Programs to capture the screen

Do you need to “immortalize” your computer desktop but you don’t know how to do it? Don’t worry, this is a very easy operation. In fact, you can do it in no time at all by resorting to the use of special programs to capture the screen. These are software with which you can take screenshots of your computer screen in a way that is as practical as it is fast. To use them, it is not necessary to have specific knowledge of computer science and new technologies.

There are plenty of programs to capture the screen. Some are free, others are paid; some are only for Windows, others only for macOS, still others come integrated “as standard” in the aforementioned operating systems. In short, as you will notice yourself shortly, the choice is not lacking at all.

In addition to capturing a snapshot of your desktop, thanks to the software I am about to recommend, you can also “photograph” individual windows, customized portions of the screen and you can enrich your screenshots with arrows, writings, drawings, highlights and other content that you consider appropriate. What are you waiting for to deepen the topic? Find everything explained below.

Index

  • Programs to capture the Windows PC screen
    • Capture and Annotate / Snipping Tool
    • Greenshot
    • Other free screen capture programs
  • Mac screen capture programs
    • Screenshot
    • Monosnap
    • Other programs to capture the Mac screen

Programs to capture the Windows PC screen

If you have a computer equipped with Windows , you will be pleased to know that, in addition to the countless third-party solutions, it is also possible to capture the PC screen through one of the tools integrated into the operating system. Below I’ll explain how to do it.

Capture and Annotate / Snipping Tool

One of the solutions that I recommend you to consider is Capture and annotate , an integrated “standard” utility in Windows 10 and later and in charge of making screenshots. To start the program, open the Start menu (by clicking on the Windows flag symbol located to the left of the taskbar) and click on the Capture and Annotate icon .

To take a new photo of the screen, click on the New Resident button in the upper left corner of the window that opens; if you wish, you can also set a delay between the selection of the area to be captured and the actual acquisition, for a variable time from 3 to 10 seconds, by clicking on the down arrow located next to the New button.

In any case, once the acquisition of the new screen has started, trace the area of ​​the desktop to be photographed by pressing and holding the left mouse button and, when you are finished, release it, to “take” the photo.

If needed, you can also choose a different capture mode from the one seen a little while ago, using the toolbar that appears at the top of the screen: for example, you can draw a custom shape, by clicking on the Freehand capture button (depicting a drawing). curved ); you can acquire only the active window, by clicking on the icon of the two superimposed rectangles ; or, again, you can take a picture of the entire desktop by clicking on the button depicting a rectangle with the corners in evidence .

Once the image is obtained, it will be opened in the program editor , through which you can add strokes, arrows, annotations and other elements; to save the file, click on the floppy disk icon , located at the top right.

On previous editions of Windows , however, you can use the Snipping Tool , which works in a rather similar way and which can in turn be invoked directly from the Start menu .

Once you open the utility in question, click on the button New to trace the desktop area to be captured, or on the arrow down or the button mode just besides, to set a different shooting modes ( Capture window , Screenshot Full or Free Format Capture ). If your operating system is sufficiently updated, you will see a third button, called Delay , through which you can set a timer to delay the capture of the screenshot.

Also in this case, once the image has been created, it will be opened in the program’s integrated editor, through which it will be possible to add lines, arrows, annotations and other elements; to save the file, simply click on the floppy disk icon , located at the top.

Please note that Windows 8.1 and later allow you to capture the screen “on the fly” using the keyboard, using one of the following key combinations.

  • Win + Stamp: Save a screenshot of the entire screen, as a PNG file, in the Pictures> Screenshots folder on your PC.
  • Win + Alt + Stamp: performs the same operation as seen above, but captures only the active window.
  • Win + Shift / Shift + Stamp: starts the capture of a portion of the screen, which must be drawn with the help of the mouse. The resulting image is saved, in PNG format, in the Images> Screenshots folder.
  • Win + Shift / Shift + S: opens the Windows 10 Capture and Annotate tool . After capturing the screenshot, however, the image is automatically saved and not opened in the editor (which you can do anyway, by clicking quickly on the preview that appears at the bottom right).

