In previous posts I talked about our experience of running a large online course over the summer with over 2000 students. To create content and provide tech support for such a large cohort meant we had to use a variety of software for video editing, content creation, presentations and guide writing. In the end, it turned out the software we used way more than any other to do this was a very cheap screenshot tool called Snagit.
I can’t stress enough just how useful and versatile this software is, particularly for the price it comes in at – but more on that later.
What is Snagit? Well, many of you may be familiar with the snipping tool on Windows, this lets you take a picture of your screen – either a part or the whole – and then save to your computer. You can even do some basic annotations on it such as drawing shapes round parts of the screen to highlight what you want people to look at or to highlight.
Now, imagine that tool but on steroids. With Snagit you can edit and annotate your screenshots to a much more precise and professional level. Below are some examples of what you can do. One thing I like is being able to add a jagged edge to show where on the screen they are supposed to be looking (top left etc).
Then you can add all sorts of text boxes and arrows.
You can also add numbered steps if there are multiple parts.
If there are sensitive things on the screen or you just don’t want them to be distracted by other things, you can blur them out.
Another way to make the focus of your picture clearer is to use the simplify tool, where you can cover text/pictures with placeholder icons. For example here’s a screenshot of the BBC homepage:
But now I can cover sections of the page with placeholder or simplified text and images to help focus attention on specific parts of the screen, as in the example below:
One function I’ve found really useful is the cut out feature, this allows you to remove ‘deadspace’ in a screenshot so that elements that are far apart can be put together in the same picture. So for example if you want to show a menu items in the top left and the bottom right in the same picture, this can be really handy, as in the example from Powerpoint below.
You can also magnify parts of the screen to make small buttons/text more visible.
In terms of actually taking the screenshot itself, there’s a load of option including the ability to set a time delay, photograph a menu, capture a panorama of a webpage (e.g. scroll across a large map and take a continuous picture of it), take a picture of a whole webpage, which means it screenshots everything even below the scroll line.
Another feature I’ve just recently discovered is the template feature, with this you can combine a series of individually annotated screenshots into a larger guide picture. It sets up the basic page for you and you just drag in the screenshots you need from your capture tray and add the text. You can see an example of such a template below.
And the price? Well, for anyone in education it’s £27, if not then £45. For me, this is a ridiculously low price, particularly balanced against how much I use it – on average probably about 5-10 times a day. This is particularly true at the moment with everything being online and the need to explain to students and fellow teachers how to use various online tools and services. On that front, it’s also really easy to share screenshots that you take. They have a share button that can send the picture to a variety of programmes (e.g. Word, Powerpoint) or create a link to share online, such as via Google Drive or Dropbox. This means that I can take a screenshot, click the Google Drive button, it will upload the picture to my Drive and then automatically copy the link so I can then share it via chat or email to someone.
And just to add even more value, you can also record video of your screen with Snagit. This is fairly basic in terms of what it can do, but you can also record your microphone at the same time so if you want to do a quick explanation of something on screen or you want to create a video of a presentation, you can do that. It even gives you a few options afterwards for making some basic edits to the video, such as cutting out parts of it. Here’s a very brief example of a recording I made to show this feature.
Whether you are a teacher or technologist I think Snagit is a wonderfully low-priced tool for helping explain and clarify how to do things on a computer or online. And this is something many of us have to do at the moment either for our colleagues or our students.