For those of you out there that often need to take screen captures for blog posts, training materials, or bragging rights, there are some great options out there.  Here are the ones I use as well as one I don’t use but is readily available.

Print Screen – Windows

You know, that key on your keyboard that is supposed to take screen captures but you can never seem to figure it out?  Well, it’s really not all that complicated.  Simply press the button and whatever is on your screen is put in an image on your clipboard.  You then simply need to paste it into whatever program you want, such as an e-mail, word, or power point.  There aren’t a ton of options but there is one.  If you hold down the alt key as you press the Print Screen key, you will only capture the active window.  The main drawback to using print screen is that you need some other piece of software to narrow down your selection even further or to add annotations or additional information or, for that matter, to even see it.  In fact, this tool is so straight forward and simple, I’m not even going to include any screen captures for it (ironic, huh?).

Snipping Tool – Windows Vista and Windows 7

The Snipping Tool is available in Windows Vista as well as Windows 7.  This tool basically is the next level above the print screen button.  Using this tool, you can more precisely choose the area you wish to capture.  You can select just a specific area of the screen using a rectangle, selecting a window, or (and I like this one) using the free form option.  The free form option allows you to draw a closed figure and whatever is within the figure will be captured.  The best part about this tool, if you have Vista or W7, you already have it!  The default location is under the start menu, accessories, Snipping Tool.  Try it out, you might like it.

Snagit by Techsmith

This is a great tool for taking screen captures and one I use quite often.  There are a ton of options for how you want to take the screen capture.  You can choose the entire screen, just a portion of it, one window, if what you need doesn’t fit on the screen you capture a scrolling window, and you can set up custom screen capture settings.  The thing that I really like about Snagit is it comes with an editor.  In this editor you can add text, put in arrows, send it out to other programs, trim it, etc.  If I’m doing complex images, this is the tool I’ll use.  It’s not photoshop but it is a great little image editor.  The biggest drawback to Snagit is that it’s not free.  It’s not really expensive but, it’s not free.  If you do a lot of screen capturing, it is probably worthwhile getting.  If you do this on occasion, probably not so.  You can find more information about Snagit HERE.

Jing by TechSmith

TechSmith also has a little program called Jing.  This is a great program because not only does it allow you to choose the area that you want to take the screen capture of, it also allows you to publish it directly to the internet for use online.  In order to do this, you have to set up a Screencast account.  Don’t worry, just like Jing, Screencast is free!  The other cool thing about Jing is it also allows you to do video capture of you screen and publish that to the web as well.  It’s limited to three minutes of video but, hey, that’s all most people need.  Once the file (image or video) is uploaded, the link to it is immediately placed in your clipboard so you can paste it wherever you need it.  You also have the option to save the image, edit it in Snagit, or even post it up to Twitter.  I often find myself taking a screen capture of something with Snagit, editing it in the Snagit Editor, and then taking a screen capture of the Snagit editor with Jing to quickly share it online.

I’m sure there are other programs out there and some that might even be better then these but, I like these programs, especially Jing.  If you use a different program, let me know.  I would love to check it out.