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create screenshots Whenever you read a blog post on MakeUseOf or just about anywhere about a piece of software or a website, you normally see screenshots or if that doesn’t get the point across, a screencast or a video of the software.  Screenshots and casts are found just about everywhere – in how-tos, blog articles, as advertisements (on the back of the box.)

But let’s say someone sends you an email or you get a question from a friend and you want to show them how to do something.  How do you go about creating a screenshot or screencast? There are dozens of ways but here are some of the best free ones that won’t go costing you hundreds.

Print Scrn Button

Print Scrn

You don’t need any software for this one. All you need to do is look at your keyboard to the right of F12, and you’ll find a key that says PrintScrn. What does that key do? It takes a snapshot of your whole screen (minus the mouse) and puts it on your clipboard.

So to take a simple screenshot, hit PrintScrn, open Paint (or a graphic editor of your choice) and paste it. Then you can crop it, save it, put text on it, or whatever you like. (All PCs, Windows or Linux)

Gadwin PrintScreen

Think the PrintScrn key on steroids. When you hit the PrintScrn key, a preview window will pop up where you can continue to save the file or change the settings. Gadwin PS can capture only certain areas, such as a window, or rectangular area. It can also save files directly as a image file, and resize the image to a specific size. The pro version includes image editing, something I miss in the free version.

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All and all Gadwin Print Screen is a solid tool for cutting out some pieces in taking screen shots, but isn’t perfect. (Windows ONLY)

Gadwin

Jing

Ever heard of Camtasia Studio or SnagIt? Both are very expensive (and nice) screen capturing utilities, for both screenshots and screencasts. So consider Jing to be a lite version of both (it is even made by the same people).

When you first install Jing, you’ll see a small sun at the top of your screen, and you’ll easily be able to open up options, view your history of captures or make a capture. Capturing a portion of your screen is extremely easy. You’re given a cross hair to select any portion of the screen, simply click and a small menu is shown above or below the selected region with a menu, with a button to take a picture and create an image, or to make a video.

The video creation is very straight forward, it has a short countdown then records whatever is in your selected area. Afterwards it creates a nice flash file for you to share or embed.

The image creation works the same way, both allowing you after the capture to upload via FTP, save to your computer, upload to Flickr or even upload to Screencast (TechSmith’s screenshot and cast hosting service, they have a decent free account). (For Windows & Mac)

Michael & Eric talked about Jing here How to Make a Great How-To Video How to Make a Great How-To Video Read More .

Wink

This program is directly comparable to Camtasia Studio.  It has most of the professional grade features, but with a much better price tag. Capturing is very simple, just select a portion of the screen, hit the hot key and Wink will start capturing. Just press another hot key, wait a few moments then an editor will come up and allow you to edit frame by frame.

You can delete frames, move the mouse, add images, sound and even interactive buttons. Once you’ve tidied up your work and added everything, click on render and you’ll have the option of saving it as a swf file (compressed or uncompressed) or an exe file. You can even customize the preloader and control bar. You can also export your project as an HTML, PDF or PostScript file. (Windows Only)

wink

wink-sreencast maker

So next time you need to show someone or a group how to do something on a computer, try some of these great tools.

In the past, MakeUseOf has several articles on this already, starting from free screencasting apps 5 Free Screencasting Apps for Creating Video Tutorials 5 Free Screencasting Apps for Creating Video Tutorials Read More and firefox extensions to capture screens 4 Cool Firefox Extensions To Capture Screens 4 Cool Firefox Extensions To Capture Screens Read More to screen capture tools for Mac 5 Alternative Screen Capture Tools For Your Mac 5 Alternative Screen Capture Tools For Your Mac Read More .

Or is there a better one that you think should be up here?

  1. SandyPat
    January 19, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    I use FlashDemo Screen recorder.
    http://www.flashdemo.net/flashdemo.html

  2. Greg
    October 7, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    You can also use http://www.abetaday.com and immediately share/tweet screenshots.

  3. Kevin
    December 27, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Don't forget the super-awesome Bug Shooting! bugshooting.com I even use this at work, and my boss is sold on it. It is sweetness. Doesn't do screencasting though, but check out CamStudio for that...

