Saturday, 28 April 2012

Take screen shots - Greenshot

Introduction
If you write instruction documents or you work on a help desk, you need to take screen shots and annotate them easily and quickly. Of course Windows has the standard functionality:

Press PrtSc (Print Screen key) to capture the entire screen
or
Press Alt-PrtSc to capture the active window

But what about the next step? Pressing the PrtSc key just puts the image into the clipboard and where do you save it? You can paste into a Word document - but really that is terrible, it is hard to see it and it inflates the size of the Word document greatly. If you are writing an instruction document then save your screen shot first, then insert it into Word, don't paste.

Somehow you really need to save the screen shot in an image format. But don't use Paint and save as BMP, you'll get a huge file. The best format for screen shots is PNG, you get a high quality image with a small size.

In effect it means there are a number of steps to getting a usable screen shot ready to use. What if you could reduce those steps?


Snipping Tool
Microsoft include a nice little program called Snipping Tool with Windows Vista and Windows 7. Learn more about it here:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/Use-Snipping-Tool-to-capture-screen-shots


Greenshot
If you are using Windows XP or you want to try something different, Greenshot is a good choice. When you press the PrtScn key Greenshot takes over, it allows you to capture a part of the screen, with or without the pointer included. It will be saved as PNG and opened in Greenshot where you can draw lines, arrows and write comments. Find out more here: http://greenshot.org/ and here http://getgreenshot.org/


Conclusion
I've been using Greenshot for a while now and the best thing about it is the speed at which you can capture a screen, save it as PNG and add arrows and other notation to it. If you have to quickly take screen shots to send to people for support, Greenshot is an excellent choice. I recommend you try it.
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