Posts Tagged ‘screen capture’


Screen capture tools

June 24, 2010

Screen capture tools have improved outta sight since I first started using the PrintScreen key and Windows Paint! My next step was to use PaintShop Pro v4 (!) to capture and manipulate screen shots. But even with PaintShop Pro, capturing screens for display in user documentation or web pages was still a long and tedious process, especially if you wanted to apply any edge effects or similar to your screen shot, or to capture the exact window.

Years ago, various members of my tech writing discussion lists suggested several screen capture programs. I tried out a few and it was a toss up between TNT and SnagIt. I decided I like SnagIt better, but I can’t remember now why I chose it over TNT — they both had features I needed and were priced cheaply enough that if I regretted my decision, I could always invest in the other product.

Today, I’m still a very happy SnagIt user, and I willingly pay for an upgrade each time a new version comes out. It’s my tool of choice for screen captures (all screen shots in this blog are created with SnagIt). SnagIt continues to provide me with the features I need — there’d have to be a really compelling reason for me to shift to any other screen capture program. (SnagIt is available for just under US$50 from TechSmith:

That said, I find it sad that many of the (non technical) writers I work with have no idea that they can take a screen capture with anything other than the old PrintScreen trick — or the Snipping Tool in Vista. I’ve tried to use that Snipping Tool, but I find it really clunky, compared to SnagIt.

If you’re ready to move up from PrintScreen or the Snipping Tool, and are looking for a decent screen capture program, check out these resources:

Most tools have a free trial option, so it’s worth downloading a few and trying them out. If you have more than the very occasional screen shot to capture, you’ll save yourself HEAPS of time just by using the right tool for the job. Just as there’s no point using a sledge hammer or the edge of a spanner to hammer in a panel pin, there are easier ways to capture (and manipulate) screen shots that using PrintScreen or the Snipping Tool.

[Links last checked June 2010; SnagIt have not paid me to endorse their product (I wish!) — I’m just a happy user]


Review of screen capture tools

February 22, 2009

Matthew Ellison has recently updated his excellent article that compares seven of the main screen capture tools technical writers use.

My tool-of-choice for the past few years is SnagIt, though I have used several others on this list in earlier times.

You can read Matthew’s review on the WritersUA website:

[Link last checked February 2009]


Get crisp, clean graphics from a Word document

January 7, 2008

Here’s a tip when you need to extract GOOD graphics out of a Word document: Save the document as HTML pages.

You get the text, which you can ignore, and a folder of images in both PNG and JPG formats. If they’re screenshots and the like, the JPGs are invariably scruffy (jaggy, pixellated etc.), but the PNGs are crisp and clear. Quicker than capturing – even with SnagIt – and you get the images at the full size they were saved in the document, not Word’s resized version to fit the page.

Update: 27 May 2008: Save as HTML (File > Save as > Web Page (*.htm, *.html)), not filtered HTML (File > Save as > Web Page, Filtered (*.htm, *.html)). Filtered HTML only gives you GIFs and JPGs; you need ‘straight’ HTML to get PNGs.

Update: 21 August 2008: This behavior seems to be the same in Word 2007. Saving as Filtered HTML only results in JPGs, whereas saving as HTML gives you PNGs as well.