Greenshot

As for third-party software, Greenshot is an excellent alternative to consider: it is a free program for Windows, which allows you to quickly capture the screen and save the images obtained in multiple formats.

If you are interested in taking this path, first of all connected to the Greenshot download page and click on the button with the Windows logo and the wording Latest Stable , to obtain the program installation package.

When the download is complete, open the file obtained (eg. Greehshot-INSTALLER-xy.exe ), make sure that the English option is selected in the drop-down menu that appears on the screen (or any other language you prefer, among those supported by the program ) and click on the OK button to start the setup procedure. Now, put the check mark next to the item I accept the agreement , press the Next button 7 consecutive times and then the Install and Finish buttons , in order to complete the installation of the program and start it in the background.

Now, to take a screenshot, locate the Greenshot icon (the green G on a gray background ) among those located next to the system clock and click on it; if you do not see it, press the arrow symbol upwards and drag the Greenshot icon into the area dedicated to the icons that are always visible, so as not to hide it anymore.

After clicking on the icon in question, you should see a menu containing the various capture options: Capture region, to draw a portion of the screen to be photographed; Capture last region, to automatically acquire the last area drawn; Capture window , to capture one of the active windows; or Capture full screen, to capture the entire screen.

If you have chosen to capture a portion of the screen, you will have to draw it by pressing and holding the left mouse button and define it by releasing it; if you have instead selected the option to capture a given window, you will be asked to select it by clicking on one of the edges; the capture of the entire screen, on the other hand, will take place instantly.

Once the photo has been taken, a second menu will appear, containing the saving options: you can choose whether to manually save the file in the location and format you prefer ( Save as (displaying dialog) ), automatically save the file in the default location and format ( Save directly ), open the image in the Greenshot editor ( Copy to clipboard ), print the image ( Send to printer ), open the image in the Paint program ( MS Paint ) or upload it to Imgur ( Upload to Imgur ). That’s all!

Note: When Greenshot is running in the background, you can also take a picture of the screen using the keyboard. The key combinations to press are as follows: Stamp, to start capturing a portion of the screen; Shift / Shift + Stamp, to acquire the last selected area; Alt + Stamp, to capture an active window; or Ctrl + Stamp, to photograph the entire screen.

Other free screen capture programs

The software I have told you about so far are certainly among the most interesting in the category, but they are not the only ones: there are in fact many other programs to capture the free screen equally valid, each with different characteristics. Here are some of them.

  • Xbox Game Bar: this is a utility integrated in Windows 10 (and later) and designed mainly for gamers, which allows, after appropriate configuration, to take screenshots of the entire screen and portions of it. Read more here.
  • ShareX: is a free and open source software, mostly dedicated to average expert users, which allows you to completely customize the methods of acquiring and saving images (both in memory and on the cloud) and to define the interface of the integrated editor. It’s free.
  • PickPick: is a multifunctional program that allows you to perform a large number of operations on the elements visible on the screen, including taking screenshots. It is free for personal use in a non-commercial environment.
  • FastStone Capture: this is a program that allows you to photograph the entire desktop, portions of the screen or single windows, using a small toolbar that is always visible. It is paid (the license costs $ 19.95), but can be tried for free for 30 days.
  • Web-capture: it is not a real program, but a free online service that allows you to capture screenshots of entire Web pages, without requiring access to advanced privacy permissions. Be careful, however: to protect the integrity of your data, always avoid acquiring pages protected by passwords, requesting access with credentials or containing strictly personal information.

Mac screen capture programs

And on Mac? Again, you can take screenshots using a utility pre-installed in the operating system (called Screenshot) and some third-party programs designed for the purpose. Find everything explained below.

Screenshot

Snapshot is the default macOS application and dedicated entirely to capturing images (and possibly video clips) from your computer. You can open it by double-clicking its icon, accessible from the Launchpad’s More folder (the grid-shaped icon that resides on the Dock ) or from the Go> Utilities menu, located in the macOS menu bar.

Once opened, the program displays a small toolbar at the bottom of the screen, whose buttons allow you to select a specific capture mode: full screen (the rectangle icon ), single window (the selected rectangle icon ) or a portion of the screen (the dashed rectangle icon ).

