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3 Light & Simple Ways to Take Screenshots in a Snap

Yaara Lancet 19-09-2011

free screenshot programTaking screenshots is something everyone needs to do once in a while. There are numerous screen capture tools out there – some very powerful and costly, and some lighter and cheaper.


But let’s face it, most of us don’t need to use screenshots professionally. We just need a lightweight and simple tool that won’t slow down the computer and will simply do what it’s supposed to – take screenshots. Here are 3 free, simple and lightweight free screenshot programs that do just that.

Snaplr [Windows & Mac]

Snaplr is a tiny Adobe Air application that is both slick and extremely simple. There are no hotkeys, no configurations to be done and no options to choose from. Snaplr is basically one single screen:

free screenshot program

After you click the “Take Screenshot” button, you can choose any window you want and then select the region you want to capture. If you want the whole screen, you’ll just have to choose it by hand.

free screenshot software

When you let go of the mouse button, Snaplr will pop up again – this time with your captured screenshot inside.

You can now use Snaplr’s limited yet useful annotation tools to add text, draw arrows or shapes, or just freehand with a brush. You can choose from 5 different colors for your annotations.

free screenshot software

When you’re done, you can copy your screenshot to the clipboard and just paste it into an e-mail or a document, or you can choose to save it as a PNG file.

This is all you can do with Snaplr, but it really works.

Greenshot [Windows]

If you want something just a bit more powerful (though a bit less slick, I must say), and you’re a Windows user, you should try Greenshot.

Greenshot offers a lot more options than Snaplr, but the entire package is still minimalistic and light, and you can get down to business pretty easily. After you install Greenshot it will take over your PrintScreen button and will create several hotkeys which you can use to capture your whole screen, a whole window, or a region of your choice.

free screenshot software

By default, a new screenshot will open in Greenshot’s image editor. Here you can do all the usual things, but with Greenshot you can also highlight and obfuscate text for example, which are pretty handy options. These tools are also pretty configurable: You can choose from blur or pixelize when you obfuscate, and the highlight tool can also magnify or greyscale the entire image but not the highlighted section. You can also crop your image if the original screenshot is not perfect.

free screenshot utility

As opposed to Snaplr, here you can choose any color you want for your annotations, and you can also make them transparent. It will even show you the recently used colors.

free screenshot utility

Though not overwhelming, Greenshot does have some settings (which you can ignore if you don’t want to deal with it – it works just fine on defaults). You can’t change the hotkeys, but you can play with effects and capture options.

free screenshot utility

You can also control some output options. Instead of the image editor, you can automatically copy the screenshot to the clipboard once you take it. Alternatively, you can send it to the printer or just save it. You also have some control over the output format and quality.

3 Light & Simple Ways to Take Screenshots in a Snap 2011 09 04 15h20 02

Overall, Greenshot is a good compromise between a very simple tool and a highly powerful complicated tool. The only bone I have to pick with it is the slightly unresponsive editor interface. For some reason there is no undo option, and deleting annotations proved to be quite a task at times. But for simple usage, Greenshot is a peach.

TinyGrab [Windows & Mac]

TinyGrab is a whole different take on the screenshot world. The name of the game here is sharing. Every screenshot you take is immediately uploaded to the cloud.

Before you can use TinyGrab, you’d need to create an account. This is slightly annoying, but is sweetened by the beautiful graphics. As you can see, I deliberately typed my password wrong here (the colors don’t match). Brilliant!

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After you download TinyGrab, start by configuring your hotkeys (full screen, active window, or region) and the actions that will take place on and after upload. The preferences are very nicely done and are a joy to play with.

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Then go ahead and take your screenshot.

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The screenshot’s new URL will be automatically copied to your clipboard. You can now paste it anywhere you’d like and share it.

3 Light & Simple Ways to Take Screenshots in a Snap 2011 09 04 16h02 12

TinyGrab also has an online control panel. You can use it to browse all your screenshots, arrange them in folders and get their respective URLs.

free screenshot program

All in all, TinyGrab is a beautiful tool that’s great to use visually and really does what it should, but performance-wise it’s somewhat lacking. The installation wasn’t very smooth, and for such a small and simple tool it had a little too much impact on my not-so-strong computer.

