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3 free screenshot tools for Mac

If you own a Mac, and you use it for work, sooner or later, you are going to need some type of a screenshot software. Don’t worry; we have you covered with these three absolutely free screenshot tools. Also worth noting, this isn’t a promotional article. I found these three tools, and I am using one of them. Also worth noting, my company hasn’t built any of these tools. We did build a screenshot API, which is for taking website screenshots and thumbnails programmatically.

Now that we have full disclosure out of the way, we can get to the article itself. First I would love to talk about the screenshot capture tool I am using myself. I am using it almost on a daily basis, and I think I use pretty much all the functionalities it provides. Then I would like to review other competing software. But before we get into that, I hope that you do know that Mac offers basic screenshot capability with a simple hotkey combination?

Mac hotkey for a screenshot

If you are a Mac user and would like to take a screenshot, there are two options. Followed by two different hotkey combinations. For a complete and entire screenshot, you need to press Command-Shift-3. If you are using two or more active screens (monitors), Mac OS will screenshot all of them, and save them on your desktop. The dimension of the screenshot will be the same as the screen resolution itself. Furthermore, the screenshot will be titled with a timestamp of the exact time the screenshot was taken. For example “Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.33.40 PM”.

If on the other hand, you would like to screenshot only a portion of your screen, you need to press Command-Shift-4. After you have pressed this combination, Mac OS will present you with a different cursor. With this, you need to use your mouse and do a left click to select the part of the screen you want to screenshot. You are clicking to hold, and releasing when you are satisfied with the selection. If you want to repeat the process, simply press “escape” button to cancel the screenshot and press the hotkey again.

Command-Shift-3 for entire screen – Command-Shift-4 for selected partial screenshot

One of the features during the screenshot portion selection is pixel size of the screenshot. This means you can also use this screenshot tool to measure width and height of some graphics, banners or other web properties. Now that we have this out of the way, it is time to review the 3 free screenshot tools for Mac.

3 free screenshot tools for Mac OS users

What's the best free screenshot tool for me and my mac - Photo by Mario Calvo
What’s the best free screenshot tool for me and my mac – Photo by Mario Calvo
  1. MONOSNAP
  2. SKITCH (skipped)
  3. LIGHTSHOT SCREENSHOT
  4. JING

These are the screenshot tools I will be covering in this post. I personally user Monosnap. I use it because it also includes recording or as some call it screen capturing. But, as you will see LighShot Screenshot and Jing are also great! I’ve been using Monosnap for a few years now, but it doesn’t hurt to see what you are missing out. This is not a monogamous relationship; you can try other software.

Monosnap review – download here

I currently have installed version 3.4.9 on my MacOS High Sierra. The app is stable without any crashes. In 2018, it is completely free, without any ads, popups or similar adware. After you install Monosnap, after clicking on the icon you will have options to:

  • Capture area
  • Capture fullscreen
  • Record video
  • Open from clipboard
  • Upload to: Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, FTP, Monosnap and many other

If you capture an area or a fullscreen Monosnap then presents you with several options. You can type text on the screenshot, leave arrows, borders, circles and what not. These come in handy when you are working with a distributed team and want to explain something. The screenshot below is a bit metaphysical. I took a screenshot of a screenshot tool while taking a screenshot… Yeah, it’s difficult to wrap your mind around that. It’s like staring at yourself in a mirror, while another mirror is behind you.

Metaphysical screenshot. Screenshot of a screenshot tool, while taking a screenshot. Screenshot tool Monosnap - dashboard
Metaphysical screenshot. Screenshot of a screenshot tool, while taking a screenshot. Screenshot tool Monosnap – dashboard

As I have already mentioned, Monosnap is a smart choice for taking recordings as well. For example this screen recording and a screenshot with notes I posted recently about Yoast SEO review and on-page SEO I used Monosnap. If you click on this link, you will see that the video and screenshot quality are of high quality. In my honest opinion, this free tool produces excellent results! P.S. There’s also a Windows option, just in case you need one.

