How to Take Easy Screenshots with Lightscreen Portable

Tim Lenahan 14-10-2009

screenshot.9Screen capturing is basically taking a snapshot of your desktop. There are several reasons you may need the ability to do this. First of all, you may be getting error messages that you need someone’s help with. You know how it is, when the tech is there looking for the issue, the messages never come back. Well, grab a shot the next time so you have something to show.


Secondly, you may be someone putting together a tutorial on how to do something, like how to use a specific piece of software. Another use is sharing cool things with others, such as many posts here on MakeUseOf.

As you can also tell from reading articles here is that there are a few different software options when you want to take screenshots. There’s the PrtSc Button, Gadwin PrintScreen, Jing, and Wink (from Ben’s article, 4 Tools For Creating Screenshots and Screencasts 4 Tools for Creating Screenshots and Screencasts Read More ).  Also check out Ann’s post, All You Need For Making Awesome Screenshots All You Need for Making Awesome Screenshots Read More .

This article is about the tool I use to take screenshots, Lightscreen Portable. There are several reasons I choose to use Lightscreen Portable including ease of use, stability, and portability. I would like to run through some of the features and then share some new features that are available in the newest release.

Lightscreen Portable is how it sounds, light.  It doesn’t slow everything down when in use.  It has some basic features that are helpful but isn’t over laden with so much that it’s confusing to use.  When you open it, click on the large “Screenshot” button.


how to take screenshots

You’ll then be offered four options, three of which having to do with what you want a snap shot of.  You can grab the whole screen, the open window, or an area of the screen that you choose.

take screenshots

If you click on the “Options” button, you can modify some settings. You can choose the directory the image files will automatically be saved in, the filename properties, the type of image file, and whether or not you want a delay (I haven’t tried the delay option but it enables you to get prepared for the perfect shot by delaying the capture). You can also choose to start the program when Windows starts (I’m weird about setting programs to start with Windows because I only want programs running that I need running).


how to take screenshots

Click on the “Hotkeys’ tab and you can learn some keyboard shortcuts that’ll make grabbing screenshots that much easier. In fact, you can click on each one and you’ll have the ability to set the hotkey to whatever you want.


Click on the “Options” tab and you’ll get – guess what – more options! The two I make sure are checked are the “Show a system tray icon” so I can open the program quickly and easily when it’s running in the background, and the “Hide Lightscreen while taking a screenshot” so I don’t accidentally grab a screenshot with the Lightscreen program window in the way.



Using Lightcreen Portable is very easy. Once it is installed and running, all you have to do is hit Ctrl+PrtSc to chose the area to grab (just hitting PrtSc will save a snapshot of the whole desktop) and a file will automatically be saved in the directory you choose in the settings. You can either use the image file as is or open it in whatever image editing program you use to add notations, etc. It really is that easy!

It being a portable application, once installed you can actually move the containing folder to whatever drive you want, including a portable drive, and you can still run it just by clicking the program file.  It just adds the flexibility we all can use.  Check out PortableApps and look into using the PortableApps Suite from your USB drive 4 Ways To Use a USB or External Drive Like Your Own Mobile Computer Read More .

There are some new features introduced in the newest version of Lightscreen. First of all, you can choose to have a save-as window pop up so you can choose the file name and location while in the midst of grabbing screen shots. Also, there is now support for cursors. This can be helpful if you are trying to point something out with your cursor. Check out Lightscreen’s “What’s New” page to find out more of what is new.


Everyone has their opinion about what software to use for what job and screen capturing is certainly no exception. Tell us all about your favorite tool and why it’s your favorite!

Related topics: Image Editor, Portable App, Screen Capture.

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  1. Dean Sherwin
    October 16, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Great post Tim ;)

  2. Kuba
    October 15, 2009 at 4:37 am

    I prefer open source greenshot on

    Does the ob in the best way for me and has internal editor for adding pointy red arrows ! which are a must

  3. nick
    October 15, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Editing straight after a capture and naming the file is what's important to me. Both are done well in windows snipping tool so I don't really see the point of installing anything else, or am I missing something?

    • Tim Lenahan
      October 15, 2009 at 10:43 pm

      I haven't done much with the windows snipping tool yet. Good to know Vista comes with it.

      Perhaps different tools are better for different applications. I do like the speed at which I can grab and automatically have the shots saved to a folder with Lightscreen. Other tools may make it easier for notations though.

  4. ILoveFreeSoftware
    October 15, 2009 at 1:37 am

    This looks like a pretty good and easy to use software. My favorite one is Gadwin Printscreen. The biggest reason for that is Gadwin lets me directly open the snapshot in the program of my choice. So, as soon as I take a screenshot, it is immediately opened in Paint.Net so that I can quickly edit it.

    • Tim Lenahan
      October 15, 2009 at 10:40 pm

      OK, now that is a cool feature to offer!

  5. Tim Lenahan
    October 14, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Lightscreen does offer file naming options under the "general" tab in the options menu.

  6. dp
    October 14, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I've used a variety of capture tools, like Snap Shooter, Screenshot Captor, Snagit, GrabScreen and others. The most useful features are the file naming options, so that I can make a series that are named or numbered in a useful way.

    However, there's one feature I've been after for some time, and that's a similar utility for auto-inserting EXIF or IPTC info. Anyone know of a screencap app that writes IPTC info? I'd like to have a text file list of categories, then have any given picture or series auto-encoded with a selection from that list.