9 Ways to Put Site Screenshots in Your Web App

If your web site or web application links to outside web sites, providing screenshots to those sites may be a good way to dress up the links. Screenshots provide a visual cue for your visitors and give them a taste of where they’re headed before they click on a link. But manually creating screenshots for your outbound links is a time consuming process and completely infeasible if you want to create screenshots on the fly. The nine services below will automatically create screenshots for your site or app via an API.

  • Thmbnl – Thmbnl is a too-cool-for-vowels project from the people behind social bookmarking service Ma.gnolia. Get 1,000 thumbnails served up each month for free, with pay packages ranging up to $149.95/month for 900,000 thumbs. The services powers the site screenshots on Ma.gnolia, and can deliver screen captures in 5 sizes.
  • Websnapr – WebSnapr is a services from Construktiv — the German web shop behind another social bookmarking site, Mister Wong. Thumbnails comes in 4 sizes and the service is free for up to 250,000 screenshots per month. The site has served over a billion thumbnails.
  • WebShotsPro – Up to 25,000 monthly queries on the free plan, with pay per access plans ranging up to 500,000 queries per month for $85. Thumbs can be delivered as jpg, gif, or png and in custom sizes.
  • Thumbalizr – The German service Thumbalizr can actually be used for free without signing up for an API key, though access is somewhat restricted. For a full range of features including custom sizes, no watermarking, and on demand screenshot refreshes, you’ll have to pony up some cash.
  • SnapCasa – SnapCasa is a free service (though they accept PayPal donations) that delivers thumbnails in four sizes. Being a free service, there can be a delay while you wait in a queue for new screenshots to be snapped, but implementation couldn’t be simpler.
  • ShrinkTheWeb – Free for up to 250,000 requests per month. In addition to purchasing more requests, paid users can also buy additional services like the nifty “full-length web page thumbnails” option.
  • WebThumb – Bluga.net’s WebThumb service offers a REST API with wrappers for PHP, Ruby, and Python. Thumbnails cost one credit each and an API key comes with 100 free credits per month. $20 buys you 6,500 more credits, with price breaks the more credits you buy at once.
  • Thumbshots.com – $9.99/month gets you 50,000 requests on Thumbshots.com, which is one of the most widely used thumbnail screenshots APIs, with plans ranging up to $999/month for 10 million hits. Thumbshots.com is used by web heavy weights like DMOZ, AOL, and Network Solutions. They also operate a slimmed-down free version at Thumbshots.org.
  • Alexa Site Thumbnail Service – A lesser known part of Amazon’s family of web services, the Alexa Site Thumbnail service operates on a “pay for what you use” model, charging $0.0002 per thumbnail — or a dollar for every 5,000. The site can return thumbnails for any of the web’s “top sites” (presumably most listed in the Alexa directory), and any in DMOZ. If a thumbnail doesn’t exist in the service’s database, you won’t be charged and the site will be queued up for inclusion within 24 hours.

Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • http://www.datalaser.ro i0nutzb

    also JING is a good pick :)

  • micha

    artviper is also a good service

  • Anonymous

    How about any free ones?

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    @Anonymous: SnapCasa, as Josh mentions, has no charge, as do Thmbnl, WebSnapr and ShrinkTheWeb (depending on usage).

  • Josh from Bluga.net

    One thing to note is that many of the services are returning thumbnails that have generated at some point in the past, while Webthumb generates the thumbnail at request time, so you can use it too render flash or Web 2.0 pages for thumbnails in your application.

  • JdL

    No mention of http://www.snap.com/ ??

  • Christian from websnapr.com

    Thanks a lot for adding our service websnapr.com to this overview. Just would like to mention that we are offering fully customizable premium services with unlimited access and many additional features for commercial/professional websites at a very attractive price (e.g. $45 for 500,000 snaps).

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @JdL: Snap isn’t the same type of service. They automatically add screenshots on mouse hover over outgoing links. The services in this roundup provide screenshots of sites via API to implement in your site however you want.

  • http://www.flowdrops.com Toxane

    Great listing, thanks. I personally prefer WebThumb from Bluga.net

  • http://www.blackcreativebox.com/actualidad erheiner

    Thanks for the tip.

  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au Tyssen

    I don’t get it. Why would you pay someone else to do what you can do with PrtScrn and a graphics app (or if you want more flexibility, the FireShot extension for Firefox)?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see Snag-It on this list. It’s the best screenshot software out there – for $35 you own it, you get as many screengrabs, including full scrolling pages, time-delays, etc.

    The ONLY problem with Snag-It is that they don’t make it for Mac.

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    @Tyssen These services offer thumbnails on the fly. As Josh mentioned in his opening paragraph, doing this manually is not particularly scalable. For example. I like the fact that Facebook offers a thumbnail of a link when you send it to someone; this is one example of when one of these services might come in handy.

  • Anonymous

    Or, how about WinSNAP

  • srizvi1

    Helpful stuff. I’ll bookmark this page and think I would like to have a current rendering so webthumb looks nice (Josh’s comment at July 11th, 2008 at 11:02 am, but I would like to have free too (SnapCasa, Thmbnl, WebSnapr, and ShrinkTheWeb – from mattymcg’s comment on July 11th, 2008 at 6:40 am

    no way to have both?

  • http://www.davidtan.org DavidTan

    For those who talked about jing, snagit and fireshot, you missed the point. The article is about getting snapshots to show in a web app.
    http://www.davidtan.org

  • Chris

    You should really take a look at ScreenThumbs.com. This service offers many options and makes it really easy to implement and customize in multiple ways. Can use Free or Paid depending on your needs. Highly recommended!

    ScreenThumbs – Advanced Thumbnail Service

  • Anonymous

    I think you should check a little more closely on thumbshots. Upon closer inspection of DMOZ, AOL, NetSol, and the BBC (all of which they claim they provide), you’ll find that none of those still use thumbshots.com. They use their own in-house system or have gotten rid of thumbnails altogether.

  • Michael

    Screenthumbs is perfect! I totally recommend it :)

  • Anonymous

    hey..the price of thumbshots.com has been reduced to $4.99/mnth recently for 10,000 hits..Just Fyi

  • Jeff

    hey, sitethumbshot.com is far less expensive and good for website thumbnail generation.

  • http://www.convertapi.com/ Tomas

    http://www.convertapi.com support web screenshot capturing, offer clear API. Also support generating PDF files from web page.