Taking screenshots or video of your desktop seems like it should be a simple task but, when you actually try it, you quickly realize it’s not. Sure, print screen works fine, but what if you want to capture only a specific portion of the screen, capture multiple shots successively, or capture video? Windows doesn’t have any features or software that can handle these needs.
That’s where Ashampoo’s Snap, recently updated to version 7, comes in. This software promises to provide a simple, all-in-one solution for desktop image and video capture. You’ll have to pay $19.99 for the full version, however, which may sound like a lot to some potential users. Let’s see if the software is worth the price.
Snap 7 installs simply, and while it does advertise other Ashampoo software at the end of installation, it doesn’t try to trick the user by vaguely labeling the software as an added or must-have feature. Activation is also quick, and the software can cleverly auto-detect if you have its registration key copied to your clipboard.
After installation the software seems to disappear. In truth it’s retreated to the upper edge of the screen, where it hangs out as a drop-down toolbar, indicated by a thin strip of blue. When activated, the menu reveals a host of options for video capture. You can also capture a screenshot by pressing the good old-fashioned “print screen” button.
Pressing “print screen” results in an audible click (if your speakers are on, of course) and brings you to Snap’s built-in editing tool. A single screenshot is snapped by default, but a multi-shot mode can be activated in the options menu. The editor itself is no basic select-and-save software, but instead a full-fledged editor capable of cropping, transforming, and adding simple effects.
The most important feature available in Snap 7 is, in my opinion, the ability to add numbers and arrows to screenshots. This makes highlighting an important part of a shot easy, which is great if you’re trying to build a guide or instruction manual. This feature is also handy because most free image editors don’t make adding numbers and arrows particularly easy.
Once you’re done modifying the image, your next step will of course be to save it, and here Snap 7 once again goes the extra mile. Export options include not just your local computer, but also Facebook, DropBox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, and email. There’s also an export to .PSD option for users who want to do some more serious editing in Photoshop and would like to edit a copy of their screenshot with pixel-perfect image quality.
All video capture is conducted using the previously mentioned drop-down menu, which hangs out at the top of your display once Snap 7 is installed. There is a number of video capture modes available, including web browser, scrolling window, multiple-window, fixed region, and freestyle region. The variety of modes makes it just as easy to capture your entire desktop as it is to capture a single window. Your cursor can be highlighted, too, which is particularly useful if you’re trying to capture a video for instructional purposes.
There’s no video editing features to speak of, but all the export options available to screenshots are available for video (with the exception of Photoshop, of course).
Using the video capture option does result in some CPU load, which in turn causes minor, but noticeable lag when using your PC. This problem, along with the lack of features like framerate count, mark the difference between a general-purpose capture app like Snap 7 and game capture software like FRAPS. Anyone hoping to become a YouTube gaming star should look elsewhere for their video capture needs.
With that said, Snap 7 does include an alternative “disk cache only” recording mode. When this feature is activated, encoding takes place after recording is stopped (rather than during, is the default setting). This reduces the lag caused by recording, but also forces you to wait for encoding to happen after you stop recording video, a process that can take several minutes.
Ashampoo Snap 7 is one of the easiest and most versatile capture tools I’ve ever used. There are several free options in this space, such as CamStudio, but Snap manages to define itself with an easy-to-use interface and a wide range of capture, editing, and export options.
Personally, as a MakeUseOf writer, I take a lot of screenshots – and I found Snap 7 to be a godsend. Editing screenshots within Snap is much quicker than my normal workflow, which starts with Print Screen and ends with GIMP.
Whether this software will be worth $20 bucks, though, depends on how often you need to capture your own screen. An average user, who merely captures an occasional picture to share on Facebook, can continue to make do with Print Screen and MS Paint, but anyone who takes screenshots regularly will find Snap 7 to be a massive time-saver.
Snap 7 offers a free trial and is available for download from the company’s website. So give it a shot and see what you think.