22 July 2008

Discover the Snipping Tool in Windows Vista

Before Windows Vista, if you wanted to take a screen shot of part or all of your screen you had to use the print screen key and paste the screen shot into a graphics program to add markup and save it. With Windows Vista, Microsoft has included a utility called the Snipping Tool to make capturing screen shots easier. If you have not already discovered this handy little tool here's how to use it.

(Note: The Snipping tool is not available in Windows Vista Home Basic Edition. It comes with Vista Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate Editions.)

Click on the Start Menu and start typing "snipping" into the search box.

Snipping Tool should show up in the Programs list above the search box, and you can click on it to start it.

The Snipping Tool window will appear on your screen. You may move it to an edge of the screen so it's not in your way, but it will also disappear when you start dragging a selection area.

The Snipping Tool assumes you want to create a new clipping as soon as you open it. Your screen will dim, and you can click and drag your cursor to select an area to copy. As you drag, the selected area will be darker, and surrounded by a red border if you've never changed the Snipping Tool options. (From experience I recommend you change these settings to get rid of the red border - instructions on how to do this are further on)

When you release the mouse button, the captured area will open in the Snipping Tool window. If you're not happy with the selection and need to try again, click the "New" button.

You can use the mouse or pen to capture any of the following types of snips:

Free-form Snip. Draw an irregular line, such as a circle or a triangle, around an object.

Rectangular Snip. Draw a precise line by dragging the cursor around an object to form a rectangle.

Window Snip. Select a window, such as a browser window or dialog box, that you want to capture.

Full-screen Snip. Capture the entire screen when you select this type of snip.
When you are happy with your clipping, press the second button to save the screen shot as an image file. After you capture a snip, it's automatically copied to the mark-up window, where you can annotate, save, or share the snip.

Here are some useful file format suggestions.

If your screen shot contains a limited number of colors and you want to retain crisp lines and keep the file size small, save as a GIF file. If your screen shot contains many colors and you want to retain crisp lines and full quality, save as a PNG file. If your screen shot contains many colors and you want to make the file size small, save as a JPEG file.

Before saving your screen shot, you can use the Pen and Highlighter tools in the Snipping Tool toolbar to add markup to your screen shot. The eraser tool will remove marks made with the Pen and Highlighter Tools.

You may email a screen shot without saving it by using the "Send To" button on the Snipping Tool toolbar.

Go to Tools > Options to change the way the Snipping Tool operates. For instance, you can change the color of the selection outline by selecting a new ink color, or turn the outline off entirely by unchecking the box for "Show selection ink after snips are captured."

Also, when Snipping Tool is open, a white overlay appears on your screen until you capture a snip. To turn off the overlay, open Snipping Tool, and then click Options. In the Snipping Tool Options dialog box, clear the Show screen overlay when Snipping Tool is active check box, and then click OK.

Enable the option "Display icon in the Quick Launch toolbar" if you want to keep the Snipping Tool handy for quick access.

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