Have you ever wished you could take a picture of what is on your computer screen? Have you wanted to share the image that you are seeing on your computer but think there’s a better way than taking a picture with your camera? You’re right, there is a better way to capture your screen images – by taking screenshots!
Let’s say you’re doing some Internet shopping and you want to send your discoveries to your friend for her opinion. You could send her links, but a picture would be more useful. Instead of sending her a bunch of links, which she may get tired of clicking on, you could email her pictures of your choices.
If you’re preparing a report and find the perfect graph to include, a screenshot is a quick and easy way to plug in an image of the graph to illustrate your point.
Did you get a new high score on Angry Birds online that you want to show your friends? (See, Poll: Do You Want Your Music in the Cloud? Plus More Google News! for news on playing Angry Birds online.) Send them a screenshot to secure your bragging rights!
So how do you get a screenshot? Here are a few ways:
If you’re busy surfing the Internet and want a copy of the picture on your screen, the easiest way to capture the picture is with an Add-on to your browser. (See, Fun With Browsers! to learn how to get Add-ons for your browsers). My favorite one is Awesome Screenshot, which is available as an Add-on for Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Awesome Screenshot allows you to take a picture of what is on your screen to save as a picture you can then send to your friends, add to Facebook, show the world on Twitter, or do what ever you would do with a picture.
After you download the Awesome Screenshot Add-on, you will see this icon on your toolbar at the top of your screen:
Click on that icon when you see an image on your screen that you want to use. You are then given the choice of copying the visible part of your screen or the full page.
Awesome Screenshot makes it easy to not only capture what you have on your computer screen, but edit it too. With a screenshot, you can add text, arrows and other markings to enhance the image. You can crop the image so you get just the part you want, and draw shapes such as rectangles, arrows, lines and circles on the image if you want to highlight something.
Here is a screenshot of a screenshot, showing you the edit options (I added the text in red):
The crop tool is the one I use most often because I rarely need to include everything on my screen in the screenshot.
Let’s say you found the car of your dreams on eBay. You have been searching for a classic Ford Mustang convertible forever and finally have found one locally. Using Awesome Screenshot, you capture the screenshot of this eBay listing and then crop your favorite picture of the car:
You send this picture to your brother, the avowed car expert, with a link to the listing. But the listing includes about 50 pictures and you don’t want him to scroll through the pictures quickly, missing the details. So you also use Awesome Screenshot to include this picture in your email with the arrow you added to highlight the imperfection in your dream vehicle:
This way, you are sure he sees what you want him to see, which is much more difficult to do if you just send him a link. He is intrigued by the listing, clicks on the link, gives you a thumbs up, and soon you are driving around town in your dream car.
Here is a YouTube video showing how Awesome Screenshot works. The video is for the Chrome Add-on, but applies to Firefox as well:
Windows Snipping Tool
But what if you want to take a screenshot of an image not on the Internet? Awesome Screenshot can’t help you then, but Windows has a handy Snipping Tool that will do the job.
Let’s say you have a daughter in Florida who is a tech expert. She builds her own computers and can solve any problem. But you are living in Ohio and need her help with a software program that keeps crashing. You aren’t using the Internet, so you can’t use Awesome Screenshot. What to do?
Windows comes with a Snipping Tool that allows you to do screenshots of your screen even when you aren’t on the Internet. Snipping Tool has features similar to Awesome Screenshot, such as the ability to draw on the shot with arrows, shapes, text, etc., highlight, and change the color of your markings.
Here is a helpful video from YouTube that explains how Snipping Tool works on Windows 7. What I particularly like about this video is that it explains how to add the Snipping Tool to your bottom toolbar for easy access.
You can now take a screenshot of the error message on your screen and email it to your daughter who can then see the problem clearly. She informs you that you are opening the ReadMe file, instead of opening the actual program. Problem solved.
Using screenshots is an effective way to get your message across. Awesome Screenshot and Snipping Tool are an easy but powerful tools to make the most of your screen images. Consider how you can use screenshots, as a picture is worth 1,000 words.
Have you used screenshots effectively? What is your favorite way of using screenshots? Let us know in the Comments section below!
* Congratulations to Why So Angry Birds? on your high score!