    Kevin

  4. WesllyOni
    December 19, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I use WinSnap, easy and free, gets the job done for me

  5. ted
    December 18, 2008 at 11:11 am

    The open source project CamStudio has been my goto solution for making videos of my desktop...

  6. John
    December 17, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I have used Open Source Camstudio & Wink for producing Flash videos from the Computer Screen. And I have used a trial version of Camtasia. Camstudio is like a stripped down Camtasia. The main advantages of Camtasia are editing and much better compression.

    When I last tried Camstudio and Wink a few months ago both were degraded when capturing under Vista instead of XP.

  7. John Robie
    December 17, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Lately I'd been relying on LightBox Portable, but last night I started experimenting with nircmd's screen shot command. It's lightweight, and running it from Launchy makes it about the quickest way to create screenshot image file I've used.

  8. TinCan
    December 17, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I've used MWsnap for years, all it does is screen captures, but it has a few nice features and a small footprint.

  9. Phao Loo
    December 17, 2008 at 10:40 am

    I prefer PrintScrn. No need to install another software. I usually use it and Photoshop or XnView to save the image from clipboard to a file.

  10. Barry
    December 17, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I have tried several of these and have found uTIPu's TipCam recording software to be the best.

  11. venkat
    December 17, 2008 at 6:19 am

    I use Snagit ,but Faststone capture is very nice free screen capture program in my opinion.I recently heard about Tipcam which is a nice free screencast program.

  12. Jeff Forssell
    December 17, 2008 at 5:07 am

    WINK also has a Linux version. I've used the Windows version a lot. Puppy Linux has used Wink for a lot of their tutorials´. The Linux version doesn't have sound (when I last looked)

  13. Dmitriy Zasyatkin
    December 17, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I am surprised that CamStudio (camstudio.org) wasn't mentioned in this article. It is an Open Source (free) screen and audio recorder that can output to AVI or Flash. It is super simple to use, has quite a few nice features and worked perfectly for me, so I highly recommend it.

  14. Gal Szkolnik
    December 17, 2008 at 4:39 am

    I found that DonationCoder.com's Screenshot Captor the best tool for screenshots, which has a pletora of features, but still can be used simply.
    It's free with options to donate through DonationCoder.com's donation infrastructure.

    Great software, from great people who like to use software (much like makeuseof.com, but with a programmers responding with quick solutions for request on the forum - highly recommended)

    Truly Yours
    Gal

  15. Sven Lieball
    December 17, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Do you know that you can print only the active window with "Alt+PrintScrn"?

  16. Nelson Rocha
    December 17, 2008 at 4:46 am

    For screencapture I use FSCapture ( faststone.org/FSCaptureDetail.htm ), it has a nice quick editor and all the features we ask for in a decent screencapture software.
    For screencast recording I go by one of these:
    - Debut Video Capture ( nchsoftware.com/capture/ )
    - FreeScreenCast (freescreencast.com/ )
    (and Jing... :)

  17. alfred
    December 16, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    I also like utipu which I heard from here earlier....

  18. T.J. Mininday
    December 16, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Wow, great list. Hadn't heard of a few these.

  19. Daniel Moth
    December 17, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I use Window Clippings:

    windowclippings.com

  20. Speedmaster
    December 16, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Wink is great, thanks!

  21. Khanxay
    December 16, 2008 at 6:27 pm
  22. fullbug
    December 16, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    My pick is Faststone Capture, (The last free version) works great and is all I need...

  23. Alexander
    December 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Great tools - I will give Jing a try.
    For Screenshots I can highly recommend MWSnap. Windows only, unfortunately the last stable version is from 2002 - but it works perfectly ok for me :-)

  24. Simon SC
    December 16, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks! I was just looking for one of these!

  25. NetFlexx
    December 16, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    ScreenshotCaptor

    http://www.donationcoder.com

  26. Matt Soreco
    December 16, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    SnagIt's my favorite.

  27. Ravi
    December 16, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Also of interest may be Skitch (http://www.skitch.com/) and the free if somewhat stale Apple application Copernicus (http://danicsoft.com/projects/copernicus/), which I mention because of its ability to save video.

  28. afokkema
    December 16, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Checkout ScreenShot Captor very nice screencapture tool and is free!

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