Once you have made your choice, click on the Options button and indicate whether or not to include the mouse pointer, set a timer for the screen capture or save the image in a specific folder; the menu in question also allows you to show or hide the floating thumbnail following the acquisition and whether or not to “remember” the last selection made.

Once you have applied all the necessary adjustments (if necessary), click on the Capture button and, if you have chosen to capture a portion of the screen or an active window, draw the area to be scanned by pressing and holding the left mouse button (and releasing it to save the photo), or click on the edge of the window to be photographed.

Unless you have made any changes to the save path, the image will be immediately available on your desktop, in PNG format; to modify it using the integrated editor and add arrows, lines, texts and other elements, click on the floating thumbnail that appears at the bottom right, following the “click”. It was very easy, wasn’t it ?!

For completeness of information, I would like to point out that you can also take screenshots of the Mac via the keyboard: here are the most commonly used key combinations.

  • cmd + shift + 3: captures a photo of the entire screen and saves it on the desktop, in PNG format
  • cmd + shift + 4: captures a portion of the screen (which must be selected with the mouse), or the photo of an active window (which must be selected by first pressing the space bar and then clicking on the edge of the window itself) and saves it on the desktop, in PNG format.
  • cmd + shift + 5: open screenshot.

Also, by holding down the control key on your keyboard while using the other combinations, you can have the screenshot saved to the clipboard instead of to a folder. Read more here.

Monosnap

If the solution seen above does not fully meet your needs, you can give Monosnap a chance : it is a program available on the Mac App Store, which allows you to acquire images (possibly setting a timer) and edit them using the integrated editor . Basically, Moonsnap is a free application, but you can take advantage of in-app purchases (with prices starting at € 4.99) to unlock additional features.

To obtain Monosnap, connected to the appropriate section of the Mac App Store, wait for the market window to open and click on the Get / Install button, in order to start the download and installation of the program (you may be asked to verify the identity via Apple ID password or Touch ID). When setup is complete, start the software by pressing the Open button, or using the appropriate icon that, in the meantime, has been added to the macOS Launchpad.

In order for everything to work for the best, you must initially authorize the application to capture screenshots and make videos of the screen: to do this, click on the Open Security & Privacy button located in the window that appears on the screen, click on the Open System Preferences button (if necessary) and click on the locked padlock symbol located at the bottom left, to enable the modification of the settings.

Now, enter the Mac password in the appropriate field, from Enter, put the check mark next to the option related to Monosnap and press the Exit and reopen button, to apply the change and restart the program. Once this is complete, close both the System Preferences window and the Monosnap welcome screen.

At this point, to take a screenshot, click on the program icon visible on the right side of the Mac menu bar (shaped like a lightning bolt ) and choose whether to capture a part of the screen ( Capture area ) or the entire desktop ( Capture Fullscreen ), by clicking on the appropriate item. In the first case, you will have to select the part of the screen to be captured by pressing and holding the left mouse button and releasing it when the selection is complete.

Once the image acquisition is complete, it will automatically open in the integrated Monosnap editor, through which you can add elements, texts, obscure parts of images and so on.

When you are done, click on the Save button, specify the namelocation and format in which to save the image and click on the Save button to finish.

Other programs to capture the Mac screen

In the event that the solutions I indicated a little while ago did not respond perfectly to your needs, you can evaluate the use of one of the alternative programs that I list below.

  • Cleanshot X: it is a practical and functional utility that allows you to create and customize screenshots with extreme ease. The application is paid, but can be obtained for free by subscribing to Setapp, which is a service through which you can freely access over 210 paid applications, including Cleanshot X, in exchange for a small monthly/annual fee. For more information, feel free to check out my guide on how Setapp works.
  • Skitch: This is an application developed by Evernote, which allows you to quickly customize the screens by adding arrows, notes, highlights and much more. It’s free.
  • Greenshot: is the Mac version of the program I told you about earlier, in the chapter dedicated to Windows. In this case, however, the software is paid and costs € 2.29.
  • Screenshot FX: this is a software that allows you to capture portions of the screen with customized shapes (even circular ones) and edit them quickly. The program supports keyboard shortcuts and costs € 5.49.

 

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