Posted tagged ‘How-To’

Windows XP/Vista trick for a Friday afternoon

February 28, 2008

This is a neat little trick that takes just a minute but reaps amazing benefits (ok, not really).  It’s how to change the text “AM” or “PM” by your clock to read whatever you want (as long as it’s less than 12 characters).  Like the screenshot below.

Oh, and the article is written for XP, but it works in Vista too, as you might have guessed from the screenshot.


Tour of the Windows Vista Snipping Tool

January 28, 2008

I have spent too much time installing SnagIt onto users’ PCs because they want to be able to do a partial window capture in XP.  Here’s a move in the right direction by MS – a built-in snipping tool bundled with Vista.

Now, it should be known that I see Vista as an opportunity to learn rather than as a panacea for our tech ailments.  I am committed to finding the benefits of new technology.  Plus, many of us are in the “I bought this and I’d better learn how to use it” boat.  So this one’s for you (and me). 

Vista includes a “snipping tool” in all versions except Home Basic.  To open it, click the Start button, then (in the search box) type “snip.”  Then, click on the “snipping tool” and snip away!  There are some options you can set.  For instance, you have shape options:

          free form (create your own shape)

          rectangle (drag a box shape)

          window select (just like previous versions of Alt+PrtScn)

          screen select (just like previous versions of Ctrl+PrtScn)


Click the drop-down arrow on the “new” button to choose a new snip shape.

There are other options as well (click the Options button to access these):

snip tool

          Hide Instruction Text:

o   This shows or hides the popup hints on how to use the program

          Always copy snips to the Clipboard

o   This option saves the item to your clipboard for easy pasting into emails, documents, etc.  Just like the older PrtScn functions.

          Include URL below snips (HTML only)

o   This is for pasting info from Web pages.  This helps you avoid plagiarism and helps your readers access your sources.

          Prompt to save snips before exiting

o   Gives you the option to save as a file for future use or for editing.

          Display icon in the Quick Launch toolbar

o   If you do business communication, I could see that you would love this option.  It gives you a quick launch icon for the Snipping Tool (you know, those little icons next to your Start button)

          Show screen overlay when Snipping Tool is active (on by default, though my screenshot shows it as off)

o   This gives you a grayish overlay over the screen to let you know that you are in “snipping mode” (that’s not a technical term).  It’s just a friendly reminder that you are about to take a screen shot.

          Ink color for selection

o   This is the border-like box around the area you just snipped.  You can choose the color.

          Show selection ink after snips are captured

o   I don’t like this, and if I make more use of this tool, I will likely turn it off.  It leaves the red (or whatever other color you chose) border on the picture and inserts it along with the picture into whatever document you use the snip for.  If you like this, great.  If not, well, now you know how to turn it off.

I do have a few things I dislike about this tool.

1. I haven’t figured out a way to do menu screenshots with cursor (I did figure out how to do a screenshot of a menu; it could be a little confusing, so if you need to know, comment and I’ll add it), and it doesn’t do video screenshots. 

2. It doesn’t have a delay (timer) so you can get ready after clicking OK.

It’s not nearly as robust as SnagIt (I use SnagIt at the office).  But SnagIt is not free.  And this tool doesn’t hog any additional system resources, which to me is a major plus (SnagIt runs a background process).  It doesn’t minimize to your system tray like so many annoying programs do. 

So the bottom line opinion is this – it’s a major improvement over the minimal screenshot capabilities in XP.  And if you’re dealing with the usual compatibility issues, resource consumption, etc. with Vista, you deserve a break from the hassle to enjoy something that actually got better since the last version. =)