Saturday, October 29, 2005

MacOnMacs: Screenshots on your Mac

I've used screenshots (i.e. capturing what's on the screen of your Mac as a picture or video) a lot. They are essential for doing some of my commandN segments, especially techTIPS, but I find them useful for a lot of other things too: performing website evaluations with my MGImedia.ca company often requires capturing the contents of browser windows, and captures are a great help when you're dealing with tech support issues (e.g. trying to describe what you see on your computer screen can be difficult over the phone, so just take a screenshot and email it to the person you're talking to - if they're tech support, chances are they're in front of a computer and will receive the file in moments ;-) ). But how do you do this? I'll outline two ways, a simple method that uses software that comes with your Mac, and a robust paid application that can help you record movement on your screen and a host of other things.

Grab: You may not know it, but if you look in your Applications/Utilities folder you'll find that the good people at Apple have included a screen capture application called Grab for free with your computer. To use Grab, launch the application and then choose to capture either a Selection, Window, Screen, or Timed Screen from under the Capture menu. Selection lets you drag over a portion of the screen you want to capture, Window lets you select any open window (e.g. your browser window), Screen lets you capture everything on your whole screen, and Timed Screen gives you a ten second countdown to when your screen will be captured. The resulting capture will pop up in a window and can be saved as a .tiff picture file (you may not recognize this format, but almost all image editors, including Preview, will recognize it and can convert it to a .jpg or .gif if you'd like). If you want to capture your whole screen with just a keystroke, and you haven't changed these settings, just press Command-Shift-3 to have a screen capture saved directly to your desktop (to see where this is set, just check out System Preferences->Keyboard & Mouse->Keyboard Shortcuts).

Snapz Pro X: Now if you need to capture video from your screen (e.g. you want to make a little movie to show your Mom graphically the steps to take to, say, capture her Mac's screen ;-) ) then you'll need something more powerful. The solution is the fantastic Snapz Pro X from Ambrosia Software. Snapz Pro lets you do everything Grab does, but also allows you to capture video (and audio simultaneously if you'd like to), include your mouse in the captures, select your frame rate and resolution for video captures, save to a variety of formats, etc. As they say on the website, think of it as a digital video camera for your screen. About the only complaint I have about Snapz Pro is that it's always on - it's sitting in the background and, by default, is activated by using the Command-Shift-3 shortcut that would have formerly been assigned as mentioned above. However, don't let that hold you back. The full video version costs $69, but there's a free demo available too (I believe this leaves a watermark on the capture). If you need to make training videos, produce simple product demos, archive streaming video, and more, then I don't think there's anything else out there that'll match this app!
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10/29/2005 09:53:00 PM  

2 Comments:

Blogger Sebastian said...

You could also add Command+Shift+4 this lets u select a part of the desktop and snapshot it. However, if you do Command+Shift+4 and then press the Spacebar you can then capture any open window you may have. This also include widgets, and even the dock.

October 30, 2005 11:47 AM  
Blogger Jeff MacArthur said...

For sure, SEBASTIAN, and as I mentioned, just check out System Preferences->Keyboard & Mouse->Keyboard Shortcuts to see what else you can do (or to refresh your memory).

November 05, 2005 12:01 PM  

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