Screengrabs, screenshots, screencasts and more

One of the things that’s . . . interesting about working with, say, wikis or blogs is that such work often isn’t formally supported by your local IT. They’ve got enough to do with viruses and e-mail snafus and Blackboard/Vista problems, that they can’t explain to the student how to log in to some third-party wiki provider. You need to provide those instructions, and you need to make them as simple as possible.

Step-by-step written instructions are nice, but there’s something comforting about grabbing a screenshot of whatever site you’re using. And if you can mark it up? Well! And if you can make a movie of it–even better. And “clearer instructions” are only one benefit of showing screenshots or screencasts.

This series will look at lots of different tools for getting what’s on your screen out into the world.

We’re going to start with Skitch, which is a dreamy little app for capturing, marking up, and sharing screenshots. It is Mac-only, but you gotta dance with who you came to the dance with. Skitch is actually more than an app; it’s an app linked to a photohosting service (its own, or flickr), which makes it incredibly easy to share content. Here’s what it looks like:


Skitch lives in your menubar, like so:

Skitch in the Menubar

Anytime you want to take a picture of your screen, you just invoke Skitch by clicking on the heart in your menubar. Nice, right? When you’re done marking your screenshot up, you’ll see a link in the bottom right that says Share! or webpost, and you click it. Or, just drag Skitch to wherever you want the image to be (for example, in a document). Michael Warf’s handy video shows how Skitch works.

Dead simple. I used Skitch to make the screenshots for my class notes assignment, and really for just about anything I’ve had to write instructions for over the past year or so. Probably the only thing I ever use to mark up photos is Flickr’s notes feature, which will be covered in a followup post. (Briefly: Skitch is nice because you can markup screenshots or photos; Flickr’s nice because other people can markup the photo.)

How do you take and markup screenshots? (Windows or Linux users–I’m looking at you! The ProfHacker crew is shockingly Mac-centric.)

Image by flickr user evanosherow under a CC license. (Impressively minimalist Mac desktop.)

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