Did You Know? A Screenshot is Worth a Thousand Words

There are lots of situations where a screenshot of your computer can communicate much more than words. From giving students detailed directions to helping your tech support people (ahem) solve issues you’re experiencing, screenshots can make it easier for people to see what you’re talking about.

Screen capture software lets you take an image or a video of your computer’s desktop, annotate it with text, arrows, shapes, and more, and then post it online or email to friends. There are many great free and low cost options for screen capture software for Mac and Windows.

Did You Know? A Screenshot is Worth a Thousand Words

Create Your Own Diagrams

I took this screenshot of ZygoteBody.com (formerly Google Body) and then added the numbers in my screenshot program so I could draw students’ attention to certain areas. When you have the power to capture images of everything you see on your computer, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Create Your Own Diagrams

Share, Not OVERshare

Many good screenshot tools have a blur tool to help you obscure sensitive information. The benefits here are clear (not blurry!)

Share, Not OVERshare

There are a number of great tools for taking screenshots. Let’s look at the best of the best:

Windows: Snagit

Snagit is a full-featured tool for taking, annotating, and sharing your screenshots. I could list off the features but it’s better if you just read about them here. Basically, if you want to do it with a screenshot on Windows, Snagit has you covered.

Windows: Snagit

Mac: Skitch

Mac users can use the built-in Cmd+Shift+4 for basic screen grabs, or use the fun, free Skitch for full featured annotation and sharing tools.

Mac: Skitch

Once you master the art of taking screenshots you will find opportunities to use them everywhere you look! These great tools, which can be summoned with a single keystroke or click, will free you to communicate visually in a way text just can’t convey.  Happy shutterbugging!

Just a note– I wrote this article for work, promoting tools that would be easiest for our faculty to adopt. I actually created this post using a different screen capture program that I’m just trying out called Clarify. It takes a novel approach to screen capture, allowing you to write full articles as a series of “steps” of images and text. This fits my needs beautifully as a tech support and blogger who often writes step-by-step documentation guides for people. As I say, I’m just trying it out but I can see Clarify becoming my new go-to screenshot tool.

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One Comment

  1. Nice write up, Ted!

    Bug reports really need more screenshots, in every case. It’s so much easier to understand issues when having a clear picture of the situation.

    Next to your categories Windows & Mac, I would add another category for Web:

    For web developers, Usersnap (https://usersnap.com) is a great tool to get screenshots directly in the browser. Users and testers can annotate directly without leaving the web page / web application. More often than necessary bugs are related with browser issues (buttons not showing up or mis-aligned in Internet Explorer, …) – no problem with Usersnap.

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