Friday, June 23, 2006

Screen Capture Tools

I do a fair bit of documentation and even the odd user guide/procedure so having a utility to capture parts of the computer screen, menu, window or even the whole screen is an absolute must. As always, free utilities are usually my first choice so here's a couple that make my job so much easier…

Gadwin Printscreen - Gadwin PrintScreen Windows Compatible

Gadwin PrintScreen basically does everything I need to capture a Windows screen. It defaults to using the Print Screen key, but you can change that if you want, can capture the current window, client window, full screen or a user selected rectangular area and you can even capture the mouse cursor if you want to.

It gives you a preview of the capture and can save directly to the clipboard, printer or a file. If you're saving to a file, it'll let you choose where and you can pick from a selection of graphic file formats. There are a few other options such as delayed capture and grey scale colour, etc. but I find the basic stuff does the job adequately enough.

ScreenHunter Windows Compatible

Another good Windows option is the Free version of ScreenHunter, which also comes in Plus and Pro commercial versions.

It has a few minor extra features over Gadwin PrintScreen but nothing of any note unless you pay them some money for the commercial versions. I suppose it depends what kind of capabilities you want in a screen grabber but both free Windows versions are sufficient for me.

- Mac OS X Apple Compatible

Macs make capturing the screen, or part of it, very easy as it's built into the Mac OS X operating system. All you have to do is press the right key combination as follows…

  • Take a picture of the whole screen - Press ⌘-Shift-3.
  • Take a picture of part of the screen - Press ⌘-Shift-4, then drag to select the area you want in the picture.
  • Take a picture of a window, a menu, the menu bar, or the Dock - Press ⌘-Shift-4, then press the Space bar. Move the pointer over the area you want so that it's highlighted, then click.
  • Screen shots are saved as files on the desktop.

    If you want to put the screen shot in the Clipboard, rather than create a file, hold down the Control key when you press the other keys. You can then paste the picture into a document.

    PS: I can hardly call this free as you have to pay for Mac OS X but it doesn't cost you any more if you already have a Macintosh running Mac OS X.

    - SnapNDrag Apple Compatible

    Even though Mac OS X makes it so easy to take screen shots, SnapNDrag makes it even easier as it lets you take a screenshot by just clicking a button and dragging the resulting screenshot off to a folder or an application.

    It supports PNG and TIFF for times when image quality cannot be compromised or you can use JPEG with adjustable quality for smaller file sizes.

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