly bring it up to take a shot or a video of any portion of your screen.

It doesn’t have any some of the amazing features that the competition does, it just builds upon the functionality of the built-in Mac apps for sharing screencaptures, and it does so for a reasonable price.
Price: $14.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Drew Wilson

 

Conclusion

As you might have noticed, the price range of these type of apps is all over the place. That’s because there really is something for everyone, and that’s what we’ve tried to showed you in this roundup. If you don’t take many screenshots or screencasts, then the functionality of the built-in Quicktime and Grab apps might do fine for you. But if you find yourself in need of something more, then it won’t really hurt to spend the cash for a paid alternative, or even trying out one of the free ones.

What do you think? Which one of these apps do you use or have used? Which one is your favorite? Did we miss any? Share your thoughts in the comments!


  • Bill Gates

    Two more:
    for web pages, the is “Web Snapper” @ http://www.tastyapps.com/

    And I guess the grand-daddy of screen capture on the mac “SnapzProX” @ http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/

  • Patrick

    You forgot xSnap 3.1 ! http://www.adnx.com/i/apps/xsnap4mac

  • http://www.thegraphicmac.com Jim

    This list is highly suspect without Snapz Pro on it ( http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/ ) – the king of all snapshot takers desktop movie makers.

  • http://www.selfsufficiencyguide.org/blog James Bruce

    Why no iShowU? It’s half the price of camtasia or screenflow, and a whole lot more capable.

    • http://www.moosedesign.com MooseDesign

      Seconded!

  • Deseo Mar

    Even though you included Camtasia and Jing, you missed SnagIt. http://www.techsmith.com/snagit-mac-features.html

    This is one of my all time favorites. Sure, *free* is good, but sometimes the added functionality is worth it.

  • cargath

    I don’t get screenshot apps. OS X has built in functionality to take a screenshot of a specific area as well as of a specific window. What else do you need? Yeah, some apps let you edit your screenshot and choose where to save it, but 30 or 40$?

    • dev

      some apps upload the screenshot and copy the link in your clipboard automatically. that’s the point. try droplr

  • Bob DeGrande

    I use ScreenFlow and love it, but if you want a good less expensive alternative, Screenium from Synium Software http://www.syniumsoftware.com/screenium/ is very good for screencasting.

  • Copper

    Wow, how did you miss Snapz Pro X (ambrosiasw.com)

    Past that you really should check out Layers (layersapp.com), for some reason it’s not well known but it will snapshot your entire screen into a layered PSD (by window) for further editing. Invaluable when you need it.

    • Paul Dunahoo

      I used to have that application, but they really haven’t kept it up-to-date. I use Screeny now.

  • JBob

    Snag-It is excellent!

  • dev

    you forgot droplr, the best app for sharing screenshot.

  • http://tmbls.khrkhr.me Gadzhi Kharkharov

    I’d say that Screeny is the best of these. Version 2 looks and works just amazing. And if you need some more options, open the movie in QuickTime and do what you need.

  • Jeremy

    Sparkbox is another good screenshot one. Free in the MAS, too. :)

    • JD

      Sparkbox is free? In which store? Its 15,99 EUR in the German App Store.

      • Jeremy

        It might not be now. I got it the day it came out. I could be wrong about it being free now.

  • Tsitra360

    ScreenNinja! It works a bit different as it takes periodic screenshots that is configurable (got mine set to 1 frame a second). I use it to record my painting progress and then it exports it as a speed video. What is absolutely great about ScreenNinja is that it hides other apps from popping up, auto-pauses when you switch to a different app, and auto-pauses from lack of activity. Its great for digital artists like me who loves uploading speed videos on Youtube.

    Example video (dragon speedpaint): http://youtu.be/l1PGJ2BKBhk

  • Jean

    For screenshots I use Voila. It is the only app which can take non-rectangular screensnaps. Options: rectangular, circle, polygon and freehand.
    Screencast: iShowU and screenium are the best price / quality application (after testing most screencast applications out there in 2011)

  • http://www.nickcornaglia.com Nick Cornaglia

    Screenium!

  • Gabrishev

    Is there any application to record gameplay (without lags)?

  • Miguel Suarez

    iScreenshot is by far the best one. The toolbar is built right into what you use to grab the image.
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iscreenshots/id471550192?mt=12

    Why bother creating a list like this if you don’t do the research.

  • Jacob Zimet

    If you press Shift+Command+4, you get crosshairs for taking part-screen shots. Pressing Spacebar confines it to Window, Menubar (right and whole), or Dock.

  • Marc Tourley

    ScreenFlow is the best in my opinion, especially if you want something that you can use to edit as well. I’ve tried Camtasia – and it’s OK – but not as “Mac” as ScreenFlow (if that makes sense.) It’s not as elegant and easy to use. I’ve also used iShowU and of course QuickTime. They’re great if you just want a simple screen record. But for me, I make software tutorials – Screenflow lets me record, edit, add other video, audio, pictures, etc. and then upload directly to YouTube.

    • Eric

      I second that! ScreenFlow is the bomb!

  • http://www.design-kink.com Craig Brown

    I knew about all the screen-casting apps that the commenters added, but I never knew Quicktime Player did Screen-casting! Thank you for providing me with the revelation, it’s free! Yahoo! I tested it and it works well. How long has this been around?

    Tested Jing – yuck, didn’t work.
    Tested Captureit! – was about to buy it after testing a few more apps
    Snapzprox – I love the software team that made this but maybe a bit too exxy now
    Quicktime Player – thanks for alerting me to this, why bother with anything else if its already native and free?

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