5 Alternative Screen Capture Tools for Your Mac

Damien Oh 13-10-2008

Taking beautiful screenshots is part of my job as a tech blogger. However, when I am on my Mac, I will always avoid using the inbuilt screen capture function as I find them to be rather limited in features. Instead, I use several other third party screen capture tools for Mac that allow me to take better images and at the same time give me more control on how the shots should be taken.


If you are like me, who are searching for alternative Mac screen capture apps, here are 5 useful ones that I have used and can recommend.

1. Capture Me

Capture Me features a floating translucent window that you can move, resize and take screenshots by clicking on it. To use the program, you simply drag and resize the translucent window to cover the area you want to capture, then click on any area within the window to capture the screen. Once the image is captured, you can resize and save it in various formats at different locations.


Other than being a screen capture tool, there is one useful feature of Capture Me that is often overlooked by many. Sometimes when you are working on a project, you might need to reference several programs constantly. Since Capture Me has a window that floats on top of all other windows, you can use it as a image sticky where you take a snapshot of the necessary info and keep it always on top of the screen. In this case, you can save the trouble of constantly flipping through the windows. It can save you a lot of time too.

2. Backdrop

If you are tired of cleaning up your desktop everytime you want to take a screenshot, then Backdrop is the app for you.


Backdrop is a screen capture enhancement tool rather than a screen capture app. It does not allow you to take screenshots, but it can set a nice plain background to cover up your desktop and save you the trouble of cleaning up your desktop.


You can use Backdrop to set the background to any color (or images) of your liking. It also works even if you are using multiple displays, which can be useful if you frequently take screenshots on different screens.

3. Skitch

Skitch is more than a screen capture tool. It is an image editing tool with the ability to take screenshots, crop, resize, draw, annotate and sketch. When you take a screenshot with the SNAP function, the captured image will be sent to the editing window where you can resize, add some text to it or simply upload to the Skitch server to share it with your friends.



Other than the full screen capture and the define region capture mode, Skitch also has a frame capture mode that is similar to that of “Capture Me”. Upon selecting the frame capture mode, the Skitch editing window will become transparent and you can resize it over the image. Once you are done, simply click on the snap button on the right pane to capture the image.

Another useful function of Skitch is that you can save the image in various formats. At the moment, it supports :

  • .jpg – Most compatible
  • .png – Sharing fine snaps, drawing and text
  • .pdf – Printing on another computer
  • .svg – Importing into design applications
  • .skitch – Passing to another Skitch user
  • .tif – Sending to print publications

4. Jing

Jing allows you to do three things: take screenshots, record videos and share it online. (We have mentioned it earlier in 5 Free Screencasting Apps for Creating Video Tutorials 5 Free Screencasting Apps for Creating Video Tutorials Read More ) When you first load up Jing, you don’t see any window. Instead, Jing docks itself as a yellow circle in the top right hand corner of the desktop. Move your mouse to the yellow circle and you will be able to select if you want to take screenshot or screencast.



When you choose the screenshot option, the usual crosshair cursor appear and you will be able to define your capturing region. Once the screenshot is taken, the captured image will automatically appear in the editing window.


The editing window allows you to do basic image editing such as adding texts, arrows, highlights, draw shapes etc. There are also options for you to upload to Screencast, your own web server or Flickr.


One drawback of Jing is that you can only save the screenshot in .png format.

5. InstantShot!

InstantShot! is useful in that it allows you to configure the screenshot setting even before you make the capture. This will ensure that you only need to do it once and get it right the first time.


Another feature of InstantShot! that is sorely missing in most screen capture apps is the ability to take multiple shots with one click. By pressing the hotkey Shift + Cmd + T, InstantShot! will start to take multiple shots at 5 seconds interval. During this period of time, you can shift the capturing window around to capture different region of the desktop. When you are done, simply press Shift + Cmd + T again to stop.

I found this function rather useful when I need to take screenshots of a file installation in progress.

The above are the five screen capture tools that I recommend. I am sure there are more useful apps out there that I didn’t mention. Tell me which are your favorite Mac screen capture apps?

Related topics: Image Editor, Screen Capture.

