Screenshots that are actually useful

Have you ever needed to show someone a screenshot, but the basic printscreen function just wasn’t cutting it? Generally when you use the printscreen function, it will do exactly what you ask: it prints the screen either to the clipboard, or sometimes your default printer. Sure you can use alt-printscreen to focus only on the current window, but what if there’s still a bunch of clutter on the current window that doesn’t need to be shared?

A screenshot showing an entire browser window which contains a lot of unneeded content.

Way too much unneeded content

Luckily there is a better way! There is a program called Greenshot. This program provides quite a number of tools to enhance your screenshots and better relay information to your audience. Greenshot is a free, open source program for Windows operation systems (sorry Mac users!) and very simple to install. Better yet, in the months I’ve used the program, there have been no ill effects of installing it. Remember open source DOES NOT automatically mean it’s a virus! Do a bit of research, and make sure you download installers from the programmer directly if possible.

Now onto the reasons why Greenshot is so handy! Once you’ve installed Greenshot, and have it open it will replace the functionality of your print screen (prt sc) button. This means you only have to hit printscreen to start making awesome screenshots. Once you hit print screen you will get a cursor which you can then click, and highlight the section of your screen you want to take a screenshot of.

Screenshot of the cursor showing that is has a magnifying feature allowing for pixel perfect selecting.

It even has a magnifying feature to make sure you select EXACTLY what you want.

Once you have made your selection, a small window will popup that will ask you to select from many options for editing your screenshot.

Menu displaying the various options for how to share your screenshot (detailed list below)

Waaaaaay more options than the default print screen!

Your options are:

  • Save as – this will let you save your selected areas wherever you’d like.
  • Save directly – this will let you save it to a default folder using preferred file output settings (these default settings are modified in the options for Greenshot.)
  • Open in image editor – this option will allow you to edit your selection adding text, arrows, drawings, any many more. This is my favorite option as it seems to be about halfway between Paint and Photoshop, so it is very friendly to less computer savvy people. This is also a FANTASTIC tool for creating how to’s and other documentation for end users.
  • Copy to Clipboard – This option will simply allow you to add your selection to your clipboard, and paste it wherever you’d like.
  • Send to Printer – This option will print your selection to your default printer
  • Microsoft Outlook – This option will compose a new email, and insert your selection into the body of the email.
  • Microsoft OneNote – This option will add your selection to OneNote
  • Microsoft Powerpoint – This option will add your selection to Powerpoint
  • Microsoft Word – This option will insert your selection into the body of a Word document
  • Microsoft Excel – This option will insert your selection into a cell of an Excel document.
  • MS Paint – This will open your selection in MS Paint allowing you to use MS Paint if you’re rather use that instead of the built in image editor.
  • Upload to Imgur – Lastly I haven’t ever used this feature, but it should allow you to upload your screenshot to the website Imgur.

Overall the most useful tool I’ve found with Greenshot is the image editor. I’ve created a lot of documentation in my jobs, and I’ve found that adding arrows pointing to where someone needs to click,or small bits of text provides a much better experience for the end user. It really helps you get the point of your screenshot across, and will hopefully cut down on repetitive questions you may receive!

Animated GIF from the film Harry Potter where mail is flying out of a fireplace at an alarming rate.

File footage from an IT department after any implementation

Thank you for taking the time to read our articles! If you know of other similar tools, or have any suggestions, please leave a comment below and share with others. Maybe we can take a look at them as well! If you found this or any other article on useful feel free to share it with anyone you think might benefit from it.

Charles Potter

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