Most bloggers, especially those who create tutorials or tips posts, have to post screenshots with their instructions. It’s a must. Why would readers take their time skimming through a paragraph of text that can be explained in one image?
Fortunately, there are a plethora of options to choose from that work on a variety of operating systems. Some are simple and free. Others are feature-rich and come with a price tag. Many allow you to publish an image to your blog, either directly or imbedded through a cloud host like Flickr or Screencast.
Snagit (Windows/Mac, $50)
While this program comes with a price, countless bloggers say it’s worth it. Snagit allows you to capture your entire desktop, a region, a window or even an entire scrolling window (captures all the contents of the window, not just what’s visible). What’s even better, it can do all these different captures all with a single hotkey or click. Snagit makes cropping a screenshot a thing of the past; its multiple selection features along with a cursor magnifying glass allows users to capture exactly what they intend, down to a single pixel. Snagit also allows you to record video with audio (up to 2 GB per recording), making it a great tool for screencasting a tutorial. The software also allows you to upload straight to Screencast so you can link it to friends of embed it in your blog. Lastly, Snagit allows you to create multiple profiles for all manner of capture techniques and publishing/saving options.
Jing (Windows/Mac, Free)
Jing is made by the same software company that created Snagit except it is a more stripped down capturing tool. Although it doesn’t have as many features as Snagit, Jing’s strength lies in how quickly it can publish or share your screenshots. Once Jing is installed and you set up an account at Screencast, you can also get Jing to upload to your Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook almost instantly. In addition to screen shots, Jing also records video with audio but leaves a watermark in its free version. Jing also has basic annotation tools and allows you to select rectangular portions of the screen to capture, but its main emphasis is fast sharing and publishing which is good news for bloggers.
FastStone Capture (Windows, $20)
As the name may suggest, FastStone Capture is a fast, lightweight application. With a plentiful yet sizable interface, FastStone can capture multiple windows, regions, and multi-level menus. FastStone can upload screenshots to an FTP server, send them by email, or embed them in Word or PowerPoint. FastStone also features a simple but effective screencasting tool that supports audio input. FastStone also has automatic configurations, making batch-producing screenshots extremely quick. While their current version has a price, you can download a prior freeware version here.