Comparison of Screen Capture Programs

Comparison of screen capture programs

  • Apple built in short-cuts + grabber utility
  • Snapz
  • Snagit
  • Jing
  • VoilĂ 
  • Screensteps
  • Clarify
  • Skitch

Macworld review explained how Snapz ($70) has gotten outdated without new features and at a premium price when compared to Snagit ($50) and VoilĂ  ($30).
My goto app is still the old version of Skitch v1.0.12 ( I paid ~$10 but now it is free as part of Evernote) because I haven’t had a big need for full page capture. Websnapper ($15) specializes in this function. Screensteps and Clarify are also good for extra documentation features but they haven’t been updated for retina displays. I have used Jing (Snagit’s little brother) which works well for simple needs.

For people who want a premium screen capture tool Snagit could be a good choice since it is also considered the best Windows OS screen capture tool and it has a dual license.

Brett Terpstra recommended Glui ($2.99) as another screen capture choice but I don’t see anything yet that it has to recommend it over the old version of Skitch if you have that already.

As for me I will stick with Skitch for now and hope that Evernote keeps upgrading the newer version to someday be as good as version 1.

Interesting Tablet prototype concept

Looks like things are heating up in the tablet space as Apple’s has been long rumoured to be released in 2010 and now Microsoft has revealed a Courier prototype concept. What will be really interesting is when and how these concepts are realized and how they compare from a usability perspective. Speculation is it will be a classic battle of Microsoft complexity vs. Apple simplicity but we won’t know until or if these devices see the light of day.

Also the Microsoft future includes all sizes of displays with different interfaces.

Remote Support Made Easier

TeamView has an application that makes remote support a whole lot easier. If you want remote support just go to the TeamViewer download page as shown below and click the (Windows) QuickStart button shown circled in red in the photo below (As you can see there is also Mac software available too).

teamviewer_quicksupport

When you are ready for your support session double-click the TeamViewerQS.exe file you downloaded and provide the id and password to the support person on your call. This will allow a connection to your computer so the support person can see your screen and remotely control your keyboard and mouse while you watch. The support person can also share their screen to show things from their computer. This sure beats trying to blindly explain how to use or fix a computer over the phone.

PS. Just like batteries for most electronic purchases, the support person who uses the TeamViewer full software is not included. Contact me on Skype (glen.sharp) or email me glen@sharpinnovationsolutions.ca if you would like to be one of my supporter clients.

Multi-platform Multi-media Calling

Wouldn’t it be terrific if you could use one integrated client software/service to do instant messaging, voice, video, and screen sharing (multi-media calling) across Mac, Windows and Linux (multi-platform)? Well we aren’t there yet but progress is being made.

Most multi-media calling capabilities use instant messaging (IM) as the foundation and interoperable solutions are available for IM chat. Multi-platform voice, video, and screensharing are still a challenge.

If you want to just interact with other Mac users, iChat does it all. It even does voice and video but not screensharing with Windows users who have AIM accounts. AIM is not the most popular client software/service*, however, so finding buddies could be difficult if you can’t convince them to subscribe to yet another service. I would like to hear from people who have thoroughly tested the x-platform interoperability to see if it is worthwhile trying to convince people to get AIM accounts. The probable deal breaker though is that the most useful feature, screensharing, is not supported X-platform.

* From wikipedia figures the current market share of IM services is approximately as follows:
1. Skype 309M
2. Windows Live Messenger 300M
3. Yahoo Messenger 248M
4. AIM (used by iChat which also has MobileMe) >100M
5. Jabber (used by Google Talk) 90M
(Tencent QQ has 783M active accounts but most of these are in China)

iChat windows showing video screensharing of a photo, instant messaging, and buddy list

Apple - Mac OS X Leopard - Features - iChat

Google Talk can use the iChat client on the Mac for instant messaging but that service doesn’t support voice, video, and screen sharing using iChat. X-platform (Mac and Windows) voice and video can be done within the Gmail service by installing the Google voice and video software and screensharing can be done by installing the Yuuguu software. Below is an interoperability matrix for Google Voice:

Google Talk Client choice

Google Talk client choice

Google Talk supports standards and native client choices on each platform which works well for instant messaging but voice calls only work between the Goggle Talk clients.

Skype is another popular online calling choice which is multi-platform (Mac, Windows, Linux) for IM, voice, and video. Yugma Skype edition is a Skype addon that provides multi-platform screen sharing. Skype is starting to offer integrated screen sharing through beta software (as opposed to using an add-on) but right now you can only share screens from a Mac to Mac or Mac to Windows and not from Windows. However, Skype is the closest thing to a full featured multi-platform multi-media client that is currently available.

Skype 4 for Windows

Skype 4.0 for Windows

Some day all of this will interoperate so you don’t have to use multiple redundant clients/services.
Until that day comes users who want multi-media calling to buddies on multiple platforms will probably need at least two or three clients:
– iChat (for Mac users)
– Google Talk
– Skype

Right now, Skype is the closest thing to a full featured multi-platform client, iChat offers the best integration for Mac users, and Google Talk is an up and coming contender that is particularly suitable for people that collaborate using Google applications.

