What You Need to Know About Transparency

What is Transparency?

Simply put, transparency is the ability to see through part or all of an image.

To understand how transparency in image files works, it's helpful to understand the terms opaque, translucent, and transparent.

  • Opaque means completely solid. You can't see through something that is opaque. In the real world, this might be a wall or a door.
  • Translucent means partially opaque and partially transparent. It's an in-between state. In the real world, this is like a stained glass window. You can see through it, but not in the way you see through clear glass. This state is referred to as partially transparent in image files.
  • Transparent means completely clear or see-through. Something that is transparent might as well be invisible. In the real world, this is a clear glass window, or even the air that is all around us.

Why Should You Care About Transparency?

That's an easy question to answer. It's going to make your images look great. When layered on top of other images, whether it's a web page with colored backgrounds or presentation slide templates, a transparent image is going to look professional and polished.

The screenshot on the left below has no transparency; the screenshot on the right has a transparent canvas and partially transparent shadow.

Because image files are always rectangular, complete or partial transparency is the solution used to create the appearance of irregular edges or see-through portions.

Transparency in Snagit

In Snagit Editor (and most other graphics programs) transparency is represented by a white and gray checkerboard pattern. This pattern shows you what parts of the image you can see through.

When using the window selector of the All-in-One input or the Window input, Snagit captures the rounded corners of windows and the transparency of Aero themed title bars. It can also capture oddly shaped windows without grabbing the desktop or windows behind the captured window.

Snagit Editor can introduce transparency during editing with drawing tools and image effects. Edge effects like borders and drop shadows no longer add a background color to your image. Instead, they look great anywhere you put them.

Saving a Transparent Image

Snagit supports complete and partial transparency in capturing and editing. However, to have complete or partial transparency in your final saved image, you must use a file format that supports your desired level of transparency.

Complete and partial transparency is best supported by the PNG and SNAG file formats.

Common File Formats Supports Transparency?
SNAG Yes
PNG Yes
JPG No
BMP No
GIF Single color, full transparency only
TIF Yes

Note: What if I use a format that doesn't support transparency? The preview pane in the Save dialog shows you how the saved images looks in your selected format.

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Title Category Level Format
000 - Introduction to Drawing Tools Getting Started I Written
001 - Introduction to Text Capture Getting Started I Written
002 - Introduction to All-in-One Capture Getting Started I Written
003 - Working with the Canvas Canvas II Written
004 - Snagit File Formats File Formats I Written
005 - Documentation Documentation I Written
006 - Searching and Tagging Library II Video
007 - Stamps and Callouts Edit I Video
008 - Basic Snagit Tips and Tricks Tips I Written
009 - Working with Transparency Canvas II Video
010 - Use Profiles to Save Settings Profiles II Written
011 - What You Need to Know About Transparency File Formats II Written
012 - Quickstyles and Hotkeys Styles II Video
013 - Snagit Library Library II Video
014 - Print-ready Screen Captures Capture II Video
015 - Introduction for New Users Getting Started I Video
016 - Introduction for Existing Users Getting Started I Video
017 - Hotspots Edit II Video
018 - Import and Export Profiles Profiles II Video
019 - Editing Captures Edit I Video
020 - Capturing Transparent Windows Capture II Video
021 - Creating Capture Profiles Profiles II Video
022 - Capture Modes Capture I Video
023 - Using All-in-One Capture Capture I Video
024 - Sharing with Snagit Share I Video
025 - Introduction to Video Capture Capture II Written