Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WotW: How to take a screenshot

Have you ever used a computer tutorial that not only told but showed (using pictures) exactly what to click and how to do everything? Or seen a giveaway winner announced where they showed the number generated by like this?

Anytime you see something like that, odds are the creator of the tutorial or the host of the giveaway is using a screenshot.

What's a screenshot? Also called a screen capture, a screenshot is just a snapshot of the contents of your screen, exactly as you see it (minus the cursor).

Even if you're not often caught writing computer-based tutorials or hosting giveaways, you can use screenshots for many other purposes, such as showcasing a comment and commenter, saving a coupon code that won't be emailed to you (like some coupon codes that are distributed through Facebook), or anything else where you want to save what is on your screen but can't just copy/paste it. In addition to screenshots I take for my Wednesday posts here, I often use screenshots to share rough design ideas (for designs in Photoshop) with Debra since it's faster and easier than saving and uploading a full-resolution design file. :)

So how to you "take" a screenshot?
The ability to take screenshots is built in to your computer/operating system, so the method is different if you're using a PC or a Mac.

IF YOU'RE USING A MAC, you'll use either
  • Command+Shift+3 to take a screenshot of the full screen -- everything exactly as you see it.
  • Command+Shift+4 to bring up a selection box (crosshair cursor) so you can select the area for the screenshot
  • Command+Shift+4, then spacebar, then click a window to take a screenshot of that window only  
With each of those methods, the resulting screenshot is automatically saved on the desktop. If you'd like the screenshot to be saved to the clipboard so you can paste it somewhere else (such as an image editing program or a document), just add Control to the key sequence after Command -- so Command+Control+Shift+3 takes a screenshot of the full screen, which is then saved to the clipboard for pasting elsewhere. (keyboard commands from OSX Daily)

IF YOU'RE ON A PC, just look on your keyboard, up toward the top right and find the button that says Prt Scr or something similar -- it means print screen.
image source
Pressing that button will take a screenshot of your entire screen and put it on the clipboard so you can paste it wherever you want it, such as word processing document or a photo editing canvas.

That's a simple enough process, but it gets really annoying when you're trying to do step-by-step pictures and have to keep pausing to go paste the screenshot into a new document or image file. Totally messes with my tutorializing mojo.

Which is why I was so excited to find (and now share) that there is a better way!

The key to this better way... Picasa. If you're not familiar with Picasa, it's a free image organizing and editing software from Google. You can download it here, and it's available for both Mac and PC -- but the trick I'm showing you today only works for the PC version so far. (Sorry, Mac users.) If you're a Picasa newbie, check out some past posts: we've used Picasa to upload and organize blog photos and build a blog button, and Debra has shown the basics plus some awesome features in past Photo Thursday segments.

Strange as it may sound, this is probably my FAVORITE feature of Picasa. I mean, I love most everything, but when I found out that Picasa would automatically import my screenshots... that clinched the deal. Picasa and I will never be apart. :)

Once you've installed and opened Picasa, all you have to do is press the Prt Scr button and Picasa will automatically store your screenshot (called a screen capture in their terminology) in a folder so you have easy access to view and crop the screenshot, as well as rename and then upload it. SO easy!!

You'll know that it's working because a little flag-type message will show on top of all of the windows you have open and tell you "screenshot saved - click to view". I tried to get a screenshot of that flag-thingy for you, but Picasa is smart enough to not include that box in a screenshot, since if you're taking rapid-fire screenshots, you wouldn't want that box obscuring part of your screenshot subject.

Then, to find and edit your screenshots, you can either click the little flag message to be taken to the Screen Captures project in Picasa, or find it yourself by looking in the left menu bar of Picasa under the Projects category:

In that project folder, you'll see all of the screen shots (or screen captures) you've taken. And you can crop, insert text, and edit the screenshots to your heart's delight!

Question? Let me know :)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.


Amy said...

I was just now doing screen captures for a post I'm putting up later. I'm using a Firefox addon but am so glad to know I can use Picasa also in case I'm using IE or Chrome (yes, I often have all three browsers going at once--I'm terribly ADD).

I've been jealous for months on how people got those snazzy screen shots. First fancy comments, then neat header and now screen shots. I'm on a roll! Ha ha!

Cranberry Morning said...

That is SO handy to know!! Thanks. :-)

the cape on the corner said...

ok, i think that is helpful. i will be saving this, and one day, will finally use it. hehe.