Windows Vista Snipping Tool

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Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool window is small, simple.
Better Screen Capture Than Print Screen The Snipping Tool window is small, simple. Graphic © J. Bear

The Snipping Tool utility in Windows Vista is a better option than the Windows Print Screen method of screen captures. It saves a few steps compared to Print Screen and offers more options than just capturing the screen or the active window.

To access the Snipping Tool you'll need to activate the Tablet PC Optional Components. Yes, an odd place to put such a universally useful utility.

  • Go into Control Panel
  • Click on Programs
  • Look under Programs & Features
  • Select Turn Windows features on and off
  • i
  • Check the box by Tablet PC Optional Components

If you're using the Classic View of Control Panel:

  • Go into Control Panel (Classic View)
  • Click on Programs and Features
  • Select Turn Windows features on and off (from the sidebar)
  • Check the box by Tablet PC Optional Components

One of the new tools in Windows Vista is the Snipping Tool. It's a simple screen capture utility that is a great improvement over the basic Windows Print Screen. The basic Snipping Tool is a small window with three buttons or commands:

  • New (with options for what part of the screen you want to capture)
  • Cancel (after you start a capture)
  • Options for how you want the Snipping Tool to behave.

The Snipping Tool window itself will be invisible in any screen captures you take with it. (Because of this feature, in order to capture shots of the Snipping Tool itself, I had to use a different screen capture utility.)

To access the Snipping Tool you'll need to activate the Tablet PC Optional Components. Yes, an odd place to put such a universally useful utility.

  • Go into Control Panel
  • Click on Programs
  • Look under Programs & Features
  • Select Turn Windows features on and off
  • i
  • Check the box by Tablet PC Optional Components

If you're using the Classic View of Control Panel:

  • Go into Control Panel (Classic View)
  • Click on Programs and Features
  • Select Turn Windows features on and off (from the sidebar)
  • Check the box by Tablet PC Optional Components

02
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Snipping Tool - New Menu

Capture only the portion of the screen you want.
Capture Just What You Want Capture only the portion of the screen you want. Graphic © J. Bear

Unlike Windows Print Screen which captures either the entire screen or the active window, with the Snipping Tool you can also capture any portion of the screen or any open window, not just the active window.

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Snipping Tool Options

Select Options for each screen capture.
Tell Windows How You Want Screen Captures Created Select Options for each screen capture. Graphic © J. Bear

You can change the options for screen captures at any time. Options include "Always copy snips to the clipboard," "Display icon in the Quick Launch toolbar," and "Show selection ink after snips are captured." Showing the selection ink (choose red, blue, or another color) means that saved snips will have a border around them in the color of ink you choose in the Options menu.

04
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Snipping Tool - Rectangle Screen Capture

Annotate and save your screen capture in the Snipping Tool.
Draw a Box Around Any Part of the Screen Annotate and save your screen capture in the Snipping Tool. Graphic © J. Bear

Once you capture a portion of the screen the Snipping Tool edit window opens with your screen capture in the window. From left to right the available options are:

  1. Start a New screen capture (snip)
  2. Save the current snip (HTML, PNG, GIF, or JPEG)
  3. Copy the snip
  4. Send the snip in an email message
  5. Draw on the snip with a pen (customize the pen color and thickness)
  6. Highlight portions of the snip (see-through yellow)
  7. Erase the pen or highlight editing

In this example the selection is saved with a red border. You can choose a different color or no border when you set up the screen shot.

05
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Snipping Tool - Free-form Screen Capture

Freeform Snipping Tool screen capture
Capture Odd Shapes Easily A free-form capture is ready for editing in the Snipping Tool. Graphic © J. Bear

With a free-form screen capture, the Snipping Tool lets you draw a line around any portion of the screen you want. In this example of a free-form capture the pen border (selection ink) is turned off.