How to Capture Screen Images in Under a Minute

 

What is a Screenshot?

A screenshot, sometimes referred to as a screencap or screengrab, is an image that shows the contents of a computer display. Screenshots let you capture exactly what you’re seeing on your screen to share with others or reference later.

Taking, saving, and sharing screenshots can be extremely helpful. In fact, some insist that the screenshot is the most important thing on the internet. But how can a simple picture of your screen be so vital? Well, you see, screenshots often act as a new age artifact. They serve as a way to prove to others that you’re really seeing the crazy stuff you’re seeing.

Not only do they help you prove your case, they also help you archive the past. For example, they can help you capture what a website looked like before the latest brand refresh, that weird error message you got a couple months ago, or even a juicy gossip article you don’t want to risk forgetting.

How can I use screenshots?

Screenshots aren’t just handy, they’re also revolutionary to getting more work done, faster.

About Tech echoes the belief that screenshots can be extremely helpful when you need to demonstrate something that would otherwise be difficult to explain in words. Afterall, a picture is worth a thousand words!

3 Ways Screenshots Can Help You Get More Work Done

1. Collaborate with others

Does your coworker want your input on a new webpage they’ve put together? Or do they need you to look over a brochure they’re having printed? Instead of writing a lengthy email with edits, take a screenshot and wow your coworker with excellent, efficient feedback.

Marking up design concepts is faster and more effective than a wordy email

If you’re a web designer or routinely work with web designers, learn more about using screenshots to streamline your web design process.

2. Demonstrate how to perform a function

Don’t just tell. Show. Demonstrate exactly what you’re talking about with a screenshot. By using a screenshot that shows exactly what you mean, there’s less chance that you’ll be misunderstood. And that means less confusion, less time explaining, and more time back in your day.

For example, explain to a new employee how to login. Instead of telling them, you can quickly send them a screenshot that they can reference again and again without having to repeatedly ask you.

A screenshot with numbered steps is quick to make and easy to understand

3. Show exactly what’s happening

If you’ve ever contacted your IT or Web Support Team to report a bug, you’ve likely been asked to provide a screenshot. That’s because not everyone’s computer is the same. Depending on your machine, the operating system it’s running, the browser version you’re on, the way something appears for you could be completely different for others.

Providing a visual example of what you’re looking at helps others see exactly what’s going on and identify what might be going wrong.

A screenshot of an error message helps avoid confusion by showing someone exactly what you’re seeing

The best part about screenshots? They’re easy! As Buffer notes, screenshots are powerful yet simple to use. In fact, it only takes a second to make a screenshot. So start using screenshots today, and download a free trial of Snagit now.

How to Capture Screen Images in Under a Minute

So now that you know how screenshots can improve communication and productivity, here’s how you can capture screen images — and fast.

The complete guide on how to capture screen images

Here are all the types of screen capture we will cover in this guide:

1. How to take a screenshot of your entire screen (Windows | Mac)
2. How to take a screenshot of a selected portion of your screen (Windows | Mac)
3. How to take a screenshot of a window (Windows | Mac)
4. How to take a screenshot of a menu (Windows | Mac)

Feel free to use the quick links to jump to the section that you are most interested in.

The first thing you’ll want to do is download and install your screen capture software.

If you don’t already have Snagit, you can download it for free and try the software for 15 days. Snagit works on both Windows and Mac. So no matter what platform you use it will work on your system. You can capture your entire screen or only a selected portion of it. The screenshot automatically opens in the Snagit Editor where you can preview, edit, and share the capture.

How to take a screenshot on Windows

These methods work with different versions of Microsoft Windows, including Windows 8 and Windows 10.

How to take a screenshot of your entire screen (on Windows)

Step 1: Click the Capture button or Press PrtScn (Print Screen).

Step 2. Once the orange crosshairs appear, click the Fullscreen button to capture the entire screen.

how to capture screen fullscreen capture

How to take a screenshot of a selected portion of your screen (on Windows)

Step 1: Open the Capture window.

In the Notifications area, click the red TechSmith Snagit icon to open the Capture window on the screen. If you’re in the Snagit editor, click the Capture button in the toolbar to bring up the Capture window.

