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How To Take A Screenshot

Sometimes a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Sometimes its easier to just show someone a picture rather than explain what you’re seeing on your computer screen. For that reason, its really helpful if you can just snap a quick pic and drop it into an email and shoot it off.

But how do you do that?


A Great Little Screen Grabber

MWSnap free screenshot toolIntroducing… a *great* little tool called MWSnap!
I’ve been using MWSnap for quite a while now. Its very useful. It offers many modes of taking screenshots. You can select…

  • your entire desktop
  • a fixed size window
  • user-defined dimensions (ie: “on the fly” – you control the dimensions with your mouse)
  • window/menu



Also, if you’re taking many shots over and over again, it gets tedious to call up the app, click on the screenshot button, aim your mouse and click to take a shot. Through the use of hotkeys (ie, key combinations that bring up the screenshot windows long as the app is running in the system tray) you are able to enter “screenshot mode” and snap a pic when the app isn’t “active” (or, in the foreground). That’s handy. [Note... they're also customizable!] :)



Installing this little app is relatively straight-forward. Not much to say here except be sure to select “English” for your language. Note, they indicate the British flag for English. Don’t let that trip you up. ;)


First steps… Customization

create default folder to save screenshots

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I also like to customize it a little bit. First, MWSnap installs with the default location for saving images set deep within the bowls of your computer in the system files – basically the folder where its installed: ProgramFiles. Curious choice. I like easy access to my files so I create a new folder within MyPictures and set that as the default saving location in MWSnap’s settings.


Tools | Settings | Auto-Saving

customize MWSnap settings auto-save

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With a folder in place inside MyPictures, you’re ready to open up MWSnap and make a few crucial changes that drastically improves its usability.
With MWSnap open, click on Tools | Settings | Auto-Saving.

  1. enable auto-saving
  2. select default format (I prefer jpeg)
  3. browse to you your default saving location (hint: you just created a new “MWSnap” folder in MyPictures)
  4. prompt for filename


Screenshot Modes

As I mentioned above, MWSnap is very flexible in that there are many ways to take screenshots.


MWSnap screenshot full complete entire desktop

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Sometimes you just want to grab your entire desktop. Select “Full Desktop” in the left margin of MWSnap, then take the snapshot by clicking the button at the bottom labeled “snap full desktop.” This grabs the entire desktop and as such, its hard to see finer details – you might want to keep that in mind. But perhaps you want someone to see the “big picture” and not focus so much on the minor details. In such a case Full Desktop is the best option for you.
The keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot of your desktop is simply CTRL-SHIFT-D

Fixed Size

fixed-rectangle screenshot

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There are times when you’ll be taking many screenshots and for consistency sake you will want all of your screenshots the same size. (If you care to look, I did just this on my previous post – How To Put An Arrow In A Screenshot.) The “fixed rectangle” option permits this. Other times, you are being asked to upload a picture of a specific size. Again, this feature of MWSnap comes in handy. One other thing to note (and I don’t know why they don’t include this on the MWSnap user interface), the first dimension specifies the “horizontal” measurement, the second determines the vertical size.
The keyboard shortcut to take a fixed-size screenshot is intuitively CTRL-SHIFT-F


user-defined free-form-dimensions screenshot zoom in

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You can select on the fly (“free form” if you will) the size of your screenshot using “any rect size.” This is a great option if the particular size isn’t important and you’re only going to take one picture of what you’re seeing on your screen. This is also good if you want to “zoom in” on a particular area of interest – you don’t want to take a screenshot of the entire desktop to highlight a corner of your view, nor do you care to grab a shot of an entire window, neither is a particular size important – instead, just “eyeball it” by clicking this option and select first one corner of the area on the screen you’re interested in and then click on the opposite corner for your desired screenshot.
The keyboard shortcut to take a “free form” screenshot of “any” size is simply CTRL-SHIFT-A (“A” for “any”)


screenshot of a windows start button menu

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And then there are times in which you want to capture an entire window or just a single drop-down menu. The “Window/Menu” mode permits this operation. In the example shown to the right, I’ve clicked on the Start button in Windows7 and captured a screenshot of just the Start button menu. In the next picture, I’ve taken a picture of the System Configuration window in its entirety.

screenshot of selected window

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Capturing a drop-down menu can be tricky however. But a little trial-and-error on your part will sufficiently familiarize you with the vagaries of this mode.  I’ve learned its best to use the hotkeys for this operation. Here: have MWSnap running, check the hotkey combination that you want (hint: its CTRL-SHIFT-W), then minimize MWSnap, open the menu you’re interested in, then press the hotkeys you memorized. Now move your mouse to the menu you have open and press the right-mouse-button to snap your pic. It will probably require some practice but don’t worry, you won’t run out of digital film. ;)

Oh, And One Last Thing…

This is “nice to have” information that’s good to just keep in your hip pocket – maybe you won’t need it “every day” but it is good to know its there when you need the knowledge.

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“Have a great day!”


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