Snagit, An Essential Tool For the Fire Officer’s Digital Toolbox.

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This has long been one of my favorite apps. I use it on a daily basis for a variety of tasks, both Fire Service related and in my personal life.  There is no way to cover everything it does or how it can be used in this article, so consider the things you learn here an overview.  I encourage you to immediately download the demo.  But truly…. this will be the best $49 you have spent on software in a long, long time.

It’s important to understand that Snagit is not a photo editor. Snagit is a screenshot program that also captures video display and audio output and so much more. If you are on a PC or a Macintosh, you already have a basic free screenshot tool. For Windows, you can take a screenshot by pressing the Alt + PrtScn keys; For Macs, it’s Shift + Command + 4. If that’s all you need or want, you don’t need to use Snagit at all. But read on…

Why You Need Snagit

The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. TechSmith’s Snagit makes it easy to leverage brain power by allowing you to quickly and easily add annotated videos and images to your email, training materials, standard operating guidelines, departmental orders, and social media posts.

With Snagit, you can screenshot your entire desktop, a region, a window, or even a scrolling screen. You can even screen capture an image in a horizontal screen scroll. So those infinitely long scrolling web pages, long chat messages, panoramic images and everything in between are no problem for Snagit. Your regular desktop capture app can’t do that. 

It’s also a very lightweight and unobtrusive video screen recording tool  that finishes the capture process with a simple but capable video editor that can be learned in just a few minutes.

Imagine being able to quickly and easily add annotated visuals for use in your departments SOGs or preplans.  Need to update the graphic you created?  Not a problem for Snagit.  You can either find your original image in the built-in Library or just edit the one you added to your document previously.

Capture Features

The Capture Interface (on a Mac)

Screen Capture

As mentioned above, if it is on your computer screen, you can capture it, annotate and output in a variety of formats.  You can also import existing images from your desktop into Snagit, annotate them and then save them back to your desktop. WHether you are looking to capture your entire desktop, a region, a window, or a scrolling screen, Snagit makes it easy.

Screen Recorder

 The most common use of Snagit’s screen recorder is to quickly record your desktop and/or your webcam for a detailed step by step demonstration or how to video. Here are just a few of the things you do when creating your video:

  • Record a PowerPoint or Keynotre presentation switching between the presentation slides and video of the speaker
  • Send someone audio and visual feedback in a video
  • Record a small portion of an online video or animation

When you are done, you can save your video file as an MPEG-4 or animated GIF.

Webcam Record 

The webcam is a great tool that allows you to add that personal touch to your narrated presentations.  Toggle between webcam and screen recording to catch the narrators passion for the subject. 

Audio Recorder

Include audio in your videos from either a microphone or your computers system audio.

iOS Screen Recorder

The TechSmith Capture App lets you record your iOS screen with just a few taps and instantly share it back into Snagit for trimming.

Grab & Convert To Editable Text

You can screenshot an image, then copy and paste it into another application such as MS Word for editing. Think of how much time you can save by using this tool to grab large captures of text and having it converted to editable text.

Editor Features

The Editor Interface (On a Mac)

Screen Capture Images Library

All your captures are saved into the Snagit Library. Now you can quickly access past screen captures without wasting time digging for them. Tag your captures to keep your projects organized. Tagging will provide you with quick access to the images you are looking for.

Combine Images.

You can take separate Snagit image captures and combine them into one, organized piece of content.

Annotations

Annotate screen grabs with professional markup tools. Add personality and professionalism to your screenshots with a variety of pre-made styles. Or you can create your own.

Smart Move

Automatically make objects in your screen captures movable. Rearrange buttons, delete text, or edit other elements in your screenshots.

Text Replace

Snagit recognizes the text in your screenshots for quick editing. Change the words, font, colors, and size of the text in your screenshots without having to redesign the entire image.

Trim Video Clips

Remove any unwanted sections from your screen recordings. Cut any section at the beginning, middle, or end of your video.

Editor Tools And How Fire Officers Can Use Them.

Arrow Tool

Use colored arrows to point out important features.

Text Tool

Add any length text you need in a resizable text box.  You can choose and customize from a variety of text formats, many of which are designed to help with readability on variable colored backgrounds.

Callout Tool

Callout Boxes and Callout Arrows allow you to point to something and add descriptive text to the callout.

Shape Tool

Easily add an assortment of colored circles, rectangles and polygons.

