Screen snapshots will capture your heart [Columbia Daily Tribune (MO)]
(Columbia Daily Tribune (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) When words just aren't enough, say cheese. Using screen-capture software, you can take snapshots from practically anywhere you roam on your computer, from websites to spreadsheets, videos and games.
Once you get to know them, screen-capture utilities can be like the Swiss army knife of productive and creative computing.
The first question many ask is: Why would I want to take a snapshot of my screen The answers are many, but the obvious include technical support, where a single picture can flip the turbo switch on troubleshooting your PC. Why describe what you see when you can quickly capture the error message, pop-up window or dialogue box and share it with tech support Sometimes that's all it takes to diagnose and fix a problem.
Screen captures are ideal for quickly sharing information via instant message or email. Grab it, attach it, boom, they see it. Screen caps are absolutely essential in the creation of presentations, training manuals, help screens and more. The creative uses alone are enormous, from graphic design to digital scrapbooking, webpage design, wallpaper and much more.
The Web is full of screen-capture software, both freeware and commercial products, that do a lot of the same things, making it difficult to decide which to try. Consider these features as you browse:
Capture tools: Because this is the main purpose of screen- capture software, this feature should be well-represented. Look for applications that give you the most choices when it comes to how and what you can capture. Standard options should include full screen, active window, freehand and user-defined region. This last option is most important because, trust me, it will become your favorite method of screen capture.
More-advanced capture methods, not available in all programs, include the ability to grab specific areas of the screen, such as menus and pop-ups. Serious screen-capture applications go beyond average by offering features such as the ability to grab the contents of a scrolling window, time-delayed captures, video capture and high-resolution game graphics.
Editing: Taking a screen shot is only the first step; working with your images might require further editing. If you already have image-editing software that's capable of performing all your tasks, that's great. If not, consider looking for screen-capture software that comes with its own integrated image editor. Uses for an image editor include cleaning up, adding or removing elements, adding labels and annotations, callouts and bursts, circles and boxes, arrows, and more.
Advanced features: Beyond the basic ability to perform its primary function -- taking screen shots -- what more do you want from a screen-capture utility How about optical character recognition, turning any words you capture into editable text Some let you instantly post snapshots to Facebook and Twitter. Others offer integrated file management, letting you organize images into searchable collections.
Want to capture video or in-game graphics You'll need an app that supports DirectX or OpenGL video.
Ease of use: Regardless of how many bells and whistles a program has, if it's not easy to learn, or the least bit intuitive, you won't want to use it. The ideal screen-capture program, no matter how primitive or powerful, should be invisible but ready at a moment's notice, summoned with a simple click of the mouse or keyboard shortcut.
There are dozens of screen capture utilities available for every operating system, from Windows and Mac to Linux, Chrome and even iPhone and Android. Rather than wade through the good and bad, next week I'll cut to the chase with reviews of the three best screen- capture programs, including TechSmith's award-winning Snagit 11. Celebrating 23 years of screen-grabbing goodness, Snagit is a classic example of software done right.
Scott A. May is a local computer consultant and Deskside Support technician at IBM. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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