Using the Snipping Tool in Microsoft Windows 7 and Vista

When attempting to capture elements on your computer screen Microsoft offers 2 built in options. Depending on your operating system, you may only have access to one of them.

Option 1: The Snipping Tool.

This tool comes installed on Windows 7 and Windows Vista Computers. The Snipping Tool is Microsoft’s implementation of various 3rd party screen capture tools that have been available forever. It allows you to capture as much or as little of the screen as you want by clicking on the Snipping Tool icon.

To use it:
1. Go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool
2. Left-click the mouse button and hold. Drag the mouse across the area you want to capture. Release the mouse button.
3. The selected area appears in the Snipping Tool Application Window

What to do from the Snipping Tool Window

1. New: Discards the current snip and starts the process over.
2. Save: Saves the current snip as a .png, .gif, jpg or HTML file
3. Copy: Copies the current snip to a clip board to be pasted elsewhere.
4. Send: Sends the snip as an email or an email attachment.
5. Pen: Free-Form: Draws on top the current snip. There are options to change pen color, size and shape.
6. Highlighter: Highlights areas of the snip.
7. Eraser: Undo what has been highlighted or drawn on.
Types of Snips

1. Free-Form: Draws a shape that encapsulates the area you wish to capture.
2. Rectangular: Draws a rectangle around the area you want to capture,
3. Window: Selects the window you wish to capture.
4. Full Screen: Capture everything on the computer screen, including the tool bar.

Bonus Tip: To capture a menu item

Normally when you try to capture a menu item it disappears as you press the snipping tool icon. There is a way around this problem.
1. Press the Snipping tool icon.
2. Pres Esc.
3. Open the desired menu.
4. Press CTRL + Print Screen
5. Select the area of the menu you want to capture.

Option 2: Print Screen, Print Window

If you are running a Microsoft OS prior to Vista, the only free option from Microsoft is to use use the Print Screen Key. Unlike Vista and Windows 7, you do not get to control the area of the screen you print.  You can only print the entire screen or the active Window on the screen. Here is how it works:

To Print the entire screen:
1. Open Microsoft Paint or Word. Minimize the application to the task bar.
2. Press and hold down the Start Key while pressing the Print Screen Key.
3. Maximize Paint or word
4. Press CTRL + V to paste the screen shot into the application.
5. Print or save as needed

To Print the Active Window:

  1. Open Microsoft Paint. Minimize the application to the task bar.
  2. Make sure the window you want to capture is open and in front of other windows.
  3. Press Alt+PrtScrn
  4. Maximize Paint.
  5. Press Ctrl + V.
  6. Print or save the image as needed.

As you can see the Snipping Tool is a big improvement over the old method.  However, It never hurts to know how to do screen captures “old school”  Good luck  with it and thanks for reading the post.

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