Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.


Posted on 11 December 2008 17 comments

Article illustration for LittleSnapper

Article illustration for LittleSnapper

Today sees the launch of a new OSX application from my friends at Realmac Software. It’s called LittleSnapper and it rocks.

I’ve had the pleasure of testing this app from its early alpha incarnations right through to the final line of betas released this week, and I can honestly say that it’s one of my favourite pieces of software for OSX and I’m using it daily. So I was absolutely thrilled when the guys asked me if I’d like to be interviewed for a case study! You can read it here.

So what is LittleSnapper?

It’s a tool for capturing web design inspiration, organising it in the library, adding annotations and edits if necessary, and sharing the snaps on the web. When I first heard about the app, I must admit that I wasn’t sure if I’d use it, since I always use Delicious to bookmark any sites I find inspiring. But as soon as I started using it, I realised how much nicer it is to have a visual library of bookmarks to look through. And they really are bookmarks, because – unlike when you capture screengrabs with OSX – LittleSnapper will actually save the page title and URL in the metadata.


As you may have guessed, the snapping is far superior to the OS-level commands you’re used to, but it also makes use of them, so you can still do things like snap a certain area of the screen, snap a whole window (maintaining the full PNG transparency and drop-shadow effects), or just grab the whole screen. And of course these snaps will all automatically appear in your LittleSnapper library, ready for organising.

Although it’s great to take snaps without ever leaving your browser (the app has a menu bar with all of the main commands), what’s really cool is that LittleSnapper has a webkit-based browser built in, so it’s possible to do all your snapping from within the app itself.

Where this internal browser really comes into its own, though, is when you use the DOM-snapping tool. As the name suggests, you can snap certain parts of the page based on their position within the DOM. Think of it like when you ‘inspect’ an element in Firebug and that element gets highlighted. In LittleSnapper, once an element is highlighted, you can then snap it, which is absolutely brilliant if you’re collecting something like ‘navigation’ inspiration. I was doing this for my book just yesterday and it’s so handy. For quite a while, I must admit that I didn’t use this feature, but once I did, I wondered why I hadn’t before.

Organising & editing

I’m such a sucker for gorgeous interfaces, which is why I fell for the app’s UI straight away, with all its animated effects, thumbnail resizing etc.; in other words: the stuff you’d expect from Apple, not a third-party developer. But it’s not just a pretty face: the real power is the way you can tag snaps, give them ratings, and sort them into collections, folders, or even smart folders. As your library grows, so does the need to keep everything well organised, and the app handles this brilliantly.

If you want, you can even go into each snap and add notes, highlight certain areas, draw shapes, and in general prepare an image for a presentation to clients or colleagues. And if you want to edit the image in an external editor like Photoshop, you can do that too.


The guys have built a snap-sharing service called QuickSnapper, which is also great, although I must admit I don’t really use the service much myself. What’s really nice is that they’ve integrated Flickr, which is my preferred site for sharing images. I expect many people will feel the same, having long-established accounts and contacts there, so it’s cool that they’ve recognised this and not tied us into QuickSnapper, as nice as it is. Flickr is not the only way of sharing, though – you can even upload to your own server using built-in support for FTP and SFTP. Nice!


As much as I love LittleSnapper, it is only a 1.0 release and, like most 1.0 releases, could do with some improvements. In future versions, I’d like to see auto-titling / auto-URL-adding to snaps taken with the ‘snap area’ tool, and it’d be great to be able to set up some default tags and / or titles that could be applied to every snap (like adding "Inspiration: " to the beginning of every title, which is useful when posting to Flickr).

The main thing I’d like to see in the future would be auto-uploading / auto-sharing. It’s extremely easy to publish to Flickr, but sometimes I’ve forgotten which snaps I’ve already put up there, and the only way to make sure I don’t re-post by accident is to trawl my Flickr library. And if you could publish to both Flickr and QuickSnapper at the same time, that would probably help promote the QuickSnapper service, since you could start using either one as your main ‘sharing’ place without having to re-upload everything.

Last words

The negative points I have about the app are very small indeed, and as you can no doubt tell by now, I love LittleSnapper and thoroughly recommend you give it a try. You can demo it for free, and if you do decide to buy it, it’s only $39. You can’t say fairer than that.


  1. Tom Sinclair

    Tom Sinclair

    11 December 2008 @ 10:43PM #

    Nice write-up on the app!
    I had a few beat versions but I couldn’t get on with it for some reasons, it was just easier to use delicious I found but I do prefer having a visual representation for inspirational things.

    I think its one of those apps that will benefit me and others alike, its just getting used to using it and getting everything out of it. Love the flickr uploader, was hoping it would have that when looking on their website!

  2. Ed Brenner

    Ed Brenner

    11 December 2008 @ 10:51PM #

    Excellent write-up Elliot!

    I to have been using LittleSnapper since the beginning. This is a great app. Goodbye Skitch.

  3. Dominik Lenk

    Dominik Lenk

    11 December 2008 @ 11:04PM #

    Thanks for the write-up. I have been waiting for something like this. In fact I blogged about an online version of such an app about a year ago. Since nothing has become of it yet, I think I’ll give this a go.