Step 2: Choose your screen capture settings.

The Capture window gives you a lot of flexibility depending on what type of screen capture you want to take. Grab your entire desktop, a region, or a window with Snagit’s All-in-One Capture®. Take a quick image screenshot, or even record a video.

Step 3: Click the Capture button.

Click the Capture button on any tab in the Capture window to start your screen capture. You can also start a capture with the current settings by pressing PrtScn (Print Screen), which is the default global capture hotkey. You can also customize and change the global capture hotkey.

Step 4: Click and drag the crosshairs to select part or all of your screen.

How to take a screenshot of a window (on Windows)

Step 1: Click the Capture button or Press PrtScn (Print Screen).

Step 2. Move the cursor over the window to capture. When an orange dashed border appears around the window, click to select the highlighted area.

how to capture screenshot of window pc

How to take a screenshot of a menu (on Windows)

Step 1: First, select the Image tab in the Capture window.

Step 2: Next, select Menu in the Selection dropdown.

Step 3: Select the Delay option and set number of seconds for the delay. (Optional)

Step 4: Click the Capture button or press PrtScn (Print Screen).

Step 5: Finally, your countdown will begin. Open the desired menu, and move your cursor over the menu to capture.

how to capture screenshot of menu pc


TIP: Save a Preset

To save the capture settings for future use, select Add Preset dropdown > New preset from current settings.


How to take a screenshot on a Mac

These methods work with different versions of macOS–10.10 (Yosemite), or higher.

How to take a screenshot of your entire screen (on Mac)

Step 1: Click the Capture button or press Control-Shift-C.

Step 2. Once the orange crosshairs appear, click the Fullscreen button to capture the entire screen.

how to capture screen fullscreen capture

How to take a screenshot of a selected portion of your screen (on Mac)

Step 1: Open the Capture window.

In the menu bar, click the TechSmith Snagit icon to open the Capture window on the screen. If you’re in the Snagit editor, click the Capture button in the toolbar to bring up the Capture window.

how to capture screen open capture window mac

Step 2: Choose your screen capture settings.

The Capture window gives you a lot of flexibility depending on what type of screen capture you want to take. Grab your entire desktop, a region, or a window with Snagit’s All-in-One Capture®. Take quick image screenshots. Or even record videos.

Step 3: Click the capture button.

Click the Capture button on any tab in the Capture window to start your screen capture. You can also start a capture with the current settings by pressing Control-Shift-C, which is the default global capture hotkey. You can also customize and change the global capture hotkey.

Step 4: Click and drag the crosshairs to select part or all of your screen.

how to capture screen with snagit mac

How to take a screenshot of a window (on Mac)

Step 1: Click the Capture button or press Control-Shift-C.

Step 2. Move the cursor over the window to capture. When an orange dashed border appears around the window, click to select the highlighted area.

how to capture screenshot of window mac

How to take a screenshot of a menu (on Mac)

Step 1: First, select the Image tab in the Capture window.

Step 2: Next, select Menu in the Selection dropdown.

Step 3: Select the Delay option and set number of seconds for the delay. (Optional)

Step 4: Click the Capture button or press Control-Shift-C.

Step 5: Finally, your countdown will begin. Open the desired menu, and move your cursor over the menu to capture.

4 Kinds of Screenshots You Need to Start Using Immediately

Now that you’ve seen how you can capture screen images quickly and efficiently, here are some different kinds of screenshots you can use to better visually communicate:

1. Screenshot

Definition: A single picture of a computer, smartphone, or tablet screen captured and saved as an image file.

It all starts with a basic screenshot. You don’t need to have any special applications or software to take a simple screenshot. This functionality is baked into virtually all Windows and Mac computers and smartphones at this point.

Examples:

  • Bug Reporting
  • Support Troubleshooting
  • Quickly Show Data

2. Screen capture

Definition: The action of getting all or part of the current screen and turning it into an image or video.

While they may seem similar, a screenshot and screen capture are a little different. A screenshot only refers to a static image. A desktop screen capture involves grabbing anything on your screen, including images, animated GIFs, or videos. It sounds a little bit like arguing semantics, we know, but it can make a difference depending on what end result you want.

