There are a number of tools that we simply can't live without. For instance, we'd be lost without the ability to quickly take, manipulate and share screenshots with each other. A good screen capture app is essential for adding images to blog posts, sharing ideas and mocking the occasional typo. But you don't need to be a blogger to make good use of such a tool; they're great for capturing images of websites, showing less tech-savvy friends where to find things, quick annotations and, of course, sharing cat photos. Sadly, there's no single cross-platform solution for quickly capturing images of websites or your other computational doings, so here are our top screen cap (short for capture) tool picks for Windows, OS X and Linux.
(Windows) - Free, $10 for Pro
Screenpresso is, hands down, the best screen capturing tool available for Windows. (It runs on 32-bit and 64-bit versions of XP, Vista and Windows 7 without any trouble.) Like any good tool, it can capture the contents of a single window (with or without borders), the entire desktop or a user-defined chunk of screen. It has a built-in editor for adding effects and annotations to your images, which can then be shared via e-mail, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or FTP. Or, you can send them directly to the Switched-approved 'Evernote
' app, which converts screen caps into notes for future reference. Screenpresso even has an included history manager, which allows you to pull up past screen shots with modifications, for sharing at a later date.
(OS X) - Free
Don't let the branding throw you. Sure, Skitch comes off like it was designed to let teenage girls add glittery accents to their MySpace photos. But the app is quite powerful and a favorite of productivity geeks and business execs alike. Its incredibly slick interface lets you quickly capture and manipulate images of apps, websites and webcam photos with ease. The included free-hand drawing tools are unmatched in the world of screen capture apps, and the Skitch.com service, which lets you quickly upload and share your images, makes it painless to quickly pass around ideas. Since the screenshots are uploaded to the Web, you can access your account from any computer. That particularly comes in handy when you're looking for a saved image and are away from your primary computer. If you don't want to save your images to Skitch's servers, though, you can also upload images directly to FTP servers, or to your Flickr or .Mac account.
(Linux) - Free
Like most apps for Linux, Shutter has many truly innovative features, but lacks the polish of its Windows and OS X counterparts. The included editor has a broad selection of useful stamps that can be added to images, and boats the ability to perform timed screen caps (in addition to the standard desktop, window and freehand capture options.) The screen shot manager, similar to the one in Screenpresso, offers individual tabs for each shot, providing larger previews of the images. You can also upload images to a handful of photo-sharing sites, although the only one that would likely be familiar to U.S. users is ImageShack.
The differences between the three are obvious, but they're all the best options for their respective platforms. With any one of these apps hitting the "PrtScr" button will no longer be the beginning of painful experience, and you can finally capture LOL-worthy AIM conversations in their purest forms.