Glossary:
Multi-platform = Mac, Windows, Linux
X-platform = more than 1 platform (usually Mac and Windows)
Multi-media = instant messaging, voice, video, screensharing

Computer Videoconferencing Webcams

While Windows PCs are easier to use with computer headsets, when it comes to webcams Macs are easier since all the recent models include built in iSight web cameras.

At the top of the Mac Screen is a buit-in iSight webcam (highlighted in red or you wouldn’t notice it)

Apple - iMac - A beautiful display. All the power you need. And more.

It’s not hard to find a suitable webcam however. Here are the ones recommended by Google for use with Googletalk:

If you don’t have a camera yet and want to get one, here are some cameras that we know work well with voice and video chat:

Skype has some information on video calls and also sells a full range of Logitech webcams.

The best bet is to use the webcams the video calling services recommend especially since they are in agreement.

Recommendation Example: Quickcam Pro 9000

Skype Shop - Webcams

Computer video conferencing tutorial is a good thorough reference source for tips, and also has recommendations for the same webcams but with more detailed information on the choices.

Seeing is Believing Tech Support for Windows

Some incredible things happen on computer screens and sometimes they are hard to describe or they include a lot of information that is too much work to copy down.

If you need help with something that happened on your screen take a picture of your screen and send a copy to your tech support.

Windows Screen Capture

The PRINT SCREEN key allows you to capture the Desktop or individual windows. You’ll have to look for this key on your keyboard, it’s placement varies with the type of keyboard.

To capture the entire screen:

* Press the PRINT SCREEN key. The entire screen image will be placed on the clipboard.

* Open an application such as Microsoft Word, pull down the Edit menu and choose Paste. Or, press Ctrl-V to paste.

To capture the current window on your screen:

* Press the ALT + PRINT SCREEN key. A screen shot of the currently selected window will be placed on the clipboard.

To keep things organized and for safe keeping you can open the Paint program that is included in Windows accessories and paste your screen shot in that application. Then save the file with a memorable name of your choosing as a .JPEG file in your My Pictures folder. If you are taking lots of screenshots you might even want to create a screenshots folder within your My Pictures folder or even folders by date. Then you can easily find your screenshots that you can send to tech support and prove that you are not crazy.

PS There are lots of free programs for doing fancier screen shots and annotating or editing them afterwards but have fun with the basics first.

Setup Google Talk (Windows)

First Register for a Gmail Google Account

If you don’t yet have a Gmail account, here is How to Register for Gmail (step by step) or How to Register for Gmail (the video).

Ways to use Google Talk

There are three ways to use Google Talk:

  1. Google Talk Gadget
  2. Google Talk Client
  3. Google Talk in Gmail

1. If you are a big time Google applications user you may have an iGoogle account or have installed the Google Talk Gadget on a web page. The gadget is one way to use Google Talk.

2. If your user group is all Windows users you can install the Google Talk Client software and do instant messaging, make calls, leave voice messages, and transfer files. The client software uses your Gmail contact list.

3. You can use Google Talk without installing the client software by just using the instant messaging capabilities provided with Gmail. You can also add voice and video chat to Gmail as explained in the next section.

Gmail Voice and Video Chat

Installing this software supplements instant messaging with your gmail contacts with the ability to also do a voice and video chat.

Screen Sharing with Mac or having Online Meetings

After configuring and installing the software described you should be well on your way in using Google Talk for instant messaging, voice calls, and voice with video calls. In a separate post I will provide information on how to do screen sharing for presentations, support, collaboration etc. between different computer types. If both people have Windows PCs, just use Google Talk through your client software or Gmail account but if you want to collaborate with people using Macs or you want to have a meeting with more than one person it gets a little more complicated.

Getting an ichat account through AOL Instant Messenger

You are a Mac user so you already have iChat instant messaging software. To activate it you either need a profile with AOL or with .Mac but the .Mac profile costs money so we are going to assume you are going the AOL route.

Step 1 is to go to http://dashboard.aim.com/aim

Step 2 is to click on the Create a Profile link

AIM page with Create a Profile link

AIM profile is associated with AIM software

Click on the Try AIM 6.5 today link (even though you don’t need that software and are going to use iChat).

All you want is the Get a Screen Name Free

Click on Get a Screen Name Free

Create your Account with a screen name

Just click Continue

Picking a screen name

You might have to experiment here to find a name still available that is meaningful and easy to remember since many names are already taken. Keep trying until you find one you like and remember the password.

Security question choices

Pick the one you can remember and isn’t known by everybody else.

This security check is to stop programs creating accounts since it takes a person to decipher the image

If you have trouble reading the image click the link below to get another choice.

After you submit the request you will have a screen name and password

Start iChat and set it up with you new screen name and password so it will login to your new AIM account.

After all this which hopefully helped you get ichat setup with an AIM account. There is another alternative – the lazyweb.
It turns out there is a great article on this topic for just the price of a link:

Just go to http://www.mvldesign.com/video_conference_tutorial.html