One of the things I never understood about Windows was that Microsoft hasn’t added a feature to make it easier to take a screenshot of a specific area of your screen. Sure, the Print Screen button allows you to add the screen to your clipboard and transfer it to an image editor such as Paint, but this type of invisible hotkey functionality isn’t quite on par with what’s baked in to OS X. Even with Alt+Print Screen allowing you to copy a single window, it still doesn’t save it to the desktop automatically.
After all, in order for these screenshots to take, you need to add them to an editor. The Snipping tool is a great way to abbreviate the experience by taking the screenshot and allowing you to save it to your hard drive from a single program, but that’s still an extra window you have to go through to get things done.
Enter Greenshot, a completely free open source software solution that gives you the ability to take partial screenshots, window captures, and snapshots of your entire screen by just hitting a shortcut key combination. These shortcuts default to the built-in Windows shortcuts for screen captures, making it a quick and easy replacement to the clipboard method of screen capturing.
Greenshot has a number of options to customize the experience including the fun camera sound and flash, mouse cursor location, an interactive window capture mode, capture delay, output options including image format and quality, and even the ability to send captures directly to your printer, image editor, or email client.
Taking regional screenshots gives you a readout of the pixel size of each image as you take it, allowing you to keep the shot at exactly the aspect ratio and/or resolution you need it at without the guesswork or post processing required with other methods.
You can have Greenshot output your captures to PNG, JPEG, GIF, and BMP formats. With the JPEG option, you can further customize output by setting a quality percentage using a slider in the preferences menu.
You can also opt to have this quality slider appear with each screen shot, making it easier to fine-tune your captures to meet your file size and quality needs.
Here are some of the shortcuts made available to Greenshot users.
- Capture Region – Print
- Capture Last Region – Shift + Print
- Capture Window – Alt + Print
- Capture Full Screen – Ctrl + Print
Unlike some screen capture utilities, the captures made by Greenshot are actually extremely clear. You don’t have to worry about fuzzy shots or overcompressed images. What you see is actually what you get.
Greenshot lives in your taskbar. You can opt to launch it manually or have it load automatically as Windows starts. It has a very small footprint, taking up just 12 MB of RAM.
Greenshot is one of those small programs that can dramatically improve the way you perform a relatively simple task. Why taking a screenshot in Windows is so difficult, I’ll never understand. Thankfully, projects like these come along that make life a little easier.
What about you? Have you tried Greenshot? Is there another open source utility out there you use to make the Windows experience easier?