You may not know this but it is possible to cut out an image from part of
your monitor screen, a web page, a pdf file or from any displayed document
and save it to a file. I've been doing this occasionally
for years when I needed to illustrate a document or save some information
that was difficult to save any other way.
Up until recently I've been using the screen capture utilities built into
well known painting packages like Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop which
are adequate for the purpose if you only do it occasionally. The problem
with these packages is that they are big applications which take a long
time to load and the screen capture utilities aren't very obvious or easy
Recently I've been doing a fair amount of work writing documents and
building web sites like this one and I found that capturing images for
illustration was getting very tedious. I started to look for an alternative
that was small, loaded quickly and was easy to use. Naturally I looked for
free solutions first so I tried a few then settled on one called ScreenHunter.
ScreenHunter is very fast and very simple to install and use. I think
that it's a tremendous addition to my toolkit. Download the free version
of ScreenHunter from here and
install it on your PC.
Setting up ScreenHunter
When installed you should have an icon on your desktop that looks like
Clicking on it will bring up the control dialog below:
Select the hotkey that you would like to use to capture images from the
menu. This is the key that will put you into screen capture mode when you
have set up your screen with whatever it is you want to capture. I use
the default 'F6' key which seems to work well. You only need to change
this if you normally use 'F6' for some other purpose.
Click the "To" tab to show the dialog below:
Here you can control whether your captured images go to the clipboard
or a file and set the parameters of the file if required. I have my ScreenHunter
set to send screen captures both to the clipboard and to a file. Having
the images sent to the clipboard can be useful at times when you want to
paste the image into an image painting or processing application but
most of the time I use the image file that it produces. So click both
the 'Clipboard' and 'File' boxes to enable them.
Now select the type of file that you would like ScreenHunter to save for you.
I generally have mine set to '.gif' but sometimes use '.jpg' when I'm
working with high colour definition images. The '.bin' option will produce
the best quality images but also the largest files.
You should also set the name of the file you would like to save and the
path to the folder you would like ScreenHunter to save it in. I always
use the 'Automatic naming' feature which takes the 'Prefix' and adds a
sequential number to it. That way it always produces a new file and I don't
risk losing anything by overwriting it. You can create a folder on your
hard drive for ScreenHunter to use and enter it's path in the 'Folder'
box. I use a folder called 'C:\temp' for this.
When you have finished clicking boxes click the 'Standby' button. The
control dialogue will disappear and allow you to get on with your work
uninterrupted. When you want to capture a part of your screen press the
'F6' (or whatever hotkey you chose) key. Your mouse cursor will change
to a cross-hair. Now move the centre of the cross-hair to one corner
of the rectangle you want to capture from your screen. Click then drag
the cross-hair to the opposite corner and release the mouse button.
That's it, it's done, it's just so simple.
So where has it gone? Well it's on your clipboard and you will find a
copy of it in a file in the folder you designated. Open up your copy
of Word or Excel or other Windows compatible application and select
'Paste' from the menu or Ctrl-v to paste the image into your document.
If you want to simply send the image you captured by email then attach
the image file that ScreenHunter produced to your message.
A Productivity Tip
Earlier today I used my online bank account to make a bill payment. I needed
to make sure that I had not only made the transaction correctly but also
recorded all of the details so that I had proof in the event of any
kind of dispute.
I used to write all the information in a notebook but that is very time
consuming and it's easy to forget to record everything. What I do now is
open my word processor with a blank document and make sure that ScreenHunter
is on standby in my system tray. At each crucial point during
the transaction I pressed 'F6' then clicked and dragged to draw a rectangle
around the information that I needed to keep. Releasing the mouse button
copies the rectangular image to the clipboard then I paste it into the
word document. I did this for the instructions that I was working from,
the payee details confirmation screen, the transaction reference numbers
and the confirmation screen. In fact it was so easy to do this I snapped
a few other interesting images while I was at it.
When I had finished I had all the information about the transaction
recorded safely in one document that I could save on my hard drive.
The best part about it was how simple and effortless it was to do it
which means that I'm likely to continue doing it in the future.
Why Is ScreenHunter Free?
You might ask why it is that you can get a great utility like ScreenHunter
for absolutely free, it's even free for commercial use. Well Wisdom-Soft,
the makers of ScreenHunter, offer three versions of ScreenHunter. The
version with the least features is free but the more powerful versions
are not. Wisdom-Soft hope that by allowing you to use the free but high
quality version, you might upgrade to the even better versions at some
point in the future. I'm sure that this method of marketing does work
because I'm considering upgrading myself.
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