Kleptomania text capture

At first glance, the recently updated and curiously named Kleptomania is the textual answer to SnagIt and other screen capture programs. Yet the more text I attempt to translate with this interpreter, the more it seems that Kleptomania has more of a compulsion to overstate its own abilities than "steal" text embedded in the screen.

Not that the attempt isn't worthy. I, too, have wished that a screen capture could isolate the text from the JPEG or BMP image as easily as my eye does. As Kleptomania's developers explain, computers interpret screen images as pixels, not as meaningful text, and therefore reproduce screen captures as images. Kleptomania's technology aims to "read" the text, comparing contrasting shapes to 234 fonts in its character library.

The app installs a Taskbar icon, but you can also launch Kleptomania from a menu of hot key combinations. You know it's activated when the cursor resembles one-half of a cropping frame. You use that to click and drag your selection. It's encouraging that Kleptomania tallies the characters and words, and offers multiple formats for saving and pasting selections. Too often, though, it fell short.

Test of Kleptomania text capture
Kleptomania doesn\'t pinch all text equally. (Credit: CNET Networks)

I tested the software on nearly every type of text produced on the screen--lists, text blocks, single words, logos, buttons--in Web browsers, IM clients, and system files. Some text-capture scenarios worked well--lists copied the best of all--though more often than not my interpretations were missing characters, were partially complete, or in some cases, were an unintelligible jumble of characters.

While there's no need to use Kleptomania for any text that a cursor will highlight, it offers a good starting point for anyone who repeatedly needs to reproduce text that's not cursor-responsive, especially if the text comes from a straightforward source or the user doesn't mind filling in sometimes sizable gaps. Kleptomania's generous 40-day trial makes it worthwhile for you to compare results with your own needs. But when time's up, you'll have to buy it or let the program go. Sorry, kleptos.

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.