  4. ICU


    11 December 2008 @ 11:08PM #

    Timely. I’ve been using posterous for the last month to build a simple Web inspiration library: sites, tools, color schemes, links to resources. I really love its ease of use (you just send an email) but it doesn’t yet have tagging or categories, which are odd omissions for a-little-service-that-wants-to-be-lovely.

  5. Sherwin Techico

    Sherwin Techico

    11 December 2008 @ 11:22PM #

    Agree w/ your writeup Elliot. Like you, I wish for: auto-uploading, auto-sharing, and knowing if an object has been published (good for smart sets).

    I’d also like to see syncing between different machines. That would help out a lot as I work on an iMac at work, and a MBPro at home. Even though getting this for Vista is a reach, those additions would be plentiful.

    I guess the realmac team can just keep in mind these tools: skitch + paparazzi. When they have plugged in most of the widely used features of each, then it’s just a plus for LittleSnapper.

    But for now, I might have to wait till they get syncing at least. Either way, they did a good job w/ the product.

    Again, thanks for the writeup.

  6. Sherwin Techico

    Sherwin Techico

    11 December 2008 @ 11:24PM #

    I forgot to mention, Dropbox (syncing feature) along w/ Skitch and Paparazzi (for Flash)

  7. Danny Greg

    Danny Greg

    11 December 2008 @ 11:37PM #

    Hey guys,

    Im part of the Realmac team and would like to add that you can use Dropbox to sync your libraries if you make use of aliases, we just dont officially support it.

    If you place your library in your drop box and then place an alias to it in the LittleSnapper Application Support folder, it should work just fine.

    We also recommend that if you are doing it that way you make sure you have decent backups :p

  8. Sherwin Techico

    Sherwin Techico

    11 December 2008 @ 11:55PM #

    @Danny Greg: Thanks for the info. Now the ball is on Dropbox’ court to support the feature to share specific directories in addition to symlinks =)

  9. Derek


    12 December 2008 @ 01:22AM #

    The only thing stopping me from purchasing the app is the ability to sync. Danny, I couldn’t get the library to sync via Dropbox. I moved the library from Application Support > LittleSnapper into a folder in Dropbox. Then, created an alias for that library [in Dropbox] and dropped it into the LittleSnapper folder [Application Support]. After doing so and opening LittleSnapper I get an error stating that the library was created by a newer version of LittleSnapper. Has something changed in the latest release to prevent syncing via Dropbox?

  10. Josh Stodola

    Josh Stodola

    12 December 2008 @ 02:06AM #

    Please, do tell. How much were you paid to publish this post?

  11. Matt Brett

    Matt Brett

    12 December 2008 @ 02:07AM #

    Nice little write-up here, Elliot. And I must say, you’ve nudged me more towards buying this handy little piece of software.

    I got into the beta just last week, so haven’t had a lot of time with it thus far. But have enjoyed it quite a bit, and there is definitely lots of potential for growth.

    I was surprised by the final price, though. It works out to $50 Canadian, which is the same amount I paid for CSSEdit, and not far off TextMate – two apps I spend each and every day using. I don’t see LittleSnapper as being as invaluable as those two, and as such, am not thrilled about forking out $50 for it.

  12. Danny Greg

    Danny Greg

    12 December 2008 @ 04:37AM #

    Just to correct my earlier comment, the alias should be the item in the drop box.
    I would like to carry out some further tests, but I will be blogging this technique shortly.

  13. Ben Bodien

    Ben Bodien

    12 December 2008 @ 04:45AM #

    Tried it on your recommendation, and going off to buy it now. Its an outstanding idea brilliantly executed. One of those “what did I do before I had this?” tools.

  14. Darin Bergen

    Darin Bergen

    12 December 2008 @ 09:03AM #

    Elliot, I agree with your positive review. I’ve also been beta testing and find myself using it more and more. I had been using Adobe Bridge for a similar thing but like LittleSnapper more. One thing I really like is the ability to view the source and/or open the site associated with a websnap. Handy.

    My biggest wishlist item is the ability to have websnaps open to the full width of the viewing panel when you open one single image. Often I have to choose between a zoom level that’s not quite full width or one that’s bigger than the panel. Small things.

    Overall it’s a great app.

  15. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    12 December 2008 @ 02:50PM #

    I’m glad you guys feel the same way about it as me. Thanks for leaving your comments.

    @ Danny Greg: Cheers for jumping in to offer some tech support, man!

    @ Josh Stodola: I’m going to assume that you’re joking…

    @ Matt Brett: I know what you mean when you compare it to software like CSSEdit or TextMate, although I would say that I think those apps are actually underpriced for what they are. I’d happily pay more for TextMate, for instance! :)

  16. Maviokul


    14 December 2008 @ 11:59PM #

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  17. Recommendation Number Two « Trent Walton

    Recommendation Number Two « Trent Walton

    24 August 2009 @ 07:14PM #

    […] invoice for the dollar value of the time they’ve saved me. reference Purchase Little Snapper Elliot Jay Stocks’ review MacApper Review My Ember Profile […]

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