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Review – Voila

Voila! Catchy name, but is the app pure magic or purely a way to make your money disappear? We put the latest version of the screen grabber to the test

Voila grabIf it’s not broken, why fix it? This may be the remark backward-thinking computer users lament when you introduce them to Voila. Voila, now in its new and improved second incarnation, attempts to deliver another level of screen grabbing. Yes, we admit the shortcut key combination of Cmd+Shift+3 ensures our screens are snapped and saved satisfactorily, and we will also concur that the Mac’s screen-grabber app Grab is a bonafide option for delaying capture or segmenting sections of the screen for capture. But where these options fail is where Voila succeeds, for Voila is not just a screen-grabbing app – Voila actually allows users to organise, track, store, export, embed, import and edit screen grabs.
Screen grabbing may not be the most interesting of tasks you can use your magnificent Mac for and you may struggle to find a reason to use it on a regular basis – we were of the same mindset. Until we gave it a spin. Screen grabbing is perfect for illustrating points or processes to colleagues or, in the case of Voila, great for editing and exporting. After a very easy download and installation process we decided to open something pretty on our screens – some holiday snaps confined to iPhoto. To collect the whole screen in one grab you simply hit Fullscreen, at which point the Picture 1image is then opened directly into the app’s interface. Likewise, to capture certain areas or menus of the screen behind the app you can draw upon the self-explanatory actions such as Selection, Object, etc. Looking at the app’s equivalent of a Source Panel, users can now refer to a Smart collection to narrow the search for older or specific screen grabs. This performs the organisational function of the software, which also showcases recent grabs along a browser at the bottom. The built-in image organiser has had a dramatic facelift in this instalment, with the standout improvement navigating around the ability to tag, comment and group grabs under appropriate collections for quick searches.

The next, and perhaps most engaging facet of the app is the tools and effects section of the Source Panel. With a grab highlighted, you can draw, paint, spray, and add elements such as text, shapes, arrows, speech bubbles, lines and stamps directly onto the grab. An appropriate use for this could be to annotate and explain a process you have performed on-screen to a colleague, or simply to draw a comical face on a picture in iPhoto – the possibilities are numerous. New to this addition is Blur, which is fantastic for disguising sensitive or private information on the grab. Four variations of Blur have so far been included, along with the facility for adjusting the Blur’s intensity. Furthermore the designers at Global Delight

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have developed the collection of symbols within the Spray and Stamp stack to indulge fans further.The second palette is Effects. With this tab open you can affect a grab’s edges, skew its position, add one of a variety of exciting and arresting filters, adjust settings such as hue or sharpness and crop with shapes or using a freehand tool. What is more, users can combine these palettes – for example, we had hours of fun taking an image from an iPhoto grab, cropping it, adding a Sketch filter and colouring in the segments using the paint bucket and then exporting it back into iPhoto.Exporting is another reason why this app ups the desirability stakes. After a grab has been taken or edited you can hit Mail to embed it into an email, iPhoto to save it in the image app, or Publish to send it to Flickr or an FTP.

With this version of the app you can now import images directly from iSight, offering a similar yet more flexible service to Photo Booth. On the whole this is the main selling point for the upgrade, but as registered users get the upgrade for free there really is no excuse not to. Other upgrade features worth noting include the ability to capture an entire webpage by importing the URL or by typing it within the built-in web browser. Furthermore, multiple regions or multiple DOM elements within the webpage can be snatched.

On the whole we were greatly impressed with Global Delights’ efforts, but there were a few niggles with the app. When administering the paint bucket on several occasions we found the app wouldn’t register the selected colour and insisted on painting images in default black rather than the colour plumped for by the user. This is likely to be a small bug, which could be rectified in an update. Similarly we were disappointed at Voila’s nature to override the simple option of Cmd+Shift+3. Say, for example, you wanted to use the shortcut combination to snap the Voila screen in action, this is no longer possible. Instead the shortcut acts out Voila’s role and snaps the screen behind Voila, which means if you want to catch Voila in action you will need to employ Grab. A small but disappointing factor.

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We were greatly impressed by this app, which we can see being ideal for screen grabbers and image-editors. Its cheap price tag indicates its usage will probably be secondary, but if used effectively the app could be a valuable addition to any Mac-owner’s toolbox.

Price: $39.95

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