Review: Screen Capture with LittleSnapper and Voila

Two screen capture products compared. (October 1st, 2009)

Two screen capture and markup applications designed for anyone who needs to capture their screen, desktop, application windows or web pages.

MacNN Rating:

ratingratingratingratingrating

Product Manufacturer: See Below.

Price: $35 & $39.95 US

The Good

  • LittleSnapper: Captures all web pages no matter the elements used.
    Good Mac interface.
    Handles FTP well. Voila: Expanded filters and adjustments.
    Good controls.
    Tight layout.

The Bad

  • LittleSnapper: Sparse set of adjustments.
    Limited parameter control. Voila: Mishandles some Flash web pages.
    No path setting in FTP setup.

LittleSnapper v1.5.1 and Voila v.2.1 are screen capture and markup applications designed for anyone who needs to capture their screen, desktop, application windows or web pages. You can also and add callouts, such as arrows, circles, or instructional text, for use in mockups, group collaboration projects, user manuals, how-to articles, or even software reviews. I recently put both applications through their paces and am impressed with each. They essentially do the same thing with roughly 90% of their features overlapping, but their style and approach is slightly different.

I've used screen capture programs for years. When I write a how-to article or set of instructions for friends and family I use Grab, an included Mac OS X application, to copy the screens to the Clipboard and then paste that into Photoshop. Not everyone has or needs Photoshop, so devoted third-party screen capture applications like Little Snapper and Voila are useful tools to have on hand. Below, I've presented a brief overview of each application and then compare them to one another.

LittleSnapper

LittleSnapper, made by Realmac Software, costs $35 for a single license and $99 for a 5-user pack. It requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and is fully compatible with Snow Leopard. It features timed snaps, multi-window snaps, web page element (DOM) snapping, and tagging. LittleSnapper also uses smart folders, built in QuickLook support, file transfer protocols (FTP), and Flickr support for uploading the files, and a built-in web browser for capturing all or parts of a web page.

 LittleSnapper Window


LittleSnapper Sample Markup


Using LittleSnapper is fairly straightforward, I found the controls clearly marked and most have pop-up tags to give you a hint about their purpose. You can take a snap from within the application via the Capture menu, from the status bar menu icon, or via a keystroke sequence that you can customize in the Preferences.

 LittleSnapper Window


LittleSnapper Preferences


Visually LittleSnapper reminds me of a Finder window, with the light blue sidebar on the left and the smart folder icons; an excellent use of the Mac interface. Above these are icons for the different kinds of snaps you might take, Screenshot, Websnap, Photo, Illustration, Mockup, iSight, and iPhone. The Screencap and Websnap images drop into place as you make them, the others drop into their folders as you import them and choose into which category they should fall.

 LittleSnapper Window


LittleSnapper Window

Voila

Voila, by Global Delight, costs $39.95, $44.95 for a 2-user license, and $63.95 for a 5-user pack. It requires Mac OS X 10.5.2 or later and the hardware needs to be a 1.25GHz or faster G4 or G5 or an Intel Mac. I tested it on Snow Leopard, but according to Global Delight's website "As of now Voila on Snow Leopard cannot capture the desktop background or the icons on the desktop using Object capture and there are some minor issues. ... You can expect a Snow Leopard compatible version of Voila releasing in the next few weeks."

 Voila Window


Voila Window


Voila features timed snaps, web page element snapping, smart folders, FTP, and Flickr support for uploading the files, and a built-in web browser for capturing all or parts of a web page.

Voila is also easy to use, with the controls clearly marked and intuitive. Similar to LittleSnapper you can take a "snap" (yes, Voila uses the same term) from within the application via the Capture menu, from the status bar menu icon, or via a keystroke sequence that you can customize in the Preferences.

 Vioila Preferences


Voila Preferences


Voila looks more like an application with a very distinct style and icon-based layout. It groups its capture options along the top left toolbar with tabs for Organizer, Tools, and Effects underneath in the left sidebar. In the top right corner are four icons for iPhoto, Mail, Publish, and Print.

Voila and LittleSnapper Comparison

LittleSnapper and Voila both have built-in FTP support and they worked flawlessly. Setup, however, was a bit easier on LittleSnapper because it has a text field for path and Voila did not. I found that you can simply type in the full path in Voila's Server Address window, but if you didn't know to do that, it might prove to be unnecessarily frustrating.

LittleSnapper asks for the full domain address of your FTP server. It uses that address to give you the option of copy and pasting a link directly to the image online for sharing in email or embedding into a webpage. That's a nice touch.

Image Support

LittleSnapper only exports images as PNG, JPG, or its own .snap format while Voila exports images as PNG, JPEG, TIFF, PDF, GIF, BMP, or its own Voila format. Voila really outshines LittleSnapper in the graphic and image editing category. It offers precise control over parameters such as exposure, contrast, saturation, hue, and other image correction adjustments. It also includes 14 preset image filters including Black & White, Sepia, Posterize, and Invert to name a few. Voila is actually quite capable as a stand-alone image editor.

 Voila Effects


Voila Effects Tab


Voila has many more markup tool options when you need to add a callout or a line of explanatory text to a snap. It lets you set the text and the callout shape separately, while LittleSnapper adds a simple rounded rectangle background to any text you add, as shown above. The markup tools in LittleSnapper have a single slider and color picker to adjust the parameters, while Voila uses separate parameter inputs, allowing for more precise control of your settings.

Voila Markup


Voila Sample Markup


Snaps Compared When you need to select an element after you've placed it in order to move or adjust its parameters, LittleSnapper smartly put its Select tool in the toolbar alongside the other tools. Voila put its Select tool at the bottom of the application window, completely separate from the markup tools. It's obvious that they did this so that you can use the Select tool in any mode you're in, but there should also be a Select tool in the tool palette alongside the other tools.

Both applications use the drag-the-crosshairs form of freehand area selection that, if you use Grab, you use often. The ability to save preset area dimensions would be a welcome touch for those of us who need our snaps to be a uniform size. This feature is missing in both applications.

When I tested their ability to snap the current Safari web page, I found a weakness in Voila. I opened the Harley Davidson page in Safari, and Voila failed to capture the page, returning a blank image each time, while LittleSnapper captured the webpage perfectly. The page uses a Flash element with a slideshow of main images that changes every 5 seconds or so and Voila couldn't capture anything. This may be due to those lingering issues with Snow Leopard compatibility and this bug may very well be fixed in a future update; we'll have to wait and see.

LittleSnapper and Voila are great screen capture tools and both work as advertised. The Flash capture issue that Voila has is the lone exception. If Voila were priced considerably higher than LittleSnapper I might choose the latter, but because they're within $5 of one another I'd choose Voila. Its superior image editing tools and more precise parameter controls put it easily over the top. If you need full Snow Leopard compatibility now though, LittleSnapper is your choice.

LittleSnapper v1.5.1, Realmac Software Limited, $35, 4 stars.

Voila v.2.1, Global Delight Technologies Pvt. Ltd., $39.95, 4.5 stars.

This just in: MacNN readers can get a special $15.00 single user discount on Voila in October. Please use the coupon code: VOILADISCOUNT when ordering from the site.



Edited twice by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Patrick Clark


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