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how to create screenshots on windowsCreating screenshots isn’t only for tech writers and bloggers. Screenshots can also be very helpful if you’ve ever had to show your elderly aunt how to print something from her Internet Explorer 7.0 browser and you felt the need for a good tool to make illustrated screenshots for her (you probably also felt the need for a Firefox installer but we’ll leave that one for another post).

Today we’ll be looking at SnapDraw, a free utility for creating screenshots that make sense.

how to create screenshots on windows

The first thing you’ll see when starting SnapDraw is a Getting Started wizard. The wizard offers different tutorials which you can download to get the hang of SnapDraw. I decided to go with the one called Making an In-monitor Screenshot.

create screenshots

SnapDraw offers an array of vector tools you can use to draw over your image, as well as callouts for adding text.

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Let’s take a closer look at the image used for this tutorial:

create screenshots

You can see the callouts, as well as a few perspective effects. Now let’s try capturing a screenshot of our own, and adding a few bells and whistles. One oddity is that you can’t capture a free area – you can only take a screenshot of a complete window or the entire desktop. If you’re trying to capture a detail out of a large window (such as a full-screen browser), this can be a bit problematic. Still, here goes:

create screenshots

That’s the initial screenshot I got, Apple-esque reflection and all. It’s easy to tweak the reflection using the options panel:

screen capture windows

You can also easily crop the image, which is what I’ve done. Now let’s look at a few of the things you can add to make your point clearer:

screen capture windows

You can select elements for your scene from a wide range of preset shapes, using the library:

screen capture windows

If you select a Numbering callout, it automatically increments the last callout already shown, so you don’t have to manually edit it and change the number shown.

Quirks

One interesting oddity is that SnapDraw won’t show up on the Windows taskbar. Here’s a screenshot of my taskbar with SnapDraw running:

how to create screenshots on windows

You can see the SnapDraw window in all of its glory, but there’s no trace of it on the taskbar itself.

Another issue was that I couldn’t figure out how to modify the options for a graphical element once I’ve added it (for example, how to change the line width for an ellipse after I put it in my scene). Last but not least, there seems to be no way to undo the last editing operation.

Final Thoughts

SnapDraw Free is an acquired taste. Nobody can blame it for a lack of options; on the contrary, the staggering array of options and details make for an initial learning curve. The standard by which I measure screenshot utilities is Snagit, which is a commercial tool. SnapDraw’s interface may not be be as polished, but the editing tools it offers are almost on par with the ones from Snagit.

Do you agree?  Give the app a trial run and let us know what you think in the comments.

  1. Jessica Cam Wong
    September 11, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Hmm, on my Taskbar, SnapDraw shows its icon fine. http://i.imgur.com/NuqW7.jpg

    • Erez Zukerman
      September 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      That's interesting! I got varying results, but it definitely had an issue on my system. Thanks for sharing!

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