The Windows Snipping Tool

Blog authors out there and anyone writing tutorials all have a need to capture screen images.  For a number of years this need has been filled by a number of commercial and open source screen capture tools.
All of these tools will capture anything on your screen, whether its an Internet site, or an application running on your computer.

Some of the more popular screen capture tools for Windows are: Snagit ($50), FastStone Capture ($20), Jing (free), and Greenshot (free).  Snagit and Jing also work on a Mac.  All these tools will take an image of your screen, or piece of your screen, and then give you an editor with the captured image so you can add features to the screenshot.  The image then can be saved in a file, placed in an email, attached to the email, or used in your blog article or tutorial.

I have personally used Snagit, FastStone, and Greenshot.  I've been using Greenshot for this blog for a number of years.  Each of these tools have their feature set and their ease of use.  Snagit was the most feature rich, but it also was the hardest to use.  I found FastStone and Greenshot easy to use, press the Print Screen button, outline your image, and the image editor appears with the image in the editor.  FastStone has more features than Greenshot.  Greenshot is a light weight simple screen capture with limited features, which is all I need most of the time, since I usually bring up Gimp to edit the image.

A friend of mine at work has been dropping screen shots into his email, so I asked him what he used.  He said the Microsoft Snipping Tool.  Microsoft has included this tool with their operating system since Vista, but you can also download it for XP SP2.  I'm amazed that I just found out about the Snipping Tool after all these years, and I thought my readers may not know about it either.

To start off, from using the other screen capture tools, I can say that the Microsoft Snipping Tool is lightweight with limited features.  For example, if you wanted to type some text, or a title, directly on your image before saving it, you couldn't do that with the Snipping Tool.  You'd have to use one of the above tools.  If you want to freehand write or use a yellow transparent marker, you can do that, but that's the extent of the Snipping Tool's extra editor functionality.

Why use the Windows Snippet Tool?  Well, like the other tools it brings up an editor window, and at the same time it drops your selection into the clipboard, which means you can directly paste your images into your email.  Greenshot does this also.  Probably the reason you most want to use it is it comes with Windows, so you don't have to download and install screen capture software.

Bringing up the Snipping Tool from the Menu Search


You can bring up the snipping tool by going to your start menu and typing "sn" and clicking on Snipping Tool.  The entire screen will gray out.  If you just want to use a rectangular snip, the most common snip, you can just click the mouse down and outline the screen image area you want to capture.  The area of the screen you outline will un-grey, which will be the image you capture.  Let go of the mouse button and presto the image is in your clipboard.  You can also save it to file.  In addition to the Rectangular capture, you can capture a free-form snip, which means you draw around the image you want saved, just your application Window, or a Full-screen capture which would include your menus with the main window.

Different Types of Captures You Can Do


Once you have your image captured in your Clipboard, open up your email and paste it in to your message. Wahlah, you now have images included with your emails.  You can easily try this out by doing a test email to yourself to see how it works.  If your email does not take the image, make sure you set your emails to be formatted in HTML in your email program.  That's about it.  Enjoy.


The Windows Snipping Tool — 1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the tip on Greenshot, I have been using Snipping Tool for a while now and was lamenting its inability to create a text box.