Say you want to capture an entire spreadsheet. Now it gets a little trickier.

Normally, you’d only be able to capture what you see on your screen, but if you want to capture anything beyond that, like wide, horizontal spreadsheets or infinitely long web pages, you’ll need a screen capture tool built for that. Snagit has built-in Scrolling Capture and Panoramic Capture features that make it simple to get all the content you need in one image, rather than piecing together several screenshots.

Examples:

  • Capture a scrolling map
  • Capture a large spreadsheet
  • Capture a multi-page PDF

3. Animated GIF

Definition:  A moving picture in GIF format. A series of image frames is displayed in an animated sequence.

While animated GIFs aren’t exclusive to screen content, they can be a handy (and underutilized) way to share your screen.

Instead of taking individual screenshots to show someone a process, you can just capture a single animated GIF of what’s happening on your screen. Animated GIFs are also a lightweight file size and play automatically so they’re quick and easy to share on sites like Slack, JIRA, and Trello.

Examples:

  • Submitting Helpdesk Tickets
  • Show a Series of Steps in a Process
  • Onboarding and Walkthroughs

4. Screencast

Definition: Turning screen content into a video to teach an application or to promote a product by demonstrating features.

If you want to get more in-depth than just a simple screenshot or even an animated GIF, screencasts might be for you. If you’ve ever gotten help online for a piece of software or an application, chances are that you’ve come across a screencast.

These are videos that show your screen and usually include some sort of narration to help walk you through what you’re seeing.

Screencasts can be polished videos used by professional trainers or quick recordings to show a co-worker how to submit a ticket to IT. The idea is all the same.

Examples:

  • Tutorials
  • Video Lessons
  • Slideshare Presentations

5 Tips for Better Screen Captures

Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of taking screen captures, here are few tips on how to make them even better!

1. Add Text and Arrows

This may seem like a no-brainer, but adding text and arrows to your screenshots can make them more engaging. By using a tool like Snagit, it’s easy to add text and arrows to point out important parts of your screen capture. For example, use an arrow to point out a spike in your monthly sales numbers and add a quick text shout-out to your team member for their success.

Now, your simple screen capture of a graph is a polished image you’ll be proud to attach to a team email.

2. Resize Screenshots Correctly

You’ve captured a screenshot to include in an important document or presentation—awesome. But you need it a little bigger, so you grab a selectable arrow from the corner of your image and stretch it to the perfect size. Oh no! Now, your screenshot is now all blurry and distorted—not awesome.

Thankfully, you can avoid the dreaded pixelation. Try resizing your picture or screenshot in an image editing program instead. You’ll want to keep the same ratio of width to height, and then add it back into your document or presentation.

3. Panoramic Capture

You may be familiar with panoramic images, but have you heard of panoramic screen captures? Panoramic photography captures long, horizontal fields of view. Similar to this technique, Snagit’s panoramic scrolling capture lets you scroll up, down, or side-to-side while taking a screenshot.

Use panoramic capture to capture wide, horizontal scrolls, infinitely scrolling webpages, and everything in between. You can take one, precise screen capture instead of stitching individual captures together.

4. Document a Process Step-by-Step

Need to teach someone how to do something? Screen captures are your best friend when it comes to showing, not just telling. Instead of writing a lengthy email outlining a process with only text, use screenshots to demonstrate. You’ll avoid having your directions misunderstood or confusing anyone. A quick way to document a process is to number steps in a screenshot or multiple screenshots.

Above is an example that was put together to demonstrate how to correctly save images for our website. Now that we’ve put together this documentation, we won’t need to repeat ourselves. This screenshot is ready to send to anyone, at any time.

5. Blur Out Sensitive Information

Want to quickly share important details, like flight times, with your boss or a client, but it has confidential information? Don’t worry. You can still take a screenshot to share. Simply blur it out. Snagit has an easy-to-use blur tool that lets you virtually erase private information.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to take your screen captures from good to great.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to capturing your screen than just screenshots. All these screenshot types can be created in a few minutes using Snagit. I’d love to hear about what has been most successful for you!

What types of screenshots do you use and where do you use them most often?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.