File Formats Overview
This is an introduction and reference to the file formats that are available for saving image captures in Snagit. This tutorial doesn't go in to depth on each format; instead, the goal is to introduce the strengths and weaknesses of each format to help you make informed decisions when choosing a file format.
The Snagit Project File Type is a Snagit file format that retains vector-based objects such as arrows and callouts. Other file formats flatten all vector objects to make the objects a permanent part of the image. SNAGPROJ files allow you to edit captures and vector objects at a later time. This file format is only compatible with the Snagit on Mac and cannot be opened in other applications.
The Snagit PC file format, SNAG, is not supported on the Mac version.
The PNG file format is great for sharing images in documents, presentation slides, and online. What makes PNG so great? Here's a list.
- It's lossless. That means that when the file is compressed, it has the exact same quality as an uncompressed image. This means that PNG files look exactly like the screen you captured.
- It supports full and partial transparency with 32 bit color depth.
- Can be viewed in almost all file viewers, graphics programs, and web browsers. (The only exception is Microsoft Internet Explorer 6-- it doesn't display transparency information in PNG files.)
Aside from the Internet Explorer 6 issue (which is becoming less relevant as support for Internet Explorer 6 fades), the only possible drawback to PNG is file size. PNG's lossless compression results in smaller files than other lossless formats (like BMP), but still produces files larger than a lossy format like JPG. A slightly larger file is the trade-off for a lossless image.
The JPG file format is found all over the Internet and is the default used by many digital cameras. JPG is a lossy format, which means that the compression process used when saving the file degrades the quality of the image. This results in blocky, uneven colors and shapes in your image.
This lossy compression works best in photographs, but tends to look bad with the solid colors and square shapes found in most screen captures.
So, when should you use JPG? Some programs or websites might require JPGs. Other times, file size is a concern. Because it is a lossy format, JPG often results in the smallest file size for saved images. Unless you're really counting the kilobytes, PNG is almost always a better choice over JPG when it comes to screen capture images.
The GIF file format is an older image file format, but is still in use. GIF supports a limited amount of animation, which is one of the reasons it's still useful. GIF only supports 256 colors per image. This limited color palette can lead to color banding on images with lots of color or gradients.
GIF supports full color transparency only. A single color in the palette of 256 colors can be treated as a transparent color.
Computer interfaces have become more visually complex, which means 256 colored paletted formats like GIF no longer accurately reflect what you see on your screen. The limited colors result in a smaller file size, but the drop in quality is a steep trade-off.
The BMP file format is a lossless format, but unlike the lossless PNG format, BMP does not compress file size. This can result in very large files.
Unless you have a specific need for a BMP file, the lossless and compressed PNG format is better for your images. Transparency in BMP files is not supported in Snagit.
The TIF file format is often used for document scanning. TIFs saved in Snagit don't have any particular advantage over a file format like PNG. But, TIF is there if you need it (and if you don't, you can safely ignore it).
For almost all screen captures, the recommended file type is PNG. This is the default save type in Snagit, and for good reason. It's lossless compression gives great quality, reasonable file size, and supports features like transparency.
For archiving captures, the SNAGPROJ file is the format of choice. It saves your editing history and allows you to make changes to vector objects on the canvas.