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Shutter vs Hotshots. Which Linux screenshot tool is better?



Not too long ago I did a short post on the Linux screenshot tool Shutter. While I still find Shutter to be a fantastic screenshot tool, I recently found myself wanting for some additional features. This led me to discover some nice alternative screenshot tools for Linux, namely Hotshots and Kaption. While I found Kaption to be rather nice and easy, I find it lacks the functionality and is a bit too dated (last updated in 2011) to be a realistic replacement for Shutter (It is still worth checking out though, you can find out how to install it here).

Hotshots however, very well could be a viable replacement for Shutter. This post will be an attempt for me to determine which screenshot tool I feel is the best option for using on a Linux OS.


Main Window
Shutter

Shutter's main window is a bit larger than your typical screenshot program. This is fine however as it makes up for it in functionality. One thing that sets Shutter apart from other programs is that it has a session manager; the session manager keeps track of all of the screenshots so that you can easily go through and edit or delete the screenshots you have taken.


The menus on Shutter are easy to recognize with both text and icons. There is much functionality with the menu bar.

Grade: A
Hotshots

Compared to Shutter, Hotshots takes a more compact approach to the main window. This can be nice. It does not have a session manager like Shutter.


Hotshots has a much more icon-centric menu. While this might make it slightly more difficult to use the first time or second time you use Hotshots, it is easy to learn and makes the menu more compact; which is nice.

Grade: B+
While both Shutter and Hotshots offer basically the same functionality, I find Shutter slightly easier to learn and use. In addition, Shutter's session manager can seem useless or even annoying at first but really comes in handy once you start to take many screenshots.

Screenshot functionality.
Shutter
Like most screenshot programs, Shutter allows you to take a screenshot of the entire screen, a single window, workspace, or just the selected part of the window. Additionally, you can choose to include mouse cursors, cascading menus, and tooltips.


All of these options have instant or timer mode. One nice thing that I find useful for Shutter is that the different screenshot options have a seperate button. This is useful if you take different types of screenshots (like full screen, then selection only, then menu, etc).

Shutter has a slick countdown when you do a delayed screenshot.

Grade: A
Hotshots
Similar to Shutter, Hotshots allows you to grab the entire screen or screens, a single window, or just a region.

Hotshots also allows for you to grab a freehand region (which is a feature that Shutter does not have).

Hotshots has the same options as Shutter but I found a few instances where things did not work as expected for me. There is only one button for taking a screenshot; to take different types of screenshots, you must first select the dropdown for the capture mode. This can be a bit inconvenient if you take different types of screenshots.

Grade: A-
While both Shutter and Hotshots have more or less the same functionality when it comes to taking the actual screenshot, Shutter seems to be a bit more instinctive to use. The overall UI of Shutter seems to be just a bit slicker when taking a screenshot.

Editor/Annotation Tool
Shutter

Shutter's editing tool is quite straightforward and simple. It provides the basic tools you will need for most annotations; you can type text, draw lines or arrows, blur or censor parts of of the image, and other basic drawing or highlighting tools.

The editor allows you to export your image to nearly any type of image type including SVG and PDF.

The editor itself is very user friendly and simple. I find some of the editing and annotation tools however to be a bit bland. It is great for simple edits but if you want to make something look really slick or snazzy, you might be a bit limited using Shutter.

Grade: B+
Hotshots

I feel that the image editor is where Hotshots excels. In additional to the most common annotation tools, Hotshots has a few additional tools that make it nice such as encircling, more shape drawing tools, and the ability to select different line widths and styles.

My favorite aspect of the editor is how nice the final result looks. The text and arrows have drop shadows that put a professional touch on things. Color schemes are easy to implement as well.

My main complaint with the image editor in Hotshots is that importing images is a bit confusing. The user is required to set the size (rather than Hotshots recognizing the image size). Furthermore, the image editing area is just floating space with no apparent set image size. While this was OK if I was annotating a screenshot, it was very confusing and difficult when I tried importing my own image.

