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Did you know the Print Screen button used to actually buffer what was on your screen and send it to the printer port? The screen would literally be printed.

Meanwhile, taking screenshots has become more convenient and hence more common. Whether it’s a journalist like me doing an article, IT support needing to see a user’s screen Provide Remote PC Support For Friends & Family With Netviewer Provide Remote PC Support For Friends & Family With Netviewer Read More , or a gamer wanting to show everyone How to Take Videos & Screenshots of Games in Windows How to Take Videos & Screenshots of Games in Windows You want to document your game progress, but when you hit PrtSc on your keyboard, all you get is a snapshot of your desktop? Here's how to take video game screenshots. Read More a really cool part of their game, everyone should have a screenshot tool on their computer Multiple Ways To Capture Or Print What You See On Your Screen Multiple Ways To Capture Or Print What You See On Your Screen Print Screen is a term that lost its original meaning decades ago. Today, actually printing a screenshot takes several steps. Combined with shortcuts and software, you have a powerful 21st century tool at your fingertips. Read More . And there are many to choose from – especially if you are on a Windows machine.

Snip Your Screen

Redmond has handed you a free gift in the form of Microsoft Snip. Snip is a screenshot tool, along the lines of Evernote’s Skitch. Originally, the Snipping Tool was introduced with Windows 7 How To Take Awesome Screenshots In Windows 7 How To Take Awesome Screenshots In Windows 7 In principle, taking a screenshot is very simple. With the right technique however, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle and greatly improve the look of your screenshots. In this article I... Read More , but it has since been given a huge makeover. Although the option to send your screenshots to your OneDrive folder will probably not be universally welcomed.

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After installing it, it sits at the top of your screen, although you can disable that if you don’t want it there. The tool consists of three sections – the capture tool, the whiteboard, and the camera for taking photos with your webcam. All of which are fairly self-explanatory. The whiteboard gives you the chance to flex your artistic skills a bit or take down some notes, although the feature is best suited to tablets and a user’s finger (or stylus pen). As you can see below, my attempts at writing with a mouse looks like a snail overdosing on ecstasy.

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After taking your screenshot, it will appear in the Snip Editor where you can annotate it with notes, give a person red hair, or highlight important parts on a page. Adding audio turns the whole thing into a MP4 file, which can be embedded on websites.

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A lot of people have noted that Snip is kind of buggy right now. The email option in the Share menu defaults only to Outlook, and if you don’t use Outlook, then nothing happens. But it is still a neat little tool which makes high quality screenshots, and provides basic annotation tools to help you further get your point across. You would be daft not to have this installed on your PC.

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Other Options to Snip Your Screen

I am fully aware though that, like Google, not everyone is a Microsoft fan. I can’t say I particularly love them, but they do bring out some good stuff every now and then, Windows 10 and Snip being two recent examples.

So in the spirit of balance, let’s go over some alternatives, and while you’re at it, check out Joel’s great article on screenshots 4 Best Tools For Creating Screenshots Compared 4 Best Tools For Creating Screenshots Compared CTRL + SHIFT + 4. Three keys - that's all you need for perfect screenshots. It doesn't need to be a hassle! Try these advanced screen capturing tools and you won't ever look back. Read More from last year.

IrfanView

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IrfanView is a sturdy reliable alternative, that has been around since 1996, believe it or not. Despite the competition now heating up in the cut-throat world of screenshot companies, IrfanView still tirelessly slugs it out like Rocky Balboa.

What I like about IrfanView is its batch editing 7 Free Apps to Batch Edit, Resize, & Rename Images 7 Free Apps to Batch Edit, Resize, & Rename Images Some of the most common edits your images will have to go through are simple things such as resize, rename, format conversion, basic color fixes, etc. While you can’t be expected to sit through an... Read More features. If I have a bunch of screenshots for a MakeUseOf article, and they all have to be 640px wide, I just have to put them into IrfanView, specify 640px wide in the options, and hit the button. Seconds later, I have copies in the right size waiting for me.

What I DON’T like about IrfanView is that it is designed mainly for Windows, which is crap for users of Mac OS X and Linux. You can apparently use WINE to run IrfanView (and other Windows apps) Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) with WINE Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) with WINE Read More on an OS X system and a Linux system, but when I tried with my Macbook, it didn’t work.

GreenShot

There’s three things to love about Greenshot. It’s free, it’s open-source What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More , and it makes fantastic screenshots. And if you like the color green…well, that’s a fourth thing to get excited about.