Bottom Line

I tried several free screenshot programs before choosing these three. I think all three of these apps are a great pick if you’re looking for a simple screenshot tool.

If social sharing is important to you, go for TinyGrab. It’s pretty much perfect for that. Otherwise, I highly recommend Snaplr for it’s appealing simplicity, and Greenshot is a good middle solution for those who can’t make up their minds.

If you’re looking for more screen capture tools, check out:

Any other light and simple screenshot apps out there? Do you know of a better solution? Share in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Explore more about: Blogging, Image Editor, Screen Capture.

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  1. Zec
    September 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    PicPick - it's free for non-commercial use and it has a lot more options.

    • Yaara
      September 23, 2011 at 7:37 am

      Thank you!

  2. Mrclose
    September 20, 2011 at 6:55 am

    There is no better capture tool than snagit but I'm guessing that we are talking Free apps here?

    • Yaara
      September 20, 2011 at 7:15 am

      SnagIt is truly awesome, but it isn't light nor simple (nor free :) ). I was using their free trial a while back and was really impressed.

  3. Susendeep dutta
    September 20, 2011 at 5:38 am

    Lightscreen from is a portable screenshot taking app.Though it doesn't have any editing features but is simple as it has separate options for taking snaps for screen,area and window

    • Yaara
      September 20, 2011 at 7:15 am

      Thank you! Looks light and simple, which is a good thing in my book.

  4. Vaughan
    September 20, 2011 at 2:22 am

    I think Jing should be on this list too, but I have noticed it can be very sluggish to capture screens when you are working on a multiple monitor setup. Very pleased to learn about the Win7 snipping tool!

  5. Anonymous
    September 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Captur for OS X.

    You install the app and have it launch at startup. It adds an icon to the menubar. When you want to snap a pic, just click the menu and select which type you want to take...

    Full screen
    full screen with a timer
    click and drag a window around what you want
    click any window on your desktop and it takes a snap of just that window
    click any window on your dashboard and it takes a snap of just that window

    And did I mention, it is free =)

    Just want to point out... it is called Captur, that is not a mistype.

    • Yaara
      September 20, 2011 at 7:13 am

      Thank you! I'm on Windows so I can't try it, but I'm sure other OS X users will find it useful. :)

  6. Keith Pickett
    September 19, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Add two more:
    I love IrfanView and I use it exclusively for screen shots.  You don't however, necessarily need a third party program to capture screen shots.  For Windows (Sorry, I'm not a Mac user), You can just do a CTRL-Print Screen and then paste into Paint.  If you have a 3rd party image app, you can open that up and paste into that (like IrfanView).  In IrfanView, you have a couple of other options:
    1.  Open IrfanView, hit the "C" key (for capture), select your preferences and then the "Start" button in the dialog box (to start capture mode).  Then, to capture the desktop/window you want, place your cursor in the area and hold down CTRL-F12.  IrfanView will capture the area and paste it into a new un-named file*.
    2.  Another option is a selective, rubber-banding screen capture.  To do that, launch IrfanView and hold CTRL-Print Screen.  You will be given an X-Y coordinate intersecting at your mouse-cursor.  Position your cursor on the screen that would represent the upper-left of your desired capture area.  Click your mouse button once you find it.  Next, position your cursor in the area you want the lower-right to be and click your mouse button again.  IrfanView will capture that area between upper-left and lower-right and display it in an un-named file*.
    *Note: It's not really an un-named file.  It's in memory and IrfanView will prompt you to save to a file.

    Hope this helps.

    • Yaara
      September 20, 2011 at 7:13 am

      Thanks for the detailed comment! I love IrfanView too and have been using it for years, but not for screenshots, for some reason. I will definitely give it a try!

      • Keith Pickett
        September 20, 2011 at 11:21 am

        Glad I could help.  I used IrfanView for years too before discovering the screen capture function.  I ran across it by accident one day.


  7. Colinros
    September 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Or you could just type snipping in the windows 7 search to bring up the built in snipping tool.

    • Yaara
      September 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Wow, surprisingly enough, this is totally new for me. I had no idea this tool existed, and I've been using Win7 for quite a while.

      Thank you!