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If you need to capture screens or videos on your PC, you'll find Ashampoo Snap 4 ($20, 10-day free trial) a worthy tool. It lets you easily capture whatever you see on your screen, whether it be the entire screen, a window, a portion of a screen, a scrolling Web page, or even a video.
Ashampoo Snap 4 is exceptionally simple to use. Run it, and it appears above the top of your desktop, with just a thin line indicating that it's running. When you find something you want to capture, move your cursor to the top of your desktop to display Snap 4's icons and choose the type of capture you want. Or you can instead use a hotkey, or right-click the Snap 4 icon at the bottom of your screen and choose your capture options.
Once you do that, you'll capture what you want. You can then perform basic editing, such as adding special effect, cropping, flipping, and so on. At that point, you can print, e-mail, save it as a JPEG, BMP, PNG, PDF, or an Ashampoo-specific format called Ashampoo Photo Commander (.apc) .
New to this version of Ashampoo Snap is a video mode that makes it easy to capture videos as well. You can capture a video of actions you take onscreen, a video of a game, or even record videos directly from YouTube. It's a simple matter of pressing the right buttons; it's not harder than that. However, I could find no way to capture the accompanying sound, which made this feature only partially useful. So it's great for capturing screen sequences for a demo or tutorial, for example, but you'll have to use another program to overlay sound on top of it.
Other improvements over Ashampoo Snap 3 include higher quality display, and new editing features, such as the ability to capture multiple areas of a screen.
Overall, Ashampoo Snap 4 is a solid program for screen capture and video capture. I don't find it quite as useful as its main competition, Snagit, which offers more features, such as powerful annotation tools and more output formats, among others. Still, Ashampoo Snap 4 costs $30 less than SnagIt, so if you don't need those advanced features, there's no need to pay the extra money. For more power, go with SnagIt. For affordability, Ashampoo Snap 4 does the trick.
Note: Unless you tell it not to do so, the program will install a toolbar from Ashampoo, make Ashampoo Web search your default search engine, and make Ashampoo Web search your default home page. So if you don't want those things to happen, uncheck the appropriate boxes during installation. If you register the trial version with the vendor, you'll get an additional 30 days of free use.
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