Annotate and Communicate Visually With Skitch

It’s no secret that I love Evernote, the world’s favorite cross-platform note-taking tool — I use it on every device I own and even urge friends to try the app by installing it on theirs. Last year, the company behind it acquired Skitch, an image annotation and editing tool, and integrated it with Evernote to enable you to add visual information with your thoughts and ideas into your notebooks.

So what’s Skitch all about? How well does it work? And how does it look on larger devices? We’ll answer these questions and more as we get clever, creative and more productive with this phone and tablet-friendly app.


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Overview

Skitch is a free image annotation app that’s great for creating visual notes, such as whiteboards from lectures or meetings, receipts, maps and guides, floor plans, design mockups and more. It requires Android 2.0 or better to run, is suitable for all kinds of users and having Evernote installed allows you to sync markups to it for easy retrieval.

Skitch lets you get to work quickly

Skitch lets you get to work quickly

The Interface

Skitch keeps things simple and to-the-point right from the get-go. The first screen prompts you to take a photo, import an image, open up a map to draw on, capture a screenshot of a webpage or start with a blank canvas. Once you’ve got your image, you can get right down to annotating in earnest. The editing screen has two bars with buttons above and below your chosen image, and overlay buttons that appear on the screen when required.

Skitch's simple interface

Skitch’s simple interface

Tools

Skitch offers a few essential ways to mark up your images:

  • marker for freehand drawing
  • text tool
  • pixelation tool for obscuring details (such as licence plate numbers or personal details on cards)
  • arrow tool
  • highlighter
  • shape outlines (squares, circles and rounded rectangles)
  • and a line drawing tool.

You can adjust the brush size/width and color for each of these, choosing from a preset selection. And while the tool set is limited, they’re great to work with because you can freely move, resize and rotate everything you draw or type. Every marker stroke, text block and shape behaves like a vector element and can be dragged around for repositioning or pinched and zoomed for rotating and scaling. You can re-select these elements at any time to modify.

Adjust your settings once you get a feel for how Skitch works

Adjust your settings once you get a feel for how Skitch works

Skitch’s latest update allows you to adjust settings that I’d recommend you check out after a few runs. Depending on your usage habits, you can set the default Evernote notebook your Skitch markups will be saved to, keep the tool you use active after a completed markup — which switches to the move tool otherwise — and choose whether you want to automatically group pen strokes.

How Does Skitch Work?

Sktich saves your annotations as markups, which means that you can always access and re-edit them if you need to. Should you want an image file, you can export your markup as an image to be saved to your device’s SD card or to share via Android’s system menu. Plus, if you’re rocking Evernote, you can search for text within your markup images by the magical powers of OCR.

Annotating a web page screenshot

Annotating a web page screenshot

Using Skitch

Skitch makes it easy to communicate ideas visually, and is so versatile that just about every kind of user will find it helpful. I took Skitch with me on my Nexus 7 to Singapore last month for a vacation, and marked up maps to remind me of my friends’ places, recommended bars, restaurants and stores. When I got home and had to move houses, I took photos of the new empty apartment and added placeholders for furniture and paintings so the movers and I were on the same page.

Grab a screenshot of a map from within the app and add notes easily

Grab a screenshot of a map from within the app and add notes easily

Speaking of moving, Skitch is a godsend if you need to pack your stuff into suitcases and closets — simply snap a photo and add a note indicating where you put it and what’s inside. I also use Skitch to create basic lighting diagrams for photo shoots, by grabbing screenshots from videos I’m impressed by or from photos I find online. It’s also great for bloggers, who can use it to crop and annotate images to add to articles.

Skitch is also excellent for collaborating with clients and co-workers: you can easily add comments to designs and layouts and highlight content on live web pages. If you’re into food, you can make visual recipe guides by snapping pictures of ingredients, labeling them and their quantities and describing each step of the cooking process as well. Students can annotate blackboard/whiteboard snapshots to better remember what they learned in class. The possibilities are indeed endless.

Adding comments to a design

Adding comments to a design

I also found the ability to retrieve and edit markups useful — you never know when you might want to/have to rearrange furniture. It’s also worth noting that Skitch is particularly great on tablets and large phones because the additional screen real estate makes it easy to add and adjust elements, and get larger map/web page screenshots too.

Start with a blank canvas and scribble away

Start with a blank canvas and scribble away

Feature Wishlist

Although I already love Skitch, there are a few things I wish the app had. I like having my note-taking apps at the ready — which is why I use Easypad for text notes and Easy Voice Recorder for audio notes right on my home screen — and would love a Skitch widget to scribble on whenever I need to. Another feature I want is multi-image support for a single markup, such as watermarks for photos, branding for quick mockups, and quick-and-dirty collages.

I’d also like to be able to adjust the perspective of shapes (so as to outline areas on walls and floors in photos), and use a few different kinds of arrows to draw flowcharts and simple diagrams. The text tool is also a bit rigid and could use some work — you can’t align text as you like and can’t type in between letters/words already typed without erasing them. And yes, precise image resizing by percentage or pixel dimensions is really essential to have.

Conclusion

Once you integrate Skitch in your routine, it’s one of those apps that makes you wonder how you managed to go without it. Combine it with Evernote, and it becomes a truly powerful tool in your productivity arsenal that helps you remember and communicate visually. The interface and tools are simple enough to use without much of a learning curve, and the ability to take screenshots of maps and web pages from within the app is definitely one of my favorite features.

Whether you use your tablet around the house, on your commute/travels, or at work, Skitch can prove to be a handy app to have. Best of all, it’s free! Do yourself a favor and get your hands on it today.


Summary

Skitch is a free image annotation app that's great for creating visual notes, such as whiteboards from lectures or meetings, receipts, maps and guides, floor plans, design mockups and more.

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  • neodraig

    Where can I get the apk, Google Play won’t allow me to install it on my tablet when I can play Wild Blood flawlessly on the very same tablet, that’s crazy!

  • Chuck Crawford

    Available for iOS as well. Don’t think that was mentioned.

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