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  1. Mark Schuster
    November 13, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    I had been a windows user since 1985. 4 years ago I switched to Mac happily. But sadly for some reason there is no built in app that I know of similar to SNIPPET. I have ever like the fact I have to memorize key strokes or what ever they are called. I want some kind of icon I can click on when I want to use something. I had an app called Screen grab. It stopped working when I installed sierra. It was all I needed. I could save my grab anywhere, and in 3 different formats. Sadly when I go online to look for upgrades to that app it's gone. I will never pay 50.00 for any Screen grab app when I feel it should be part of the file or operating system

  2. Marc Achtelig
    January 27, 2010 at 3:03 am

    Maybe good additions to this list are the checklist of criteria for selecting a screen capture tool at, as well as the list of screen capture tools at

  3. Yaffa S.I.B.
    November 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Gee, I NEVER knew that Mac had a built in screen capture feature either. :( I've been using Grab and/or ScreenCaptureX for Mac. Both are free and terrific. Grab captures the desktop/screen, or an entire window (even that portion which must be scrolled to, because it is not visible on the screen). ScreenCaptureX also allows you to capture the desktop/screen, or size up and down to capture any portion of an open window that is visible. Unfortunately, it does NOT capture portions of the window that must be scrolled to if they are not visible. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. Debra
    October 6, 2009 at 1:28 am

    I gloriously use Snagit at work on my PC. TOTALLY BUMMED no Snagit for Mac! You can capture a "timed" screen for those drop-down menus and most of all...a SCROLLING SCREEN!! Can any of them other than Snagit do that? I have been making it my life's mission (in-between finding a good slideshow software like ProShow Producer, but that's a whole nuther complaint...) to get them Snagit folks to make it for Mac....Jing is okay, but it's NOT SNAGIT!! I love my Mac and iTouch, and even though I'm with Verizon, I will switch to the them apps! But being the "red-headed stepchild" of computers is no fun. If I have to load Parallels, etc. on my Mac to run Windows...I wouldn't have purchased a Mac! I truly miss my wonder PC programs that took years to find, and I still bought a Macbook. Haven't turned my "blue screen" PC on since I bought my Mac in January 09 (and never looked back!) Thank you all for letting me vent! Still looking for good slideshow software - using Keynote (I would like the versatility that Photodex ProShow Producer has....they did inform me THEY WILL NOT DEVELOP for a Mac!!) (and I STILL bought a Mac! What does that tell ay?

  5. Frank
    July 19, 2009 at 1:34 am

    OMG I LOVE YOU !! :D

  6. Katie
    June 10, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Currently I am using a screen capturing tool called Voila, helps me a lot with my work. These people are coming up with newer updates wit better features. Boy I sure am glad that i switched to Voila. :)

    • Damien Oh
      June 10, 2009 at 8:39 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation. It seems like a nice app.

      • Greg
        July 20, 2009 at 6:10 am

        Hey Damien Oh

        Maybe you should review this app called Voila and let us know how this tool is in your opinion. Off-late this tool is tagged as an alternate to Snagit on Mac..

  7. Girish Kolari
    May 5, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Voila a nice Capture and annotation tool for Mac. I am just enjoying the copy of it.

  8. Jim
    February 3, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I'm looking for a Mac app like the PC app Snagit that can not only capture dialogs into an image format but can also capture TEXT in a dialog. I've found hundreds of app for the PC but zero for the Mac that can capture/grab text from a dialog.....still looking :(

  9. Aibek
    October 16, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks, I have been looking for free screen capture tool for some time now.

    • Damien Oh
      October 16, 2008 at 11:02 pm

      My pleasure!

  10. The Windows Fix
    October 16, 2008 at 2:02 am

    CaptureMe is the best I've found so far. It's so close to previous commercial products like FullShot, that I've used before, that I don't know how it can be beat, but I guess I could try the others.

    • Damien Oh
      October 16, 2008 at 11:02 pm

      I like CaptureMe too, but I used it more as an image sticky rather than a screen capture tool. It is one of the best 'always on top' application in Mac

  11. dave
    October 13, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    i love ishowu - paid for it, it is hands down the best commercial app in its price range and worth every penny

    for simple shots, i do have skitch installed but i use the amazing screenshot plus widget (free) which is lighting fast with awesome configuration options and very lightweight (tried about a zillion of these image cap widgets before sticking with screenshot plus)

  12. Jackson
    October 13, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Actually, Mac's Grab function is pretty good in certain situations. For example, when you've clicked on the drop-down menu and if you invoke Skitch, you lose the menu. Pressing Cmd-Shift-3 takes the shot as you see it.

    • Hanii Puppy
      October 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm

      Also, if you open a menu and press command-shift-4 (a screenshot of a selected region) then press the space bar (to take a picture of a particular object), you can take a picture of just the menu by mousing over it and clicking when the whole menu becomes highlighted instead of having to manually select it with the crosshairs - and you'll get a translucent PNG (like how the menu is translucent) instead of a PNG with the junk from behind the menu.

    • Damien Oh
      October 13, 2008 at 8:58 pm

      @Jackson: I used Grab at times to take my screenshots too. I just wonder why it is hidden in some corners (under Utilities folder) of Mac. I bet most people don't even know it exists.

      @Hanii: Thanks for the tips. I swear I didn't know that trick before.