There are a lot of design programs out there that specialize on one individual feature. For most of us though, we just need a single program that can cover most (if not all) of our needs.
This section covers these programs. With any of these free applications, you get a tool covering a wide range of features (from screen capture, color picker to an image editor among other things). As most features are covered under one roof, you won't need to install and run too many programs (for every different tool that you need). It's simply up to you to decide which of these applications have the right combination of features for your needs.
As with most all-in-one applications though, the following are designed to meet the needs of most average users who prefer one program that can cover as many basic functions as possible. If you need more advanced features (within a specific design tool), you might want to check out other recommended software products in the articles found under the Related Products and Links section.
Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
With its ease of use and having the largest selection of tools available, PicPick tops this category.
It has possibly the most flexible screen capture tool (capturing different areas such as full-screen, active window, freehand capture) in the freeware arena. It also includes an image editing tool that handles basic editing needs from color correction (brightness/contrast, hue saturation) to effects (blurring/sharpening). In addition, the software also includes a color picker, screen ruler, magnifier, protractor, crosshair and a whiteboard.
Despite topping the category, I do wish the image editor had a bit of flexibility with its interface. The toolbar is locked up top and can't be moved to the right or left side of the screen. This flexibility comes in handy when you're editing images. I personally find it easier to switch tools when the toolbar is on the right or left side of the image. It's a bit counter-intuitive when you have to continually go to the top of the screen to switch tools or effects.
In the end though, PicPick goes above and beyond any software covered in this category. With the largest selection of tools for the needs of most average users and having tools that do a good enough job in their respective tasks, this software deserves the spot at the top.
As the name suggests, FastStone Capture includes a screen capture tool but also includes a color picker, image editor and screen magnifier.
There isn't much of a difference between the features of FastStone Capture and PicPick. It has similar screen capture features (full screen, active window, window, freehand), color picker features (windowed preview and RGB and hex number information) and image editor capabilities (color correction to effects). The program even mimics PicPick's interface (located in the tray icon). Though FastStone Capture's tools do a decent enough job for the tasks required, the tools are better implemented (through design and functionality) within PicPick.
One thing I did like about the program was their image editor. It was movable and allowed for hotkeys. Despite this, the program doesn't really add to the features found within PicPick's image editor (brightness/contrast, hue saturation, sharpen/blur, crop and resize).
My biggest concern though is with the magnifier tool. Compared to PicPick and VMN Toolbox, the tool doesn't include a windowed magnifier. Instead, the whole screen is magnified when you press your mouse button. In order to keep the magnification active, you have to keep pressing your mouse button (once you let go, the magnification disappears). I would have preferred it if the program allowed users the option of using this full screen magnification or (like in others) a windowed magnification.
Overall, the program contained a decent selection of tools. However since these tools are already found (and better implemented) within PicPick's package, FastStone Capture ranks a distant second in this category.
You might want to check out these articles too:
- Best Free Screen Capture Utility
- Best Free Color Picker
- Best Free Digital Image Editor
- Best Free Paint Program
- Best Free Web-Based Image Editor
- Best Free Sticky Notes Utility
design tools, web design, all-in-one, screen capture, color picker, pixel ruler, virtual ruler, screen magnifier, cross-hair, protractor, screen whiteboard, image editor, sticky notes, free, freeware