Every now and then a one trick pony comes along that does pretty much just one trick. A trick so good, so useful, so elegant that you slap your head and say, “why didn’t I think of that?”
Layers is pretty close to a one trick pony though it does a few more tricks that anyone who needs Mac screen shots will appreciate.
Capture screen shots? Doesn’t Mac OS X do this already with some arcane, impossible-to-remember keystroke combinations to take snap shots of the Mac’s screen or open windows? True enough.
And are there not already a dozen other screen shot utilities for Mac users that do the same thing, even easier than OS X, and many of them are absolutely free? True enough. Again.
Screen capturing is not new. Neither is capturing an open Mac window. What sets Layers apart is one really cool, very redeeming feature that makes it worth the price tag (not exactly in consequential).
Many Mac users capture screen elements—open windows, browser screens, sections of a screen—for use in graphic materials, training materials, even on-screen tutorials in videos. It’s not magic. In fact, though it’s easy, it’s also not.
Layers captures your Mac’s whole screen in a Photoshop layered image. Think about it. Using OS X or any of a dozen utilities you can capture the screen, either as a single image, or a window as a single image.
If your Mac has 20 windows open at any one time, you have to move them around, bring them to the front, capture each window, repeat, rinse. Forget that nonsense. Layers is a better solution.
Layers will capture each open window on your Mac, name the layer, position the image, and import it into Photoshop or wherever you want. Keystroke shortcuts let you capture the whole screen, a web shot from an open browser window, or the front most window.
A preference will place Layers in your Menu Bar, let you designate the capture folder. There’s options for the kind of image captured; layered, composite, or a bunch of files.
You can also change the image file format from TIFF to PNG. So, it’s not quite a one trick pony, but the tricks are very cool.
Of particular interest to me is the Web Shot feature. Not only does Layers take a snap shot image of the open browser window, but it will also capture the whole browser page—that includes the parts you cannot see in your browser window because you need to scroll.
Layers captures those portions, top or bottom, of a web page, even if the page is super long and requires scrolling to see it; Layers gets it in a single image. What’s that worth to you?
Screen capture cannot be much easier. Layers sits in the Menu Bar, so grab and select what you want to do; capture screen, capture web shot, capture open window, and more. Click, done, saved.
If your Mac’s Desktop contains plenty of icons for documents or images, those get captured as a stand alone image, too. I fired up Photoshop, did a quick screen shot, and the resulting PSD file opened with a few dozen layers—images of everything.
Even individual Menu items, and items on the Desktop. That’s way cool. What if you have multiple screens, say, on your MacBook Pro and a desktop display? Layers gets them all.
On the negative side there’s also no way to eliminate the full screen capture of items on your screen you don’t need. Layers grabs pretty much everything it can. Still, it’s easier to delete than capture again and again and again.
Layers is also a try-before-you-buy utility. A watermark may show up on some images. Overall, if you do screen shot or window captures, you’ll be blown away by Layers.