Using Snapz Pro X
The ultimate screen capture utility for Mac OS X is Snapz Pro X from Ambrosia Software, Inc. It provides you with a variety of options for grabbing information from your screen.
For example, to capture a simple screen shot, press Command-Shift-3 (this keystroke combination is customizable). The screen will be frozen, and you will see the window as shown in Figure 8.
Then choose your options, and hit the Return key. Your options are:
- Entire screen
- Objects (Windows or Icons)
Keep in mind that you can capture still images in all of these formats: .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .pdf, .pict, .png, .psd, and .tiff. But you have to set this option before the screen capture takes place. Otherwise, you'll have to open the screenshot in an image editor to change the format.
For a "selection capture," Snapz allows you to mark out and position the region you want to grab. Double-clicking on the region, or hitting the Return key, will then capture the screen.
One very nice feature is that Snapz Pro X allows you to automatically capture the shadows of a window! Simply change the Border option under Image Options to Drop shadow (as shown in Figure 8). Prior to using Snapz Pro X, I always had to switch the background to white so that I can capture the nice shadow around the window. But no more!
Capture Moving Pictures Too!
One of the really exciting features of Snapz Pro X is its "Movie capture mode," which works for both QuickTime and DVD movies. First, launch the video you want to capture, then enable Snapz. Hit the Return key and Snapz will grab the video as it plays.
If you're interested in this function, keep in mind that there are two versions of Snapz Pro X: the $29 and $49 versions. If you want to capture QuickTime and DVD video, make sure you get the $49 version, or you'll be disappointed because this functionality is missing from the $29 version.
Capturing Synchronized Audio with Snapz Pro X Video
When capturing QuickTime, Snapz Pro X only grabs the video because the internal "audio in" option is disabled. This applies to both DVD and to QuickTime movies. There is a workaround, however, to snag the synchronized audio.
You'll need a connecting cord with stereo mini-plugs on both ends. Put one plug into your headphone jack (audio out) on your Mac. Then put the other plug into a sound input connector, such as the Griffin iMic. Set the iMic toggle switch to the right, and make sure that the "iMic audio system" is selected under the Input tab in the Mac OS X Sound preferences panel.
Now enable Snapz's movie capture mode while the DVD is playing. Snapz will temporarily halt the movie and display its option screen. Enable the "Microphone track" option (you'll see the checkbox at the bottom of Snapz's dialog box). Click the Movie icon, position the capture frame, and hit the Return button to begin capture of both sound and audio. You'll have to play with the settings a bit to get the quality you want, but it's really quite decent once you find the right balance.
To get you started with the right settings, here are a few tips:
- Set your monitor resolution to thousands of colors.
- Set frame rate in Snapz to 15 fps.
- Set Camera Mode to "fixed camera" in Snapz.
- Reduce the frame size of your DVD movie to 320 x 240.
For more information about sound capture on Mac OS X, see "The Digicam Chronicles: Sound is Half the Picture."