Whether for a presentation, writing a cloud storage review or saving someone’s daft social media post for posterity, the ability to image your screen comes in handy. While computers have a built-in screenshot function, dedicated screen capture software advances that capability considerably.
The best screen capture software isn’t free, but most options are reasonably priced and come with a lifetime license. In return, you get more flexible capture capabilities and advanced editing features to alter your images.
During this roundup, we set out to find the top options for power users. We settled on Snagit for the number one spot, but each of the five selections below merits consideration. Before we name our picks, though, let’s talk about what makes the best screen capture programs tick.
What Makes a Screen Capture Software the Best?
When we were reviewing contenders for this list, we looked for features that justified purchasing screen capture software over a free option or simply using “print screen” and free image editing software like GIMP.
Features we targeted include those that enhance the initial capture process. A perfect example is the ability to image an entire web page or chat log. A typical print screen only captures what’s on your screen, missing those parts that require scrolling. Good screen capture software can get everything, usually using a click-and-drag approach.
This same feature lets you only grab what you want from the screen so that you don’t have to crop it later. Usually, you can use a hotkey to perform this action, too, saving yourself from having to launch the program first.
In terms of editing, key features include those that let you enhance your screen capture to quickly tell a visual story to your intended audience. Arrows, numbering and text inserts to highlight important parts of your image are good examples.
Other capabilities that have appeal include the ability to annotate, add watermarks, rearrange objects, change colors and recognize and replace text. Common image editing features like blurring are also useful.
Given that screen capture software is often used for productivity, we also considered ease of use and customer support. The ability to intuitively pick up controls and quickly reach someone when there’s something you can’t figure will make sure your work doesn’t pile up on you.
That’s really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of capabilities. Many software options have features that are uncommon but still very useful, such as Ashampoo Snap 10’s ability to save images to your cloud storage account. We’ll touch on those as we come across them if they factored into our decision making process.
Let’s get to our picks.
Best Screen Capture Software — Snagit
Snagit manages simplicity without a loss in capability. It has a wide variety of tools for capturing shots and a UI that blends smoothly into the desktop experience. Pair these critical features with good support, and you’ve got a great screen capture program that’s hard to beat.
When it comes to usability, Snagit lets you accomplish tasks with the fewest clicks possible. Thanks to its creative simplifications, Snagit lets users capture and edit screenshots in minutes. You get click-and-drag functionality with Snagit to either limit your screenshot to a small portion of the page or extend it to parts that aren’t immediately on screen.
Once editing, you can apply a variety of visual effects like black and white and sepia, change colors in the image and tag elements with arrows, text and automated numbering.
Snagit’s “smart move” recognizes objects in your screenshot so you can move them around, too, making this a great tool for web designers who want to play with elements on a web page without altering the source code.
Other Reasons We Like Snagit
Snagit has a dedicated support page with articles, tutorials and even a community site where users can discuss problems and ask questions. For more complex issues, you can also submit a support ticket. If that doesn’t prove successful, TechSmith (creators of Snagit) has a toll free number and a Twitter account, too.
With such a solid base of features, Snagit was a pretty easy pick as our top choice. However, before committing, we recommend you test the service yourself first with a 15-day free trial. A single user license costs close to $50.
- Cloud integration
- Works on mobile
- Great capture options
- Incredibly powerful editor
- Community site
Ashampoo Snap 10 doesn’t quite match the simplicity provided by Snagit, which is the big reason it landed in second place. That said, there are two big reasons why some users might prefer it: It only cost $20 for a license and includes cloud integration to quickly save your screen captures to Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive.
On top of that, the software has great editing tools, multi-monitor support, high DPI awareness, smart text recognition and 4k video recording. You can add arrows and numbering to screenshots for presentations and articles, too. Then, there’s integrated GIF creation, smart document history and the ability to export screenshots to Adobe Photoshop.
Other Reasons We Like Ashampoo Snap 10
Through the Ashampoo support website, customers can troubleshoot issues using FAQ pages or submit a ticket to the Ashampoo support team. Users can even opt-in to Ashampoo’s premium support for $4.99 for two years, which gets them priority handling for faster ticket resolution.
- Multi-monitor support
- Strong editing tools, including GIF creation
- Supports uploads to cloud
- Only available on Windows
Icecream Screen Recorder offers some unique features like advanced presentation modes and a format converter. However, it’s capture and editing capabilities are a bit underpowered, which is why we ranked it third.
Screen Recorder does make creating presentations a breeze, and that simplicity helps it stand out as a great choice for users with more minimal needs. Also, it does still have drawing and watermark tools, timed capture and project history features. Customizable hot keys come in handy, too.
Other Reasons We Like Icecream Screen Recorder
Icecream support includes ticket submission, bug report forms, a user manual and several detailed tutorials. Both the tutorials and manual are detailed and coherent.
Icecream Screen Recorder also has a free version with a reduced feature set, so you can test it out for yourself before committing to the Pro version for $40.
- Easy to use
- Customizable hotkeys
- Capture modes fall a bit flat
ScreenHunter Pro is a powerful screen capture tool with many great features, including the ability to take 8k resolution screenshots, perform screenshots on scrollable windows and even capture minimized windows. It also has customizable hot keys and a screen recording feature capable of 4K video.
Powerful capture software should come with formidable editing software; ScreenHunter Pro doesn’t disappoint. Effects like drop shadows and negative and black-and-white conversion are included.
Other Reasons We Like ScreenHunter Pro
ScreenHunter has a dedicated help page with written tutorials, a blog, an FAQ page, video tutorials and a link to email Wisdom Soft (developers of ScreenHunter) directly.
A ScreenHunter Pro license costs $30. If you’re on a budget, ScreenHunter also offers free and Plus editions of the software, though neither come with as many features.
- Powerful screen capture software
- Great support page
- Only available on Windows
- Not as polished as competition
One of the most compelling reasons to go with SPX Instant Screen Capture as your screen capture software is its simplicity. While it’s relatively limited feature set led us to rank it last in our top five, that fluid user experience combined with what SPX does do right will appeal to many.
Instant Screen Capture handles its editing in a separate program, SPX Editor. SPX Editor allows you to apply effects, crop and rotate your images. While the editor is decent, we would’ve liked to see it integrated into the core application, unifying the experience and making SPX Instant Screen Capture even easier to pick up.
Other Reasons We Like SPX Instant Screen Capture
SPX promises 24/7 online support and ticket response times within 24 hours. It also offer an a support page with a user manual and some how-to videos. A forum or some FAQs would be nice additions, but the SPX support is still passable.
While it may not have the support or feature set of our other picks, SPX Screen Capture is still a polished program with a below $20 price that will appeal to value shoppers. There’s also a 15-day free trial you can sign up for first.
- Very easy to use
- Weak capture options
- Only on Windows
Honorable Mention — CaptureWiz Pro
While looking a bit outdated, CaptureWiz Pro is a capable screen capture app with good capture modes and other useful features. We like the inclusion of a “sticky note” feature that lets you take smaller screenshots and turn them into on-screen notes.
This is especially useful for quickly referencing facts or confirmation codes. Unfortunately, CaptureWiz Pro lacks the polish of our other favorites, which is why it didn’t land in the top five.
Today’s best screen capture software provides advanced features for editing and creating images for social media postings, presentations and other needs. While there are many software choices available, including some free ones, the picks above are those that we feel really stand out in the crowd.
In particular, we were most impressed with Snagit. Of course, we’re open to differences in opinion. Let us know what your favorite screen capture software is in the comments below. Thank you for reading.