Quick tip for taking screen shots.

Quick tip for taking screen shots…

Have folder (mine’s called “Blank”) on your desktop.

Open said folder and maximize/strech it to cover your entire desktop, making sure it’s background is pure white.

Open application and take screen shots with plenty of the white folder background surrounding the window being captured.

If you’re taking screen shots of modal dialogs or sheet windows (Mac OS X) then before opening the dialog window make sure the main window is either moved out of the way or made small enough to be hidden by the new window.

This will give you a nice clean screen shot without any clutter from other windows on the edges.

Alternatively, just set your desktop background to white and hide the desktop icons (can be done on both Windows and Mac with a couple of clicks).

I prefer the first way as all I have to do is open up the blank folder and switch back to my app, but if you’re constrained for space (i.e. using 800×600) then the desktop method works well.

You can see this in action on my screen shots page for CaseDetective for FogBugz. The Mac OS X shots are taken with a blank folder for background, the Windows ones are taken with a white desktop and hidden desktop icons.

Update (2006-02-19): This post was inspired by a question across on the Business Of Software forums.

One response was to use Alt+Print Screen to capture just the window. Here’s my response to that…

The problem with Alt+Print Screen is that it still captures a rectangular area, so if you have rounded corners to your window (Windows XP) then you’ll get some of the background show through.

Using a white (or whatever colour you need) folder background fixes that quickly without having to get your paint brush out!

Cheap, simple and effective.

And if you were to use something like SnapX Pro on the Mac to take a screen shot of a Windows app in Virtual PC then you’d need to select a screen area rather than window.

Also, I’ve found that by using a fixed screen area for my screen captures I can get a consistent image size for both my Windows and Mac screen shots simply by re-sizing my windows to fit. This helps a lot as you’ll not have any problems in fitting those images into a neat grid, which always looks much nicer (in my opinion anyway). You’ll also get much crisper window edges if you take a screen area rather than single window, at least that’s what I’ve found anyway.

No comments.

  1. On Windows XP if you use the Alt+Print Screen method, it will not capture anything in the background for the rounded corners. They are just blank. So Alt+Print Screen does work ok with The rounded corners on Windows XP.

  2. Before writing that update I did a little test to make sure I was right, it definitely captured the background in the little space around the rounded corners.

    Are you seeing different? That’s a bit strange.