Stamp Tool

Snagit provides a large set of default stamps (icons) that you can use in your screen capture, including map icons, blueprint icons, vehicle icons and dozens more. You can download additional sets for free. And there is at least one third party company selling a huge collection of stamps and frames for Snagit that you might find worthy to use.

Fill Tool

Quickly smart fill a selection or smart selection with any color in the spectrum. In the image below, the white background was filled with a red color.

Move Tool

Use the selection tool to draw around an area, then move, cut, delete, or copy and paste the selection.

Selection Tool

The selection tool allows you to select an area of a screen capture that you want to work with.  Once selected, you can copy & paste, fill it with a color or perform a variety of other tasks.  Be sure to try the snap to object option.  Using it, I was able to completely isolate some of the gauges and valves shown in the main image and then copy and paste them as shown in the image below.

Magnify Tool

The magnify tool creates a cool magnified circle of any part of your screen capture.

Blur Tool

The perfect tool for blurring out faces or licenses plates when confidentiality is a concern. There are two different type of blurs available. Both are demonstrated in the images below.

Magic Wand Tool

The magic wand allows you to select portions of an image based on color. Use it to select backgrounds or irregularly shaped spaces. If the initial selection isn’t exactly what you want, adjust the slider to increase or decrease the sensitivity. Then, move, delete, or even copy the selection for use in another image. But remember, this is not a Photoshop replacement. It can handle the simpler jobs, but is not meant to replace a tool such as Adobe Photoshop or other advanced photo/image editor.  

In the image below, the background was removed by using the magic wand several times and then cleaning it up with the eraser tool. I then placed the image on the flame background.  All done within Snagit.

Crop Tool

Crop the image as needed. Using the cropping tool, in effect, creates a zoomed in image of a larger picture, providing lots more detail. In the image below, the left side represents the cropped version of the map on the right.

Cutout Tool

The CutOut tool allows you to eliminate unwanted imagery, and to condense the imagery to fit into a tight space.  In the example below, I removed a large section of a map, leaving just the start and end points of an event.  The ripple effect indicates to the viewer that there is more to the map than is shown in the single image.

Pen Tool

Allows you to write and draw in freehand on your screen captures.

Highlighter Tool

Allows you to highlight an area of your screen capture. It does not have to be just text.

Step Tool

This is one tool you cannot do without. Quickly document steps and workflows with a series of numbers that automatically increase as you use them. It allows you to sequentially place numbered icons onto your screenshot indicating steps that need to be taken in a certain order.

Eraser

The eraser is the opposite of the pen tool. It removes everything underneath the area you draw on.  In the image below, I used it to erase all visible references to the department name and unit number.  The first image shows you the original, the second is the version with the erased information.  The third shows the erased sections “filled” using the fill tool with the same or very similar red color as the surrounding area.  So how did I get the colors to match so closely?  Well, inside the “fill” tool, there is an eyedropper that lets you sample (define) the color based on the surrounding area.  You just click an adjacent colored pixel using the eyedropper tool and poof, you now are ready to paste with that color.  Unfortunately, you can see the color on the door is slightly off.  That is because I sampled a pixel from above the emblem where the red is a little darker than the bottom of the door.  Remember… SnagIt isn’t Photoshop, but it will be just fine for most Fire Officers needs.

SHARING FEATURES

Once you’re satisfied with the final product, you can share your creations online to a wide range of services from an FTP to YouTube with just a few clicks.  Simply click the “Share” button in the Snagit Editor to view image and video sharing options.

The easiest way to share your media is to send it to Screencast.com. Snagit uploads the image or video and returns a link to you that you can paste in any messaging service or email client.  This helps you get around issues where mail services are blocking file attachments or where the file may be too large to include in a message or email.

About the Author

Phil is the CEO or Sirius Innovations, LLC and a 32-year veteran of the Stamford Fire Department. Phil is the lead Web Application Developer for Sirius Innovations, specializing in ColdFusion, PHP, Javascript, jQuery, CSS, Microsoft SQL Server, and MySQL Server. He has a strong background in data analysis, developing customized solutions for several large Cities and Hospitals. In the Fire Department, he is assigned to the East Side Fire Station #4 on Shippan Avenue in Stamford, CT. In addition to his regular Fire Officer duties, he is a Public Relations Officer, a member of the Marine Division and the developer of the Departments Intranet, developer of the StamfordFire.com website and serves on the Departments' IT Team.

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