When it comes to taking screen captures, Windows users have had to rely on the PrintScreen key or purchase/download a third-party application. My favourite app for taking screen captures on Windows is Hypersnap, although there are several others – some are free and some are paid-for.

The problem with the PrintScreen key is that it captures the entire screen to the clipboard and then more often than not, the image will have to be pasted into a graphics program in order to crop and resize it – and for those on a tight budget, that means Microsoft Paint!

Windows Vista includes a utility called The Snipping Tool, first introduced in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. It is a screen capture tool, that allows users to take screenshots of windows, rectangular areas or a free-form area. Once captured, the image can then be saved as either a jpg, gif or png.

On a recent edition of MacBites, we were discussing screen capture apps and I made the point that if you wanted to capture a menu, as soon as The Snipping Tool gets the focus, the menu (in the application that you want to capture) disappears from the screen.

To illustrate this point, the company that I work for is just about to embark on a global rollout of Vista. Our team is responsible for delivering the training and to accompany this, we are currently building a Vista knowledgebase – a set of PDF files that can be downloaded from our web site. Each team member has been assigned a number of knowledgebase articles to create. One of my articles is about creating Watermarks in Word 2007.

Having clicked the Watermark button on the Ribbon to display the Watermark menu, I then clicked on The Snipping Tool, which was already running. However, as soon as I did this, because Word lost the focus, the menu disappeared from the screen.

I have, to my delight (well I won’t go that far!!) discovered a fix for this…

1. Run The Snipping Tool (or if it is already running click New so that it is in capture mode)

2. Click the Cancel button on The Snipping Tool

3. Open the menu or item to be captured (in my case, I clicked the Watermark button on The Ribbon)

4. Press CTRL + PrintScreen

5. The Snipping Tool will now take control and you can capture the appropriate area as normal

watermark menu

In September 2010, I demonstrated the Snipping Tool as part of an NWIITT presentation about Screen Capture.