15 Useful Tools To Capture Design Inspiration

Love Inspiration....

As a designer, its important to have something that helps us break through the dreaded ‘designer’s block’ when it strikes. Some days all it takes is a 10 minute break away from your computer or a walk outside but at other times we need that immediate spark. For those moments its a great idea to have a collection of inspiring, creative resources to drive our imagination back into gear.

But how do you capture that inspiration? This post aims to list some of best tools, both desktop and web based to help you do just that…

  • Paparazzi – Small utility for for screenshots (Mac)
  • Paparazzi!
    Paparazzi! is a small utility for Mac OS X that makes screenshots of webpages. It takes screenshots of websites which do not fit on one screen, allowing you to specify the desired width, minimal height and the URL. The program displays a preview and you can save the screenshot to PNG, JPEG, TIFF or PDF.

    Price: Free

  • LittlesnapperScreen and Web Snapping (Mac)
  • Littlesnapper
    Allows you to capture snaps of entire webpages, as well as areas of your screen, the various tools allow you to mark up your images with text, callouts, shapes, lines, arrows, blurs and highlighting. You can also tag, rate, comment & organise your snaps using LittleSnapper’s library tools. With the free QuickSnapper account you can also share your images with others.

    Price: 28.99 GBP

  • JingSnap a picture of your screen and share instantly
  • Jing App
    The Jing Project is allows you to easily capture screenshots or record video and then upload them to Screencast.com. Once on Screencast you are able to share your video or image with friends, colleagues, or readers. You can also mark up images with graphics and notes and is available on Mac OS X and Windows.

    Price: Free (Or Jing Pro – $14.95/year)

  • SnagItSnapshot anything on your PC screen
  • Snagit
    Another great product from TechSmith – who also created Jing (detailed above). You can capture anything you see on the screen. Edit and combine those captures. Share them via your favorite applications. Organize and find them again later. Very intuitive to use and recommended by alot of Windows users!

    Price: $49.95

  • SkitchFast and fun image sharing (Mac)
  • Skitch
    Skitch works alongside the skitch.com website to give you 1-click uploading of images for fast and fun image sharing, along with video capture. You have your own library of captured images which you can browse through at any point. Or use your own FTP, SFTP, Flickr or .Mac account. Paste your Skitch.com link into any web-page, forum or chat or you can also keep links private.

    Price: Free

  • SnapNDragEffortless Screen Capture (Mac)
  • SnapNDrag

    Super simple screen capture with no key combinations, no file conversion to deal with, no file dialog boxes to navigate and no temporary files to erase later on. It supports multiple file formats including PNG and TIFF for times when image quality cannot be compromised. Or use JPEG with adjustable quality for smaller file sizes.

    Price: Free

  • Image SparkDiscover share and tag images
  • Image Spark
    Image Spark lets you upload and create a library of images that inspire you in whatever it is you do. However it’s not just about collecting and storing images — you can converge images using Image Spark’s moodboards and help set the visual tone or style you’re after. You can browse through other user’s libraries and moodboards as well as keeping any of your screenshots private.

    Price: Free

  • ScrnshotsShare Your Inspiration
  • Scrnshots
    ScrnShots is a great way to take, find, and share screenshots of web and screen based design. You can tag your screenshots for easy retrieval and viewing, save Favorites and search screenshots by keywords to find inspiration for your design problem. You can embed screenshots in your site or blog and add contacts and subscribe to their screenShots feed to keep up with their collection.

    Price: Free

  • EvernoteRemember Everything
  • Evernote

    Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Its free and is available as a desktop application (Mac and Windows), on the iPhone and via the web interface.

    Price: Free or Premium Version at $5/month or $45/year

  • Screengrabs and FireshotFirefox Add-ons which create screenshots
  • Firefox Add-ons

    Screengrab! saves webpages as images. It will capture what you can see in the window, the entire page, just a selection, a particular frame as an image and saves either to a file, or to the clipboard. FireShot is a Firefox extension that creates screenshots of web pages (entirely or just the visible part). It also provides a set of editing and annotation tools, which let users quickly modify web captures and insert text and graphical notes.

    Price: Free

  • Capture Me - Screen Capture and Recording (Mac)
  • Capture Me
    Capture Me is a flexible screen capture and recording utility for Mac OS X which features a floating capture window, several saving options and a resize ability. You just drag and resize the floating window to cover the area you want to capture. Then click in the window to capture the screenshot. You can resize it, copy it to the clipboard, and save it in a variety of formats and locations. You can also record up to 1 minute of video.

    Price: Free

  • SnapzPro XCapture & Record anything on screen (Mac)
  • Snapz Prox
    Snapz Pro X allows you to effortlessly record anything on your screen, saving it as a QuickTime® movie or screenshot that can be e-mailed, put up on the web, or passed around however you want.

