Thoughts on screen shots: Useful tools

Following on my previous posts about taking screen shots, here's an overview of some tools you can use to capture screens.


The oldest and simplest way to capture a screen shot is to use the PrintScreen feature built into Windows going back as far as... well, I think it's always been there.

Simply set up the screen the way you want to capture it and press the PrintScreen key on your keyboard (often shown in shortened form as PrtScn). This captures the entire desktop. If you want to capture only the current active window, press Alt+PrtScn.

Either one captures the image to the clipboard, from which you can paste the image into another application such as Paint or Word.

Snipping Tool

Snipping Tool is a nifty screen capture utility from Microsoft that you can use on Windows Vista and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.

Snipping Tool is included with Windows Vista. If you're running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, you may need to download and install the Microsoft Experience Pack for Tablet PC to get the Snipping Tool.

Learn more about the Snipping Tool in Windows Help and How-to. MSDN also has developer-focused information about Snipping Tool support in Windows Vista.

Window Clippings

MSDN Magazine columnist Kenny Kerr has written a screen capture application called Window Clippings, which is at version 2 as I write this, and is available for x86 and x64 versions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista.

Don't forget to check out Kenny's blog to see what he has to say about Windows development.

Other Tools

There are also a number of commercial tools that enable you to capture screen shots. These include HyperSnap from Hyperionics, !Quick Screen Capture from Etrusoft, and SnagIt from TechSmith, among others.

If you have other tips or tricks, please post them in the comments.


Terrence Dorsey

Comments (2)

  1. Mike Koch says:

    I use a free utility named Cropper, which captures variable sizes of screen chunks to a variety of formats, including jpg, bmp, gif, or right to the clipboard. Very handy for documenting procedures and creating instructions.

  2. Stephen Spence says:

    Imo, the nicest screen capture app is Jing (also from TechSmith) which does all the usual capture stuff with the added feature to record window activity to SWF, great for creating tutorials, etc.

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