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After capturing your green screenshot, you can annotate the screenshot with whatever it needs, as well as getting it edited. Then save it as an image, or send it to an email attachment, your printer, or your clipboard for pasting into a document. There are also add-ons for sending your images to third-party image editing apps such as Paint.NET, Microsoft Office, or Dropbox.

Oh and the program is available in 33 languages, so if English is not your first language, then you are more than likely to find your mother tongue in there somewhere.

Lightscreen

When you start up Lightscreen, it reminds you a lot of Microsoft Snip with its little window, and the three options to choose from. However, unlike Snip, there are no annotation or editing features. But it redeems itself by having a portable version, which is always good if you like running your programs from a USB stick.

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It hides in the background and waits for you to press the pre-set Hotkey combo, so it can spring into life. A preview window shows you the screenshot you have just made. You can then save the screenshot as an image file on your computer.

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Alternatively, you could have your screenshot rapidly uploaded to Imgur as an image file. That last feature reminds me of Hyperdesktop, as it does exactly the same thing.

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SnagIt

Years ago, I discovered this nifty screenshot tool, and I fell in love with it. So much so that I made the unbelievable decision to pay $50 to get the full version (I was using the trial version to begin with). Now, with so many free and excellent possibilities, I can’t believe I paid the equivalent of 10 Big Macs for this tool, no matter how brilliant it is. My belly is devastated.

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And one other downside to this one is that you are not automatically entitled to free upgrades. If you want to upgrade to a new version, you have to pay $25. Cheeky.

But the program itself is fantastic, and it has served me well for 6 years now. Screenshots are crystal clear, and the image editor and annotation tools are great and easy to use.

ShareX

I found this one purely by chance as I was searching for the HyperDesktop link. Someone was on the Windows sub-reddit telling everyone how fantastic ShareX is, so I took a look. And they’re right. This is a really neat program.

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The number of features is really impressive. As you can see in the screenshot above, you can upload to countless cloud services, FTP folders, and email, using various URL shorteners or even your own customized URL shortener (such as mine, which is http://mrko.nl).

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The list of features is too long to go into here as the list is enormous. So go check out the features list on GitHub to see how fantastic this tool is.

Honorable Mention: VLC Player

If you are watching a movie or TV show on VLC Player, and you want a screenshot of a scene in the show, you may or may not know that VLC Player offers a screen capture option.

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Just pause on the scene you want to capture, go to the Video drop-down menu, and choose Snapshot. A 1270 x 720px screen capture will then be made and deposited in your My Pictures folder.

The Old-School Method – The PrtScn Button

The Print Screen (PrtScn) button has been around since the MS-DOS days, and its best days now seem to be behind it, being forced into retirement by the new screen capture tools in town. However, it is still there on the keyboard, so an article about screenshot tools would not be complete without at least one mention of the tool that started the whole screenshot craze.

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The PrtScn button (or PRT SCRN as shown above), is located in the top-right of your keyboard, and pressing it will…well, it won’t actually print your screen, but rather save a copy to the clipboard 5 Tips to Manage Your Windows Clipboard Like a Pro 5 Tips to Manage Your Windows Clipboard Like a Pro Better known as Copy & Paste, a tool for students to lift passages from Wikipedia, the Clipboard can save you loads of typing time. We'll show you how to use it like a pro. Read More . Note that if you press the key combo ALT + Print Screen, it will only save your currently active window.

If you use at least Windows 8, then pressing the Windows key + Print Screen will save your screenshot to a Screenshots sub-folder in the Pictures folder.

So Come On, Which One Did I Miss?

Screenshot programs are popping up as fast as moles in a Whack-a-Mole game. So maybe I neglected to mention your favorite? If so, please feel free to use the comments below to promote your favorite app, as well as berate me for not mentioning it myself.

  1. Yodi Collins
    September 30, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    In Windows 10, VLC Media Player dumps the snapshots into C:\Videos\Captures until you configure it otherwise.

  2. FileEagle.com Chris
    September 30, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I used Greenshot. It's very awesome !

  3. Peter Buyze
    September 30, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    I like MS Snip & use it daily for simple screenshots. 1 thing to bear in mind: the app open a subfolder in the folder Documents, where it stores all your screenshots. That is fine if you want to reuse them, but is not necessarily OK if you share your PC with someone else (privacy).

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