Skitch review

From what I’ve seen online, many bloggers put Skitch in the top 5 section. I even list them below. So this was an easy pick for me to try. Although when I dug deeper I wasn’t happy to see the background of the story. Evernote bought Skitch back in 2011, enraging some users with unpopular updates, and then killing support for Windows, Android, and iOS! I find it hard to recommend a tool if I there’s a chance of shutting it down. So although I recognize Skitch (and even installed it locally for testing), I am going to skip it in this review.

You can read about Skitch on links below. They all list and review Skitch as one of the top free screenshot tools for Mac:

Lighshot Screenshot review – download here

Lightshot is installed via Apple’s App Store and is completely free. It is very lightweight, fast and easy to operate. You can take entire screenshots and selected screenshots. It allows the usual actions such as leave pointers, circles, rectangles and text. A feature that immediately stands out is the option to do a Google search. This means that you can take a screenshot, and with a single click of a button (Google icon) this image is being Googled. This is a fast track to the “search by image”. Your image is automatically uploaded and compared to entire Google’s index.

Lightshot - free screenshot tools for Mac
Lightshot – free screenshot tools for Mac

I suppose not much more can be said about LightShot. It doesn’t have the screen recording like Monosnap but it does have the option to automatically upload the image to a file sharing service (also owned by LightShot Screenshot tools). Another advantage is that you don’t have to register since some services require you to do so. And don’t forget, compared to Skitch, you don’t have some board members possibly deciding to shut it down.

Jing review – download here

There are other tools out there like Snagit that are very interesting (also from TechSmith) but with a price tag of $50 and you had Little Snapper that was mentioned on LifeHacker but is now gone. So with some hesitance between Captur and Jing I decided to go with Jing. Back in 2007 when Jing was launched, it was described by TechCrunch as a 3 legged dog. Like that stopped me to try this service. However, I do like the fact that Jing is around more than 11 years. Let’s see what this tool can do!

From the start, I have to say I didn’t like the fact that I had to register. Another nagging thing I noticed before I even tried the software was that there was a “yellow sun peeking out from the edge of my screen.” This yellow sun is there all the time, whether I need the tool or not. Luckily I later found an option to move the “sun” to the bar. What is cool about Jing is that it also does video recordings like Monosnap. Only Monosnap doesn’t limit the video to 5 minutes (which Jing does). Also, audio quality appeared to be slightly better on Monosnap.

Free screenshot tools - Jing review
Free screenshot tools – Jing review

With Jing, you can immediately share your screenshot with the world. Like with other free screenshot tools in this review, with a click of a button, it is uploaded to a file sharing service (this time it is screencast.com – also owned by TechSmith). Now mind you, to put things into perspective, compared to LightShot Screenshot and Captur, TechSmith is a corporation founded over 30 years ago with more than 30 million customers (according to their website). You do notice this throughout the entire experience. Visiting their website, downloading the software opening the dashboard and using their interface.

Now it’s your turn

When I started writing this post, I was planning to review 3 screenshot tools, and I hope that I ended up giving you much more than that. To give you a better perspective, I told you my company created a screenshot API that’s great for JavaScript developers that want to programmatically take website screenshots or thumbnails. But from a user’s standpoint (my personal) I use Monosnap almost every day, and sometimes I even record videos. Although the two are quite similar (screenshot API for websites and screen capture software) they are two very different services.

Anyway, I hope that I covered enough for you to make a decision and use one of these tools. If you thought that this post was helpful, please share it with a fellow Mac user. Maybe they could also use a good free screenshot tool for Mac.

 

Written by Goran Duskic

I am the founder and CEO at WhoAPI. Entrepreneur for more than a decade in the hosting and domain industry. Sold my previous company. 500 Startups and StartLabs alumni. Author of a white paper "Domain Disclosure: Dirty Dozen" and eBook "26 Fundraising Questions for Startups".

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