Snap captures video, sound, and screens

Screen capture Ashampoo Snap utility nabs video with sound as well as still images

Screen captures -- pictures of what's shown on your computer monitor -- are extremely useful. You can use them to help you explain to your associates, clients, IT, or tech support what you are seeing, or how to interact with a particular program. They're great for presentations, or to insert into larger documents. And, for us as reviewers, it makes it possible for us to illustrate our articles, so that you can see what we're writing about. But, with the right screen capture utility, you can do so much more. A case in point is Ashampoo Snap 3 (US$20, 10-day free trial), which allows you to easily capture or create video as well as still images.

On installation, Ashampoo Snap puts a pop-up toolbar on your screen that is always available, regardless of what program you're using. Hover your cursor over the very top of your monitor to access it. The toolbar has ten icons: Capture a Video, Capture Scrolling Window (Text), Capture Scrolling Window (Web), Capture Single Window, Capture Free Rectangular Window, Capture Free Style Window, Capture Fixed Region, Stop Capture/Edit Window, Configure, and Open Help.

To start a capture, you click the relevant icon, or use a Windows hotkey; you can define what hotkeys you want to use for each kind of capture. When Snap is activated for any capture that involves only a portion of a screen, guidelines or shapes are displayed wherever your cursor is, to guide you in selecting that portion.

Immediately after designating the capture area, the full Snap interface opens up. There, you have tools for some basic editing or markup, such as adding text, erasing parts of the capture, resize, flip and so forth. You can choose to print, email, save or copy the capture to your system clipboard. Still images can be saved as JPEG, BMP or PNG; video with sound can be saved as WMV.

A very easy-to-use program that rarely gets in the way of your workflow, Snap has useful guidance windows and pop-ups that can be turned off. We're so impressed with Snap that we're planning on installing it on all our test systems. In the future, you'll probably see lots of screen captures from us, created with Snap.

Note: If you register the trial version with the vendor, you'll get an additional 30 days of free use.

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