    Price: $69

  • WebKutLet’s cut the web!
  • WebKut
    WebKut is an Adobe AIR application that allows you to capture web pages, or parts of them in a very simple way. It provides you 3 capture options: the entire page, the current view, or only a selection. Its a super easy to use application, well worth downloading and trying out!

    Price: Free

  • WebSnapshotScreenshots with Drag&Drop features
  • WebSnapShot
    WebSnapShot is another simple Adobe AIR application which allows you to enter the URL and press snap, or Drag&Drop it from your browser. Firstly select the type of Snapshot you want to make: Thumbnail, Browser size, or Full Page. Then just click on the Thumnails to Save. With Auto Save Checked, the thumbnails are immediately saved to your ‘save’ folder.

    Price: Free

  • InstantShot!Screen captures in just a few Kbytes (Mac)
  • InstantShot!
    InstantShot! offers classical screenshot functionality for capturing the whole screen, a portion of it or a window and also the option to make timed screenshots or to make delayed captures over time. It offers a wide range of preferences and options to fit most people’s needs.

    Price: Free

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Although this list features a wealth of Mac applications there are a range of screen capture tools and utilities exclusive to Windows, which i have compiled below (also see SnagIt detailed above):

While not an exhaustive list, i hope these will give you a starting point to start capturing and building a collection of inspiration for your future projects. I personally use Littlesnapper as its super simple and is fantastic in building mini collections and smart folders for future reference.

The key to remember when in search for inspiration is to let it “inspire you to design, not inspire your design”.

Have i missed any of your favourites sites or applications? If so drop a comment with the link so others can check it out.

Photo by _neona_

20 Comments

  1. Andy Sowards says:

    Great roundup – Jing is my fav ;)

    • Grace says:

      @Andy Thanks for stopping by, Jing is an app i use as well, in fact you got me into it!

      @Tony That ScrnShots screengrab was just for you ;-) Thanks for that link, great read.

      @mdrisser Thanks! Skitch is great, though i find the shortcut keys on Littlesnapper are so handy, i can’t see myself switching anytime soon.

      @Andrew I used to stitch screenshots together as well, major pain! Then i started to use Fireshot for Firefox and then settled on Littlesnapper when it came out.

      @Hernan I have SnagIt on the PC and it’s a great app, for me the best on Windows.

      @Tom Let me look into that for you.

      @Brad Thanks, really appreciate that :-) I love sketching and brainstorming in general and for me Moleskine makes its an even nicer experience. And yes share away, that would be awesome!

  2. Tony Chester says:

    Great list Grace. I currently use Skitch, Paparazzi, and SnapNDrag.

    Sktich I use mostly for taking quick shots to share with someone via chat or quick posting on social sites.

    Paparazzi for the full blown screenshots for portfolios and blog posts.

    SnapNDrag for grabbing elements of a page to save for later.

    I love that your ScrnShots image has OnWired in it ;-)

    Lastly, on a side note to your “designer block”; Megan wrote a nice post for us a few months ago titled Dislodge the Creative Block. It’s a good read for anyone interested: http://onwired.com/blog/dislodge-the-creative-block/

  3. mdrisser says:

    Great post. Personally I like Skitch and its ability to make notes on a screenshot. I’ll have to take a look at the others now :)

  4. Great list Grace :)

    I’ve been told about Evernote I don’t know how often, now I finally got it! Paparazzi looks great too, especially being able to “go below the fold” with the screenshot – the amount of times I’ve stitched screenshots together is unreal.

    Cheers!

  5. I use and love SnagIt. It does it well but I had a hard time using it. It also has great markup tools for notes and you can have an ongoing gallery of screenshots categorized. <3 <3 <3

  6. Tom Sinclair says:

    Nice list! Is LittleSnapper the only app that lets you save the website URL etc along with the image?

  7. Very nice. I think I’m gonna share this over on Mysterious Flame! Really enjoyed your Moleskine post the other day.

  8. Tyler Hays says:

    Just for clarification, Skitch is a Mac-only app (it doesn’t have the qualifier next to it in the list).

    Great work, keep it up Grace!

    • Grace says:

      @Tyler Thanks Tyler! Not sure why i didn’t put Mac next to Skitch as i use it myself, thanks for pointing that out, corrected now :-)

  9. Tim says:

    I always plug my own stuff, but the tutorial I wrote, “how to make your own ffffound with wordpress” is THE BEST way I’ve ever found to capture images and have my own personal stream of inspiration.

    vnovember.com and I have a tutorial on how to make it at my site. I must say, Evernote is a daily tool I use as well!

  10. Desiztech says:

    really nice round up. I like Skitch

  11. billor says:

    as for me I capture screen on mac with Macvide ScreenCap

  12. Charlie Trig says:

    I’m a fan of Firefox, so I love Flashgot and Downloadthemall to capture images or docs from any website. When we get a project to upgrade an existing website, these tools come in real handy. Check out our portfolio on http://www.trigwebdesign.com/ to see some examples of our work.

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