I’ve never tried to look for a screen capturing application and I used to instead depend on my Mac’s built-in screenshot utility to clip part (or all) of the screen image. It’s free and it works wonders, what more could I ask for?
But then, in an online discussion between fellow writers about how to take a screenshot better and which screen capture utility is the best, Jing kept kept popping up as the recommended free alternative application.
We have already had several articles about Jing already, like this one and this one, but none of them discussed the detailed steps about how to take a better screenshot on a Mac. New users of Jing might find the application a little bit confusing at first (like I did back then). So I hope my confab here can be a little help.
There are two version of the app: the free and the pro (US$ 14.95/year). For daily users who just need the screen capturing ability, the free version is more than enough. But if you are curious about the differences between those two you could check the comparison chart.
The installation process involves free registration to Screencast where users get 2GB worth of storage for online sharing. There’s also the customizing step where you can choose to have either the Sun or the menubar for the Jing interface. You could access this option later if you want by choosing More (either from the menubar or from the sun)
then from the yellow “About” interface, choose Preferences and then you will find the option to alternate between Menubar and Sun.
From this interface, you could also change the capture hot key combination (the default is Command + Shift + 1), the account info, and whether to launch this app at startup. Personally I prefer to have Jing always ready at the background.
The Shooting Process – How to Take a Screenshot With Jing
What makes this app stands out among other (free) screen capturing applications is the built-in basic image editing that will make the screenshooting process more comfortable.
To shoot the screen, just press the key combination. A yellow hairline cross will appear on the screen with two dimensional coordinate numbers inside the small box. To capture an open window, just click somewhere inside the area of that window, but to capture a specific area of the screen, click and drag the pointer.
Whichever part of the screen that you choose – window or area, the whole screen will be greyed out except for the chosen part. The coordinate numbers will show you how big the captured area is in pixels. If you need an image with a specific dimension (for example “200 x 300 pixels”, or “no more than 550 pixel wide”), this feature will really help.
After releasing the click, a small “summary” window will appear. You can adjust the position of the captured screen by clicking and dragging inside the screen. If you move your mouse to the edge of the screen, you can adjust the size by clicking and dragging. Holding the shift button while resizing will keep the size to 16:9 ratio. When you’re done, click the button on the far left to save the confirmed captured as an image.
Then the editing window will replace the previous one. Here you can add arrows, texts, boxes, and highlights, each with options to use different colors.
Click “other…” to choose a color outside of the basic options.
Click the Save button to place the image to any location in your hard drive.
If you choose the Share button (next to the Save), your image will be uploaded into your account at Screencast (you might need to provide the password for authentication)
and the location of your image is saved to the clipboard, ready to be pasted into your blog post (or any other use that you might think of).
If you need to review all the captures that you have, choose History – either from the menubar icon or from the sun. Just hover your mouse on any small image in the list and the large version will pop out.
For using Jing to capture video, please refer to this article.
Personally, I think Jing is great. But there are a few tiny downsides to using Jing that I encountered.
First, I always love how the Mac built-in screen capturing feature for open windows (Command + Shift + 4 followed by Spacebar) includes the shadow of the window. I think the shadow adds to the beauty of the image. Jing left the shadow out.
Second, I also think that the editing tools of Jing is too minimal. I have to rely on other image editing applications for standard tools like Fill, Pencil, Basic Shapes and the ability to choose colors with Eyedropper. The addition of other standard tools would really make the users happy.
Third, it would be better if Jing provided the option to save the captured image not only as a PNG.
Fourth, I just used Jing recently so I can’t confirm on the statement that it used to be possible to save the image to other online image sharing service like Flickr. But if this was the case, I think limiting the upload ability only to Screencast is not a favorable decision from the users’ point of view.
Have you tried Jing? Do you know any better alternatives? Share using the comments below.
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