Grade: A-
This is the one area that I feel Shutter lacks and Hotspots shines. While Shutter overall is very polished, user friendly, and feature rich, I feel that ultimately Hotspots can give a more slick looking final product.

Shutter's annotation tools tend to be quite simplistic. While this is fine for many basic things, I find that if you want to do a polished presentation you might need a bit more. The drop shadows on the annotation tools in Hotshots make the arrows and text easy to see no matter what the underlying color is.

Installation and Extra Features
Shutter
Installation
Shutter is in the main Ubuntu repositories so installation is a breeze. Additionally you can install via the PPA:
sudo add-apt-repository && ppa:shutter/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install shutter
Shutter has a fantastic website with up to date documentation.

Export/Upload
In addition to being able to export to nearly every file format, Shutter has the option to upload to public or private hosting sites such as Imgur and Dropbox.

Session Manager
One of the nicest features of Shutter is that it has a session manager to help you organize, delete, and edit your different screenshots.

Grade: A
Hotshots
Installation
Hotshots is not quite as easy to install as Shutter because it is not in the repositories (yet?). Fortunately, it can be easily installed via PPA using the following line of code:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntuhandbook1/hotshots && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install hotshots
In addition to being able to install on a Linux system, Hotshots can also be installed in Windows. This is a great advantage to those who dual boot and often use Windows.

Export/Upload
Hotshots does not have as many options for exporting or uploading as Shutter does, but there are still plenty of options.

Grade: B+
While it is pretty awesome that Hotshots can be installed on Windows, Shutter is just easier to install and use on Linux. Hotshots has decent exporting and uploading options but not quite on par with Shutter.

Final Grade
Shutter


Shutter is polished, easy to install, and feature rich. It has been along for a long while and has a fantastic website with great support. The only thing I feel that Shutter lacks is a bit better looking annotations.

Grade: A-
Hotshots


While Hotshots does not seem to be quite as easy to use as Shutter, it does offer a fantastic final product. The annotation tools look really slick. Hotshots has a bit more of a learning curve compared to Shutter but it offers more or less the same features.

Grade: B+
If you just want a simple program for taking screenshots and don't care about annotations or edits, you really ought to just stick with the default screenshot program for your OS (Ksnapshot for KDE and Gnome-Screenshot for Gnome).

If you need to make some basic edits and want something quick and easy to use, then Shutter is the way to go.

If you can spend a bit of extra time to learn Hotshots and want a really nice polished looking annotated screenshot, then Hotshots is probably your best best.

In all both Shutter and Hotshots are great applications for Linux. You should try them both out and see for yourself which one you like more.

About McKay Christensen

After having lived in Oregon, Alaska, and China for the past 10 years doing landscape design and English teaching, I have returned to my home state of Utah and currently work for a growing tech company.

In my free time I enjoy working on my TutorialGeek.net website where I post tutorials and reviews (and anything else I think is geeky) and I also like to write songs for my Super English Kid Youtube channel.

My favorite things to do include anything with my wife and son. Hiking, camping, and photography (or anything else outdoors). Playing Ultimate Frisbee or Ping Pong. Listening to 60s, 70s, or 80s, music. 

Feel free to contact me using my contact page. I would love to hear from any of you!

3 comments:

  1. Good information, though KSnapshot is enough for me. I'd like to point out, though, that in the first table, you have screenshots for Hotshots where one would expect screenshots of Shutter. Anyway, thanks for the article!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then again, I just now realized what's going on in that screenshot, so never mind. lol

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    2. Yeah... the screenshots are a bit confusing because I had to use one screenshot program to take a picture of the other screenshot program. I took screenshots of whatever I had open, so it ended up being the other screenshot program. A bit of screenshotception I suppose.

      Ksnapshot is fantastic. I used that for many years before I decided it would be nice to use something other than Gimp or Inkscape to do annotations (both great programs but I wanted something a bit faster).

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