My Tools – Skitch (image capture)

Running as many blogs as I do – my own Lotus-focused ones, personal/family and contributing to a number for my customers – one of the most common requirements I have is to create screenshots of applications or sites to include in posts.  

There are a number of tools out there that do this job, from the built-in functions of the OS (Cmd-Ctrl-Shift-4 on OS/X – for the digitally flexible, or Alt-PrintScrn on Windows), through third party adds that do the basics well (FS Capture on Windows) to the full blown bees-knees of integrated capture and posting tools.

My personal favourite (at least currently) is Skitch.  It is Mac-only, is free, is in beta right now, and does a tremendous job of capturing, annotating, posting and sharing the images – in short it manages the entire workflow of image capture in relation to blogging.

When launched (typically on log-in/startup), Skitch sits in your Mac menu bar, ready for action:
Skitch menu bar

A click on the drop down gives you straightforward access to the main functions of the application, the ability to take fullscreen or, more usually, crosshair snapshots of your screen. You also have the ability to grab an image from the iSight or other webcam.  As you can see, there are simple keystrokes for performing the captures too:
Skitch menu

Once the image is captured, the Skitch editing window appears, offering full annotation tools, drag-resizing of the image, cropping, rotation, copy and paste of images, saving to local file, send to bluetooth or email and so on :
Skitch in action

Most importantly, however, is the ability to provide one-click “webpost” to the skitch.com website (you can also post to an FTP or SFTP server, or to Flickr). This takes just a couple of seconds (and the specifics of how the post is setup are very configurable), then the option to Share appears.
Skitch ready to share

Click on this, and a browser window will appear connected to the Skitch site:
Skitch ready to share

On this page, it is easy to change the details for the image (name, description, access etc), or to share the image elsewhere, by embedding or linking to the image.  I tend to use the “Full size” link which just creates an img src tag which can then be pasted into your post (as all the images above have been).  The images then get pulled from Skitch rather than from your own blog server, thus reducing bandwidth use and typically improving performance.

This is just a subset of Skitch‘s features, but hopefully gives an overview of why I find it such a useful tool in my day-to-day work.  Let me know what you think…

Get Skitch

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!