Screenshots are a great way to help illustrate small business documents for your employees and clients. While the Print Screen key on Windows keyboards lets you quickly snap a photo of your computer screen, the results are basic and rather limited.
If you want to capture entire Web pages, annotate screenshots or capture the cursor with the screen, then the Print Screen key isn’t for you. In this article, I’ll show you smarter ways to grab more visually compelling screenshots.
Affordable Screen Capture Software
When you’re looking for a screen capture utility, first make a wish list of the features that you want, and then look around for a program that has them. One screen-capture program may work well most of the time but on occasion, when you need a special feature, you might require a different capture tool. Use trial versions to test the applications and make sure they work with the programs you typically capture.
Figure 1: Ashampoo Snap can capture entire Web pages and has a vast array of annotation options.
Capture Web Pages
When a Web page is larger than the screen, you need a special screen-capture program to get it all. One option is Ashampoo Snap. Its Web-page capture feature automatically scrolls a Web page to capture the entire image. It also includes tools for annotating your screenshots and saving the file. Among other things, Ashampoo can also capture multiple screenshots; set the time interval you want, and the program keeps snapping screenshots one after the other. The free-trial version lets you try it before you buy it. The company often offers discounts, so you may not have to pay the full $19.99.
Figure 2: Thumbalizr is a free Web-page capture service.
You can also use a Web-based application, such as Thumbalizr, to capture Web pages. Launch Thumbalizr (the site is still in beta), and type or paste the target URL into the box. Click Page to grab the page, and then click the Thumb it button. The Thumbalizr application grabs the page and, when it’s done, lets you choose an image size to download—sizes range from 150 to 1280 pixels wide. The selected image appears in your browser window, and you just right-click it to save the image as a PNG file.
Capture the Cursor
If you need to include the cursor in a screenshot, but you don’t need a lot of extra features, then consider the free screen capture program from Gadwin at www.gadwin.com. There you will find both free and for-fee versions of Print Screen. You may find that the free version provides everything you need.
Figure 3: The free PrintScreen capture utility from Gadwin lets you set up and configure a range of useful options.
As with most software applications, it pays to spend some time setting up the program. For example, PrintScreen lets you configure a hotkey to capture a screenshot. You can also set it up to capture a screenshot automatically after a few seconds delay, which is useful if you need to set up your screen.
You can capture the full screen, a client window, the current window or your selection. You can also usually configure what to do with the captured image: send it to the printer, a file or the Windows clipboard. If you save it to a file you will usually be given a choice of file formats such as bitmap, jpg, gif, png and tif.
Figure 4: Faststone Capture’s image editor makes it easy to capture, crop and edit a screenshot.
Capture Floating Menus
If you run into problems capturing screenshots of applications with a lot of floating or semitransparent menus, then consider using FastStone Capture. While FastStone Capture costs $19.95, it does capture floating menus and the cursor as well. When you capture the screenshot, it automatically opens in the FastStone Editor allowing you to quickly crop the image and save it. This program also includes tools for annotating screenshots and a link to Microsoft Word. You can capture a screen, crop it, annotate it and send the capture directly to your Word document.
Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com
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