The Techie Scheky series offers tips and tactics for being more oductive and creative through technology (especially with a Mac).
If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think it is safe to say that a screenshot is easily worth a hundred emails. It can often be hard to explain what you are seeing on a screen, so the ability to quickly capture a screenshot and annotate it is an essential part of any workflow1. While Macs2 have long had the ability to capture screenshots and even the ability to make minor notes, I quickly found that the native options were inefficient for my needs. A quick look around the web led me to Skitch, a great Mac app that lets you grab a screenshot, draw or write all over it and share it in a variety of ways.
Until last week Skitch was $20. Not all that expensive, but not exactly enticing for something your computer can already accomplish (albeit clunkily) on its own. Well, today the barrier to entry is a lot lower as Skitch is now 100% free from the Mac App Store. So why am I not throwing an internet temper tantrum? Why am I not stomping my feet and demanding my $20 back? Why am I telling you to go run and grab an app that essentially took the money and ran? Easy! 1) It really is a great app 2) I’ve gotten my money back and more and 3) Skitch was just acquired and is soon to be integrated deeper into another of my favorite applications, Evernote.
If you read my recent post on Evernote, you know that I primarily use it to capture and store rich media, like PDFs, for reference at a later date. While Evernote has always had screen-capture capabilities, they have always been limited. You could quickly capture your full screen or select a section with your mouse and it would appear in Evernote, but that was it. With Skitch, you can do so much more.
- Crop and Resize – While you could certainly capture something in Evernote and modify it in Preview, it isn’t easy or straightforward. Skitch, on the other hand, could not make it easier to do either. I often use it to capture images for this blog and can quickly adjust them to the exact size I need while cropping out whatever excess I don’t.
- Annotate – This is really where Skitch shines. Even novice computer users will feel at home almost instantly. The annotations are great for both fun and function. So it doesn’t matter if you want to mess around with a picture of a friend and add a silly caption or if you need to take a screenshot of your website and make some notes. Skitch is one-stop shopping for basic image modification3.
- Formats – Everyone seems to have a preference in how they get an image. Some want jpg, png, pdf… the list goes on. While there are always ways to convert files, Skitch makes this easy with a drop-down menu right on the main screen that lets you select from a variety of file types. It’s a simple way to get someone an image in the file format of their choosing.
- Drag and Drop – Skitch also lets you click and drag at the bottom of the app, allowing you to quickly move your file into the folder of your choice or directly into your email application. Simply drag your file onto the email icon in your dock and a new message will be created with your file as an attachment.
- Save and History – Skitch makes it easy to look at your recent images or to save a specific image for permanent storage. While this is certainly usable, this is honestly one of the areas where Skitch is weak. The history is nice for quick reference, but it has never quite been as easy to navigate your older saved images as I would like… Something tells me the Evernote integration will inevitably be the perfect solution here.
- Share – If you prefer to send a link rather than an email attachment, Skitch has the built-in ability to upload an image and receive a link to your image. This is a great way to go if you know you are going to refer to a file again and again. This will probably end up being integrated into Evernote’s note-sharing functionality sooner rather than later.
Speaking of Evernote and Skitch, currently the best way to pull notes into Evernote is the drag-and-drop method that I described above4. However, if I am a betting man (and I am), I would imagine that a seamless option to send an image to Evernote will be one of the first features to come from this merger.
Despite the fact that I am out $20, this is an amazing alliance of two great companies and one that is going to quickly make both companies better. Evernote has always lacked a good image editor (leaving you to the editor of your choice) and Skitch has always lacked a great hub for your saved images. It looks as if Evernote is going to keep these two apps separate, but build deep integration between the two over time. It’s a really smart move that allows Skitch to focus on image editing and Evernote to focus on the storage.
Geeky Quick Tip
While most of the attention on Skitch is regarding screenshots, you can also use it to annotate, edit and share your existing PDFs and images. Simply right click any file, go to “Open With…” and select Skitch. If you are on the geekier side and use Launchbar, you can also enable their Instant Send feature which makes it even faster to open your file in Skitch.